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Monday, February 28, 2011

20 Questions with Author Fiona McGier!!

Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.


www.fionamcgier.com

Secret Love, just published in January

The Reyes Family Romances:

Never Too Old For The Game Of Love

Recipe For Love

Love By Design

Analysis Of Love

Love Therapy

Prescription For Love (free download on Smashwords.com)

Bio: I have been reading since before I was in kindergarten. I always had stories in my mind and characters "talking", but I thought everyone did, so I never mentioned it. I have written short stories, but never sent them anywhere until recently, though I have had many essays published in different venues. Now with 7 books published and more to come, my long-suffering husband is getting used to me spending hours at my laptop. In fact he bought me a second ergonomically-designed chair when the first one broke. My kids think it's funny that Mom writes "smut". Husband likes to read it, as do my close gal pals and some relatives.



How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?

Many of my ideas come from dreams. I wake up, concentrate on remembering as much of it as I can, then I let it "germinate" in my mind until I'm ready to write it. I have some stories started without titles on my laptop...others I don't write anything until the story arc is complete and I know where to start. Sometimes I get ideas from things I read in the paper, like when I read that as electric cars become more common, we will have to start watching for them because they don't make the kinds of sounds that gas cars do. Since I had started to write about a blind hero in Analysis Of Love, suddenly I knew what was going to happen to him at some point. It didn't until the sequel , Love Therapy, but it became a crucial plot point.


What is your process from idea to first draft?

First I try to think up the whole story arc in my mind, but I don't think of it as an outline...just a direction. I think of what the characters are going to be saying to each other...imagine scenes and "listen" as they speak what is in their hearts. What I like the best is when the sex scenes are what I woke up with...those are my favorite kinds of dreams!


Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?

I ask my husband to help me with some "research"! He LOVES that part!


Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?

I don't have one.


What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?

I have never gone to a writing workshop.


What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?

My late Mom, because she always thought that everything I did was wonderful, so if I was to ever write a book, it would be magnificent just because I did it. And my late Dad, because it was the trauma of dealing with my grief when he passed on and left me in charge of Mom who had dementia, that inspired me to create some happy endings for myself, since I felt besieged by emotions that were difficult to deal with.


Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Oh definitely. In Secret Love, there are 2 instances where a song figures prominently into the action. And even the title of Never Too Old For The Game Of Love, is a tribute to that song that Michelle Branch sang with Santana's guitar riffs accompanying her.


Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

Unfortunately for me, I have to have silence when I write. Since I have 3 of my 4 grown children still in the house, and each has their own TV and computer in their rooms upstairs, I have to stay up very late to get some time when their noise isn't distracting me. I have noise-canceling headphones, but they hurt my ears after a while. Fortunately, I love to stay up late and feel most creative after midnight...unfortunately, I sub in high schools so sometimes when the phone rings at 5:30am, I groan knowing how tired I'll be all day.


Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?

Yes. I write contemporary erotic romance, but I like to read paranormal erotic romance. I don't imagine sci-fi plots or paranormals when I'm writing. I'm fascinated by the interaction between men and women trying to understand each other while their hormones are raging insistently. I try very hard to create realistic men... since most of the friends I'm still in touch with from years ago are men that's not too difficult. Side note: reading other authors' sex scenes can often get me "in the mood" to write my own! (giggle, snort!)


Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer? Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?

I help many struggling writers who are high school students, and who discover that I'm an English teacher with a specialty in teaching writing and not "just a sub". They send me their papers on-line, and we discuss how they can improve them. The writers who have helped me out are my editors, especially Dave at Whiskey Creek Press, who makes very useful suggestions that I usually incorporate after thinking about it and realizing he is right!


What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

I've been published since April of 2009, but I just got my first-ever fan e-mail! I was so thrilled I immediately got her permission to put it onto my blog! I'm grateful that she took the time to let me know she enjoyed my writing.


If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?

I would first help my 4 kids finish getting their college degrees, since as I've told them, it will allow for them to be laid off from a better class of jobs when their employers decide to outsource. And I'd buy a cabin in the north woods for husband and me, by a lake for him to do some fishing.

Then I'd give some to the American Diabetes Association, because my only brother and my oldest son have type 1, and my dream is that someday they will both be able to let their fingertips heal and throw away their needles. I'd also give some to the Alzheimers Association, because it was excruciating to watch my Mom, the woman I loved more than anyone else in the world, disintegrate before my eyes over many years.


What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?

Write a lot. Write what interests you and hope readers will find it interesting also. Read a lot also, since the flow of words into your brain is like doing "neurobics", or aerobics for your neurons.


If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be? What do you admire about this animal? Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal? If so, what are they?

A wolf, because my husband told me they mate for life, as we have. I'm protective of my family and would do anything for my kids, so loyalty is one of my strongest traits. And not having to worry about shaving my legs anymore would be a pleasure!


If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

My dream career is one I seem to unable to get anymore because of my age: high school English teacher. I love teenagers...I love their energy, their enthusiasm, and their level of devotion to causes combined with the fragility of their egos. I want to help as many of them as I can to find their own voices. I tell them they all have something to say, what they need me for is to help them learn how to express their ideas, which in turn will help them organize their thoughts and understand themselves better.

I can't imagine any career that would be more rewarding than that.


If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

I'm kind of boring, I fear. I don't have any big ambitions to travel or jump out of planes. I'd like to go on a cruise with my husband to Alaska, but not for the adventure...just to see how beautiful the country is...maybe do some camping in Canada also.


What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

My heroes have to be in touch with their own emotions and willing to make themselves vulnerable to the woman they want to spend the rest of their lives with...even if they don't share that part of themselves with anyone else. To me, a secure man who knows who he is and what he wants, is truly sexy. His looks and career/money are secondary.

My heroines are all alpha females, who are independent women busy living their own lives. They don't need any man just to have a man...they can get as many of those as they want, when they want them! But they have to be forced by the hero to realize that it's time to commit to just one man.


If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?

1-Every child born into this world would have at least one parent who felt as if the world revolved around that baby, and who would make any sacrifices to provide the love and affection that a human needs to grow up secure and whole.

2-All humans would truly live by the golden rule, so war would become obsolete and unnecessary, since to kill another human being would be seen as the atrocity that it is.


If could have a super power for a day, what would it be? Why?

The ability to stop time for a while, so I could get more accomplished while the rest of the world was "stopped". I always seem to run out of hours in my day, and this way if I needed more time, I could get it whenever I needed it.




Blurb:

Sheena has spent 12 years working for a government agency so secret that she didn't even learn what it was called for a year! She enjoys the work, but is getting bored. She tries her usual cure; a new man. But something about this one is different; she develops feelings. And in her world, even having feelings is dangerous. Indulging them by falling in love can be deadly


Excerpt:

She didn’t want him to hate her. She wanted him to continue to desire her, to seek new ways to pleasure her, but that wasn’t possible anymore. She’d received her summons. She had no choice but to go where she was told to go. And she had no explanation that she could possibly give him that would make him understand. So she had to pretend that all was well, then just leave.

He opened his eyes when he heard her sigh, which she hadn’t intended for him to hear. When he spoke his voice was a lazy drawl; it was the sound of a man filled with a supreme sense of satisfaction.

“What’s wrong, darlin’?”

She was overcome with memories of the long hours they’d spent enjoying each other, and the bodily lassitude they both felt afterwards…a total sense of physical well-being that she’d never felt before. Inwardly she cursed her summons, her job, her contract, and everything about her life, which suddenly felt suffocating and restrictive.

“Nothing,” she lied. “I was just admiring how gorgeous you are, and how much I love to look at you, clothed or unclothed, though we both know which one I like more!”

He eyed her silky lingerie. She’d slipped it on for making the connection with the agency in case they wanted to use the Skype screen.

He patted the space on the couch next to him.

“Then come and join me, and we can get naked again!”

She went over to perch on the side of the couch, not trusting herself to touch him yet.

“What did your director say?”

“Oh, same old shit,” he smiled at her. “They only have so much time here to finish the scenes. There’s only so much they can do with my body double. It’s going to cost a whole lot more money if they delay much longer, blah blah de blah blah…”

“So what did you tell him?” She asked, curiously.

“That they should take the extra money out of what they’re paying me and shut up about it!”

He smiled again.

“I told him I’d be in when I’m good and ready. And I may be good, though not as good as you are,” he leered at her, and kissed her fingertips. “But I’m certainly not ready to go back yet. I’m not done exploring the Kama Sutra with you! I’m sure we have at least a couple more positions we haven’t done yet.”

She could feel herself responding to him, almost automatically, and that in itself was unnerving to her. Instead of her being in charge around him, she was beginning to feel things despite herself...things that she wasn’t supposed to feel. Things that were dangerous for both of them. She had to regain control. She took a deep breath.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pole Dancing You Say?....

My Life as An Exotic Dancer stripper images Pictures, Images and Photos




Ohh Where to begin….


Let’s begin at the beginning. ‘Stripping’ can be perceived in many different ways.
The people closest to you will object. Until they realize you don’t need monetary means from them. And then it becomes the ‘untalked’ about job. You simply become your own boss. I danced from the age of Twenty to Twenty-seven. I danced in a hole in the wall non-for-profit club in my hometown and a club in New York. When my kids were small. I had an apartment here in KC and one In New York that I traveled to whenever the bug hit me to go.

Why did I chose to dance? I’m intelligent, hungry for knowledge and I get bored really easy. So let’s break it down. I hated working 9-5 for a pittance, with half a degree. I enjoyed leaving my babies with family three nights a week enabling me to spend the rest of the time with them. Was it money that drove me? Yes and No. While money of course is nice. I wanted to be with my family as much as I could. As a then suddenly single parent with three toddlers, it was impossible. If I stayed at the 9-5 then I’d miss out on 95% of their first years of life. I reasoned I had plenty of time to get a regular, ‘respectable job’ in the eyes of the masses.
Like beauticians pay for their chair, In a club you pay for your spot. 125 a night to the house for rent, 25 for the bouncer, 10 for the DJ and if security starts your car on frigid days a tip for them as well. The rest is yours to take.

So I took my ray of sunshine smile and my compact and very in shape body and made it work for me. I learned pole routines by watching others and asking. I earned many a bruise, knocked my noggin a few times, and got to business into getting into the best shape of my life.

stripper images Pictures, Images and Photos

There are positives of dancing and negatives.


To be out there, naked, near naked…you HAVE to be completely comfortable with yourself both inside and out or you’ll end up being ‘a drunk’ dancer, someone who has to drink to get through the night. The stage is your time to entrance, play and bring a fashion of entertainment to the patrons.
A time to be witty, seductive and charming at the same time.

Unlike those who go table to table asking if you can do a dance for others, I was invited. Most of the time I didn’t dance at all. See the thing is that while a good portion enjoys a dance. A majority enjoy conversation, intelligent conversation so much more. Some people are so shy in public they lack social skills. Some are just lonely and others are randy males. If anyone were to ask me my favorites I’d say in this order. The Irish with their accent, The Uniformed-Cops,firemen…etc , bachelors and bachelorette’s and CEO’s . Add in a few fellas who have feet fetishes—and you get the best foot massages available ever and at the same time paid for your time.
You get your unruly grabby hands types of characters but deescalating isn’t too difficult. If it’s a big problem that’s what security is for. Normally it doesn’t come to that. Everyone is there to enjoy drinking or watching.

healthy pole dancer Pictures, Images and Photos

Behind the scenes is frantic. At my club, the one in NY we had a Brazilian costume maker who came in to sell. From her I had the prettiest costumes that came to about 5 grand. I enjoyed the costumes more than anything. There is a self empowerment that comes with being on stage.

No it’s not the same as a musician or an artist or even a movie star. It’s different because it’s you. You have the power to make people want you, want to be with you, sit with you, befriend you, offer you all kinds of services… Body augmentation is usually the first offer. I was offered but I liked my body the way it was. Other things offered- better apartments-side jobs for corporations. The networking is vastly different but has great perks, even educational. While you’re pretty and they’ve come to know you, they don’t offer on just a pretty face alone. Give them sex and you won’t get a damn thing. But share yourself with them, your dreams, fears and hopes and they will do their damndest to help you if they can. Listen to them and offer your advice or a different perception and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Why’d I quit? Kids were old enough to understand and I was ready for a change. That part of my life was done. I’d met both great and crazy people. I learned more about myself than I thought possible and it was just time for growth. So I left got a ‘real job’ and went to college. I missed the easy money but moving forward seemed more important than remaining stuck in one place.

One of my sisters dances, she has all my gear. Last year she received her bachelor’s in Psychology and is working now toward her masters. I have many friends who had masters degrees and decided to make their living in entertainment. Not many see the positive that can come out of something positively sinful. All of my sisters money paid for her four year education to a private college with cash. No loans. Restating-For all the judging that is done, there are a host of women who use the profession as a stepping stone to a better life.

Physical Shape Wise? We’re going to get a damn pole in our house. I was in the best shape of my life dancing. Go online and Check out Pole 101. Go to Youtube and watch the Championship Pole Dancing Competitions. The Spinning, sliding, Contorting artform is growing very popular.


It’s not unlike Silk rope dancing done, except it’s not that high and you can do so much more in that art. It uses the same flexibility, and ability to use all muscles in the body. I’m not talking about feet on the stage, I’m talking about six feet up, flipped upside down and the only thing keeping you still is your side abs and one underarm. How you get down is up to you.

www.mahalialevey.com

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Contest Coming to Sweet n Sexy Divas!!!

You asked and we're delivering!!!

Our newest contest - the Easter Blog Hop - will start March 24 and will run through April 24 (Easter).





Prize: A gift basket of goodies and an Amazon gift certificate to one winner.

So stay tuned for more details on our next Sweet n Sexy Divas contest!!!!

(artwork courtesy of Photobucket.com)

Friday, February 25, 2011

20 Questions with Author Cari Quinn!!

Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.


www.cariquinn.com

My book list so far: Full Disclosure, Ex Appeal, Personal Research, Reveal Me and Insatiable.

BIO:

Award-winning, multi-published author Cari Quinn wrote her first story—a bible parable—in 2nd grade, much to the delight of the nuns at her Catholic school. Once she saw the warm reception that first tale garnered, she was hooked. She attempted her first romance in junior high, long before she’d ever read one. Writing what she knew always took a backseat to what she wanted to know, and that still holds true today. Cari’s genres of choice include contemporary, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, urban fantasy and paranormal. Recently she discovered erotic romance. Oh, how far she’s come.


How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newspaper?

All the above, though usually it will be a picture or a snatch of conversation or some tidbit in the news that catches my attention. Ideas are everywhere!


What is your process from idea to first draft?

I usually mull for a while, letting things kind of germinate, then I start writing. I don’t use notecards or outlines. I’m


Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?

Music. When I can’t get into a scene, music is what gets my mind whirling again. I create playlists for each book and they can really help to set the mood.


Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?

My overall Yoda is Nora Roberts. She’s my mentor just because she writes so many consistently amazing books. Personally? My critique partner, Taryn Elliott (who is an amazing author herself!) We met when we were at similar spots in our writing career and over the past three years, she’s become invaluable to me. I can’t imagine writing and submitting a story without her input.


What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?

I try to attend workshops a couple times a year, but I’m a big proponent of learning through reading and writing. But if you’re looking for a good one, Margie Lawson’s workshops are incredible and I’d recommend them.


What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?

Most of all, my mom. She’s always believed in me. And then, of course, Taryn. She’s been a godsend.


Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Often. Almost all my books have their own “song” that instantly puts me back in the space of writing that book. Until I have a WIP’s playlist, it’s hard for me to get into the flow of writing a book.


Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

Constantly and the playlist changes with the book. I think best when music’s blaring and I listen to most kinds of music, though some scenes are more suited to one kind or another. My preferences range from oldies to rock to rap and everything in between.


Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?

Yes and yes. I read both my own genre and a few others. I love urban fantasy and suspense though I’ve yet to tackle writing them successfully. As for reading erotic romance, reading a really good story influences me only the sense to try harder. Nothing gets me back to the keyboard faster than reading an excellent book.


Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer? Has another writer ever come to your aid? How?

I try to as often as I can, because we all started at the beginning. And yes, other writers have helped a lot at different times. Michelle Rowen, in particular, was so kind and encouraging and helpful to me when I was just starting out. She really made me feel as if it was possible I could succeed. I’m a huge fan of her writing and she’s an amazing person too.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

Having one. Seriously. Even though it’s extremely early days yet, I don’t think I ever truly believed that one day people would be able to buy words I wrote. It’s a dream come true.


If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?

I would work a bit less at the day job, fix up my house, buy a Chevy Silverado. I’d take care of the people I love and ensure they wouldn’t have to keep struggling at jobs they wish they could retire from. And I’d definitely donate to charity. I’d start with the Humane Society and the Rescue Mission then several others.


What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?

Don’t give up. Keep writing, keep submitting. You’re the only you this world will ever have and only you can tell the stories in your heart.


If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be? What do you admire about this animal? Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal? If so, what are they?

I think I’d pick a cat. I love cats. They seem aloof and solitary but they’re the most loyal companions ever if you stick with them and they learn to trust you. And yes, actually, I’m very much like that as well.


If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

Singer, basketball player, and race car driver. No, I’m not quite tall enough to play basketball, but I can dream.


If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

I’d love to travel for a year, just going wherever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to.


What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

My heroes all tend to be protectors. There is always that one thing in their life they’d do everything to keep safe – a job, their employees, someone they love. And of course, eventually the heroine.

My heroines are usually strong and not dependent on having a man in their life. They may want one, even need one, but they’ll always be able to do things for themselves.


If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?

I would end poverty and would ensure that every person got the same amount of sickness free years. A guaranteed lifetime, so to speak.


If could have a super power for a day, what would it be? Why?


Invisibility because I’m a born snoop and love to people watch. Plus I love finding out secrets.


Blurb:

Having all of her is the only thing that will satisfy him...


Shawn Griffin and Rachel Cooper have been best friends practically since birth, thanks to their families’ close relationship. But for the past few years, Shawn has been fantasizing about getting his best pal in his bed. When she announces she’s taking a trip to reconnect with an old lover, Shawn knows the time has come to put up or shut up. If she wants to go to New York City, fine. But he’s coming with her.

Rachel doesn’t know what to think of Shawn’s sudden interest. Determined to live life on her own terms, she refuses to fall right in line with her wealthy family’s wish that they get married and have perfect little babies. She just didn’t count on how determined her seemingly laid back -- and extremely sexy -- best friend would become after setting his sights on what he wants. Her, over and over again.

But when tragedy strikes, Rachel begins to wonder if she’ll lose not only her lover but her best friend too.


Excerpt:

“You’re not a stupid woman.” Shawn loosened his hold on her finger. No matter what he’d indicated on the phone, it’d be her choice whether she stayed or cut and run.


“No.” Clearly challenging him, Rachel cocked her head. “And because I’m not, excuse me if I find the timing of this sudden lust --”

When she fumbled, he gripped her wrist. “This sudden lust isn’t sudden. Maybe it proves I’m a fool, but I kept hoping you’d stop flitting from man to man long enough to see me.”

She jerked free, but she didn’t retreat. “You’re my closest friend. I never gave you any reason to believe I felt otherwise, so don’t pull this crap on me now. You don’t want me to see Ryan.”

“Damn straight I don’t,” he agreed, swinging his legs off the bed so fast his gaping towel took another leap toward indecency. His move forced her back a step, then two as he rose and grasped her shoulders. “I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you from making the biggest mistake of your life.”

“My life, my mistakes.” She tipped her head back until their gazes were level. “I’m leaving.”

“So go.” Shawn lifted his hands to her face. “In a minute.”

Rather than swooping in to ravage, he stretched his fingers over her cheeks, cradling them in his palms as his lips brushed hers. With that first taste, as wicked and dark as her wine red lipstick, heat coursed through his veins to gather in his groin.

It took all his will not to crush her against him as her fingers curled over his shoulders. But when her tongue slipped between his lips to war with his, he nearly lost his shaky grip on the torrent of need choke-chained inside him.

“Rach,” he whispered against her mouth, wanting her to know what this meant. Wanting her to understand. Instead, as she ripped her mouth away, the deep, dark pools of her eyes widened as if she couldn’t believe what he’d done.

What she’d done.

Without another word, she hurtled across the room and out the door. Away from him.

Again.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting To Know You

Hello Sweet N Sexy Divas!

Last night I was thinking of what I'd like to blog about today and as I pondered long and hard, the subject of why we, as authors, blog in the first place came to mind. For me, it's a way to connect with my readers and give them an opportunity to know me on a more personal level. Sure, I have some loyal fans who'd buy just about anything I'd put out there, but for the majority of romance readers, they've never even heard of me. And so I blog to catch their attention and hopefully help them feel compelled to investigate me and my work a bit further.

While that is certainly a difficult thing to do at times, I enjoy the time spent getting to know potential readers on yahoo loops, at book signings and conferences. At those venues, my readers can get to know me, but I still walk away not truly knowing who my readers are, at no fault of their own.

So today, I'd like to take this opportunity to get to know my readers (and this includes my fellow authors too.) To do this, I've drawn up some random questions I thought would be fun for everyone to answer. Don't worry, most are just simple one-word answers. But I thought it would be nice to turn the tables and get to know my audience for a change.

Below are the questions (that you can cut and paste in the comments section). Now, don't be shy...I'd love to read your replies. But just to get the ball rolling, I've answered each of those questions, too, at my new photo site called Rendezvous With Renee Vincent. It's a photo blog with all kinds of photos from my past events, signings, horseback riding trips, vacations, etc. I decided that since I was going to Ireland and Scotland this year, I needed a great site to host my pictures so I could share them with my readers. It's a simple, easy to navigate site and I invite you to hop on over and take a look.

But first, the questions:
Favorite color:
Favorite food:
Place I've longed to see for years:
People I'd love to meet in person:
Best kiss I ever had:
Car I'd like to drive before I kick the bucket:
If I could go back in time for a day, when and where would I want to be:
Favorite way of life that I wish still existed today:
A modern day convenience I could live without with no trouble:
A modern day convenience I couldn't live without:
One of my favorite sounds:
Something I want to learn to do:
My favorite ice cream:
Favorite thing to wear:
Things I could never have too many of:
Someone I haven't seen in a long time and would pay a fortune for the chance:


*Cut and paste these questions in the comment section with your answers and then when you're finished, jump over to my new site and check out mine (bottom of right column.) Sound like fun? I hope so...because I really cannot wait to read your answers and get to know you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Critque Groups are Not For Me


            Critique groups are wonderful for some writers but not for me.  I’ve had two books close to completion for over a year but I wanted to perfect them before I submitted them to an agent or a publisher so, at the top of my to do list was to get them critiqued in a group.
            I submitted the paranormal to a crit group after I had polished it up and tweaked it all I could. From four authors I got four opposing opinions on how to open the story.  Back to the drawing board I went but confusion quickly followed.  I tried this and that and then ended up with a beginning so altered even I thought it sucked.  One of the authors threw in some snarky comments that shot like arrows through my heart.  I lost my enthusiasm for the project so I decided to remove myself from it and start something new.
            I started writing on a time travel western at the turn of the century.  It was a project I had been thinking about for some time and my outline was laid out so I felt comfortable getting into it.  Once again, I submitted my first 30 pages to a different crit group.  What I got back was a mixed bag.  Some crit members agreed on some points so at least I had something I could work at and I did.  But, once again, there were five opposing views on how the story should open.  I tried working at the beginning, twisting it this way and that, adding what I had taken out and then adding it back in because of another opinion until self-doubt began to creep in.  Maybe I wasn’t the writer I thought I was.  This time I lost my love for the project altogether and it showed.
            I stalled out.  My creative enthusiasm drained away.  I took a class in Procrastination and Writer’s Block.  It helped some.  My story ideas were flowing but getting anything outlined or moving past the first chapter failed.  My characters were wooden and their motives weak.  What was I going to do?
            A friend told me to write from the heart.  Well what does that mean?  And then I figured it out.  I had to start caring about my characters and what would become of them.  I had to stop listening to other people—that means crit groups—and start hearing my own voice.  I had to begin writing for the joy of it again and write what was important to me instead of over-analyzing what I wrote and wondering what other would think.
            In the end, I found that a crit partner worked best for me—someone I knew and respected.  A beta reader is also helpful.  But critique groups are not for me.  I know some of you use them and swear by them but not me.  In fact, I think I would rather work entirely alone than to ever join a critique group and submit my work again.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

THE "WHAT-IF" GAME--IDEAS AND WHAT WE DO WITH THEM


Have you ever been asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" Ever thought
about that question?

Where do your ideas for writing fiction come from, and what makes them
worthy of the time, effort, and creative energy we expend to bring that
idea to full fruition--to craft a well-written story from it?

One source of story ideas is from real-life experience. Whether we are
retelling a chapter of our own life, or something that happened to
someone else, we must have come to the conclusion that that idea was
worthwhile and that others would be interested in it, as well.

I want to talk a little bit about why we have to be careful when we
glean ideas from actual happenings. For many years, I taught a series
of classes on "writing your life story." You can't imagine how popular
those classes have remained, especially with the older generation. The
idea that one's life is unique or different suddenly takes on new
meaning when others say, "You should write that down!" It comes to
mean, "Your life has been fantastic!" It may well have been fantastic
but when you stop to think about it, many, many people have had unusual,
one-of-a-kind experiences at one time or another. What would make a
person believe that their life story would be the one people would rush
to Barnes and Noble to pluck from the shelves and lay down a twenty
dollar bill to buy?

Many times, we as writers can draw from our life experiences as a bank
of ideas for our fiction, but to write our own life story in full
would generally prove to be a project that might prove to be a
disappointing failure in the end.

Characters we've met in our lives also give us ideas for the characters
we create. Although we might not think of our sourpuss Aunt Betty as
a "character" in real life, once we begin to write the fictional story
we've been plotting, we might see one of the secondary characters begin
to take on attributes of Aunt Betty--someone we haven't been around for
the past five years. People we've met casually, or known in a family
context, can firmly insert themselves into our stories--much to our surprise.

Books, poetry or movies that might have influenced our thinking during our
lives also can have an impact on our ideas. I once read a book based
on a song that was popular in the early 1970s about a young woman who
was in love with a sea captain.

Other forms of mass media can also add to our treasure trove of ideas.
Articles we've read in magazines or newspapers spark ideas. True
stories that are fictionalized have become one of the most popular genres
ever created. Truman Capote's best seller "In Cold Blood" was the book that
was the catalyst and set the standard for this type of fictionalized
reality.

Historical events from the past can also provide us with ideas that can
either stay fairly true to history or take a wide turn around the actual
events. Alternate history is a new up-and-coming genre that encompasses all types
of fiction writing, from science fiction to historicals,
including certain genres of romance, mainstream, and political fiction.

Now that we've talked a bit about where some of our ideas might come from,
we need to look at how we know whether an idea is "story-worthy" or not.
Have you ever started writing on a manuscript that you loved the idea
for, but suddenly the plot fizzles? Maybe you get to a certain point
and don't know where to go next. Does that mean your idea is no good?
Or does it mean you are just in need of some brainstorming to re-direct
your plot, punch it up, and keep the middle from "sagging"?

Someone once said, you can wash garbage, but it's still garbage. Learning
what is garbage and what is salvageable is the most important thing you need
to know. If you begin with an idea that you love, chances are, there'll
be someone else out there who'll love it, too! Your readers! If you
have an idea that's "sort of" good, the question is, will you care enough,
as a writer, to see it through to the end?

Of course, everyone who has ever written anything for pleasure has had
self-doubt. Remember Miss Smith's third grade class? If the assignment
was to write an essay, or a short story, you didn't dare let that smirk
of anticipation cross your face. What would your friends think of you
if they knew you were looking forward to actually writing a paper? While
everyone else wrote a paragraph, you couldn't help yourself: you wrote
two whole pages! And the secret was out. Self-doubt set in the very moment one of your
classmates asked, "Gosh, why'd you write so much?"

So, you see, self-doubt has been instilled in us since we were in Miss
Smith's class. It will never leave us. We have to practice introducing
ourselves in the bathroom mirror: "Hi. I'm (insert your name here.) I'm
a writer."

One of the best idea-getters is the "what-if" game (one of my favorites.)
What if there was a man and he had a beautiful daughter. What if
he fell in love with a woman who had two daughters of her own. What if
they married. But, what if the woman wasn't what the man had believed
her to be? What if she hated his daughter and was jealous of her?
CINDERELLA!!!

I love this game because it leads to all sorts of possibilities. Our
stories can take flight in directions we never imagined, becoming a
joyous surprise even to ourselves, the authors!

Though we must battle our self-doubt on two fronts (a, will the story idea be interesting and good and b, will I be able to write it, finish it, bring it to
fruition through publication) reminding ourselves every day that we are
professional writers and that our ideas are worthy is one way to combat
that doubt. I'm not a fan of critique groups normally, but finding
other writers who are supportive through other venues is a great
confidence booster.

Something to think about: The greatest "what-if"? What if I wasn't a
writer? My story would never be written!

I’m so glad that my first published novel, FIRE EYES, was made possible by a combination of my imagination and a wonderful editor who had the patience of Job with me. That novel has led to all kinds of amazing “what-ifs” and fantastic possibilities in my writing career! I'd love to hear from you about your "what ifs" and what they've meant to you--in life or in your writing.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from FIRE EYES.

THE SET UP:
After US Marshal Kaed Turner has been brought to her, wounded and beaten, Jessica Monroe nurses him back to health only to have him leave her in pursuit of the gang that has terrorized the Arkansas/Indian Territory border since the Civil War ended. When his fellow marshals show up hot on the trail of Andrew Fallon's gang, Kaed leaves with them to track down Fallon and save the hostages the gang has kidnapped. Jessica is left alone with her thoughts, and the greatest "what if" of all--wondering if he will make it back to her again.

FROM FIRE EYES:

The night had seemed unending, the hours slipping by in a cool shower of rain. The misty air that followed was chilly, and Jessica, wide awake, had risen around midnight to build up the fire.

A restless uneasiness surrounded her, and she was unable to quell it. She put two logs on the dying fire, sparking it back to life, then pulled the rocking chair over to sit in front of the hearth, hoping the heat would soak into her stiff limbs. Would she ever be warm again?

Sleeping alone was quite different now than it had been before Kaedon Turner had come into her life. She missed the intricate tangling of their bodies, the soft silk of her skin entwined with the rough warmth of his as they made love, and later, when they fell asleep, the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, pain-free at last, and the way he pulled her close to him, even as he slept.

She watched the leaping flames, mesmerized, not really seeing them as she remembered the crisp feel of Kaed’s dark hair beneath her fingers, the almost boyish glint in his eyes as he teased her, the easy smile, and the secure feeling of safety that he wrapped about her and Lexi like a cloak, protecting them.

Jessica pushed her hair away from her face as another thought forced its way into her consciousness. She was late. A week late. She sighed, thinking of her conversation with Kaed before he’d left. She closed her eyes, just for a moment, seeing the flames outlined against the inside of her eyelids.

Maybe it didn’t mean anything. It was probably just the worry, the stress she’d been going through. She’d been late for her monthly before. But she found herself wishing, hoping, that this was the real thing.

Foolish. Anything could happen. He might be killed out there, and then how would she ever survive? A woman alone with two babies and no man. She shuddered, thinking of the way the Choctaw brave had looked at her, his dark eyes keen with lust. She had no desire to wed him, or anyone, other than Kaed Turner.

Yet, if she were carrying Kaed’s baby, what could she do? Return to Fort Smith with the marshals? Surely, they’d come to tell her if Kaed… She would not think of that. She stood, unable to make peace with her restless thoughts. Worst of all was the ambiguous feeling she knew Kaed harbored toward having a family. Would it always be so with him, even after they had children together?

Slowly, she crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed. The side where Kaed slept. Her hand went to the pillow and she caressed the spot where his head had lain. She imagined the way he looked at her when he had first opened his eyes, when he’d been barely able to slit them open at all.

He wasn’t ready yet. Shouldn’t be out there riding with the others. Didn’t he realize how badly he’d been hurt? Jessica shook her head helplessly. She couldn’t have stopped him. Stubborn, stubborn man.

But oh, how she loved him! Damnable stubbornness and all. Now, all she could do was continue to love him, to wait for him, and to hope he would accept the family life they’d create together.She wanted that life. Much as she had dreaded it with Billy, she anticipated it with Kaed. She stared at the pillow with unseeing eyes. As tired as she was, she knew she would not sleep if she lay down. Her heart was full of unanswered questions, her mind coiled tightly, unable to relax.

Old English Mountain Speech

Old English Mountain Speech-

In developing the heroine for my new novel, Lost Hearts, I knew that with Johnny having been raised by outlaws, in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, she would have had little to no education. Worried that her dialogue would sound too cartoonish and unbelievable I researched the dialect of the people raised as Johnny was, in the dense woods and hollers of the mountains.

What I learned was that the speech of the Ozarks comes closer to Elizabethan English than even modern day speech in England. Many of the quaint words and phrases used by these hill folk go back beyond Shakespeare to the time of Chaucer and even to the Anglo-Saxon period.

Johnny, in Lost Hearts-

“Is ya goin’ to put up that rifle-gun? I don’t want it a-goin’ off ax-ti-dental like iffen this here salve stings.”

These compound descriptive words, are also seen in the Old English poem, Beowulf. For example, “un-living” for the dead and a “bone-box” for the body.

Johnny-

“But Jack was give to me by my uncle Henry. I ain’t a-goin’ to let ya’ll sell him.”

Mountain speech often uses ‘a’ before a present participle. This is from the Old English prefix ‘on’ that preceded infinitives, like ‘onhuntan’ (a-huntin’).

Rab and Johnny-

“Please, Johnny. I’m tired, my leg hurts, and I’m cold. I’m so damn cold.”

“I caint, Rab. I’m afeared that worthless bunch a no accounts will see. They’ll know I ain’t no boy.”

Afeared is a common hill country word that dates back to Middle English, (1150-1500).

Johnny-

“Well, hell, ya ain’t got to give me no money, no how. After all the vittles I ate, I’d surely admire to help ya.”

Mr. Emory leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “’Thou hast spoken no word all this while, Nor understood none neither, sir.’” A soft smile warmed his expression as he lifted his gaze to meet hers across the room.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act five, scene one. I apologize, my dear, for spouting Shakespeare in the middle of our discussion, but your marvelous double negatives have brought to life the poetic beauty of Old English.”

She blinked, understanding him “none neither.” But from the way he grinned at her like a mule in a thistle patch, she couldn’t help but smile back as she realized, this wonderful, fancy dressed man liked the way she talked.

A use of double negatives, while considered uneducated today has strong links to Elizabethan English when a double negative was used to form a stronger, more effective negative.

As part of my research I corresponded with a wonderful man, the age of 96, who lives in McAlester, OK, where part of Lost Hearts takes place. He sent me a letter yesterday telling me how much he enjoyed the story. He also mentioned how accurately Johnny butchered the English language. He related how he was raised on a farm in the foothills of the Ozarks, where a few of the children who attended his school had talked like Johnny. He mentioned how his parents refused to allow him to form friendships with those children as they feared his speech would become contaminated.

Since I was worried that I had overdone Johnny’s character, this man’s letter was more reassuring than any review I could receive.

Between his help, and the books I read, Johnny took on a life of her own. She is feisty, pragmatic and fiercely loyal, and she grew into one of the most unique heroines I’ve created so far.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What is the sexiest part of a man?

So I was wondering about what part of a man you consider to be the sexiest. The 6-pack abs that some drool over? The tight gluts on a well-shaped butt just made for your hands to grab and hold onto while he relentlessly pounds himself into you? The wide shoulders for you to hold onto, emphasizing how much bigger than you that he is, so you feel well protected? His arms, muscled and strong, with veins that pop out, a testament to his high testosterone level, proving how hard he works out to be sexy? His smile, just for you? Dimples? Eyes that burn into yours when he looks at you with lust on his mind? Or is it the male package: the triad...the two family jewels along with the shaft of pleasure, that for some odd reason these days is being referred to as his "junk"?

Excuse me while I take a long, cold drink. Ahem. Okay, now my answer might surprise you. Of course I love all of those things, along with the shadow of a beard that on some men appears 5 minutes after they shave. I love everything about men: their hairiness, their strength, their sweatiness, their hardness...especially their hardness. Phew!

But the one part of the male anatomy that I find the most sexy is: the brain. The brain? With all of those other attractive parts? Why? You may ask. Simple...work with me here, folks. All men have sexy parts to their bodies, but only some know how to use them to give you maximum pleasure! Have you ever heard, "It's not the size of the wand but the skill of the magician"? Or any variation on that theme. How do men gain skill and learn how to use their many sexy parts to attract and please a woman? Duh...the brain!

Any man who takes the time to learn about women, about our different manners of pleasure, about the difference between the many kinds of orgasms we can have, and how to give them all, is already a step above the other men who never bother to think about pleasing anyone other than themselves. There are men who truly don't care as long as they are satisfied. Then there are men who learn just enough to get by--but spend any time being intimate with them and you can almost see them remembering that they need to grab here, squeeze there, lick a bit, then go for it! Not the best way to endear yourself to any partner.

But the man who looks at all women as unique beings, who seeks to learn how to do basic things, but asks each woman he is with, What pleases you?, How can I help you to enjoy yourself more?, is the one to look for. And jealously try to keep for yourself. Every idea he comes up with, every position, every variation, has to start in his brain.

So I'm going to state unequivocally that in my opinion, the sexiest part of a man is his brain. Now let the discussion commence!


A descrip
tion of the hero in Secret Love:
It didn’t take long to see just who it was the women were talking about. He was much more attractive in real life than he was in movies...he’d been in a couple of big releases that had made him internationally famous.
He was tall and dark, his skin a reddish-brown color that bespoke of his Native American ancestry. He filled out his clothing well; the rolled-up sleeves on his casual jacket showed muscular forearms hinting at even more toned muscles hidden by his shirt. His broad shoulders made Sheena
drool, as she imagined herself held down by those strong arms. He had fairly long straight black hair that shimmered like black silk whenever he turned his head. His eyes were dark and inquisitive as he scanned the place for a seat.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Trailers As Promotional Tools

I've made a book trailer for each of my books since IOU and while it's a nice marketing tool to get the word out, unless people visit your You Tube channel or you advertise it in your signature line or announce it, not too many people are going to know it's there. Unless by some curious fluke it catches on.

I still haven't figured out why the IOU book trailer has had over twelve-thousand hits. I'd love to have as many sales but unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. So why do I continue to make them? Because it's fun and relaxing and after a bit, I realized that structuring the text storyboard led me to improving my blurbs. And trust me, that was a big plus:) The other big plus is that it's free. All it costs me is my time.

I'm going to leave you with the trailer and if you make a comment today you could win a download of CROSS MY HEART.



Enjoy!
Paris Brandon
http://parisbrandon.com

Friday, February 18, 2011

20 Questions with Author Fiona Neal

Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.

My web site addy is www.fionaneal.com Since 2000, I’ve published 14 novels, but the rights of most of them have reverted to me. Currently, four are available: The Magic of Moonlight, Lady Claire’s Cavalier, Holiday Heat, and Beauty and the Beast. The last two have been reissued. I am originally from New England, but I now live in the South with my husband and two dogs. I love to knit, quilt, read romances and history, and watch old, romantic movies.

How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?

My ideas have come from various places. The Magic of Moonlight came from a line in an old song and a documentary I saw on the history channel about smuggling in York, England before the Napoleonic Wars. I put the two ideas together and asked, “What if?” I once saw the cover of a magazine and it triggered an idea for a story. Old movies are a good source of inspirations, not so much the plots, but they spark ideas.

What is your process from idea to first draft?

When an idea is planted, I let it grow and take shape in my mind before I key anything in my computer. I like to have a rough plot worked out in my mind, especially as it pertains to the internal and external conflicts and the hero’s and heroine’s motivations—what makes them tick and what pushes their buttons. Then I do my rough draft.

Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?

Letting my mind relax and giving free rein to my imagination. I get great ideas before I go to sleep, on walks with the dogs, and just doing housework.

What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?

Workshops or talks at local writers’ groups and RWA chapters have helped me. Conferences and critique groups are valuable too.

What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?

A friend who is now deceased. She gave me the encouragement I needed to write and keep writing.

Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Yes. As I mentioned earlier, part of the inspiration for The Magic of Moonlight came from the line in an old song.

Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

I’ve listened to music and had the TV on for background, but it has to be soft background noise.

Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?

I read a lot of history and a lot of romances. The history books do influence my historical books.

Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer?

Yes, whenever someone asks for an opinion or information, I give it—for what it’s worth.

Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?

Two of them critiqued my work

What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

Just getting published. Since 2000 when my first book was released, I’ve had 14 publications.

If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money?

I’d finished furnishing my house and do some upgrades. I’d help my family. Would give any of it to charity? Yes. If so, which one? The Salvation Army and The Humane Society. I love animals.

What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?

Read—a lot! Know the marketplace. Be professional. Be kind.

If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be?

My beagle. I’ve had him for nine years. He is persistent when he wants something. He is consistent. He is faithful, and sweet. So is my female lab mix.

Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal?

Yes. I’m persistent and faithful.

If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

An operatic career. I love opera. An interpreter. I like languages, and an archaeologist, specializing in British archaeology. I’m fascinated by Hadrian’s wall and all the artifacts there and at Sutton Hoo. I love Saxon artifacts too.

If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

I’d love to take a train across the United States, Canada, and one from London to Scotland. Then I’d love to take a cruise around the Hebrides, the Shetland Islands, and the Orkneys. Then onto the fjords of Scandanavia. A river cruise of the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, and Loire Valley would be nice.

What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes?

Moral strength, courage, kindness, understanding, and ability to think his way through difficulties.

If you have a super power for a day, what would it be?

To wipe out ignorance, disease, and poverty. Why? To help mankind.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Waltz in Vienna by Andrew Grey

One of the things that I love most about being an author is the opportunity to write about things that I’m not actually able to do. For example, I can’t dance. I have two left feet as well as two right arms and everything decides to go in different directions at the same time. Needless to say I look like some demented, flailing crane on the dance floor, so it’s something I rarely do no matter the occasion. (And only with plenty of alcoholic reinforcement that I always regret) So when I wrote Accompanied by a Waltz, I got to do something through my characters that I would seriously love to be able to do in real life, a grand waltz in Vienna.
My partner and I had the opportunity to visit Vienna a number of years ago and I fell in love with the city. To make things even more special, we visited one of the city parks and that evening a small orchestra had set up and ordinary people were dancing beneath the trees and under the stars, it was magical, romantic, and so damned frustrating because I wished for nothing more to join them. However if I had, I would have undoubtedly scarred everyone for life. So instead we sat on a bench nearby, watching and listening, swaying to the music.
As I was writing Accompanied by a Waltz, I needed a scene ripe for romance and that evening came to mind. However in my story, my characters aren’t sitting and listening, they get to do what I couldn’t, waltz together beneath trees and under a starlit sky to Strauss’s Blue Danube and Tales from the Vienna Wood. Closing my eyes as I wrote the scene I could almost feel the sway of the dancers and hear the swells of the music. My feet began to move, my body swayed, and for a brief second, I got my wish.

You can find Accompanied by a Waltz and my other titles at Dreamspinner Press

To learn more you can find me at:
My web site: http://www.andrewgreybooks.com/
Blog: http://andrewgreybooks.livejournal.com/
I'm also andrewgreybooks on twitter
And you can find me on Facebook or email me at andrewgrey@comcast.net

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Does Snow Inspire You?

Over the past week we've had a record breaking amount of snow here in Texas. Of course it doesn't take much to make a record of snow in Texas, as most of you know. But as I stared out into the white wilderness this fluffy stuff created, I had to ask myself. Does this inspire me to write? And is it a good inspiration or bad? The answer might surprise you.





Snow is white, and white as far as color goes, is sort of non-descript. In other words just the color is bland. However, if it had snowed before Christmas all sorts of excitement might have been induced. A white Christmas in Texas is something to behold, does not happen very often. I know I'm sixty-four years old and I've had a few Christmases here. When it does snow at Christmas a conversation piece. And to tell the truth I'm not sure why, it is the same no matter what time of year. But at Christmas the kids get so excited if even a drift of snow happens by.

Therefore, I would have to say that to be inspired by snow in Texas at least, it has to come around Christmas time, when we're making cookies and all kinds of goodies for the company we will have. Who minds being cooped up in the house when someone is making cookies?

This year we had a record breaking 5" in the DFW metroplex. That is cause for some excitement in itself. Usually when we get it, it quickly turns to brown slush and freezes over into something creepy like black ice. So to get 5" all at once is something for us. And the kids do go wild. Down here, you won't find the kind of toys for snow you will find up north. No, kids get a hold of cardboard and make their own toys. And do they every have fun. Garbage can lids, old swing seat, anything that will slide will do.

So getting back to my main question, does snow inspire you? As a writer, it can, but I truly think that this comes from sweating out a few summers here in Texas and dreaming of a snow filled night around the fireplace. Now that is romantic.

I wrote a book called Heart of the Wild, available now at Smashwords.com, where the hero kidnaps the heroine and takes her to his cabin in the wilds of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. A blizzard traps these two in the cabin and they are faced with their secret feelings for one another. Just the fact that they can't go very far makes it difficult for them to get along. So in this case snow did inspire me, and yes, I did write it in the middle of summer. So I would say that snow does inspire, but having the real McCoy makes it less romantic and more of a hassle. The thought of snow is what inspires. You think about Christmas, you think about cozy fires, so my answer is yes, it does inspire, but since we had a week of snow and ice I don't know about you, but I am truly ready for the good ole sunshine how about you!

Take a gander at Heart of the Wild.







Buy link for this one is : http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8656

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Morning All Sweet and Sexy Diva Blog Readers

Hello Readers,

Its great to be back again, it seems like I have a handful of stuff to discuss today. I have must see books and I have some news myself. I will be reappearing on Radio again in March. We have 2 new books out, one of them is a re-release. We also have the huge news that my Press Release is going well and I hope to be signing the contract for my 5th book in the same series as my 2rd book in the A Different life Series that we are going to be releasing really soon. I might be having my 3rd book from A Different Life Series released this week also. Fingers crossed on that one.

On Saturday the 12th of February 2011 we re-released 'Shetlands Immortals: Against My First Love' and we also released for the first time ever 'The Immortal Chief's Christmas With King Arthur', all the blurbs are below. We will be releasing 'A Different Life: Three Lane Highway' really soon. So make sure you check out those blurbs before you stop by the MUST SEE BOOKS in my mind.


Shetlands Immortals: Against My First Love

'Carla McBain was just an ordinary sixteen year old girl, until one late night in October; Carla was murdered in her dorm room. Carla was scared until Oscar and Daryl meet her on her return to the Islands, to meet her parents. After confronting her, they realise that she is a new Immortal.

After staging her death, the pair convinces Carla to return to their Holy Ground, where they tell her everything that they know. They train her until the day comes that the Islanders grew suspicious of her presence there within the Old Viking Temple.

Deciding it’s safer to leave, they head out into the night in search of someone else who can tell them the truth about why they are Immortals. What will they find?

Can Oscar and Daryl survive outside of the Temple with a young Immortal?

How did they end up Immortal and why are they protecting her?

What happens when she meets her first love who is responsible for her being Immortal in the first place?'

The Immortal Chief’s With King Arthur

'The Immortal Chief tells the tale of his Christmas with King Arthur. How he meets Krystal-Marie, and saves King Arthur from becoming and immortal too young! What will happen between the two of these young Immortals who have walked into the unknown together?'


MUST SEE BOOK'S

1. I personally recommend 'The Cruiserweight' by L. Anne Carrington
2. The Woodlands by Christina McKee

So check those out, its been great being here and hope to see you all next month. You can check out my current releases at 9 Clouds eBook Marketing & Promotions and there link is below. If you want to see my back list then please visit www.xoxopublishing.com/shop-online
http://www.9cloudsebookmarketingandpromotions.com
Kristal McKerrington x

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - and CONGRATS to the winners of the SNSD launch contest!!!


Hope all of you have the most fantastic Valentine's Day ever, whether it's with a spouse, significant other, family, friends or all of the above.

And now the Sweet 'n Sexy Divas winners - those two lucky individuals who'll split the ebooks so graciously donated by many, many authors.

First, here's the list of books the two winners get to split:


Prey for the Wolf - Kari Thomas

Sensual Stranger - Tina Donahue

The Violin - Sarah McNeal

Winner's Choice of backlist - Stephanie Julian

Educating Aphrodite and Taming a Highland Devil - Kimberly Killion

Reveal Me - Caril Quinn

Alien Mate 3 or Scared of Spiders - Eve Langlais

The Arrangement - Delaney Diamond

Demonic Persuasion and Flaws and All - Mahalia Levey

Love Me Once Love Me Twice - Sandy Sullivan

Winner's Choice of backlist - Pat Brown

Ræliksen (Book 1 of the Emerald Isle Trilogy) - Renee Vincent

Sweet Christmas Anthology - Kristal McKerrington

Changing Cherry - Berengaria Brown

Accompanied by a Waltz, Love Means...No Shame, and Spot Me - Andrew Grey

Adam's Treasure and Lila's Vow - Diane Wylie

Head Over Heels - Paris Brandon

A Wicked Ride - Avril Ashton

A Valentine Collection - Cheryl Pierson

Christmas Anthology and The True Meaning of Love - Rawiya

Scared of Spiders - Eve Langlais

Secret Love - Fiona McGier


Good Cop, Bad Girl - Paige Tyler

Cross the Line - Rie McGaha

Stormy Wedding - Kelli Scott

Erotikos - Shannon Leigh

Let's Pretend - Monique DeVere

The Wolf & the Druidess - Cornelia Amiri

Under Cover of Night and A Gentleman's Savior - Charlene Roberts

Beyond the Dream Catcher and Hannah's Man (two copies of each - one to each winner) - Rita Hestand

Intimate Persuasions, Love Knows No Boundaries, Sudden Devotion, Sweet Redemption, Sweet Salvation and Sweet Vengeance - Nicole Morgan


And now for their names (chosen at random - drum roll please)

Winner # 1 - LISA RICHARDS

Winner #2 - CATHY M


Congrats, ladies!!! We'll be contacting you shortly for transfer of your prizes.

To everyone else - thanks soooo much for making our launch such a great success. Throughout the year, we'll be running all kinds of contests, so stayed tuned!!  :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Suspending Disbelief, Part II

Suspending Disbelief, Part II

In my January 16, 2011 blog, I gave many examples of linking biblical references to the story in The Judge to give the novel credibility. That novel is primarily earth-based, so linking the story to the Bible made sense. It was a way of making Daniel’s discovery plausible, and making the ship itself seem possible. After all, much of the ship was described in detail in the Bible long before the New Testament was written.

I also claimed the remaining novels in the trilogy, Infinity Quest and The Empress of Tridon, would be grounded using other published scientific papers, the Torah, the Qur’an, the Kabala, Hindu writings, and similar philosophies that would enable to reader to accept universes and concepts that are almost beyond imagination.

Let’s begin by grounding the primary “leap of faith” that runs through all three novels, something that’s a current hot topic of world-wide research – the use of brain waves to control things. Much work has been done in this area. Wheelchairs are controlled by thought as well as some computer systems, but there’s more. The military has research programs to read individual thoughts (http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/technology/27055299.html), a concept that would be a boon to interrogation. In the future, I believe thoughts will not only be read, but recorded as well. The capability to save recorded thoughts for eternity exists in the trilogy, and simulations can be run within the recorded body of thoughts that enable exploitation of the collective experiences and thinking of all people over all time. That’s what Daniel and Eve find in the spaceship buried in the Negev.

Individual thoughts are recorded in “glyphs”, glyphs are clustered in “matrices” and matrices are networked together in a universal view of something like the Internet. Of course, there are limits to what can and can’t be shared, but there are also controllers called “singularities” who can seek out whatever knowledge is desired from the matrices when needed. Imagine how science would advance if the experiences of the finest minds weren’t lost at the time of death! That’s the culture into which Daniel, Eve and the remainder of the Judges step into when they leave earth.

During simulations within collective matrices of glyphs, Daniel discovers ancient secrets, but even these are grounded by the thinking of Descartes’ "cogito, sum" – "I think, I am." An expansion of that thinking lead the ancients to create matter from thought, and Daniel finds his ship is outfitted with thought-to-matter converters, equipment that works at the atomic level to form food and other voyage necessities from recorded thoughts that describe complete understanding of the objects being produced.

The Judges leave earth for the distant planet Ukkon, but find space isn’t at all what they thought. At one point, Daniel confronts the memories of the long-dead former captain of their ship, Sartan, and is presented with an entirely new concept of space, a vital understanding to address the mind-boggling distance between Earth and Ukkon he sees on a map projected into his mind. New concepts are not only presented to Daniel and the reader, but are linked to everything Daniel knew before his encounter with Sartan, as shown in the following short excerpt:

My mind is still reeling – the distances are so vast. “But, no matter how you slice it, there’s a hell of a distance between those two dots. If the universe I know is just a tiny part of that one ribbon, then, even at the speed of light, it’d take a trillion lifetimes to travel between those dots!”

“Possibly, for the universe you know, Boy, but this isn’t that.”

“Hello, earth to Sartan, there’re Natural Laws here, too; you can’t screw with Mother Nature!”

“Damn, Boy, you sure are green. Question: what’s a Natural Law anyway? Answer: it’s just a repeatable observation. When your scientists can’t explain something, but observe it the same every time, they call it a Natural Law, whatever ‘it’ is at the time, like gravity for example. But those folks only know observations where they exist, next to that little green dot down there in the corner.”

“Okay, okay, let’s say I accept your explanation of Natural Laws, but they’re all I’ve ever known, and they all say it can’t be done. What am I missing? How do we get from point A to point B?

“Simple, you just need to know it’s what’s between the ribbons that counts.” Captain Sartan is enjoying this far too much. It’s as if he’s been waiting to turn the tables on me, for a time when I need him more than he needs me. What a pain in the ass! A guy could grow to dislike these downloads; another good reason for only taking on on.

Sartan is waiting for me to make a fool of myself, and I make a stab at it, “Dark matter?”

“Nah, not really. Earth science is just coming to grips with that; you need to look at the bigger picture. Inside a ribbon you’ve got your matter on one hand and your energy on the other, and in between you’ve got your dark matter. But what’s outside those ribbons, Boy? Not matter, not energy, and not dark matter, either. Outside those ribbons, the rules you grew up with simply don’t apply. Within a ribbon, light’s constrained to a fixed speed, but outside those ribbons, there’s nothing to hold it back. No gravity, no energy, no ‘dark matter,’ no rules.”

“No speed limitation? No relativity?”

“Simply doesn’t apply.” The Captain’s words drip with sarcasm, as if any idiot should understand.

So how long will such a trip take? How fast will we be going?”

“It’ll take as long as it takes, no more, no less. Time has little meaning to us anyway. We’ll accelerate until we reach the halfway point, then we’ll decelerate. A thousand of your light years could pass in one of our light seconds. Only two parts of the trip will go slow; when we’re leaving the ribbon we’re in on this end, and when we enter the ribbon where Ukkon is located.

The ribbons puzzle me. “What about the ever-expanding universe following the Big Bang?”

“Big Bang? You believe that crap? Look, Boy, these ribbons act a lot like a fluid, like a trickle of water running down an irregular surface. Sometimes they expand, sometimes they contract, and sometimes there’re undulating waves moving along them. The Big Bang, as seen from the neighborhood of earth, is really a ‘big bulb’ traveling along that ribbon, so everything inside the bulb appears to be moving away from everything else, at least at this time.

“Don’t you see it, Boy? The galaxies, everything in the ribbon, slosh around as the ribbon expands and contracts. And, by the way, the edge of the universe, as seen from earth’s neighborhood, is expanding faster than light, exactly as NASA observed it, because the speed of light is not a constraint outside the ribbon!”

Again, the view of space is linked to known facts: NASA observations prove the expansion of space exceeds the speed of light (http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/2009/03/29/can-the-universe-expand-faster-than-light-apparently-yes/), and Daniel’s initial view of the Big Bang reflects current theory. In other words, the new view of space is grounded to current thinking and observation.

In similar fashion, I attempted to connect all aspects of the trilogy to known science. Another example is the “seeding” of intelligent life throughout all universes. New DNA analysis printing methods called Supramolecular Nano-Stamping enables single strands of DNA to self-assemble on a substrate, duplicating a nano-scale pattern made from their complementary DNA strands. That technique was the basis for etching tiny cubes distributed throughout the universes, a type of DNA seeding. That’s the reason similar life forms are found throughout all universes in the trilogy, and there are no monsters in the novels, except for those that exist within the human character.

The Judges become part of the seeding process when they decide to seek their forefathers, the people who seeded the universes in the first place. However, the adage “be careful what you ask for” comes into play. In seeking them, Daniel and Eve search for a bound to infinity, but find incredible pain instead—and a concept of God they can scarce imagine. Relative to grounding Infinity Quest, the monsters from history I used to ground the villain were the most infamous dictators I could find: Hitler and Stalin.

One final note. Even the names of all characters in the trilogy are grounded in meaning. The name, Marid, for example, was taken from the evil genie mentioned

many times in the Qur’an. Similarly, all character names describe the essence of the associated character, when the names are looked up in Hebrew, French, Arabic or English. The names for Daniel and Eve, the hero and heroine, were intentionally selected for their biblical namesakes.

Here is a short blurb for Infinity Quest: Marid, God of all that is, developed intelligent life throughout thousands of universes for his own purposes. His creations don’t know he exists, but are pawns in his galactic plan to become omnipotent, omnipresent, and the final rung on the evolutionary ladder. Daniel and Eve trace Marid’s rise to power through trillions of years of individual lives recorded in glyphs. They find he destroyed his home planet, and then used techniques similar to those employed by Hitler and Stalin to enslave the fleeing population. Attempting to free a fleet of distant relatives, they learn the hard way that Marid uses alternate realities as weapons, so things are never what they seem, and discover first hand Marid can inflict pain and death on a scale they can’t comprehend.

Next month, I’ll provide a few more examples of grounding, but will primarily focus on the socially significant messages embedded in the trilogy.

Thank you again, Sweet and Sexy Divas, for having me today, and a big thank you to all the readers who took the time to read this blog as well.

Sincerely,

James L. Hatch