Monday, May 31, 2010

One Year Anniversary





Happy Birthday Paranormal Romantics! June 2009 we opened our doors and our hearts to our followers. In celebration of this one year anniversary and to say thank you to all our readers we'll be giving away a prize everyday this month. Leave a comment on the blog and your name will be enter for the prize of the day. DON'T FORGET YOUR E-MAIL so we can contact you if you win.



Every comment you make will be placed in a pot and at the end of the month I will draw a winner for a gift basket. So if you comment everyday you can have 30 entries for the grand prize, which contains a Paranormal Romantics t-shirt, a signed print copy of BAIT, a Demons and Stillettos tote bag, some Lake Champlain chocolate, and a bag of Green Mountain coffee (that I serve every Monday morning). I'm sure as the month progresses other things will get tossed into the basket.



It's starts tomorrow spread the word.


Over on my personal blog I am discussing the dreaded to be verb and the basics of formatting a manuscript for submissions.


Have a great Memorial Day and stay safe.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Sunday!!

So, this week I'm taking a moment to gush over my excitement that "A Deadly Whisper " - The Watchers Book One, has found a home at Cobblestone Press.

When I started this whole writing journey, I have to tell you I suffered major let downs while submitting - haven't we all? LOL!

But when I got my first acceptance for "The Willow" with Liquid Silver Books, I was flying sky high. Nothing pleased me more than having someone love the stories as much as I did. It truly is an incredible feeling and I thought nothing could ever top it.

I was wrong. When I read the approval email from Cobblestone, it was a confirmation that I'm actually kinda good at writing (wink) and that it wasn't only one person who enjoyed my stories. And that is a pretty good darn feeling!

This story came to me while I was working on another. After a day of non-stop thinking about it, I put the other aside and got to work on "A Deadly Whisper". Never have a wrote a novel so quickly. I finished it in two weeks and it ended up being around 50,000. It consumed me!! So, I am so happy I get to share it with all of you :)

Here is the blurb for "A Deadly Whisper"

Nephillim are the offspring of a fallen angel and a human. Two kinds live within this race: Watchers―women gifted with the ability to watch the act of a demon devouring a soul. Seekers―men who fight against such evil and vow to rid the world of its existence.

The Seeker, Knox has waited two hundred years for his Watcher. And now, he has found her. But this woman, Paxtyn is not as willing to join him as he had hoped. The more he tries to prove himself to her, the more she is pushing him away…

Paxtyn has spent a lifetime keeping her secret hidden from the world, but now, she must confront these deadly visions head on. When a string of murders brings her into New Orleans, she must use her gift to communicate with spirits to discover who has ended their lives…

Nothing will ever be the same. Everything will be on the line―and Knox and Paxtyn will soon realize that the demons they hold within themselves are as far troubling as the ones they are fighting against…

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When Souls Collide Chapter 2, Part 2

Hi, all. I'll be absent today as my son is getting married. I wanted to let you know that I will be back to check out your comments and respond on Sunday. A crazy, crazy last two weeks. Hope you're enjoying the story.


To bring you up to date, if you missed last week's late post: Tesza goes to High City to look for a necklace that belonged to her mother and grandmother. She intends to find it and wear it for her Fourth Night celebration and final evening of her wedding. Instead, she finds trouble when she encounters an enemy soldier in a ruined plaza, an enemy that hates her kind and kills them on sight. For some reason he doesn't shoot and engages her in conversation.

All rights are the intellectual property of the author. No part may be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author.

***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
Not all were evil. But this one, she’d do well to remember he was dangerous. Tesza knew faces. Her eyes drifted back up, unable to resist. His was unmistakable.

The Butcher. She’d seen images of him, passed among the clans, portraits of a killer.

His face lit and the corners of his mouth curled into smile, creating dimples. Gods, dimples! Tesza balled her hands at her sides and swallowed, unsure what terrified her more, his smile, or the tip of his weapon pointed at her sternum.

Even more frightening, she found her body reacting to that smile, warming inside. Perhaps it was triggered by lingering needs, cultivated during her third night?

“You’re pretty for a Kalos.”

“You’re pretty for a Kori.” It came out before she could stop it. Would he kill her for her words? She sucked in a breath and bit her lip.

He tipped his head back and laughter rolled from his chest. Shivers raced up and down her skin. His laugh moved through her body in a sensual burn, igniting something more primitive inside her.

Need.

Liquid heat pooled between her thighs and Tesza grasped her pant legs, looking for anything to steady herself. A reaction she’d not expected.

“I could kill you. Do you still think I’m pretty?”

“Yes, and you haven’t.”

“No.”

“Will you?”

“I should.”

But you’re not going too, are you? She stared him down, afraid to voice the last thought. He didn’t move, barely breathed, but the fire in his eyes jumped. Energy sizzled between them, cranking the tension.

Silence.

Tesza squeezed her knees together. The longer she sat and stared, the more the lust built, rolling through her like a building storm. He’s the enemy. She shouldn’t be thinking or feeling what she did.

Tonight was Fourth night. Jarod would be waiting to take her in his arms. Tesza sucked in a breath and tore her gaze away. Gods. The man she’d just visualized wasn’t Jarod.

“You need to get out of this city. If the others catch you, they won’t be so nice.” His voice was hoarse, raspy. It slid along her skin. Her pelvis flooded with more heat. It was all she could do not to cry out. She didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay.

With him.

He pulled his weapon away and glanced at where the jungle claimed the once manicured plaza. “Go.”

“I can’t leave.”

“You can’t stay.”

“Why are you helping me?” Tesza studied her boots, dull compared to his. Her military style pants, scavenged from a dead Kori soldier, were worn through the knees and her sleeveless shirt, as threadbare, clung to her body by its last stitches. She was pathetic. Why would he help her? Regardless why, she couldn’t go quite yet.

“Go.”

Tesza lifted her chin and faced the Butcher. His eyes seemed to shift to a darker green as she held his gaze. “No.”

“No?” He narrowed his eyes.

“I meant I can’t—not yet.” She’d come to get the necklace, an item she couldn’t leave without. She needed to wear it tonight. It was all she had of her past, her heritage. She wanted to share her past with Jarod.

And him... Gods only knew why she needed to know more about him. Touch him. Tesza lifted her hand and dropped it.

Shameless. She had a duty to her people, but that wasn’t why she wanted to touch him. It was something else. “You are helping me.”

“No, you’re mistaken. I’m making it easier to clean this quadrant of the city. If I shoot you, I have to clean up the mess. I’d rather not.” His mouth spat harsh words but his eyes touched her like a lover.

“I don’t believe you. You’re not a foot soldier.”

He shrugged, turning his back. “You said you’d try to escape first. So escape. Go. Get out of here.”

“I can’t.” Tesza rose to her feet. Her eyes shifted back to the opening in the jungle then rested on the knife at her feet.

“Don’t think about it.”

Her attention snapped back up. She watched his shoulders rise and fall with his breath. Her pulse quickened. He was broader than Jarod. Harder.

And he was the enemy. She eyed the knife again. It would be so easy to pick it up and eradicate the killer. She glanced into the jungle again and over to the tile pattern on the terrace where the necklace was buried. She could come back, watch from the vegetation until he left and pry the pavers up. She didn’t need to kill him, he’d spared her life, given her a chance no other of his people would have. She’d leave and not mention the encounter.

Then again it could be a trick.

She shuffled from foot to foot. Would he shoot her when she turned to run? Was he playing with her, or did she really see what she thought she had?

“You either leave now, or when I turn around I’ll be cleaning up another Kalos mess.”

Run! Tesza bolted. She tripped over a root growing through the tile and slammed face first to the hard surface.

It didn’t matter. She was dead. He’d promised to kill her and if there was one thing that was true, a Kori officer lived by his word. As he grabbed the back of her shirt by the collar, it shredded from her body. Would the animal rape a corpse, she wondered. Then her end would be a fitting one. He’d pay for the brutality he’d visited upon her and her people. The world began fade.

“Shit,” the Kori snarled. Letting her know what he truly thought of her.

Tesza embraced the darkness.

Friday, May 28, 2010

EEK! They’re headless…

For goodness sakes, they sure are! Oh my—this one doesn’t have a face. What is going on?

I’m talking about book covers, many of which have this affliction. There’s no head, or the face of the hero or heroine are missing. We have a torso, a side shot or the face is totally obscured by something else on the cover. Ooh! I’ve seen a few rear shots, and boy, they can be yummy when the hero has a nice set of buns. I’ve got one of those and he has garnered quite a few comments over the months. *grins*

The way I see it is if an artist can’t match the description of the character, said character is better off without their head! That’s my opinion. I’d prefer not to have a guy with short, brown hair on my cover when inside I describe him as blond with a ponytail hitting beneath his shoulder blades. I don’t want a redheaded woman on the cover when my heroine has dark brown hair. Actually, aside from Purple P Rose, I’d much rather not have a woman on the cover at all, but alas, I don’t always get what I want. I have been lucky in that I’ve had some great cover artists and they’ve worked with me to achieve something that both the publisher and I are happy with.

In my particular case, many of my Kind characters have long, striped hair (it’s an animal thing!) and it’s not easy to find a model fitting that description. I’m not a big fan of computer generated covers either, so that leaves me in a slight predicament. Hence, I have lots of torso covers which work for me and I prefer them. Not only on my books, but on those I buy. I would much rather imagine what the hero looks like from the author’s description.

Anyway, here’s where I’m going with this. Do you like to see the whole person on the cover? Are you happy with just a hunky torso or shapely female midsection? What about those backside shots?

Tell me what you think and in the meantime—enjoy some examples of what I think would make great headless, faceless covers. And you can catch Ramiel’s butt from HOPE IN LOVE in the book cover bar to the right!!

Well okay you can see his face a little, but DAMN! he's fine all over
 Sorry, I don't have any faceless female shots!

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Playing the Waiting Game

Right around this time last year, I was waiting to hear back from a publisher on a submission. The experience can be a little nerve wrecking at times (as Rebecca talked about earlier this week). This one was a little more so for me because it was my first. From somewhere, I'd found some courage and submitted something I'd written. For those that don't know me well, this was a huge step for me. The book wasn't the first I'd written, but the first time I decided that I might have a shot at seeing something of mine published. I ended up getting a rejection on the book - the day before my birthday as it turned out.

I took a few days to think about what I wanted to do from there.

First, I realized there was something missing from the manuscript. It was good, but it didn't have "it". Even while telling family and friends that I wasn't sure what I was going to do from that point on, I was working on refining the MS and making it (I thought) better. I ended up submitting it again, this time to a different publisher, and began the long process of waiting again. Luckily, it was summer and with my daughter's activities, the whole family was busy.

I was on vacation in Ohio, heading back from a day of fun at an amusement park, when I received a request for full. Being the ever positive person I am (note the sarcasm, please) even while I was submitting the full MS as requested, I kept telling myself it was just going to be another rejection.

A week later, I had myself a nice little panic attack as I was reading the email I'd just received for an offer. That was my first published book, Flash of Dark (which just came out in January of this year).

So, why am I telling you all of this? It's a year later and I'm waiting to hear on a submission - again. The process of being impatient and such hasn't changed much. In fact, for some reason, this wait for this particular MS is rough. I'm not sleeping well, my brain is spinning constantly and a various assortment of other miladies. I'm trying to bury myself in writing the next book in my paranormal series (and waiting on 2nd edits for the 2nd book in that series from my editor) and my next sci-fi series book, but like I said it's just ... hard.

Some people are under the assumption that being published is a guarantee. Just because you have one or ten, twenty - even thirty - novels accepted and available for purchase doesn't mean the acceptance/offer for future books will pour in when you submit.

So...wanna wait with me? LOL

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Resetting Goals

"There's been a change in me
A kind of moving on
Though what I used to be
I still depend on
For now I realize
That good can come from bad
That may not make me wise
But oh it makes me glad

And I-- I never thought I'd leave behind
My childhood dreams
But I don't mind
For now I love the world I see
No change of heart a change in me"
– Tim Rice
from the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast


Earlier yesterday I opened my 2010 goals document and took stock of what goals I had already accomplished and what I had yet to do. I do this every 2-3 months. Yesterday was the 2nd time I opened the document this year. And what I discovered was eye opening.

In January when I’d originally put together the goals list, I had very specific things I wanted to get finished and accomplish. Then, around May 1st, I’d pretty much tossed everything out the window because somehow during the course of the year, my goals had changed. Slightly at first then once small things shifted, the rest fell like an avalanche.

I cleared my schedule. Wiped clean everything from my calendar. Will I write the books I had planned? I’d like to but don’t really know at this point. And that’s okay. The ideas are still in a folder, but I'm not sure I want (or even need) them anymore.

I have bigger plans. Higher goals. More dazzling dreams. In short, I want to defy gravity and I can’t do that with clipped wings.

Right now, I’m involved with two fairly sizable projects. One is a fantasy romance. It’s been slow going for me because it’s a new genre and fantasy writing can be tedious at times with all the world building, rule making, etc. I’m excited though and I’m hoping for big things from this book.

The other project is a historical romance and so far, it’s going strong. With this book, I feel I have a chance at garnering an agent’s attention. Only time will tell.

As for the rest of the year, I only have two short pieces I’ve promised and that’s it. I’m not taking on anything else. I don’t intend to write anything else until these are wrapped up to the best of my ability, gone over with a fine tooth comb, self-edited, rewritten and fussed over until they're awesome. My concentration will be on these two books until they are finished or my energy leaves me completely LOL Sometimes, it’s not about how much you can put out during the year. Sometimes, it’s about the quality of the work and really getting to know the writing inside and out and making the book a masterpiece.

Sure, new ideas are constantly flowing. They get dumped into a Word document for a later time. For the foreseeable future, these two books are the only things I need.

Sorry if this post sounds selfish, but my point was it’s okay to reassess yourself mid-stream and change tactics. In fact, you might just find it’s exactly what you needed to do all along.

Until the next time, happy writing, reading or simply being.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Submission Process--What do you do when you're waiting?

The other day on Twitter, and it’s amazing how many conversations and blogs I can start with that phrase, I was chatting with some other authors that I deeply admire. We realized we were all in the same situation: we had a submission out there that we were waiting to hear the results from. Nail biting, nerve wrecking, waiting.


Sigh.


For me, I’d like to say that I act really cool, that I forget that I’ve submitted the work, that I move on and let fate happen as it will.

I’d like to say that but I can’t.

I check my e-mail just about every ten minutes.

It’s a sad state of affairs.

What do you do? Do you have any tricks to pass the time?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Where to go Next?

Happy Manic Monday. Grab a cup of virtual coffee, I have hazelnut brewing today, and a blueberry muffin. With the warmer weather, I’ve moved out to patio to enjoy the cool weather. Just want to make a few announcements before getting to the topic. On May 27th Whipped Cream Reviews will be posting one of my free reads titled One Life to Live. I’ll post the link on our side bar when I get it. Also, I have a guest blogger on my personal blog, www.annienicholas.blogspot.com , discussing punctuation as part of my Writing 101 series.


I have finished another novel and am playing the waiting game with my publisher. A new WIP is hanging around for me to start it but I am hesitant because it’s so much more involved than anything I’ve ever embarked on.

Most of my books take place on our world and our time. Sure, I have a vampire or two with a dash of werewolf involved but I never created a whole world before or a whole new race.

How do you go about world building? How do you keep track of all the rules?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The writing process...

I get the question about my writing process a lot. How do I take the ideas in my mind and make them a book? So, I thought for this week, I’d lay it out for all to see how one author does it.

1. Some write a plan, but I don’t. Well, at first anyway. I start the first chapter with just an idea. Example, for The Willow, I knew it was going to be about a girl who finds herself brought into the Otherworld. The first chapter is always the hardest for me, but once I get the first scene established, the story starts to present itself.

2. From there, I write a chapter as it flows. I never know what the next chapter will be about until I’m done the previous one. Usually, it’s halfway through when I know what needs to happen in the next to continue the story.

3. Normally when I write a chapter, I only do actions and speech at first, because that is definitely the easiest part for me.

4. Once I have the guts of a chapter done I go back and fill in descriptions and thoughts. When I have the speech completed, it is easier for me to imagine what is happening as the conversation is going on and filling in all the little details.

5. After I am done that, I go back and read through the chapter to clean it up making sure it reads how I intended it to.

6. Then, I move onto the next chapter.

7. After I am halfway done the book, I start from the beginning and re-read the entire story, to tie it together, clear up any loose ends and to add in parts that are crucial to the story line that are missing.

8. It is normally at this point, when I start to plan. By this time, the story is peaking and the danger begins to surround the characters. I usually have an outline and plan 3-4 chapters at time. This is when I know what needs to happen in the story for it to come to an end.

9. When it’s all said and done, I re-read it once focusing just on the story line to be sure it’s solid and nothing is missing. Then, I re-read it once more to clear up grammar issues.

10. Then, it’s off to submissions.

And that is how I write. Every author has their own style that works for them, but the idea is to find out what works best for you and just dig in.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

When Souls Collide, Chapter 2, Part 1

 Please excuse the late blog post. I've been tearing the yard apart to get ready for the wedding next weekend and realized I'd forgotten to post. :) I've decided to cut the chapters in two, so the segments aren't so long.

All rights are the intellectual property of the author. No part may be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author.


***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***

Chapter 2


The morning of Fourth day, eight hours later…

Tesza pressed against the crumbling stucco, molding her body to the decaying structure, holding her breath. The Kori solider approached, sweeping right and left, sighting through his heat visor. In moments he’d spot her. A rodent squeaked and ran. The soldier’s weapon swung round, blasting it to a pile of ash.

He flipped the visor up.

She slid along the wall while his back was to her, the handle of a blade clenched in her fist. If he spotted her, she’d make a bigger pile of ash than the mud gat.

Voices approached. Tesza froze. The sounds of debris crunched under boots as they drew closer. Her muscles tightened, ready to spring. She closed her eyes. Gods grant me safety.

“Hale, sir.”

Her heart pounded in her throat, but she resisted the urge to draw a breath. One sound.

“Is this sector secure?”

“Yes, sir. Nothing living or breathing here but Kori. I’ve swept it twice.”

Tesza opened her eyes and stared at a back close enough to reach out and touch. Would the shadows be enough? They were close enough to hear her heart beat. One mistake.

“Seal it and move to sector 7-A. I want them out of this city.”

“Yes, sir.” The sounds of boots retreated, fading into the distance. The soldier spun around and pointed his weapon at her chest. “You can come out now.”

Tesza backed away. His weapon followed her retreat.

“Halt or I’ll open a hole in you.”

“Please, don’t shoot.” What use was pathetic begging? The Kori didn’t hold a shred of compassion. Why hadn’t he fired?

“If I wanted to shoot you, I’d have done it. Get out here where I can see you.”

Tesza raised her hands and stepped into the open. The soldier sucked in a breath as his gaze swept her head to toe. His eyes stopped on the facial tattoo that started at her temple and traveled to her cheekbone on the left side of her face.

What thoughts ran through his head? The Kori despised her people. They wouldn’t touch them for fear of spiritual contamination. They saw the Kalos as filthy heathen, no better than disease carrying rodents and terminated them on sight.

She reached up and covered the mark on her face, hoping his gaze would move. It didn’t, instead it intensified.

“Why do your people disfigure your women like that?” His face remained emotionless, no look of disgust or curled lip.

Tesza rubbed the mark. It seemed to burn under her fingers. “It’s not disfigurement, it’s beautiful. I’m honored for the gift I could give my people.”

His eyes narrowed. “Gift?”

“Life.”

He lifted the tip of his weapon, knocking a stray curl away from her shoulder, exposing the pulse pounding in her throat. “I could shoot you right here, stop you from making more of your kind.”

“Why haven’t you?” He hesitated when others wouldn’t. Tesza dropped her hand and studied him. He was beautiful like many of his people. Dark hair, dark skin, green eyes. His jaw had a strong line. A day’s worth of whiskers clung to his cheek and soot from an earlier engagement was smudged across his jaw. He had a straight nose, not too big, not too small and his mouth was set in a stubborn line. Tesza could only guess his intent, his body language gave nothing away.

“I don’t feel like killing today. You intrigue me, standing there; holding that knife as though it could make a difference in your living or dying.” The stare grew hotter and her stomach flipped.

He motioned with the tip of his weapon toward a pillar lying on the ground. “Sit.”

Not die, or run. Sit? Why was the Kori toying with her?

He nodded towards the perch he wanted her to take.

Tesza backed up and sank down, all the while clutching the knife so tight, her hand went numb.

“Drop it.”

Her fingers sprung open. The weapon clattered to the broken tile, as useless as her legs. “Are you going to let me go?”

He cocked his head to the side. “Should I?” He took three steps and held the weapon on her with one hand, while he reached out with the other to touch the mark on her face.

Tesza flinched. His fingers brushed her skin. They felt warm, not like ice, not dead like she’d expected.

“You’ve told me you could breed more of your kind. It’s my duty to make sure it doesn’t happen.” He dropped his hand.

She shouldn’t have come here, but it was buried in this courtyard. Her mother’s necklace, her grandmother’s before that. She needed it for Fourth night. Tradition. Gods, what had she been thinking? A stupid family tradition wasn’t worth her life.

She hadn’t realized the Kori occupied this sector. The first wave flattened most of it seventy years ago and for that span of time, it remained neglected, ignored, of no interest to the invaders. Until recently.

She knew they were rebuilding on the old ruins, sprawling out to accommodate the growing population as more troops and their families arrived. She didn’t anticipate they’d moved out this far.

Tesza swallowed and stared at the ground. The Kori gently grasped her under the chin and lifted her eyes to his. “Were you going to use that knife on me?”

“I would’ve tried to run first. Then if you’d backed me into a corner...”

“Yes, your kind doesn’t like to be cornered, do you?” His face looked deceptively gentle. His eyes held hers as if he were reaching into her mind, her soul, searching for something. She broke contact, staring at the weapon in his hand, reminding herself where she was and who she was with.

“No.”

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Friday...

I love Fridays, always have. It's the day of the week that heralds the weekend is here. Have you ever thought, though, that it is very close to Monday!! Just a thought...

This picture was too cute to NOT put here, but on to the good stuff.

Lots of blogs and sites give you beautiful visions on Wednesdays, I've seen them on Saturdays--I'm hoping to start your weekend off right.

By the time you're done scrolling through you should be pretty dang hot! Oh, did I mention it's sort of like a Furday... I find men WITHOUT hair to be a bit to boyish for my liking. Pictures are courtesy of Bentboy's Place, it's not a spot for the faint of heart, but oooh!!

Tell me what you think--is hair making a comeback--are we done with the metrosexual look?


Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Series - Love 'em or Hate 'em

Personally, I love them. I read them, I write them. Standalones really do have their place, but I've yet to write a book where I didn't want to know more about secondary characters and story lines. Series can accommodate that perfectly. In fact, originally, Midnight's Ghost was supposed to be one book. The ending happened and that was all she wrote - literally. But when I let the story sit for a little (as I do with all my stories) I realized there was more to the story there. Questions I hadn't answered that I wanted to know - not just as a writer, but as a reader to. Just what did happen to Taran's father? And how the heck did Wallace break out of Widow's Bay? Those were questions I hadn't answered at the end of the book and ones I needed the answers to. And the next book in there series was born. Interestingly enough, the premise of the next book already lent itself to another book and viola - a three book story arc.

There's a recent book I wrote where I kept telling myself that I was going to write a standalone title. No series, no connections, nothing. Didn't quite work out that way. LOL

So, how do you feel about series?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I'm reading now

I had to pause and take a moment out of how to select sword lengths based on your height because I remembered I needed to blog tomorrow (it's Tuesday night when I wrote this) So, because I had nothing in the way of insightful teachings to bring you, I'm sharing the books I'm currently reading.

Must Love Dragons by Stephanie Rowe (paperback)



I recently finished the first book in this series and really enjoyed it. Now, a few chapters into this book, I'm finding it no less funny and entertaining.

Single Female Dragon seeks love and good times in the big city.

Theresa Nichols is a red-blooded young woman—trapped in a red-hot dragon’s body. Then the chance for a real-live date with her cyber boy toy Zeke sends her running to Satan to strike a deal. After all, when you've gone without sex for over two hundred years, a night of good lovin’ is worth your eternal soul, right?

Single Male, ex-Dragon Slayer, seeks fiery sex goddess.

Zeke Siccardi is a private detective trying to live a normal life—and outrun his dragon-slaying past. Not easy to do when his sexy online paramour turns out to be a dragon with a contract out on her life. Now Zeke has to protect a woman he was born to kill. But with the love of a fire-breathing sexpot, how hard could it be?


How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle (paperback)

Having read a lot of Ms. Boyle's other works, I'm no less excited about this one. I love a good historical and even though I'm only on chapter 1, I can't wait to delve deeper.

The Earl of Clifton intended one day to find the perfect countess...

...until he met Lucy. The improper and impetuous daughter of an infamous spy, Lucy Ellyson saved Clifton’s life and taught him everything he needed to know about serving his country in the dangerous shoals of the war torn Continent... even how to fall in love. He vowed he would come back to her, he would make her his unconventional and unlikely countess, but the war and duty kept them apart for too long and when he finally returned, she was gone.

Lucy’s father had told her that the Earl of Clifton would never return for her, warned her that she would never find a place in a society that would scorn her birth. And he was right. For when Clifton returns, it isn’t to reconquer her heart, but merely to ask for her help in finding an elusive dowager, never realizing that the Marchioness of Standon—the woman who holds the keys to his family fortune—is none other than Lucy herself. It doesn’t take Clifton long to realize that his greatest mission yet may be to face the tragic secrets of their past and rediscover the passionate love that once ignited them both...


Gnomes of Suburbia by Viola Grace (e-book)

This is a new to me author but the book cover and blurb looked interesting so I'll give it a shot!

Abby wants a new life, but magic was never on the agenda. Her new neighbours are great, if you like mermaids, werewolves, and medusi. Adapting to her role in the neighbourhood is tricky as it involves pulling magic between dimensions, but the garden gnomes that she animated try to help when they can. The warlock next door is also a problem, every time he gets near her, her power goes berserk. When a stalker joins the crew and tries to end Abby's new career the hard way, her life is danger and the neighbours are up in arms.

I apologize in advance for not providing links on where to buy these books. I'm too lazy LOL but as you can see, my tastes range far and wide :-) I would have put all of them on my e-reader but the first two are way too expense right now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thank you Lost!

As the final episode of Lost approaches, I would like to thank the writers, producers, and actors of that show for making my life better by making that show.

I can remember that day vividly. I suggested to my DH (thats Dear Husband for those of you not up on the Twitter/Facebook jargon) that we watch this new show that was starting. I'd heard about it, thought it looked kind of cool, and besides, I'd heard that Matthew Fox was going to be on it and I'd really, really liked him on Party of Five.

We sat down. He was skeptical but humoring me. We were both blown away. Watching Lost became something we never missed, something we always did together!

The second season was less spectacular than the first but we stuck it out and were rewarded with Season 3.

So now, as we get to the end, I find myself sad. I will miss the 'Dang' that sounds when they go to commercial, I will miss the speculation about 'Good Locke' versus 'Bad Locke' and the Smoke Monster. I will miss Matthew Fox.

Thank you Lost for so much entertainment. You will live on in my DVD collection.

Best to all of you,

RR

Monday, May 17, 2010

Everything I Learned From Survivor


Last night was the season finale for the TV show Survivor. Their tagline:


Outwit, Outlast, Out Think.

I’ve been a fan of the show since day one. There are not many television programs I watch but I will make an effort to tape this one and not miss an episode. *clears throat* I even have two characters bearing Survivor names: Sugar, from The Omegas and Colby, from Bait. LOL

After watching this program for ten years I’ve compiled a list.

Things I’ve Learned From Survivor:

1. Only the strong survive is NOT true.

2. You’re only as strong as your alliance

3. Trust is a valuable thing, use it wisely.

4. Don’t eat all your food in the first week.

5. If you lie on TV they’ll get you on it at the seasonal finale.

6. The good guy doesn’t always win.

7. If you have a big mouth or you are bossy, most people won’t like you.

8. Leprechauns do exist and they’re evil. (Right, Sandi?)

Have a good week. I’ll be blogging at http://www.annienicholas.blogspot.com/ about sentence structures this week.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What makes a good writer???

Happy Sunday everyone! Just a little thought to consider while you spend the day relaxing. What makes a good writer?

As an author you wonder why someone accepts your manuscript and others send it right to the trash. I always ask myself, what do publishers see that I don’t? Why does writing have to fit to a certain standard?

After some consideration this is my take on it. A story is yours to tell. Some are going to like you style of writing while others don’t. It is all a personal opinion. And I do wonder, what stories would be told if the industry loosened its reins a little. Would they be better? Or would they be lacking in merit? Hmm...that is the question now isn’t it?

I have now and will continue to write the stories that I love. That has to mean something, right? If a manuscript gets rejected and the publisher has given comments about the work, I will always be open to their suggestions and review the manuscript looking for flaws. Making your story stronger, your writing better, isn’t ever a bad thing. But again, it is just one person with an opinion. So, I take each rejection with a little swipe off my shoulder and just keep trudging on.

So, what do I think is a good writer? It’s simple, a writer that writes for the reader. Where the characters feel real emotion, experience relationships or conflicts we have all experienced. Personally, I don’t need the boring details. I like fast paced novels that keep me flipping the pages. Danger, Wit, humor, and sexy scenes are all just an added bonus.

Lay it on me, what’s your take???

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When Souls Collide--Chapter 1

It seems appropriate I start this post with a wedding. My oldest son, a Marine, is getting married in two weeks. He’s flying home this weekend to get a few things tied up before the ceremony.

It’s a simple ceremony—no fancy dresses or big halls. They want a quick ceremony and a cook out after. I’m inclined to agree with them. Sometimes simple is best. Perhaps many of the traditions have gotten out of control? The bride’s dress can cost thousands of dollars. The meal, the entire affair, could pay for a home in many cases or at least a sizable down payment on one.

It seems there are so many traditions. From the bouquet the bride carries, to her maid of honor and the groom’s best man. Many seem to be for show now, but in the past they served a purpose.

In medieval times, bathes were a once a year affair and the bride’s bouquet helped to cover unpleasant body odor. And what about the maid of honor and best man? Getting married back then wasn’t just about love—it usually was more political—a way to increase wealth and family holdings. From the dowry to the food stores used for the celebration, a vast amount of coin changed hands and love had no part in it. Sometimes the participants of the wedding were not willing participants. If the bride fled or the groom failed to show, the maid of honor or groom were there to take their place. Alliances must be made and contracts kept.

So, what would the traditions and rituals of a people on another world be? Would they have ceremonies—celebrations?

In my novella, When Souls Collide—the weddings for the Kalos last four days. Grab a coffee and sit back. Welcome to Third Night of a Kalos wedding.

All rights are the intellectual property of the author. No part may be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author.


***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***

Chapter 1

Seventy years later…

Tesza took every lucid thought from his head. Jarod stared at the woman across from him. He needed to feel the heat of her body, the beat of her heart against his and taste her on his lips.

Tonight she wore her hair loose. It tumbled about her shoulders, caressing skin left bare by the sleeveless blouse. He could feel her flesh without touching. Soft. Warm.

The lines of her profile swept gracefully from her jaw to her shoulders. She wasn’t just beautiful, she was more. She was all he could ever dream of—desire. She gave him strength while her laughter filled him with hope. He’d never seen a more perfect woman. Her every action was sexy and innocent.

She was his goddess. His.

His eyes followed the curve of her long legs, pulled up next to her. She worked her toes into the blue sand and tipped her head back, as if she enjoyed the warmth still lingering within its grains. The look on her face, ecstasy.

Jarod shifted in his seat. A restlessness built. It was the same expression she had when he touched her. He wanted to be the reason for that look.

A fine sheen from the humidity clung to her skin, making it glow in an ethereal quality, beckoning him to touch. He glanced around the fire. It was early. To rise now and take her away would give the appearance of being too anxious. He had to hold, be patient, if but a little longer.

His every action was studied and he should never look anxious in front of his people. He must always be an example of strength and power. Their lives depended on it.

The Kalos were a hunted people. They never knew which day would be their last. Bound to the world by his grandfather, a move that saved them and cursed them, they would spend their lives in fear, running from an enemy that wanted their world and their deaths. Often the responsibility he carried felt as though it would crush him, and just when he thought he couldn’t take any more, she’d smile at him, easing the weight.

Gods, he loved her. He’d do anything to protect her, anything to keep her safe. Tesza was his one weakness. For her, he’d die.

#####

Tesza felt his eyes on her and glanced up. The crumbling ruins were packed with family, friends and well-wishers. Weddings for her people lasted four days and this was the third. They’d traveled from clan to clan, place to place. Tonight they sat on the skirts of High City, a place claimed by nature, flooded by the mangroves. The island was a common camping spot for traveling hunters and bridal parties. The clan followed the footsteps of ancestors, honoring them and their memories.

They’d leave soon, abandoning the couple until the morning of Fourth day, when the women of Tesza’s family would retrieve her, help her dress and prepare for Fourth night, a task that could take hours. She’d be bathed and customary bridal symbols would be painted in gold over her entire body to provide blessings for their future.

Jarod’s eyes hadn’t left her for a heartbeat. She blushed and looked down. Why should she be nervous? It wasn’t like they hadn’t touched. He’d kissed every fraction of her skin, touched her inside and out. He’d been more intimate than she could’ve imagined.

Yet tradition dictated they not consummate the marriage until the fourth night. Each evening the caresses grew more intense, more familiar. Tomorrow on Fourth night, she’d be his queen and complete the ritual.

Heat stirred between her thighs when she thought of the way his mouth slid over her skin and the way his fingers felt as they slipped inside her. He’d kept her up all the night before, with orgasm after orgasm.

She brought her eyes up to his and locked gazes. Her heart jumped and she reached up to still its beat. His gaze drifted to her hand, eyes glowing feral in the light. The corner of his mouth curled. Tesza’s hand dropped, shaking. Jittery. Gods, she was so nervous.

He knew she was already his. Tonight would prove to be almost more than she could bear. She must hold her ground. One more night to prove she was worthy of him.

He rose to his feet. Her gaze returned to the ground and she swallowed. He crept to her side silently, but she knew he was there, could feel the energy before his warm breath touched her ear. A hand softly slid down her neck, brushing her shoulder. “What haunts you?”

Tesza gasped, sucking in a breath, unable to speak. His voice ignited the needs from the night before and sapped her strength. A thousand thoughts whirred inside her head but not a one escaped.

“Do you think of last night?” His lips moved closer to her ear, one finger stroked along her collarbone. “Tonight?” He kissed the nape of her neck. Tesza’s heart skipped. Chills shot across her skin.

Jarod reached down and grasped her hand, pulling her from where she sat. He flipped it over and kissed the underside of her wrist, stroking along the skin of her arm to her elbow with his other hand. He pulled her back against him and wrapped his arms around her. His erection pressed against her backside, hot even through their clothing. “Do you feel it,” Jarod whispered into her ear. “My desire.”

“Yes.” Tesza watched the clan rise to their feet and retreat into the darkness, until only she and Jarod were left. They’d gone early. She’d felt his restlessness and perhaps they did as well. “They leave early.”

“I need you.” His hand slipped inside her shirt, skimming along her ribs. “They know this.”

Her breath hitched. “It isn’t Fourth Night.”

“No, but I still need you. There are other ways to take a woman without consummating the union.” His hand slid up and cupped her breast, his thumb brushing little circles around her nipple.

“Jarod.”

His hand retreated. “Do you trust me?”

“Why do you ask?” Tesza’s voice came out in a raspy whisper.

“When we’re denied one of our senses, others are intensified.”

A blindfold dropped over her eyes.

“I won’t hurt you, Tess.”

“Yes. I trust you.” The heat of his body moved away.

“Jarod?”

“Shush. I’m looking at you.”

Tesza turned around. “Jarod?”

Warm breath washed over her cheek. He grasped her hand and laced his fingers into hers. “Come with me.”

She took an unsteady step and stopped. Roots and rocks littered the ground.

“I won’t let you trip.” Jarod gave her a gentle pull and she followed. She inhaled his spicy-wood smell, wild, passionate. A combination of the tree-oils he used to clean his weapons and the soap he washed with, a scent unique to him. One she loved. The smell of a man. Her man.

“Come.”

Step after step, she followed, trusting his lead. It seemed they’d walked forever. Everywhere around her the jungle sang, but it sounded muted, withdrawn.

“Don’t move.” Jarod released her hand and stepped away. “Since we’ve been on this world, every bride of my family has come here on Third night.” His voice moved around as he circled her. “It’s tradition. Traditions keep us from forgetting our past. They’re important. You’re important enough to share them with. This is within the city, secret passages and a place only known to kings.”

“What are you doing?”

Silence.

Tesza reached up to remove the blindfold and Jarod caught her wrist. “No. Not tonight.” He kissed her hand and released it. “Tonight I want you to only feel. Each touch. Intensified.”

Tesza’s heart began to race. Could it get more intense?

Jarod led her to a spot and slowly lowered her to a cushioned surface. He took her hand, slid a strip of silk around her wrist and tied it to something.

“Jarod. I…”

“Trust me, Tess.” He brushed his hand along her arm to her other wrist and secured it in the same manner and then started with her ankles. “Tonight my touch. Tonight, I only want you to feel.”

His hand slid up her skirt, stroking along the inside of her thigh. Tesza gasped and bucked up. “I want to touch you,” she whispered.

“No. Tonight only my touch. I fear I would not survive yours. Free yourself to me.” His fingers brushed her clit and she cried out. His touch withdrew. Tesza struggled against the restraints.

“Don’t leave me.”

“No. I’m here.” He pressed something cold and wet on her bottom lip. “Taste.”

She opened her mouth. It tasted sweet and tangy. She took a bite and swallowed, licking her bottom lip. He gave her another piece.

“It’s good,” she said. Both sweet and bitter, it warmed as it slid down her throat.

“It’s an aphrodisiac. Every touch, taste, smell is enhanced.”

Tesza felt a buzzing heat move through her body.

“The effect is almost instantaneous. It lover’s fruit.” Another piece slid along her bottom lip, she opened her mouth and he pulled it away and replaced it with his lips. His tongue dipped in and out, teasing, sending jolts racing through her body. “Tonight we take it slow.” He drew the fruit down her neck, kissing the trail of juice it left behind, licking it from her skin.

One clasp at a time her blouse opened. He pushed it aside, licked around her naval and blew across it. The juice reacted to his breath, warming, tingling.

The heat increased. Slow? Gods no. Please. She yanked against the restraints and bucked up. “No. Not slow. More.”

Jarod chuckled and moved away.

“Don’t stop. Touch me,” Tesza whimpered.

He pushed her skirt up higher and ran his hand up her thigh again, stopping short of her lips. Tesza bucked up, trying to move closer to his hand. She needed his touch. Gods she needed him. He pressed on her hip, stopping her. The cold wet, fruit slid up her leg, between her lips and along the aching nub.

His hand withdrew, the fruit with it.

He started low, nipping the inside of her knee. He took his time and devoured her inch by inch, until she wept under him. Just as she thought she couldn’t take anymore, he pulled away.

“No. Please.”

His teeth grazed her ankle. His mouth, licked, kissed, nipped slowly up her calve, moving to the inside of her knee again. He blew heated breath and Tesza arched up.

“Gods, you’re killing me.”

“I’m letting you know what you have to look forward to Fourth Night.” He continued, up her thigh following the trail of nectar from the fruit. Higher. Jarod blew on the juice he’d left on her clit. Tesza cried out and came. Liquid heat flowed from her, trickling down the inside of her thigh.

Fingers brushed her pussy, rubbing the slick cum, coating his finger, stroking the sensitive nub, but not slipping inside. “Gods, no. Please. Touch me. Inside. Jarod.”

His hand withdrew.

“I can’t do this.” Tesza lifted up, tugging on the restraints.

“I have all night to convince you that you belong to me.” Warm breath, on the inside of her thigh again. “Do you belong to me?”

“Not yet,” Tesza groaned between her teeth. She had to fight. She had to show him she was worthy to be his queen.

He blew again.

Heat.

Need.

“Gods, no! Not all night. Please now. I claim you. I claim you. Please, Jarod.”

“Shhh. There’s time for that on Fourth night. Claim me then. Tonight, just feel.” His voice buzzed against her hip, giving her no warning, no time to brace.

Then he licked her.

“Oh.” Tesza arched off the mattress. A night of this and she wouldn’t survive to Fourth.

The Kalos believed the buildup of lust made the bride fertile and cemented her love for her groom. Tesza didn’t need to cement anything; she’d loved Jarod since childhood, for twenty-five years.

The more pleasure he brought before Fourth night, the more powerful the bond. If that were true, nothing could get between them.

Nothing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It’s Furday…

…err…Friday!! And I’ve been lazing around all week watching movies. For me that usually means an animal picture of some kind. Yes, the SQUEAKQUEL definitely counts—“all the single ladies, all the single ladies”—I love it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ5x7JYakhU)

Today’s movie pick was Flicka, the newer one with Tim McGraw, which got lousy reviews, but the horse was awesome, IMHO…I really need to find the old, old, old one.

You know where I’m going with this right? Horses, beautiful and powerful creatures. I wanted to do a horse shifter story and I did. It turned out to be a short, short story, Riding Bareback, and can be found over at Whipped Cream Free Reads - and they did a really cool cover.
I found lots of great pictures and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


Hey, I wouldn't forget to do few babies, foals are so cute!!
The next time you're out riding, if you see horses, even on a farm, stop--enjoy the magnificent beauty of one of God's creatures!

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's In a Name?

Some of the writing talk at the blog has got me thinking recently - oddly enough - about names of characters and titles of books. Sometimes, writers get so focused on writing the story, they forget that names and a title are just as important. A title can get the tone of the book alone, and can either intrigue a reader or turn them off the story compeltely. Character names are important as well, strong names are good for strong characters and so forth.

It never works the same for me with titles or character names. They come when they want to. For instance, last week I was working on the 3rd book in my paranormal series and thought of the title. Then, just today I was working edits on the 2nd book and saw the same phrase I'd chosen for the 3rd book. Needless to say, that got a good chuckle from me and let me know I was on the right path with the title. Other times, I struggle for a title. I recently wrote a contemporary romance where the title didn't come until I was just about done with the story.

When it comes to character names, I have noticed I seem to have a fondess for giving characters last names for first names. For example, the first name of the male lead character in Flash of Dark is named Stark. In Midnight's Ghost, the male lead character is named Wallace. It's not always the case, some other names are Ana, Logan, Lucas, Taran, Reece...so you see, it's not always the case. I've even been known to alter names to suit my taste. In Greek mythology, the daughter of Poseidon was named Evadne. I liked the name some, but wanted to like it more. My solution? Just a little rearranging (not much) and you have one of my character names: Evande.

In fact, that reminds me of some fun I had with my newest novel - Midnight's Ghost (obligatory pimping forthcoming!). As a science fiction romance, I was striving to keep the names of this world I created to a managable level. I myself have been known to skip names if I haven't been able to pronounce them after once or twice. But that didn't mean I couldn't have some fun with it. One of the planets - in fact, the planet the story starts out on - is actually the name of a character from my paranormal series - only reversed.

So now it's time for that obligatory pimping I was talking about since I had a book release this week. Fellow PR blogger, D L Jackson interviewed me over at Para-Fanatics and is holding a contest for a copy of Midnight's Ghost - stop by and leave a comment there, that's all it takes to be entered!

Midnight's Ghost (erotic science fiction romance)

Blurb:

The timeline is excruciating.

Taran has three days to get her former lover – whom she’s barely speaking to – and the mysterious teenager she knows nothing about from one planet to another. Given the fact her ship, Eidolon, is the fastest in the star runner fleet, Taran knows she can make the run in the time Wallace has allotted. As the best – and only – female pilot, she’s got something to prove.

As if things weren’t complicated enough, Wallace, and the teenager he has in tow, are both escapees from the harshest prison facility in seven galaxies. Not only is Taran putting her career on the line, she’s got the Intergalactic Patrol hot on her heels. It isn’t long before unresolved feelings and tempers flare to life again and Taran is left second-guessing her decision of putting everything she stands for on the line.

Her determination may just cost her everything.

One man who feels no remorse for a crime he committed and one woman pilot determined to fulfill her promise equal one impossible mission.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fighting for Position

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter


Fighter--Christina Aguilera


This week’s topic will be about—once again—writing. However, I feel strongly this analogy can apply to each and every one of us. Last night I watched the Biggest Loser. Their challenge for this week was to haul all the weight they’d lost around an obstacle course full of sand hills and it made the contestants realize how cluttered and difficult their lives had been when they really did carry that extra weight around with them.

Also during last night’s episode, the contestant that lost the most weight (192 pounds) Michael, had a breakdown wherein he said here they were at the final 4 and he’d be the only person going home still obese (since he started at almost 600 pounds). He said how crappy it was to work his butt off this whole time and still be so big.

Which led me to see his problem in the terms of my writing life. Which led my husband to roll his eyes and duck into the kitchen, but he plays an important part in this journey. He’s partially the “Bob” in my writing life.

I totally understood what Michael was talking about and why he was so angry. It’s exactly what my personal journey in this writing world has been like. For the last two years, I’ve worked my butt off, always learning, getting stronger, writing better. Yet, where have I really gotten? Half the time, I feel as if I spend my time back peddling in a sea that’s the consistency of peanut butter.

Each day is a struggle to balance writing with everything else that an author needs to deal with in the writing business. Not to mention keeping relationships alive, trying to run the household and everything else that is a part of real life. It seems like I have zero free time now because working for myself means that I’m literally working every waking hour—on something.

What’s different about 2010 is the fact that the amount of rejected projects is stacking up with rapid acceleration and reminds me of the year when I decided to “get serious” about writing was still “pre-published”. What does this mean? Has the market tightened? Is the amount of other competing writers out there hugely increased more than at the time I started? Has my quality of writing slipped? Am I not writing the “cool” stuff? These are all questions I have no answers for.

But back to Michael.

He was angry because he felt like his struggle was for nothing and he hadn’t arrived at where he felt he should be at this particular time.

Enter Bob the trainer. He reminded Michael to look back at where he’d started and what he’d accomplished over the short amount of time he’d been working at the weight loss goal. He reminded Michael it was a process. This is how my husband is. Very mellow, saying “I’m sorry you feel this way, but look at how far you’ve come.” You know, the gentle platitudes designed to calm but they usually just tick me off LOL

Michael went ballistic and said Bob just didn’t understand what he (Michael) was going through. Again, I could sympathize with Michael. Unless a person has walked the path before me, they simply won’t understand.

You see, there are some walking the path with you that it seems everything is coming up roses for. They never get rejected, sales come easy, adoring readers litter their walk, everything word they type turns to gold.

This is not my luck and neither was it Michael’s.

Enter the “other” side of Bob the trainer. The scary side. The dark side. The one that says “fine, if you want to feel sorry for yourself, then do it. But you’ll never be better than you are right now if you don’t believe in yourself and you’ll let down all the people who are behind you. You’re setting yourself up for defeat and you’ll never realize the greatness life has in store for you.” Through all the distractions in the gym, all the noise and the looks and snickers from the other people, Bob demanded that Michael focus on the goal and don’t worry about anyone else’s journey.

And yes, thankfully, I have someone in my life—my Bob--that picks me up and sets me on the right path when I fall into the pit of doubt and self-loathing and envy and anger. She won’t let me fall, she re-sets my focus, and best of all, she believes in me. Does she get mad when I say negative things about myself? You bet. She’s my scary Bob. But, darn it, everything she says is correct and she’s always right. Thanks for being my Bob. You know who you are. I’m the better for it every day. The growth is there, praise be.

As in Michael’s case, Bob told him the path ahead won’t be easy and yes, it will be a constant struggle to succeed—to be heard. Anything you want from life that has any meaning you’ll need to work for. How else are you going to enjoy it once you accomplish it?

The same can be applied to my writing journey. Am I at the place where I want to be? Not by a long shot. Do I know where that place is? Not right now because the goal keeps shifting the longer I’m in this business, but I’m steadily working my way toward it. Am I proud of what I’ve accomplished since I first became an author? Yes, but I know I can do better, that there are bigger things out there to be conquered.

I spend my writing time getting stronger, getting better, being shot down and climbing to get back up again. That’s the key. Not letting circumstances defeat me. With every bad thing that comes my way, my skin gets a little bit thicker, I learn a little bit faster. I get smarter, I make wiser choices, I back track. I have to learn how to continue to navigate through the noise around me, eliminate the negative, and realize I can do this—and have already climbed a hundred mountains even though there will be many more.

And one day, I will reach my goal, grab hold of my dream, because I am a fighter.

So are you. Never give up. Never give in. Keep fighting for position.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The One That Got Away

My post today is in some ways a conversation with a very good blog that Annie Nicholas wrote yesterday on her personal blog. If you'd like to please go check it out. It's listed right there on the side bar. I'll wait here.

Okay? Are you back? Great!

In case you didn't read it, she's doing a blog series about the process of writing, what works, what doesn't and passing out some fabulous links to aspiring writers. Her advice is spectacular and I encourage you all to take it.

Some of you might not know, and those of you do might have long forgotten, that in another time and place four of the authors on this blog met as unpublished newbies in an online critique group. This group, at the time, was the best thing that ever happened to me. For the first time, I had someone else really reading my work. I had feedback, I had support.

I also had some bad advice. I say this, oh writer if you are considering a critique group, beware of other people's opinions.

My first week in this particular critique group I was introduced to a writer who write Paranormal Romance as I do. She read my work and literally ripped my newly finished manuscript to pieces, and not in a nice way. I hid under my bed covers for a week and refused to come out. I almost finished writing right then and there. It was horrendous. Later, I would take the attitude that I just didn't read what she did for my work. She didn't read me, I didn't read her and it became a mutually ignored relationship.

But, having said that, there were fabulous critiquers (i.e. the wonderful authors on this blog who were there with me...) I learned a ton. But I got into the habit of assuming every one else was write. It was actually Sandra Sookoo who said to me eventually, you know what, Rebecca, you have to like your own work. You have to believe in it. No one else will. This was good advice.

Yesterday, I was talking to the woman who does my website. We are reworking the front page, but this is a conversation for another time. Websites. I could write a book. And she asked me what I was doing about a category I had created for a series I've never written but had space for on the page. I told her to delete the category.

That book is the one that got away. It was the second book I presented to the critique group. Everyone had an opinion and I hadn't yet learned to value my own first. It got torn to shreds. I edited and edited and edited it to the point where it was no longer recognizable to me as being my own work.

At the point, I could no longer write it. My voice was gone. My muse went silent.

To me, it will always be the story that got away and a perfect example of the dangers of writing groups.

Please, dear writer, use them. They helped me enormously. I loved my time there and the relationships I formed are dear to me, amazing really.

But don't lose your own voice. Don't lose a story. Don't let it be the one that got away. You'll always miss it.

And follow all of Annie Nicholas' advice. I've found that she always knows what she talks about. And Sandra Sookoo too! And J. Hali Steele! And Sara Brookes! And D.L. Jackson! And Stacey Kennedy.....

Best to all of you in your writing adventures. Trust your muse. She's all yours.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Somewhere Inbetween...

Voirey Linger is author of Risking Eternity, coming May 26th from Ellora's Cave. In 2009, she spearheaded the Summer Reading Trail, a collection of free reads by various authors which this year is being run cooperatively with A. J. O'Donovan.

Risking Eternity--

For two hundred years, Dominicus has lived in isolation, sentenced to take human souls to hell. But this night’s victim is unlike all the others. She tempts him. One kiss and she comes apart in his arms. One taste, and he can’t walk away.

But Maggie isn’t the only temptation he faces. Dominicus fights an attraction to Renatus, his best friend through the eons and a male with whom sex is forbidden. With her he risks Hell, with him, losing the only piece of Heaven he has left.


~~~~~~~

Good creatures and bad creatures used to be easy to tell apart. If they had with anything freaky going on with their canines it was generally bad. Night creatures were bad, and so were creatures using spells. Somewhere along the way, that changed. Magic not involving sparkly dust became a plus, going furry was getting your sexy on, and fangs were the ultimate sign of hotness.

Call me old-fashioned, but part of me wants to know if a critter is pure or evil on sight. It's the same part of me that has a hidden stash of bodice-ripper and secret baby books hidden in the back of the keeper shelf, but we won't get into those.

When I was plotting Risking Eternity, one thing I wanted to be very clear on this whole nice guys vs. nasty guys thing. Angels, Heaven, Most High, all good. Demons, Hell and Lucifer, not so much. All very clear and simple, right?

Not so much, as it happens.

While my creatures were either good or bad by nature, they were still fallible. My angel didn't need a demon trying to lead him astray because he was his own worst enemy. He trips up, makes mistakes and needs to figure out where that line between right and wrong really is.

So if the good creatures can't find that line, what about the evil ones? Are demons really the dirty little minions of Satan? Okay, they are in my world building, but does that make them bad?

The more I learn about my demoness, the less I'm convinced she's wicked. Maybe that's because as a fallen angel, she's wasn't created to do evil. Sure, she made the decision to leave the heavens and work for the other team, but the core of who she is remained. The core of good.

So despite my best efforts to keep the lines clear, to make sure there is no confusion between the bad and the good, I'm left with a fuzzy picture of what makes a creature pure or evil. Maybe it's better that way. Maybe it's more fun to leave things to be discovered. I guess a little mystery makes people more interesting... even the ones who aren't human.

~~Voirey

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This week I am going to take a moment and be a proud author to rave about the covers for The Willow & The Wicked. As an aspiring author I dreamed of this moment and I have to say, it is about as satisfying as I suspected it would be.

Seeing the characters that I've grown to love in the flesh is simply an amazing sight and I couldn't be happier with the design that Anne Cain put together for this series.

Now, I'm just craving to see what the final two of the series will look like!!



The Willow - Release Date: July 2010




The Wicked - Release Date: August 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Which one?

I've been digging through my stories trying to decide which I'd like to share. I finally narrowed it down to two, When Souls Collide and Clone. When Souls Collide is a bit on the dark side but has a HEA. The other is a love story, but it doesn't have an HEA. There was no way I could justify it. Before you start throwing things, let me explain.

Eva is a sociopath, an anti-heroine. She's suffered unspeakable evils, isn't stable, strikes out on instinct and doesn't act like your typical romance main female character. The end of this story is all about her redemption and I could write no other ending for it. Nothing else fit.

I think sometimes, we romance writers have novels that we know we can't sell because they don't follow the protocol of a love story but we also know they have to be written. Clone was one of those novels. It's a love story above everything else, but it's also about trust, betrayal and human nature. It digs deep into the human soul and where we come from. It's a story about revolution of a woman and the freedom of a people who were born to be spare parts and slaves. It's a story about greed and how society can so easily be infected and lose sight of who they are and what is right and ethical. It's a story of monsters.

There are triumphs and there are things that will break your heart. Eva is Eva, a product of her enviroment and her freedom doesn't change her past or who she is and what she choses to do. She commits horrible deeds against those who deserve it and also against two who don't.
So, now that I've told you all of this--you'll understand why I chose the other.

When Souls Collide

All rights are the intellectual property of the author. No part may be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author.


***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***


Prologue

“They’re only a few hours out. What do you want us to do, Your Highness?”

King Zarros, of the High Imperial House stared at the screen. Lights indicated an Armada moved toward them. “How many?” He squinted. The blips seemed to merge into one glowing blob, making it impossible to tell by visuals alone.

“Hundreds of thousands. They outnumber us fifty to one. We’ll be annihilated. We need to evacuate the planet.”

Another planet. When would the running stop? Zarros took a deep breath. Now was not the time to panic. If they fled, they’d die in space. The Kori wouldn’t let anyone escape. After one hundred and eighty planetary cycles, the Kori empire had found them and wouldn’t turn away. His people would die for the price of a murdered princess a millennium past.

“Gather every ship, civilian and military, anything that can take flight.”

“Shall I start evacuation?”

“No. I want you to destroy the ships, anything that can be used to escape. If anyone tries to leave, I want them shot down.”

“Sir?” His commander shifted his gaze from the screen and back to the king. “We have to evacuate. We can’t stand against them.”

“If we run, they’ll pursue and destroy us. They’re faster, they have better technology and that’s exactly what they expect. They won’t destroy the planet if what they want is on it. Our best chance is on the ground. It’s time to stop running. The people must commit, even if I have to force them.”

“This is suicide.”

“No, this is survival.” He ran a hand through his hair and studied the converging lights. “Gods help us. We shall make our stand here, every man, woman and child that can hold a weapon.” Zarros strode over to the window and studied his city. “They’ll not forgive me, but this is all I can give them. A cornered animal will fight to the death.”

The commander nodded. “Then it shall be done.” He spun on his heel and marched through the door, barking orders.

Thanks for stopping by,
D L

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's Friday...

And I have no idea what I'm doing today! Ooh...RT, I had a blast and enjoyed spending time with Annie Nicholas. It was our first time meeting in person. Pictures, here you go:

Okay, I didn't take any, not a single one. I stood in line all of 5 minutes for a signed copy of a very publicized release and eventually gave my ticket away to a reader who was far behind me and she was ecstatic. I just couldn't give more time to that venture with so many great authors around. I'll get a copy later.

I stayed over Sunday for the first time to relax and enjoy the pajama party as a reader, but I got pulled out of line to help as an author with the mix and match game. The pj party was excellently hosted by Resplendence Publishing and they showed the Twilight movies (I'd seen both and still enjoyed them the second time around.) By the way, I'm camp Edward.

They always have such great giveaways, but here's the list (I know you're dying to know *grins*) of what I bought at the Saturday book sale.

I bought a book totally out of my normal reading fare! F. Paul Wilson's The Touch, from his Adversary Cycle, and I can't wait to read it.

Cat Grant's Triad, book five from The Courtland Chronicles. She does really delicious men! And you have to see the cover of this book:


I got Patrice Michelle's Anticipation and Seduction, two books in one--I just love her stories. And I have Cindy Spencer Pape's Djinni and the Geek.

So, I've got lots of good books for the summer and only need to find time to sit on my porch, enjoy my flowers, and READ!

Until then, I intend to: Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Only Look Like I Know What I'm Doing

Hey there! My name is Sara and we'll be spending Thursday's together from now on here at Paranormal Romantics. So pull up a chair and the caffeine drug of choice (black coffee with one sweetener for me) and get cozy.

I write wherever my brain takes me. To say I'm an organic writer is a gross understatement. I never have a plan or course of how a writing day will take me. If a character from a book wakes with me, they'd done so for a reason and I'll spend the time necessary with them to get out what they have to say. I learned a while ago that this actually helps my brain purge growing ideas in order to work on others. For instance - earlier this year I finished up, and submitted, the next book in my Rebirth series, Blood Fever. I had a few notes scribbled on paper and 25K words already written for the next book I wanted to tackle, the second book in my Star Runner series (the first of which. Midnight's Ghost, releases on Monday, May 10th - WOOT!). So I sit down in front of the computer one morning and started to write. Only, I'm not writing what the notes sitting next to me talk to. I don't recognize what I'm writing but suddenly I've got 2K words.

And it's good.

So, I keep going. Learning about the people I'm writing about. I put away the notes and close the file on the 2nd Star Runner book. A month later and I'm looking at a finished book and I have no idea where it came from. It's not anything I'd usually write. It's not paranormal. It's not fantasy nor science fiction. It's...normal and I like it - a lot. *G* So, I let other people look at it and they like it too. This book came out of nowhere and the reaction to it is great! Which, if you know me at all, is a feat itself. It's hanging out in cyberspace for the moment. ;^)

I crack my knuckles because now it's time to dig back into the next Star Runner book. For a week or so everything is great. I even re-read Midnight's Ghost and pick up on a few things that still need to be dealt with and start dealing with them because I purposefully leave some unanswered questions at the end of Midnight's Ghost.

And then the characters start in. Only, it's characters from my Rebirth series - not the Star Runner one.

I fight and hold out. Determined that I will get more than just the bare bones of this book laid out. It will start to look pretty. Well, at least prettier than it does. However, my Rebirth characters are stubborn and determined. (Dealing with vampires and Fae - what did I expect?) So, I've given up. I shut down the Star Runner file and cracked open a file that had a "last save date" of Sept 2008. It won't change - it will always have that date because I also opened a crisp, shiny new file. Things in book 1, Flash of Dark and book 2, Blood Fever, have been changed from my first drafts and book 3 will have to be torn apart, chopped up and assembled before I wrap it all up in a shiny package - like a tasty piece of sushi.

Now I get to add the wasabi. :^)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Death or Taxes, Take Your Pick!

Happy Wednesday, everyone. I'm pleased to tell you that today's the day my book Demons and Stilettos Are A Girl's Best Friend releases!

Blurb: Anne Jenkins never believed there was a heaven or hell but when she’s rescued from a runaway horse by a guy who claims he’s a demon, her freak detector goes off. She demands proof and the leather-clad biker sets some local wildlife on fire. She starts to trust in a hurry.

Gregg Carter, bound to the Devil for all eternity because of an audit gone wrong, seizes the opportunity to take possession of Anne’s soul as a way to please his boss. What he didn’t count on was the fact that his libido would take the one-way bus to crazy town as he gets to know her better.

Trouble is, Anne and Gregg spend so much time trying to hide their true selves from each other, they can’t escape the attraction that builds between them. But everyone knows demons and humans don’t mix, and neither can two people who have no futures.


Excerpt: Anne glanced around, looking for hidden cameras just in case her friends were attempting to punk her. Seeing nothing but red and gold leaves that shook in the slight breeze, she turned back to the biker. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“You bet. Now, I need you to sign here testifying that I did indeed save your life and prevented the early termination of such. Because I did, the payment for my deed is one human soul, to be rendered due and payable within thirty days of the receipt of said services.” He held the pen out to her. “I do have other clients today.”

“I can’t just give you my soul. I don’t even know exactly where in my body it’s located or how a person goes about parting with it.” She took another drink. “Besides, don’t I need my soul in order to function? I’m pretty sure it’s not like an appendix or something.” Flutters filled her stomach when the smile he’d flashed earlier morphed into something smoldering and sexy.

“A human soul is only valuable if you know how to use it. To sweeten the pot, I’m prepared to give you three wishes.”

Anne snorted while she took another drink. Water shot through her nose, and tears stung her eyes. Not exactly the sort of thing that would impress a bike-riding minion from hell—not that she wanted to impress him. Damn, I must be desperate if I’m trying to catch the interest of an alleged demon.

Wiping the drops from her face with the back of her hand, she stifled another round of laughter. “Three wishes, huh? Like a magic genie?”

“No, it’s an added bonus, an incentive. Think of it as a supplement to the contract in order to cushion the blow of my taking your soul. You have thirty days to accept the offer, but be aware there are some conditions.”

“Is saving me from impending death one of the wishes?” The whole conversation felt so weird and beyond normal that Anne suddenly knew how Alice felt in the Lewis Carroll story.

“No, but at least you’re paying attention.” A smile curved his lips. “You can use the wishes on yourself or others, but they must be used in the time allowed. You can’t save them. Also, until you exhaust the wishes or they expire at the end of the specified term, I will be your constant companion—”

“I thought you had other clients?”

He huffed his disapproval. “I have a very loose schedule. Anyway, if you do not use the wishes by the end of the thirty day period, you forfeit them, and I still take your soul.”

“That doesn’t sound very fair.” Anne frowned. Fear made her insides clench. “What if I don’t agree to any of it? I mean,” she snorted from the absurdity of the notion, “it really is pretty unbelievable.”

A shadow of annoyance crossed Gregg’s face, and his expression grew dark with anger. “It doesn’t matter. I saved your life. Therefore, you owe me. I can reset recent events and leave you to die, or I can take your soul, and you’ll still die, but at least you will have lived it up for thirty days. What’s not to get?”

Publisher’s website: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/demons-and-stilettos-are-a-girls-best-friend-p-4009.html

Book video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y03FhClKV_Q

I hope you'll add this book to your digital library. It was a blast to write and you'll even chuckle out loud :-)

For those of you wanting a chance to win a special Demons & Stilettos prize, I'm having a launch party at Penelope's Romance Reviews http://www.pennyromance.com/ I'd love to have you stop by!

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