Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free Books & Some Lovely Reviews!

My blog tour has begun! Stop by, leave a comment, and be entered to win a free copy of THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER!

Tomorrow, June 30th, I will be at: http://freshfiction.com/ blogging about HOW TO UNDRESS AN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY GENTLEMAN, or, how to undress my hero in THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER. An actual writer’s guide to eighteenth century clothing…with a dash of magic.

Thursday, July 1, I will be at: http://mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com/ blogging about COMPARING THE WRITER’S LIFE TO A MOVIE STAR’S. Debunking the myth that a writer’s life is glamorous.

AND on the same day I will also be at: http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/ having my launch party where I'll be celebrating with A MUSICAL JOURNEY through THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER.

Friday, July 2, I will be at: http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/ answering some interview questions!

AND I will also be at: http://siamckye.blogspot.com/ blogging about HOW I JUGGLE MY WRITING AND REAL LIFE…OR NOT. Where I discuss my inability to master the art of juggling.

And the following Monday, July 5th, I will be at: http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/ talking about WORLD-BUILDING…AND A MAP OF THE ELVEN LORDS’ REALM. The steps I took in building the realm of THE ELVEN LORDS, including a never-before-seen map of the seven elven sovereignties, kindly drawn by my DH.

Reviews are coming in for THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER, and I'm thrilled to share them here:

Rated 4.5/5 and a K.I.S.S (Knight in Shining Silver, unforgettable hero) from RT BOOKreviews: "This enthralling story combines magic and realism as its excellent plot reaches out with great depth of emotion, heart-stopping action and characters easy to care about wrapped in a passionate love story."

Rated: 5/5 plus Outstanding Book by Merrimon Book Reviews: "Few authors grab the imagination and the heart so deeply. Outstanding!"

Rated: 5/5 by Long and Short Reviews: "I can't wait to read more by this author. She's amazing!"

Rated: 5/5 plus Reviewer Top Pick by Night Owl Romance: "The Fire Lord's Lover is her finest work yet."

Rated 5/5 by Single Titles: "Her unique plot merging the worlds of elves and humans is brilliant."

Looking foward to seeing you around the blogosphere!


Monday, June 28, 2010

And the winner is.......

Congratulations catslady. You're the winner of Loucinda's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to calim your prize. Thanks for stoppign by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Building Positive Writing Communities

This segment could also be called,
The Power of Paying it Forward
Whenever I clean or get dressed, I listen to books
on Cd's. Recently I was listening to Wayne Dyer.
He shared an interesting point.
It has been proven that when someone
is the recipient of a good deed, that person's
serotonin levels increase making them happy,
AND their immune system improves.
What is even more interesting is the person
who does the good deed also benefits from
an increase in serotonin and an improved
immune system. PLUS, anyone who witnesses
this event will also benefit from the same.
This explains the feelings of happiness I
have noticed at my local RWA chapter meetings.
(Romance Writers of America)
At these meetings, we encourage one another,
share information which helps each
other along our respective career paths, and
applaud each success along the way.
We all know writing has many challenges
which are often depressing.
Many writers will question
if they should continue at some point in
their career.
Remembering what Wayne Dyer has shared is
a good step in the right direction. The more
we share and encourage one another, the
more likely we will all be able to handle the
disappointments when they come our way.
So, I encourage you to give a compliment
every day. If the person you are talking
to is a writer, give them two.
Until Next Week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interview with Loucinda McGary

I’d like to welcome our guest again today, Loucinda McGary. It’s a pleasure having you come back and visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called The Wild Irish Sea. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Thank you so much for inviting me back to Much Cheaper Than Therapy! I’m so happy to be here and to give your readers a bit of info about my new book. The Wild Irish Sea is my third romantic suspense with paranormal elements. Like my first book, The Wild Sight, The Wild Irish Sea is set in the far north of Ireland, but this time on the rugged coast of Donegal which is in the Irish Republic.

My American heroine Amber O’Neill has a twin brother Parker with whom she has shared a mental connection all their lives. Parker is vacationing in Ireland when he inadvertently witnesses a murder and the killers target him. Amber receives his mental distress call and rushes all the way from California to the coast of Donegal to rescue her brother.

Once she is in Ireland, Amber enlists the aid of a reclusive Irish police inspector, Kevin Hennessey to help her find Parker. Also, to Amber’s great surprise, the mental connection she had previously shared only with her brother, she now finds she has with other people, especially Kevin.

The Wild Irish Sea is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Actually, my editor came up with the title. She wanted something similar to The Wild Sight, so my working title was The Wild Mess. Since we couldn’t very well use that for the finished book, she came up with The Wild Irish Sea (even though the book is set on the Atlantic coast, not the coast of the Irish Sea).

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always enjoyed a bit of mystery and suspense with my romance, and I always loved the great old gothic romances of Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Mary Stewart. When I decided to write romance, I naturally included a suspense element that harkened back to those authors I loved reading as a teen. Plus, I love a touch of paranormal, something that might conceivably happen (like mental telepathy or reincarnation), and included elements of these in all three of my books. My readers seem to love these little extra touches.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
Ten years ago, my niece gave birth to fraternal twin boys, the first twins in our immediate family. This sparked my interest in twins, and I read quite a bit about them. I thought it would be fun to write about a set of twins and decided to give them a ‘special’ connection.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

Can’t really say I have a favorite. I read broadly and with online sites, I never quite know where I wind up. But some of those accidental discoveries have given me some great ideas and provided interesting twists in my story lines. The Niall Marker, which I stumbled upon while researching for my first book, went on to play a pivotal part in that story. Celtic legends about selkies provided interesting twists for The Wild Irish Sea, as did behavior studies of seals and sea lions.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I always love my heroes. After all, if I don’t love them, how can my heroine? Or more importantly, my readers? Though I must say that in this book, Amber’s brother Parker was a real scene stealer. I think his sassy comebacks and humor in the face of adversity are what makes him so appealing. Oh, and he was inspired by my own two brothers and their constant verbal sparring and one-up-manship. So far, everyone who has read any of The Wild Irish has commented on how much they loved Parker.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

I’m afraid I’m not so well organized that I write out character sheets and interviews. However, I usually know all kinds of things about my main characters and their background before I start writing. How do I know all this? They tell me, of course.

No, please don’t bring out the men with the strait jackets! Those voices in my head really are my characters talking to me. Generally they arrive with their names (first, middle, and last) fully intact and I have a pretty good idea what they look like. I do use Irish census data to help me with last names of Irish characters.

I also like to find pictures (usually of celebrities since those are readily available) that I think look like the image I have in my head of my main characters. But their personalities are definitely their own. For example, Luke Wilson physically resembles my personal idea of Parker, but his personality is based on my brothers.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

I have been to Ireland, but I will admit that I have not visited the particular area (the northernmost point) where I set The Wild Irish Sea. I did look at a lot of pictures and descriptions of the area, and I always use maps so that I know the general direction in which things are located, and how far apart they are. However, in Ireland distance can be deceiving because their roads are small, winding, and very difficult to negotiate sometimes. So recalling my own personal experience in visiting a place is also helpful in portraying it in my prose.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

As I mentioned above, Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney and especially Mary Stewart were great favorites of mine. Also, the incredible rich detail and characterizations in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series have been a wonderful inspiration.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I HOPE it is my online ‘blog tours!’ This is the start of my third one and I believe it is a great way to get the word out. I’ve also been much more active on Face Book in the past year, so please, “friend me!”
What do we have to look forward to next?

I’m currently writing what I hope will be the first book in a series centered around a fictitious cruise ship line, Adventure Cruise Line. Since I’ve been on sixteen cruises thus far (number seventeen is booked in November), I’ve already done a lot of the “research” so I thought, why not use it? And I promise, this will NOT be your mother’s Love Boat!

Thanks, Loucinda!

Thank you again for inviting me and please pass the chocolate!
To celebrate her book release, Loucinda is offering a free autographed copy of The Wild Irish Sea (or either of her other two books, if you prefer) to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Loucinda McGary has two great passions: travel and writing. She has visited 47 states and 31 foreign countries, and likes to set her tales of romance and adventure in some of the fascinating places she has visited. Her previous books are The Wild Sight and The Treasures of Venice.

Check out author’s website at www.loucindamcgary.com
Buy The Wild Irish Sea at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and on Amazon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quote of the Month

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Robert Collier

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lots of chances to win a free copy of THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER!

That's right! THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER hits bookstores in July, and I'm blogging all over the place to celebrate the release. Stop by any of the following blogs on the date shown, leave a comment, and you're entered. The more blogs you visit, the better chance you have of winning, so I'll be posting where I'll be on my personal blog http://www.kathrynekennedy.blogspot.com/starting the end of June, and will also post upcoming visits here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy. So be sure to stop by often for the direct links. I've written posts of interest for both readers and writers, and you'll get an exclusive inside look at THE ELVEN LORDS series.

TFLL Virtual Tour Schedule

A copy of THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER will be given away at each blog!

Where I discuss my inability to master the art of juggling.
Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee

Or, how to undress my hero in THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER. An actual writer’s guide to eighteenth century clothing…with a dash of magic.
Fresh Fiction

Debunking the myth that a writer’s life is glamorous.
My Book Addiction and More

Join me on a musical journey through THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER.

Deb’s Book Bag

The steps I took in building the realm of THE ELVEN LORDS, including a never-before-seen map of the seven elven sovereignties, kindly drawn by my DH.
Star-Crossed Romance

My step-by-step guide to speaking with Ador, the black dragon in THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER

Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Or, how I managed to fall so hard.
Love Romance Passion

Including the seven magical realms, and the levels of fire magic created for my villain and hero.
Historical Hussies http://historicalhussies.blogspot.com/

Are no longer private! A combination of my research, the original creation of the world and a peek at plot elements that haven’t been revealed yet.
Literary Escapism http://www.literaryescapism.com/

A peek into my writing process.
Magical Musings http://www.magicalmusings.com/

The Life (and lies) of a Flying Inanimate Object http://www.haleymathiot.blogspot.com/


Anna’s Book Blog http://annavivian.blogspot.com/

Queen of Happy Endings http://alainereading.blogspot.com/

Including a new excerpt to show how the fantasy, historical & romantic elements combine in THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER.
Linda Banche Romance Author http://lindabanche.blogspot.com/

Or, how Dominic Raikes undresses Lady Cassandra. This is an actual writer’s guide to eighteenth century costume.
Night Owl Romance http://nightowlromance.com/nightowlromance/

For the Love of Words http://shaunaroberts.blogspot.com/

Including a never-before-seen romantic excerpt, and the song that inspired my hero.
Romance Junkies http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

Monday, June 21, 2010

And the winner is.......

Congratulations Joder. You're the winner of Nancy's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Writing Strong Characters

Lions for Lambs
with Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Tom Cruise

I find it useful to analyze movies to discover which writing
techniques add to the quality of a story.

I found myself drawn to every main character in
this film and soon discovered it was due to the passion
with which they held to their beliefs.

First, we have The Senator:
He is committed to winning the war in Afghanistan.
He tries to convince the news reporter that his new
initiative will put the U.S. back on top in the war.
As the story develops, we also wonder if this
passion is more about his desire to become president
one day. Regardless, no one can argue with his
dedication to winning the war, no matter what is motivation.

Next, we have The Reporter:
She has been reporting the news for forty years.
Her station had sold out and become more business
oriented, but we see her conviction to do the right
thing with this story. She doesn't want to be
used by another politician. She is once again passionate
about reporting the real story.

I cried over The Two Soldiers:
They were college students who wanted to fight
for their country and then come back to make
a difference. They are good friends
and likable. They gave up graduate school to do what they
believed to be the right thing. Their passion put their
lives on the line.

The Professor tried to talk the two soldiers
out of enlisting. This man's passion has him trying
to mold the minds of young people he believes can make
a difference. His newest challenge is...

The College Student: He is intelligent and passionate
about his beliefs, but he becomes disillusioned
when he decides all politicians sold out.
This student's apathy, at the moment, is what provides
the contrast we need to see just how passionate the
rest of the cast is in their belief systems.

Whether we agree with each character or not,
we know they want to make a difference in the world.
We may even begin to wonder if we make a
difference in our own lives.
Are we making a difference with our stories?
When you can get your readers to ask the deep
questions, then you have done your job as
a writer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview with Nancy Gideon

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Nancy Gideon. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called MASKED BY MOONLIGHT. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

A: MASKED BY MOONLIGHT is the first book in a six book (so far!) dark paranormal shape-shifter series for Pocket Books. It’s unique in that the first four books follow the romance and adventures of Max Savoie, the deliciously dangerous shape-shifting right hand man of the crime boss our heroine Detective Charlotte Caissie is determined to convict for the murder of her father. Things get complicated when Cee Cee’s plan to use Max to get close to her enemy are tangled up by their inexplicable attraction to one another, and by a shadowy clan of shape-shifters who believe Max is their prophesied leader.
Publishers Weekly gave MASKED BY MOONLIGHT a starred review, saying, “Intriguing characters and zippy action. Gideon deftly avoids writing herself into corners and masters the tension required to keep her complex and engaging story moving."
To summarize the series: Romeo & Juliet meets Beauty and the Beast in the Big Easy. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

MASKED BY MOONLIGHT is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

A: Pocket wanted linked titles for the series and I thought BY MOONLIGHT would allude nicely to shape-shifter mythos. MASKED for the first book refers to the guise of humanity the Max wears. CHASED and CAPTURED follow on books two and three. I haven’t decided on four through six yet.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

A: I love the paranormal genre! I enjoy making the impossible believable and writing without boundaries to the limit of the imagination. The heroes are larger-than-life, the heroines tough yet vulnerable, with romance, action, adventure, fantasy and even hints of horror and suspense thrown in. I was hooked with the first book of my MIDNIGHT vampire romance series back in the 90s. What’s not to like?

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

A: I’d wanted to write a werewolf book even before I started with my vampire series. In fact, the prologue for MASKED BY MOONLIGHT dates back to that first attempt that shall remain unpublished. When Silhouette created their Nocturne line, my editor for their romantic suspense line encouraged me to try my hand at a paranormal, so I dug up that old werewolf tale and updated it into the new millennium. My editor LOVED every word of the prologue but wanted an entirely new story: new plot, new characters, everything! So I started Chapter One with my kick butt police detective Charlotte Caissie at the crime scene and started writing and writing and writing. In five days, I had over seven chapters and had to rein myself back to get the synopsis written to submit with the first three chapters. By the time Silhouette called to offer to buy it, I’d written THREE whole books! Once the story started rolling, it unfolded like a movie and before long, I realized I had much much more going on than could be told in just one book. Unlike anything else I’ve ever written, I never worked off an outline, never had a plan. It was all imagination to keyboard. I wish they all wrote themselves so easily. Long story short, the final product was waaaay too mainstream for Silhouette and I couldn’t compromise to make the changes they wanted, but it was juuuuust right for Pocket.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

A: For this series, I was hands on. I’d been to New Orleans several times but always for conferences, so research time was limited. This year, two writer pals and I got a condo in the Quarter for a week and explored everything from Tarot readings on the Square to airboat swamp rides and haunted cemetery tours. We walked, talked, ate, drink and breathed the Big Easy for details you just can’t find research books. Like the smells (both good and bad) and the feel of the air on your skin or the sounds along Decatur Street. It was a fabulous experience in my favorite city.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

A: Max Savoie! I can’t resist a dark, dangerous, sexy, tormented hero with baggage, and he’s all of those things in spades. He was fun to write because his character would do such unexpected things: be suddenly vulnerable, ferociously loyal or be heartbreakingly humbled by his love for the heroine. I could write dozens of books about Max, but will settle for four…for the time being.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

A: The characters have to be products of their real and fantasy worlds. I’m a stickler for making things believable and consistent. I wanted them hugely heroic but also fragile and flawed, brave yet with weaknesses that can cripple them, and they have to have secrets, the darker the better. Usually I develop character sheets to show Goal, Motivation and Conflict, but Max and Charlotte burst onto the scene already so complex and rich with backgrounds and emotions, I just let them run with it. Kinda nice to let them do all the work for a change. Visiting New Orleans enabled me to steep them in the culture and setting and give them depth.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

A: The Shifter world was unique in that it developed as Max discovers who and what he is. Found in the swamps as a child by his mob boss mentor, he’s unaware that there are more of his kind, and doesn’t realize the extent of his own abilities. Of course, now that I’m in Book Four, I have a hierarchy, a mythology and all sorts of rules and regs to go by. I’m looking forward to getting those extras posted on my website. Believable and consistent—then you can do anything!
Do you have any authors that inspired you?

A: So many! I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from Heinlein’s Sci-fi, John Jakes’s sagas, Woodiweis’s ground breaking historicals, to even my dad’s manly man westerns. J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts), Dean Koontz, Kresley Cole and Lisa Gardner are my “always waiting for their next release” authors.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

A: I conquered my fear of technology (well, I’m inching toward it!) by designing an ubber website with critiquer/cover artist/friend Patricia Lazarus (www.nancygideon.com) and waded into social media waters with Facebook and blogging. The website took a bite out of my credit card but the online promo is as limitless as your time allows. I’ve had an unexpectedly fun time exploring all the new avenues.

What do we have to look forward next?

A: My publisher blessed me with back-to-back-to-back releases (and fabulous covers!). MASKED BY MOONLIGHT came out May 25, 2010. CHASED BY MOONLIGHT follows on June 29, 2010 and CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT on July 27, 2010. It’ll be a bit longer wait for the next three books. They’ll be out in 2011/2012. Book Four concludes Max and Charlotte’s romance story arc but they’ll continue as strong secondary characters in the next books which will feature new heroes and heroines: some introduced in earlier books and some surprises!

Thanks, Nancy!

To celebrate her book release, Nancy is offering a free book of CHASED BY MOONLIGHT, the second book in her MOONLIGHT series to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

A writer whose over 50 sales since 1987 cover the romance spectrum, Nancy Gideon thrives on variety. Under her own name and several pseudonyms including Dana Ransom and Rosalyn West, she’s written award-winning category romances, historical and paranormal bestsellers, earned a “Career Achievement for Historical Adventure” and a HOLT Medallion, and has had two original horror screenplays optioned for film. A Michigan native, she works full time as a legal administrative assistant. Her edgy shapeshifter series for Pocket debuts back-to-back-to-back beginning with MASKED BY MOONLIGHT on May 25, 2010.

Check out author’s website at www.nancygideon.com

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hero of the Month

Karl Denton didn't hesitate before using his firefighter training to help his fellow classmates during a deadly school bus crash on I-84 in Hartford. The bus hit a car then plunged 20 feet into an embankment.

"Just training like that, it helped, it all came together and just nice to know I could help people," said Denton.

One student died in the crash. But Denton was able to help others, like A.J. Singh.

"He helped a lot of us to stay calm and be in good prep, and to stop bleeding and stuff before the ambulances arrived, so that was very helpful," said Singh.

Denton was honored by the Manchester Fire Department for his heroic efforts. His family proudly stood by his side to help pin on his medal of honor.

Written by Amanda Raus-NBC Connecticut (excerpted)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Character Cards for THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER

During my upcoming virtual tour (more to follow on that in later posts), I posted the map of the seven sovereignties in THE ELVEN LORDS series, some of my history and notes that went into building the world, and research into the costume of the era. Today I thought I’d share my character cards.

When I first started writing, I had the luxury of working up entire pages on my characters: where they went to school, what was their favorite color, favorite food, etc. (Have you ever written up a character sheet for the game Dungeons & Dragons? Very fun…and sort of similar.)

But with deadlines, I no longer have the time to do that, and truly, I wound up using less than half of that information in the actual book. It just never came up in the plot. And most of the characterization was in my head to start, and as my book progressed, so did my character. Another one of the magical elements of writing.

So now I use index cards. They are easy to flip through while I’m writing and I can include little sketches or notes as my book progresses and refer back to them pretty quickly. The cards for THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER aren’t as crowded as the ones I’m using for book two, THE LADY OF THE STORM. But you can see my (rather awful) sketches that I created as the book developed and other tidbits important to my characters.

I hope my readers enjoy another peek into my writing process, and that other writers may find some benefit in using my method of index cards. At the end of my blog tour, I will be adding all of the items mentioned here to my website.

My Magical Best,

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the winner is......

Congratlations Michele L. You're the winner of Judi's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to collect yoru prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Choose to Live

Decide to Live
It's amazing how life often sends messages to you
when you need it. All you have to do is listen and be aware.
This morning I turned the television on and
channel surfed, which
I rarely do.
I came across the show Sunday Morning.
Ben Stein was giving recent graduates advice.
I'm going to paraprhase some of what he said, if
you would like to listen to full speech
go to
Ben asked his "shrink"
how he would divide up
people who are happy from those who are not.
His shrink said people who are unhappy often
took the safe route. They chose the career path
their parents or family wanted them to take.
Later in life,
they find it is too late to follow
their heart. They haven't built up the
experience or the contacts in the field they
wanted to to choose,
but didn't.
I'm sure you guessed many of these
people wanted to be writers or performers.
I believe
it is never too late to at least
dabble in these fields part time.
I started writing when I turned forty.
The people who are
are the ones
who made the decsion
to live.
They dcided to follow their
They took risks.
They took chances.
They may have lived life on the edge,
but now they can say
they lived a life
worth living.
Ben admits, you need to earn your keep.
So please don't go out and quit your day job.
if you want to be a writer, then write.
If you want to be a performer then perform.
Do what your heart
tells you to do to be
Don't end up being one of those people sitting
in the shrink's office complaining because you
never followed your heart.
You never dared
to dream.
Make your life worth living!
"Decide to Live!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview with Judi McCoy

I’d like to welcome our fellow blogmate and guest today, Judi McCoy. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called DEATH IN SHOW . Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Professional dog walker Ellie Engleman doesn't know much about the ins and outs of dog shows. But when one handler is killed, Ellie will learn that it's a dog-eat-dog world. Especially since the killer might now have it out for her. She and her sometime boyfriend, Detective Sam Ryder, will have to dig up the truth faster than a speeding bulldog...

DEATH IN SHOW is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Actually, this title wasn’t the first choice. I wanted Liver Let Die and the marketing department at NAL said NO. They didn’t think anyone would buy a book with Liver in the title. I was heartbroken because Liver Let Die was THE perfect title (when you read the book you’ll understand why) these days, it seems that marketing is running the publishing business.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

After 14 straight romances I needed a change, but I love series. I brainstormed with my sister and we came up with it together.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I call myself a PLOTSER, which means I do a little of both. I know the premise, who gets killed and why (pantser) then I figure out how/when things are going to happen (plotter).

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

This book took a ton of research. Aside from attending ONE Westmister kennel club show a few years ago, I knew nothing about the dog show world. Luckily, two women in my Chesapeake Romance Writers’ group showed dogs and knew all about it. I also bought a few books that gave the rules and regs.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I’d always wondered how dogs were chosen as best in breed, best in group, etc. in a championship show. Then I heard how competitive the dog handling business way, so the murder scenario just fit.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

In this book it was the villian. I got to give them an interesting personality and some interesting dialogue too.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Ellie and Rudy, the stars of the book, and Sam, were already lurking in my brain when I came up with the dog walker series. The other characters trickled in as I wrote, and they still do. I try to include two new characters in every book. I never know when they’ll be used later on.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I have dozens of romancver writers, but for mystery I like Cleo Coyle and Janet Evanovich (who doesn’t?)

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I send a newsletter and I travel to signings. And I always have the next book on a bookmark.

What do we have to look forward next?

The death of a cross dresser, which was a ton of fun to write. I met dozens of interesting people who know all about that world.

Thanks, Judi!

To celebrate her book release, Judi McCoy is offering a free book of Heir of the Dog , book two in the series, to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at www. Judimccoy. Com Buy the books at Amazon, B and N, Borders, any chain bookstore.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

1500 Century Trivia

How we got some of our 'old sayings'

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't
just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying It's raining cats and dogs. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house..

This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence the saying a thresh hold. (Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge
in the pot nine days old.. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.

When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat..

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would
have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that's the truth...Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer and movies...and of course, books!

Over at my Sourcebooks Casablanca blog, we have themes for every month, and I thought I’d share my post on summer for those of you who follow me on this blog:

When I heard that our theme for this month was summer, I had to smile. In other parts of the world, summer may be a time of family cookouts and camping and vacations. Winter is often the time to stay snugly indoors out of the snow and rain. In Arizona, winters are the best time of the year, where the temperatures are in the 70’s and everyone is out and about. But in the summer, where we hit temperatures of 120 plus degrees, it’s time for us desert-dwellers to stay inside. In the air-conditioning.

The good thing is, we have large malls, movie theaters, and lots of water attractions. Since my skin is so pale, I have a tendency to avoid the water parks, so for me, summer is all about movies. (And shopping, but that’s a given.)

I love the theater, the smell of popcorn, the drama of the big screen, the communion of a group of strangers sighing and laughing and crying over the same thing. And within the past few years, there are so many more movies that appeal to me. I have always been an avid science fiction/fantasy reader and the influx of so many more movies in this genre is a dream come true. From STAR WARS to MEN IN BLACK to LORD OF THE RINGS, I love them all. I’m grateful for the new technology that makes the production of these movies possible.

But as much as I love a good movie, I have to add that I will always prefer a good book.

Maybe it’s the imagination. When I’m reading, I use my imagination to picture the world and it’s characters. And my imagination is always better than reality, no matter how gorgeous the actors, no matter how fabulous our new technology can make dreams become real. (Although I have to admit, AVATAR came so very close!)

I just finished up some posts for my upcoming blog tour and in an interview I was asked that if my upcoming release, THE FIRE LORDS LOVER, was turned into a movie, which actor would play one of my heroes. Since Orlando Bloom (as Legolas in LORD OF THE RINGS) inspired my elven lords series, I chose him…but not as one of the elven lords themselves. For my heroes in THE ELVEN LORDS series are all half-breeds, humans with a mix of elven blood. And Orlando Bloom’s beauty is at least human. I think the elven lords themselves have become so beautiful in my mind that no real person could actually portray them.

My imagination will always be better than the reality. I wonder if that’s just a curse of the writer, or if all readers feel that way?

Monday, June 7, 2010

And the winner is........

Congratulations Jennifer Bickerman. You're the winner of Carolyn's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Avatar's Romantic Elements

Warning: Spoil Alert
(I will reveal plot points of the movie.)

Avatar, in my opinion, is a sci-fi/adventure
film with strong romantic elements.
This means the story could still be told
without a hero and heroine falling in love,
but the romance makes it that much better.

Hollywood moviemakers know a good
romance adds depth and
will broaden their audience.

If you write mysteries, sci-fi, westerns, etc.
you can easily add to the appeal of
your novel by adding a romance using
Avatar as an example.

The Romantic Elements of Avatar:

First, we have a hero and heroine who are
attracted to one another. It is basically the
story of two people from opposite sides
of the track. In this case, the track
would be the vast expanse of universe
separating their two planets.

Next, our hero and heroine have an internal
conflicts keeping them apart. He is a spy
invading their culture. She is supposed to marry
a man from her village, plus her people
don’t trust his kind.

Of course, our hero and heroine are thrown
together, learn to like and admire one another,
become close, and then are willing to risk
everything to be together.

Every good romance has a black moment.
Our heroine discovers he is a spy, thus proving
he wasn’t trustworthy in her mind and she wants
nothing to do with him.

He must earn her trust again by defying
his superiors to help save her village.
She must decide whether or not she can
place her faith in him once again.

Does she? Of course. If she didn’t then
the story wouldn’t have strong romantic
elements; all true romances have to include
a happily ever after.

With every story there are good and bad
plot points. And your opinion of the story
may differ from mine. I thought she should
have taken him back once he was helping
everyone run for their lives. He was risking
his own life for theirs. Instead, they had her
wait until he shows up like a knight in
shining armor after conquering the most
vicious creature in their land.

On the other hand, there were several
scenes I thought were done well.
First, she is a strong heroine who ends
up saving him from the villain, proving
she is his match.

Next, when she sees him as a crippled
human, she accepts him for who he is. He
had already accepted her for who she is.
A great lesson for us all.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, June 4, 2010

Interview with Carolyn Brown

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Carolyn Brown. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called I Love This Bar. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Yes, ma'am, but first thank you so much for letting me make a stop today on my blog tour. I'm excited to be here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy to talk about I Love This Bar. It's the first book in the Honky Tonk Series, each featuring the name of a hot country western song and set in the Honky Tonk, a beer joint in Mingus, Texas. The Honky Tonk is the center of night life and the gathering place for every thirsty rancher and lusty lady in the area looking for a good time. Daisy O'Dell is the bartender and owner of the Honky Tonk in I Love This Bar. She's vowed the only way she'll leave the beer joint is feet first with her cold dead fingers wrapped around a bottle of Coors. Jarod McElroy came into the Honky Tonk looking for a cold beer and a little peace from his meddling great-uncle. He got the beer but there was no peace. From the first time he met Daisy with her hot looks and smart mouth his life was in a turmoil and his heart on an emotional roller coaster.

I Love This Bar is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My editor, Deb Werksman, wanted the books to have hot country songs for titles and I agreed. I Love This Bar is a Toby Keith country western song that fit the book very well. Also it describes the conflict between Daisy and Jarod. She loves the beer joint and has no intentions of leaving it with it's bikers, hookers, preppies and cowboys. Jarod has quite a job convincing her to come out from behind that bar and come home with him.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Writing about cowboys and ranching is my niche. I really think that cowboys isn't just a reading trend but they are here to stay. What true blooded woman couldn't look at Jarod on the cover of I Love This Bar and not want to find a pair of cowboy boots and go two-stepping?

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

From an old beer joint in Ratliff City, Oklahoma called Ma Honey's. It's long since gone and I never got around to visiting it. But my husband's friend, Drig, lived with us during our ultra poor college days and he used to go there on the weekends and entertain me for hours with the stories.

What are your favorite research books and why?

I love the computer for research, whether for historical or contemporary. I do have a few books lying about that I rely on but most of it comes from either visiting the place, talking to real people or the computer. In I Love This Bar Daisy is also a vet tech and does some vet work on the side so I had to do some research to find out how to treat bloated goats ... silly things ate too much!

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Oh, my! That's too tough a question to answer with one name. Let me introduce you to a few: Merle, the seventy year old pool shark with ratted sky high dyed black hair. Chigger, the tall blonde who can't be a hooker because she says sex is too much fun to charge for it. Amos, the older oil baron who wears black leather and rides with a Harley motorcycle gang. The red haired Walker triplets: Jim Bob, Joe Bob and Billy Bob. Then there's Uncle Emmett who uses his Alzhiemer's and makes Jarod and Daisy pretend they are married just to keep him happy. They were all hoots to write about and each played a part in getting Jarod and Daisy over the obstacles keeping them apart.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I'm not sure I develop characters. They take up abode in my office and tell me what to write. They are voices in my head and if I don't get it right they plague me until I do. They come to me with all their baggage and background and I just have to figure out a way to get it on paper.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

How much room do you have for this interview? It might take a while to list all the authors who have inspired me. I've been reading since I figured out that books were so much fun. So I'll only mention a few: Margaret Mitchell, LaVyrle Spencer, Carl Hiaason, Randy Wayne White, Leon Uris, Nora Roberts and well, the list goes on and on and is very eclectic since I read a broad range of genres.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Blog tours create a lot of excitement. I also do press releases for newspapers, both local and those where my stories are set. This past week I sent out free bookmarks to libraries in the towns where the books were set. And I keep current pictures and reviews on my website!

What do we have to look forward next?

Well, if you loved I Love This Bar and hated to see it end, remember there are three more! Hell, Yeah (August), My Give A Damn's Busted (October) and Honky Tonk Christmas (November). Plus I'm working on a new series which will debut in the spring of 2011 called the Spikes & Spurs series.

Thanks, Carolyn!

And thanks to you folks here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy ... it's been fun stopping by and resting in a lounge chair with a nice big cup of coffee and some chocolate! After looking at the front cover of I Love This Bar, tell me, what would make you come out from behind that bar and go home with Jarod McElroy? (in a heartbeat! KW)

To celebrate her book release, Carolyn Brown is offering a free signed copy of I Love This Bar to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Carolyn Brown, an award-winning author who has more than 40 romance novels both historical and contemporary, credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. She was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Check out author’s website at http://carolynlbrown.com/

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Learning to fly

As I walked into my office the other day, I noticed a baby bird on the patio. Even though I don't particularly like birds--a childhood nightmare that would take too long to explain here--this poor thing was kind of cute. I sure hope Mama was around to teach Junior how to fly because the snakes have come out of hybernation and are on the slither.

A few hours later as I'm sitting at my desk, I see Mama bird has decided to show up to take care of Junior. In between processing our daily accounting functions, I see Mama flapping her wings and hopping away. Junior is trying to mimic her. It's so cute to see the struggle and how many times Junior spread his wings. It reminds me of being a writer.

In the beginning we struggled to learn the craft. Each passing day or moment, we honed it, like Junior was trying to do with his wings. A little hop--a paragraph, a bigger jump--a chapter. Then hopefully flight--or a book. And each time, we had our own cheering section in our family, friends or critique group--or in Junior's case--Mama bird.

Flash forward to the next day. Junior is still on the ground, having survived the night, but he's not looking very good. He hasn't learned to fly yet and Mama bird is gone. Not knowing anything about how to take care of him, it's time to call in some help.

I believe at every point in our career, we all need some sort of reinforcement, whether its in the form of a class, workshop or editorial/agent input. Occasionally, I take classes to refresh or improve my knowledge. I also have a critique group, two final readers and a wonderful editor to help me along.

Junior has the local Bird Lady. She swoops down (drives up) and takes Junior home in the hopes of saving him. Is she successful? I don't know. I couldn't bring myself to call and find out since I'd become attached to poor Junior.

As I sit here at my desk again a few days later, I hear a bird chirp. I'd like to think it's Junior, but even if it's not, I know that whichever bird made that sound had his own struggles while he learned to fly. You will, too. The path of a writer isn't easy.
How do you now if you'll be successful? First of all, learn to fly--or finish the book. Don't be afraid to spread your wings and learn new things because the reward is well worth the struggle it took to get there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hellmouth Podcast

Bryan of Hellmouth Podcast recently contacted me and asked to review Book One in my RELICS OF MERLIN series, ENCHANTING THE LADY. I’m always a bit nervous when a man asks to review my books (which is ridiculous, since a lot of men read romances. But I guess it seems like the majority of men scoff at them…at least in public.) But his site primarily reviews the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER series, and since my books are rich in fantasy, he thought he might enjoy it, so I sent it to him.

Anyhoo, it was such a different, interesting experience to ‘hear’ a review as opposed to reading it, that I thought I would pass along the link (scroll down to the white box with the headphones and click on Podcast: Play in New Window):

Bryan has a smooth voice; compelling and entirely captivating. And he’s looking for more books to review. If you’d like to send him yours, you can contact him at: hellmouthpodcast@gmail.com

All my magical best,