Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Historical Research and World Building

It often surprises me how my historical research will add to or completely gel with the fantasy aspects of my novels. In my new series, The Elven Lords, the stories are based in the eighteenth century, so I spent over a month researching the Georgian era, including the political environment, with special emphasis on daily life and--since my books are first and foremost romances--the clothing and housing of the aristocracy.

When I read that white wigs were prevalent in the era, it made perfect sense that the true reasons for wearing the wigs were to imitate the ivory-haired elven lords of my fantasy world. All I needed to do was to add a crushed silver stone to the wigs, which the aristocracy uses to imitate the silver sparkle of my lords. For my readers to identify with the history of the era, I felt that it was important to keep a king on the throne, but since the elven broke through the barrier between worlds and conquered England, dividing it into seven sovereignties that each ruled, I couldn’t be sure of the role he would play. Then I read that the power behind the throne at that time truly lay with Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister of England. So, with an apology to King George, I made him nothing more than a trophy for the elven lords to wage their wars—wars that used humans as chess pieces in games of entertainment similar to the Roman and Greek gladiatorial games, but on a much broader scale. Sir Robert became the leader of the Rebellion, the underground movement of humans and half-elven who fight for England’s freedom and the restoration of their king to true power. As with actual history, the court set the precedence for clothing and style, but since the king of my fantasy world held influence only in that limited aspect, it became an obsession with him and the court.

My seven mad elven lords each had possession of a scepter, and the master of a particular power. As I researched the landscape and the development of England’s resources, I used that knowledge to divide the sovereignties. Since Bath and it’s famous healing waters were located in the Southwest, it fell naturally into place that the elven lord Breden, master of the blue scepter of sea and sky, controlled that area, becoming the sovereignty of Dewhame, and this realm is explored fully in book two, The Lady of the Storm. South Central England, where London is located, is a politically important part of England and became Firehame, the sovereignty of Lord Mor'ded and his black scepter over the mastery of fire, a powerful realm that is fully revealed in book one, The Fire Lord’s Lover. Agricultural Eastern England became Verdanthame, with Mi'cal ruling with the green scepter of forest and plant. Northeastern England, extending upward into York and known for its roadways, became the sovereignty of Terrahame, and the elven lady Annanor and her brown scepter of earth. North Central England, dominated by mining and hilly country, became the sovereignty of Bladehame and the silver scepter of Lan'dor, who masters metal. The Northwest became Stonehame, where the elven lady La'laylia called up quartz from the depths to enchant with her violet scepter. And the West became Dreamhame, butting up against the craggy mountains of Wales, the sovereignty of Roden of the golden scepter, with his spells of glamour and illusion, a realm fully explored in book three, The Lord of Illusion.

As you can see, my historical research into eighteenth-century England helped me develop my world, sometimes in completely unexpected ways.

Monday, May 30, 2011

And the winner is......

Congratulations SimplyMarty, you're the winner of Mary's book. Please contct Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com. (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Class Reunions

I recently attended my fiance's 35th high school reunion.
Since my high school hasn't had one to my knowledge,
I could only relate through movies. Most of those films
featured female characters wanting to lose
weight, look their best, and present an image of wealth
and sophistication.

When I heard some people were not attending this reunion,
I thought back to those films and wondered if they didn't
come because they didn't feel they were at their best.
I also heard some people chose not to come because they
didn't have good memories of high school. I can understand
how people might feel this way, but I did notice the reunion
wasn't about reliving high school. These people appeared
warm and inviting. They were happy to see everyone who
attended, whether they remembered them or not.

These people embraced sharing a common background. Many of them
had attended the same grade schools. It was almost a celebration of
surviving life all of these years. No appeared smug or acted like
they were better than anyone else. Most of them had gained a bit
of weight and a few wrinkles over the years, but it didn't matter.
They wanted to see old friends. They spoke of how proud
they were of their children more than they discussed moments
back in high school.

As a writer, I watched a few people who were quiet and wondered
what they were thinking. Of course, I could have made up their story
and sketched the plot for the book before the night was over.

I was delighted each time someone walked over to the quiet
classmate and said hello. Their faces lit up with joy. One woman
told me she didn't know many of the people who came, but she
was glad she chose to attend.

Since I was with my fiance, I only knew the people I had met
while helping to plan the event, but I was also touched by how
genuinely warm they were.

This reunion taught me to take advantage of the opportunities
you have to reunite with hold friends no matter how much
you might have changed over the years or what turns your
life may have taken.

It also taught me reunions are a great place to people watch
if you need to create a new story.

Until next week,
happy writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interview with Mary Martinez

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Mary Martinez. 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 Classic Murder: Mr. Romance. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Thank you for inviting me, I believe I will have a piece of chocolate. I love chocolate. Here is a bit about my story.

Adam enjoys a lifestyle most men only dream of. Then one day he wakes up to find the morning headlines blaring, "Another victim falls prey to Mr. Romance. Who is next?" He suddenly realizes his way of life is not only frivolous, but deadly.

Dubbed Mr. Romance by New York society for his romantic adventures, Adam Fernando Russo loves women. But lately he realizes how lonely it is coming home to an empty house. Can he settle for only one woman? After he makes a list of qualities worthy enough to merit giving up his desirable existence, suddenly recipients of his coveted attention mysteriously fall prey to a murderer. The murders seem unrelated with one exception--all the victims have recently returned from a fabulous weekend rendezvous with Mr. Romance.

Adam’s assistant, Katie Sinclair, knows Adam is innocent with airtight alibis. The police are at a loss so Adam and Katie work together to discover the link between the murders. As luck would have it, their plan to prove the murderer is copying classic Cary Grant movies goes astray just as Adam realizes his perfect woman has been by his side all along.

Classic Murder: Mr. Romance is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

One: I couldn’t decide between the two, so I used them both. They both work. Two: As you saw above, the story is about Mr. Romance and what happens to his love life. I love watching classic movies. I can tell you that I loved the research for this story.

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?

It doesn’t fit ‘cozy’ but it is a mystery. I like to think it’s a classic murder mystery, but that’s just my opinion.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Mostly it’s my favorite genre to read, so I enjoy writing mystery and suspense. However, lately I’ve been toying with women’s fiction. We’ll see how that goes.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I write by the seat of my pants. The idea started as Adam and Katie’s story. This is one time where I had the names and the character personalities before I knew what to do with the story line. As I wrote, I realized there was going to be not one but several murders and I had to figure a way to connect the dots.

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

I find out what happens in my story the same way my readers do. I have to write to the end. Then I have to go back and fill in and layer. Again, and again… I think any writer knows what I mean. So, no I do not have all the key elements when I begin.

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

Every book I research different. Watching Jenny, a suspense about a rock band, I researched bands, concert venues, etc. And because I’m a concert ‘ho’. That was no hardship for me.
Once I realized the way my Classic Murder: Mr. Romance was going, I pulled out the movies. I had notebook on my lap and I wrote detailed notes about each one. Some I enjoyed the movie, but knew it wouldn’t work. So on to the next. I believe I said before that I had a lot of fun researching this story.

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

No question, I was in love with both Katie and Adam from the moment I started the story. These two characters came to me and begged for a story. I like the secondary characters also, but not the way I liked Katie and Adam. This is one time I can’t really explain why.

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?

As I write I make up a list of their characteristics. My characters grow as I write. At the end I finally know them. That’s why I have to go back and layer and fill in. The first chapters are usually tossed or so changed no one would recognize them. In Classic Murder: Mr. Romance I changed the beginning so many times, I could probably start another book and use the beginning and no one would know it.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Do you have a day or two to listen to my list? Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Heather Graham, Stephen King, James Patterson, Nora Roberts. And these are only a few.

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

I tried having a book tour, and having it listed on Book Daily.com, not to mention Facebook and the usual promotional avenues. I honestly can’t tell what worked yet. Amazon and Barnes & Noble haven’t paid out yet, so who knows.

What do we have to look forward next?

I’m actually working on something fun, three story in one. I’ll keep you posted though.

Thanks, Mary!

Thank you for having me on your lounge chair! Oh, and for the chocolate, yummy!

To celebrate her book release, Mary is offering a free signed book of Classic Murder: Mr. Romance 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...

Mary has lived her entire life in the Salt Lake City Valley, where she has raised a family of six children. One of her favorite things to do is spend time with her seven grandchildren.
Mary is a member of the Romance Writers of America. Though she loves romance, writing suspense is her favorite. Mary’s dream conference would be the opportunity to attend ThrillerFest.

Mary and her husband love traveling, their favorites are the Caribbean for relaxation and Italy for the wine. Their experiences have given her valuable insight for her stories.
Mary has four books out and one novella.

For more information, you can visit her web site: http://www.marymartinez.com

Buy links for Classic Murder: Mr. Romance
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1610343352/bookstrand-20

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It Happened On Maple Street

Thanks to Kim Watters for the invitation to visit you all here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. If you’re just joining us, my husband, Tim Barney, and I are on tour for our new Book, It Happened On Maple Street – our true life love story. A complete tour schedule, allowing you visit past blogs, is posted at www.tarataylorquinn.com.

The thinking on this site fits me. Tim will tell you. My favorite line every time I want a glass of wine is…it’s much cheaper than medication! The caveat, though, is that, if I’m drinking a glass of wine – so is Tim. Which means that if I need medication, he gets stuck medicating, too. Tim and I have a relationship that I suspect would make therapists shake in their shoes – or at least shake their heads and take a lot of notes, making dire predictions and giving loads of advice. Because we do just about everything together. We took the old adage, the two become as one, literally.

I don’t for one second believe our way of life is right for anyone else. But I know that it is right for us. And what I want to share with you today – the piece of advice I have to offer – is not the way of life, but the reason for the way of life.

Tim and I met when we were still too young to understand that life was serious and that every choice had a consequence that could last forever. We fell deeply in love before we were mature enough to recognize that the gift we’d been given was mutual. We walked through fire without each other before, deeply burned, we once again came together – this time to recognize instantly that we were once in a lifetime soul mates.

This time, we also had maturity and many life’s lessons to bring with us into the mix as we set up life together. We’d broken each other’s hearts once before and neither of us could sustain a second hit with that intensity. Our decision to be together was the most serious decision either of us were ever going to knowingly make and we had to give it the attention it required. And that’s what we’re sharing with you today – our advice on how to set up a successful life with the one you love:

1. Know yourself. Be bone deep honest with yourself and your partner about what you really want and need out of life. This can’t be about what your partner needs, but only about what you need. Know your bottom line. Because when times get tough, and they will, when life has taken the wind out of your sails (whether that be the death of a close loved one, a job loss, financial stress, injury, mistakes) all you will have to give and all you will be able to take is what’s down there on your bottom line. If money is your bottom line, now is the time to be honest about it. When it comes time to make the difficult decisions, your partner has to know and be willing to live with decisions that come from a basis of money. If your bottom line is family – same thing – your partner has to be okay with the fact that you make your big decisions based on how they effect what you consider to be your family. This is not a time to hide your less than stellar qualities. It’s a time to be completely honest about them. In order to truly trust him to be there for you during your hard times, you have to know that he sees the real you. Loves the real you.

2. Listen to your partner – not for what you want to hear, or hope to hear, but only with the goal of knowing who he or she is in the ultimate sense. Who is he going to be when all of his chips are down? That is the person you will be living with during the big decision making times. Make certain, in your deepest heart, that you are okay with who he is, right there, on his bottom line. This is not a time to see his potential, or his intentions, but to see who is really there at his core. If, on the bottom line, family comes first with you, and money comes first with him, you have a problem.

3. Have the courage to sit with each other, at the core, and see if the two can co-habitate through the bad times. Good times are easier. It’s the bad times that will really show the two of you who you are together. You have to know that your needs and his needs can gel even during the worst of times. There will be times when opinions and wants and ideas differ!!! Of course!!! We’re talking bottom line here. This is not an exercise for the weak! It can take weeks. Or months. And you have to be open – both with what you’re sending out and taking in. You might find, as you talk, that what you thought you most needed was only a symbol for what you really really need. You might find that what seems dichotomous on the first go round is, bottom line, exactly the same. The biggest key here is to not get defensive. Bottom line – you can’t help what you most need. And neither can he. Your goal is not to make him give you and accept from you what you most need and what you are capable of giving. The goal is to find out if what you most need and are capable of giving, are synonymous with what he is capable of giving and what he most needs.

4. When you know who you are as a couple, if you find a place that works for the two of you – shut your ears. Every single person on this earth has an opinion. Most of us have people in our close circle. Those people will probably feel a need to share their opinions with you at some time or other. They usually mean well. And, for them, they are probably right. But if you are going to be in a successful partner relationship, only you and your partner can be present in the definition and maintaining that relationship. (Being close with others is great – just not in the core of the partner relationship!) This, by the way, is one reason why it is vital for you to be self honest. It doesn’t work if you give up self. Because in an honest, core deep relationship where you represent you and he represents himself, there is no one else there to advocate for the you you just abdicated.

5. If the relationship has been defined and you are both honestly happy with the definition, stop thinking of self and think of the other. It’s a fine line between being self honest and being selfish. One makes a relationship. The other breaks it. You have to be willing to sacrifice small picture wants and needs, or to compromise them, as daily life starts throwing balls at you. If your core relationship is set and solid and understood and accepted by both of you, then the small picture compromises are much easier to make. And they are made on both sides as situations dictate.

6. Re-visit your core needs on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be a major task, but can be as simple as a random statement of happiness based on having a core need met. Tim and I wrote our wedding vows to each other, based on our core needs. We have it all in writing! (No surprise there. I’m a writer.) We also re-affirm our understandings in little ways every single day. There are a few key things we do every single day – no matter how busy or sick or even upset we might be – we do them because they stand for our core selves.

Tim gave us a motto – as you will find if you read It Happened On Maple Street. Three words. Simple words. And they carry the power to see us through eternity together. We Go Together.

This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

Next tour stop: Friday, May 27, Guest Blogging Site: http://guestbloggingsite.com/.

To get your copy of It Happened On Maple Street, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com.

Don’t miss The Chapman Files! Still available at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Tara+Taylor+Quinn.

It Happened On Maple Street is available on Kindle and Nook, too! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0757315682/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d2_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0SKJ9D86BB5XG2BPT4MV&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846; http://search.barnesandnoble.com/It-Happened-on-Maple-Street/Tara-Taylor-Quinn/e/9780757315688/?itm=15&USRI=tara+taylor+quinn.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Modern Day Romance Novel

He held me firmly but gently just above my elbow and guided me into a room.
I had never been there but I knew this was his room. I knew what he was going to do to me, and I knew I was going to let him. The door closed quietly and we were alone.

He approached silently from behind and spoke in a low, reassuring voice close to
my ear. "Just relax."

Without warning, he reached down and I felt his strong, calloused hands start at
my ankles, gently probing, and caressing upward along my tender calves slowly and steadily. My breath caught in my throat. I knew I should be afraid, but somehow I didn't care. His touch was so experienced, so sure.

When his hands moved under my skirt to my thighs I gave a slight shudder and
partly closed my eyes. My pulse was pounding. His knowing fingers continued upward across my abdomen, my ribcage. And then, as he cupped my firm, full breasts in his hands, I inhaled sharply. Probing, searching, knowing what he wanted, his teasing hands quickly moved to my shoulders and slid down my tingling spine. My entire body was throbbing when he discovered my pink, lace thong.

Although I knew nothing about this man, I felt oddly trusting and expectant.
"This is a man," I thought. A man used to taking charge. A man not used to taking "No" for an answer. A man who would tell me what he wanted. A man who would look into my soul and say...

“Okay, all done. Here's your purse, ma'am. Have a nice flight.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Reasons to fall in love with my hero, General Dominic Raikes from THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER

Reason Number Ten:
He lives in a magical eighteenth century England, where seven elven lords rule with the power of their scepters. Dominic is a half-breed, with enough elven blood to make him beautiful…and deadly. He lives with forbidden secrets, a Rebellion determined to destroy the elven lords, mysterious dragons, deliciously dark desires and a world ruled by the pageantry of the era, where only the strongest love can prevail.

Reason Number Nine:
If you love tortured heroes, you’ll fall in love with Dominic. Fearful of his growing magical powers, his father has tested him with fire since he was a lad. His father destroyed anyone that Dominic ever loved, forcing Dominic to become very, very scarred…and to isolate himself emotionally from others.

Reason Number Eight:
If you love arranged marriages, you’ll enjoy the budding relationship between Dominic and his assassin bride, Lady Cassandra Bridges. Dominic needs a wife to breed a new champion, and Lady Cassandra seems the perfect choice. But what he doesn’t know is that the convent taught her more than how to be a proper wife—the Rebellion secretly trained her as an assassin to murder his father.

Reason Number Seven:
Dominic is scarred because at his very core, he has a heart too gentle for the world he was born in. It will take some time for you to uncover the true man beneath his hard-won defenses, but the most difficult challenges are often the most gratifying.

Reason Number Six:
He is a military man, with the proud bearing and the authoritative manner of a general…and a champion of the elven war games. Most of the time you will find Dominic in velvet black clothing, a sword at his side, a black cloak billowing behind him.

Reason Number Five:
His best friend and confidant is a dragon.

Reason Number Four:
He’s an elven half-breed, which means he has the beauty of the elven with the heart and soul of a human. He possesses strength and stamina beyond an ordinary man’s, which means he has never known a woman that he couldn’t satisfy.

Reason Number Three:
Dominic is different than your run-of-the-mill hero. He has long thick white-blond hair, with the silver sparkle of the elven lords. He has midnight black eyes, faceted like jewels, a face that resembles an archangel’s but a devilishly delicious mouth. Lustrous skin over a graceful muscular frame hardened by battle. And pointed ears. Adorable, pointed ears.

Reason Number Two:
His magical gift is fire. There are several levels of fire magic that he has inherited from his father. The white, which is cold and harmless. The blue fire, which can heal. The red that burns powerfully and the neutral gray that creates an impenetrable wall. And then there is the yellow, which is gently warm against the skin and can be crafted to resemble anything he can imagine. He can play it like a musician can play an instrument…aah, what Dominic can do with yellow fire…

And the Number One Reason to fall in love with Dominic is:
He’s so incredibly addictive, like your favorite candy bar. You will long for just one more bite.

Monday, May 23, 2011

And the winners are.....

Congratulations to Crystal GB and Jess. You've both won copies 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, May 22, 2011

Overcoming Hurdles

This evening, my fiance (The Irish Charmer)

and I were watching the movie My Big Fat Greek
In one touching scene, the main character,

Toula, is discussing the future with her brother.

He says, "Don't let your past dictate who you are,

but let it be part of who you will become."

Since that quote hit both of us,

I decided to pass it along. The brother claims it

came from Dear Abby. I don't know if that is true,

but it sounded like something she might have said.

As writers, this quote could tell you to let the pass

go. If you received rejections or harsh criticism

from contest judges or critique partners, learn

from it and let it go. Don't let negativity keep you

from writing and submitting. It could also mean

to let your childhood or past relationships go.

If someone was cruel to you or you loved them and

they still left you, let it go. You took with those

experiences emotions that will help you as a writer,

but don't let them trap you in the past

and keep you from writing.

Each day you wake up, decide what your goal is

and work to accomplish the baby steps that will

help you achieve that goal. You are the only

one keeping you back.

Until next week,

happy writing!

Tina LaVon

Friday, May 20, 2011

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Carolyn Brown. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us again 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.

Good morning everyone! I’m smack in the middle of my blog tour for Love Drunk Cowboy and I’m so glad to have a moment to catch my breath and enjoy a little chocolate therapy. And this is some almighty fine chocolate, too! Smooth and very tasty. Yes ma’am, I do believe I will indulge in just one more. You did say that it is formulated special for cowboy romance writers and has no calories or fat grams, didn’t you? Well, in that case, maybe two more would keep me going to the next stop on the tour.

Coming right up! There. Now it's tme for a few questions. I understand you have a new release out called Love Drunk Cowboy. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Austin Lanier has inherited a watermelon farm from her grandmother right on the Red River and is wasting her two week vacation to straighten up her grandmother’s affairs and put the farm up for sale. Tall, blond and sexy, she has no desire to get her hands dirty planting and harvesting watermelons or to live in Terral, population 386―until she finds the wine cellar and the recipes, and she finds out that Rye O’Donnell isn’t a seventy year old friend of her grandmother. He’s a flesh and blood, hot and sexy 32 year old cowboy who makes sets her hormones to tingling. Rye didn’t figure on Austin leaving her big city life and he damn sure didn’t plan on losing his heart after that night they’d sampled too much of Granny Lanier’s watermelon wine. Austin didn’t plan on falling for a tall dark haired cowboy with spurs on his boots and a gleam in his eye when he looked at her. With a brand new cast of quirky characters and a whole new small town world, Love Drunk Cowboy kicks of the new SPIKES & SPURS series about women who give up their spike high heels for cowboy boots and the cowboys who find out taming them is a helluva lot harder than it looks.

Love Drunk Cowboy is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I didn’t! I had another title in mind and my fabulous editor, Deb Werksman, called me to say that she thought this one would work better. I fell in love with it the minute I heard it because it fit the book so well.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I don’t think I decided to write in this genre. I think this genre decided I would write in it. This is my eighth book in the western/cowboy romance genre and I’m glad to say there are more on the way! I’ve written in historical, contemporary and now western and I love it all, but this seems to be my niche.

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

I’ve been asked this question many times. The only way I can describe it is to say that I’m neither. I try very hard to be a plotter because I’m an organized person but alas, it doesn’t work that way. I plot and plot but my books only follow that business for a couple of chapters. The easiest way for me to explain it is this: I plot (that’s like flying a jet airplane: lots of things to remember, scheduling, etc.), then I fill my plane with all kinds of wonderful characters and since I’m the writer and I’ve got the book plotted, I get to be the pilot, right? Okay, everything is on time, following a schedule and then, boom!! The characters hijack the plane and off we go on an amazing adventure that is very, very different than what I had planned in the beginning!

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

I had to learn how to make watermelon wine for this book…very tasty! I use a multitude of research sites and books. Internet is wonderful but I still read books and I’ve even found Amazon is a good site if I need to see what a certain instrument is in wine making!

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Back when my youngest started kindergarten, my husband took on a principal/English teacher job in a little bitty town on the Red River called Terral. We spent a year in watermelon country and I’ve always wanted to set a book in that area. My editor, Deb, gave me the opportunity to write a whole series set along the Red. Love Drunk Cowboy is over the line into Oklahoma but the next three are across the River in the small town of Ringgold, Texas.

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

Austin was fun to get to know. She kept me on my toes. She’s a smart, savvy woman used to running a department in a huge oil firm and now she’s planting watermelons and making wine. She could have her choice of any bachelor in Tulsa, Oklahoma but her heart wants a swaggerin’ cowboy with a Texas drawl. Oh, yes, she was fun to write about but let me tell you, she insisted that the story be told just the way it happened. She made me tell it the way it was and didn’t even let me dress it up when she fell out of bed at a terrible moment! Oops! No more or you’ll be saying I spoiled the scene.

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 so sure I develop characters. They come to me with all their faults and quirky attitudes and I simply write what they tell me. It’s a bit like watching a movie and taking notes the whole time. I see the whole scene, the whole book in my head. Then it’s just getting the right words from brain to paper so my readers can see it the way I do.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Oh, yes! My Sourcebook sisters who write westerns are a constant inspiration. Hello, C. H. Admirand and Joanne Kennedy! And then there’s LaVyrle Spencer (we had a wake when she retired and I mourned for years. Please write one more, LaVyrle!) and of course Louis L’Amour and then there’s Carl Hiaason and Randy Wayne White. Did I mention I’m a very eclectic reader?

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

I think blogging is a wonderful, wonderful avenue for promotion. Readers love to read about upcoming or just-out books. They like to ask questions and they like to know the general jest of the story. Blogs take them to that place. I also do press releases, talk to librarians when I travel, sign in-stock books at any book store I pass and speak at book clubs, women’s clubs, etc.

What do we have to look forward next?

The Spikes & Spurs series has at least three more books lined up in it. Red’s Hot Cowboy will be out in September and Darn Good Cowboy Christmas in October. Then another one will follow in the spring of 2012 which hasn’t been titled yet…but it involves a secret marriage that takes place in Vegas. What goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas…until it is broadcast on national television!

Thanks, Carolyn Brown!

Thank you for inviting me to stop by today. I’ll just have one more chocolate and then I’m off to visit with Sugarbeat’s Books on the 24th. I’ll be checkin’ on the blog throughout the day so talk to me. Ask questions or let me hear if you’ve read one of my past books! Have a chocolate and sit a spell!

To celebrate her book release, Carolyn is offering two copies of Love Drunk Cowboy; one to each of two lucky folks who comment on today's blog. US and Canada only please! (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

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

Buy http://www.amazon.com/Love-Drunk-Cowboy-Carolyn-Brown/dp/1402253583/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305651085&sr=1-1.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Past Revisited

Kim Watters here. My past has caught up with me. In the midst of sorting through old boxes of stuff from my youth, I came across an aptitude test that I’d taken in high school a few decades ago. Okay, I guess now is the time to admit I hate throwing anything away. My name should be Kim Packrat Watters.

I don’t know why it is so difficult to let go. Maybe it’s because each and every scrap of paper, or tiny glass figurine has meaning to me. Do I really need all the things that I’ve kept throughout the years? No. Can I live without them? Obviously yes, since they’ve been hidden in boxes. But parting with them is like throwing a piece of myself away. I have to force myself to do it because I’m moving. I don’t need every single note my girlfriends passed to me in high school. Past letters from boyfriends are simply taking up space because we’ve all moved on in our lives.

My Girl Scout sash stays and so do the articles I wrote for my high school paper. They represent a lifetime ago and I’ll enjoy sharing them with my kids. But do I really need my SAT scores? I graduated college a few decades ago. Hmmm. Maybe. Not telling you those, though.

Back to my aptitude scores. I’d vaguely remembered this test and always wondered where I’d put the piece of paper. It would be interesting to see what the scores were as an adult firmly planted in the real world. See? Being a packrat helps. As a kid, I hadn’t paid much attention to them. Maybe I was too busy thinking about boys? College? What to wear to the next basketball game and not some black type written words on a piece of paper? Hard to say, but when you’re a hormonal teen, it could have been any number of reasons. The real reason was that I had sights on being a foreign correspondent or work for a large international corporation.

Imagine my surprise when I found that piece of paper a few weeks ago and saw that I scored very high in the creative field. It said I had to ability to be a writer. Wow. Really? And all these years I’ve been an accountant. I never did work in the international field. Maybe one of my characters will one day.

I guess these tests really do have some truth to them. Fast forward a few decades later. Guess what? I am a writer. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think back then when I slipped that paper into a box that I would actually unknowingly fulfill that destiny. Interesting, isn’t it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

June On-Line Classes at Writer U

June 1-24, 2011
Show Don't Tell: Say More With Less
by Kris Kennedy
$30 at WriterUniv.com

Every writer knows the importance of "Show, Don't Tell," but what's the best way to achieve that? One of Kris Kennedy's favorite techniques is replacing back story with implication, because writers don't need to spell everything out. "Trust the reader. She's smart. She'll pick things up." This class provides specific tools for saying more with less, such as focusing on here-and-now vs. there-and-then, specifics vs. generalizations, choosing the right details, and a variety of other techniques to create gripping books with a lively pace, deep characterization and compelling conflict. Concepts include:

* Creating tension on every page
* How conflict and pacing affect bestselling fiction
* Making readers ask questions, and making them worry
* How to imply back-story, viewpoint and more
* Using dialogue (or avoiding a conversation) to increase tension
* Intensifying the external world as a pacing tool
* The power of understatement, denial and emotion in the moment

After winning RWA's® Golden Heart Award for Best Historical Romance and landing a two-book contract with Kensington, Kris Kennedy realized that in order to balance her love of craft with publisher deadlines and family, she needed some highly efficient writing techniques. This course covers some of those strategies, which can help find the heart of a scene and a character using fewer words for more impact. Her latest release (DEFIANT, Pocket Books) received a starred Publishers Weekly review.

~ ~ ~

June 6-17, 2011
MASTER CLASS: Magazine Writing In Depth
by Julie Rowe
$30 at WriterUniv.com

Prerequisite: Must have studied magazine writing basics.

For everyone who's looked at the basics of magazine writing in one of Julie's previous classes, this limited-enrollment group provides a never-before-offered opportunity for in-depth critiques of your articles and queries. Along with thoughtful suggestions and comments on how to enhance your material before it goes off to the right editor, as well as editing and organizational tips to maximize your writing time and your earning potential, Julie will offer advice on a variety of magazine writing topics. This two-week session will include:

* Choosing which magazines and editors to query
* The title, hook and angle most likely to sell
* Writing a knock-out query letter
* Slanting a topic for different magazines
* Highlighting text with sidebars and photography
* Creating a portfolio and finding your niche

Julie Rowe has been freelancing for magazines for over six years. She's an enthusiastic instructor who enjoys lively discussion and encourages questions. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines such as Today's Parent magazine, Reader's Digest (Canada), The Canadian Writer's Journal, Writer's Digest, Canadian Living, What's Up Kids Magazine, the Romance Writer's Report, True Romance, and various RWA chapter newsletters.

~ ~ ~

June 12-25, 2011
MASTER CLASS: Active Settings
by Mary Buckham
$55 at WriterUniv.com

Prerequisite: Must have a manuscript that you are actively working on.

Readers usually remember the plot and characters of a story, but setting is every bit as important in creating a memorable world. In this two-week class, Mary Buckham shows -- for the first time online -- how to give your setting an active role in your story. Use Deep POV to spin boring descriptions into engaging prose. Find out if you're writing passive or active setting and if you are maximizing the setting possibilities in YOUR story. You'll learn:

* How does setting impact your story?
* What is the difference between active and passive setting?
* How can setting show conflict or emotion?
* How can setting show characterization?
* How can setting impact your conflict...both internal and external?
* What do readers need and not need from a setting?

Mary Buckham is co-author of BREAK INTO FICTION: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells and an award-winning Romantic Suspense author. She has hundreds of free-lance articles to her credit, a non-fiction book and is a former magazine editor. Currently she presents writing workshops online and around the country. Mary encourages you to visit her website at www.MaryBuckham.com for more information about her and her current writing projects.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


My step-by-step guide to speaking with Kalah, my blue dragon in THE LADY OF THE STORM:

First you have to find him. It’s a good bet that he’s perched in the highest point around, and in Dewhame Palace, that would be in one of the towers. In THE ELVEN LORDS series, there are seven realms created by the elven lords, and each has their own primary magical power and dragon-steeds. For the sovereignty of Dewhame, Lord Breden rules with the power of sea and sky, and his blue scepter is linked with his dragon-steed, Kalah. So it’s going to be wet up there in this dragon’s tower, with water flowing down the walls of the palace and lightning occasionally trickling from Kalah’s snout. Wear your most water-proof mantua and wooden shoes.

Show no fear, or the dragon will think you are prey and will eat you. (Just kidding. Kalah prefers a nice haunch of beef to the bitter taste of humans.)

If the dragon is sleeping, don’t wake him up. (This time, I’m not kidding.) Like dogs, they prefer a good nap to just about anything else. You don’t need to make a sound to let him know of your presence, for he smelled you long before you could see him. Be patient; if he wants to talk to you, umm, it’s his choice.

Try excessive flattery. Kalah is prone to personal vanity, and with scales that glimmer like sunlight on turquoise waves, he has a bit of a right to be.

Try not to get frustrated. Kalah has a twisted sense of humor, and his own hidden agenda, and will often speak obtusely and answer your questions with a remark that might not seem even remotely connected.

As much as you might be tempted, do not ask for the dragon to give you a ride on his back. He would consider it rude.

Kalah will be able to read what’s in your heart. Be careful that you truly want the answers to any questions you may ask.

If the dragon hasn’t already ended the conversation by flying away, thank him for his time and back toward the tower doorway, because if he does launch, you’ll need to be prepared for the gust of wind from his wings.

Monday, May 16, 2011

And the winner is......

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stay True to Yourself

A question often asked at conferences is, "What is selling?" The advice usally given is to write the book of your heart. Many writers aren't sure what the book of their heart is and they want to write something that will sell. But then, whatever is selling now may not be selling when you submit. When vampires became hot, many writers jumped on that bandwagon and now the market is saturated.

Although I didn't ask the question above, I was given advice Friday that I believe will help no matter which market you decide to write for. Yesterday, I attended a workshop given by Laura Baker and Robin Perini called Discovering Story Magic. Our RWA chapter brought them to Arizona. I highly recommend this workshop. More imporantly, if you ever get a chance to attend a mixer with workshop speakers, you should jump at the chance. This is where writing experts answer your questions and give advice beyond their workshop material.

I told Laura I had chosen a market to target my books and the advice she gave me was to write using your strengths. For example, some authors like to write about family drama or best friends so they should include that whether they are writing a vampire story or a western. I like surprising twists so I can include that in any type of book I write. Including your strenghs and what you like to write in any genre will help make that project the book of your heart.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interview with Anita Clenney

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Anita Clenney. 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.

Oooh, sweets and lounging, two of my favorite things.

I understand you have a new release out called Awaken the Highland Warrior. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Mis-adventurous historian Bree Kirkland discovers a 19th century Scottish warrior buried in a crypt behind her house. But Faelan, the warrior, isn’t dead. When he awakes, he has no choice but accept the help of this modern-day woman who’s rescued him, but she’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him. If he’s not careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.
The attraction between Faelan and Bree is instantaneous, and for a good reason, but so is the frustration, because they’re from vastly different cultures. Faelan can’t fathom a female being so bold and rash. The woman attracts danger like a bloody magnet. And she won’t let him protect her; he, a renowned warrior since before she was born. If he could drive that bloody thing she called a car, he’d toss her over his shoulder and get her away from her house before the demon who locked him up comes looking for him.

Bree feels something for Faelan that goes frighteningly beyond attraction, but on the other hand she’s ready to stick him back in the time vault if he doesn’t stop with this over protective nonsense. It’s not the 19th century, for God’s sake, and he’s treating her like a child. Women are tough and independent. But after she finds out what has this big, bad warrior so worried, she’s glad to have all that muscle close by. And she’d give her pinkie toe to get her hands on that talisman hanging around his neck.

Awaken the Highland Warrior is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Originally, it was Awaken the Warrior. He’s the most powerful warrior of his time, and he needs to be awakened or the earth is doomed. The publisher added “highland” of course.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

The concept of the story started with a dream, but I’ve always loved romance and mysteries and adventure. Throw in a paranormal twist and it’s even better. This story seemed to capture it all.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

As I mentioned, the basis of the series started with a dream, well the demon part did, and I had been playing around with the idea of a buried warrior who wasn’t dead. I combined the dream with the idea and the book was born.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

I don’t know what I’d do without Google. I’ll dedicate a book to it one day. This story is actually set in modern times, but Faelan has been sleeping since the 19th century, so we’ve got a little time travel going on. Since it isn’t historical, I didn’t have to do as much research as I would have otherwise.

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

Faelan. His story was so compelling. He lost everything he knew and loved and woke in a time he knows nothing about. He’s grieving over his family, his brothers and sister, and trying to figure out who this woman is who woke him. If she’s a demon or a prostitute or just an innocent soul who has opened the gates of hell in her backyard. He carries the responsibility of all the deaths that occurred because he didn’t destroy the demon in 1860, and now he can’t fail again or the entire world will be doomed. And he has feelings for Bree that are driving him crazy but seem impossible. It just made him such an interesting character to write.

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 don’t really do character sheets. I just have lots of notes and lots of info in my head. I do a lot of brainstorming before I write, then lots of notes and mulling things over.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

The interesting thing about Faelan is although he’s a highlander, and as he tells Bree, he’ll be a highlander forever, his job as a warrior has taken him all over the world. So he’s kind of a covert highlander. His exposure to other countries and cultures has had an effect on him, allowing him to blend in when needed, play any part. It’s part of the warrior’s weaponry, allowing him to keep a low profile while hunting demons.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I can’t think of any particular authors that inspired this book, but I do have favorite authors and their writing does inspire me in a general sense. Diana Gabaldon, Kristan Higgins, Elizabeth Peters, just to name a few.

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

I’m still learning. It’s shocking how much there is to do. When I started writing, I thought would just get to write the book and the publisher would handle that. Ha! Not so! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Redroom. I had a glorious booksigning recently with Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kristan Higgins, and some other wonderful authors, and I sold out. That was pretty wonderful.

What do we have to look forward next?

Embrace the Highland Warrior, the second book, will be out in November, and then the third book, Unleash the Highland Warrior will be out in Fall 2012. Here are blurbs for each.

Embrace the Highland Warrior

When the powerful demon that left Shay for dead discovers her empty grave, he comes seeking retribution, believing she possesses an ancient book he has sought for centuries. Knowing she can’t fight the demon alone, Shay returns to her clan and the Scottish Warrior who betrayed her…the only man she’s ever loved, where she discovers that betrayal isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it’s far worse.

Unleash the Highland Warrior

A talisman belonging to Tavis Connor’s brother is the only weapon powerful enough to kill the demon hell-bent on destroying the world. But the demon has captured Tavis’s brother and the talisman, locking them in a time vault that won’t open for 150 years. In desperation, the Scottish warrior breaks the clan’s sacred rules and uses another time vault to travel forward so he can rescue his brother, or bury him and finish his quest. But when Tavis finally wakes in modern-day New York, he discovers he’s the one in need of help.

Thanks, Anita!

You’re welcome! Thanks for having me. And thanks for the chocolate!

To celebrate her book release, Anita’s publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca is offering a free copy of Awaken the Highland Warrior to two lucky commenters 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...


Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel--lasted half a day)…she realized she'd missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Now she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Anita lives in suburban Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband and two kids. Learn more about her writing at www.anitaclenney.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting… or threatening?

An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.

She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.

She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.

A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.

Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.

She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed… blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.

Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted.




She heaved open the chest.

Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.

The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.

Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.

Awaken the Highland Warrior is available at most bookstores, including the following:




Thursday, May 12, 2011

Interview with Mr. Romance Competitor DeLonn Merrill

Last month I attended with Romantic Times Convention in LA. What a blast. If you ever have a chance to go, do it. I had the honor of meeting several of the Mr. Romance competitors during my stay. Of course it helped that they had to talk with us in order to gain our votes;)

DeLonn Merrill really stood out for me and I admit that I forgot to vote, but if I had, he would have been my choice. He's agreed to answer some questions for us.

1. How did you hear about the Mr. Romance contest?

I competed last year (2010) when the RT Convention was in Columbus, OH (my home town) and was invited back this year. Originally, I got involved because my manager discovered the competition and encouraged me to enter. It was she that did the initial contestant nomination. Then this year the organizer, Cindy Walker, contacted me and said they would like to have me back this year and of course, I agreed.

2. What made you decide to enter?

Last year I had so much fun in the competition and convention that it seemed a no brainer to attend again this year. Of course, outside of the fun I knew the advantages for my career (networking, contacts, exposure) as a professional actor/model and also it was in LA so it seemed necessary that I go.

3. What was your best experience?

Out side of the dancing and networking, this year was winning contestant's choice, it is really a high honer to be chosen especially by this group of guys.

4. What did you like the least?

The only thing was probably the weather, because it was cool and rainy like spring in Ohio (where I am from) and not like typical California weather. I really was hoping to get to experience the Southern California weather especially after having weathered an exceptionally long and snowy winter on Ohio. So, I was dissappointed to not see the sunshine and warmth everyone talks about. However, the cometition schedule kepts us so busy that I didn't really get to leave the hotel so I guess it wasn't that big of a deal. (lol) Really, Mr. Romance is such a GREAT experience that there is nothing negative about the RT Convention.

5. You won an award during The Mr. Romance Competition. Did that take you by surprise? How did it feel to win?

I did win the Contestant's Choice. It did take me by suprise because all I was doing was being myself. I had done this before, so all I was trying to do was help out the other guys who hadn't, and did what I would want others to do for me. It was really unexpected to win and it gave me sense of satisfaction and a sense of completion for a job well done. Of course, when you enter something like this, you hope to win something, and to have been selected by my fellow contestants as the one they thought should win is a real honor. It really is a terriffic feeling to be selected by a group of your peers (that you truly like and respect) for an award. It was a fantastic moment, one I will always remember.

6. What do you do in your real life?

I am a professional actor/model, photographer. I have been working in the entertainment industry for the past ten years. I have been in feature films for Disney and Lionsgate and have done national and regional commercials. I am also a high school head wrestling coach in my home town Columbus, Ohio (Go Buckeyes!) and I am passionate about mentoring young people and helping them to be their best. Since I have gotten home from L.A., I have been busy preparing for a MAJOR audition and that has been, along with my family, my focus.

7. Would you enter again?

Absolutely!!!, I would go every year if I were able. It was such a great opportunity and experience. It is one of the best experiences in my life both personally and professionally.

8. Any other thoughts or comments you'd like to leave with our readers?

I want to thank my family, friends, manager, and all of the lovely ladies I meet at both RT conventions (2010 and 2011) for all of their support. I also want to thank you, Kim, for thinking of me and taking the time to interview me. For those lovely ladies out there that I didn't get to meet at this year's convention, I hope we get to meet at a future RT Convention. AND If there are any ladies out there who haven't been to RT and are thinking about it... you need to go on and go and "get your virginity taken." (laughs and winks). I also want to invite everyone to follow me on twitter@DeLonnDonovan and on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/DeLonn.Donovan.

Hopefully I will see you in some capacity next year.

Thanks for stopping by DeLonn. Say hi to your family and good luck with the audition.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My first review for Home Sweet Home

I got my first review back for my upcoming release Home Sweet Home.

Susan Mobley from Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars.

Abby Bancroft plans to live in Dynamite Creek, AZ, and run the B&B she inherited from her grandparents, but it's in great need of repairs. She unwillingly accepts help from Cole Preston, a contractor who wants to atone for past mistakes.

"A heartwarming story of opposites who are not so different where love is concerned."

Kim Watters

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

AZBSPADA "Share the Magic" Casino Night

A family friend introduced me to this charity and its work. Arizona Beta Sigma Phis Against Domestic Abuse hosts a fund-raising event every year that benefits the New Life Shelter, a safe-haven for women and children experiencing domestic abuse. This year it was a charity casino night held at The Beatitudes Campus on March 26 in Phoenix, Arizona. Besides donating books for the event, I also attended, and had a wonderful time. The food was fabulous, we received 'play' money to play Blackjack with, which I had never played before. It was a lot of fun learning, and I managed to win enough money to enter the raffle to win a huge gift basket. All of the ladies who volunteer for this event work very hard, and are so generous with their time and talents. To find out more about their annual events, please visit: http://www.azbspada.org/

Monday, May 9, 2011

And the winner is......

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

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day from

Much Cheaper Than Therapy!

Connect with the special women in your life today.

Even if you haven't done so in years. Life is short.

We need to tell them we care.

Today is about love and appreciation.

Let's spread it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Interview with Barbara White Daille

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Barbara White Daille. 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.

Kim, thanks so much for inviting me to Much Cheaper Than Therapy! I love to visit here, and not just because of the chocolate. ;)

You're welcome. I understand you have a new release out called A RANCHER’S PRIDE. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Thanks asking about my current release, which is just out from Harlequin American Romance this week.

In A RANCHER’S PRIDE, solitary rancher Sam Robertson has just gained custody of a four-year-old daughter he’d never known existed. When his ex’s sister arrives on the scene, Sam finds himself in big trouble. Not only is he attracted to the woman, he discovers she holds the key to something he doesn’t: how to communicate with his daughter, who is deaf.

Kayla Ward has heard too many horror stories about Sam even to think about leaving her beloved niece in his clutches. She’s come to town to rescue the child and plans to leave with her on the next plane.

But the orders of a local judge turn Sam and Kayla’s custody battle into an outright war only one of them can win—a war that puts both their hearts on the line and the little girl’s future in the balance.

A RANCHER’S PRIDE is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

A RANCHER’S PRIDE is a stand-alone book that was selected to be part of Harlequin American Romance’s “Men of the West” mini-series. My editor asked me for title ideas to reflect a hero-driven story. I’m so glad we chose A RANCHER’S PRIDE, because it fits the book in several ways.

First, Sam is a very proud man who doesn’t want to accept help from anyone—especially not from the heroine. Having to rely on her at times during the story only adds to the conflict between them.

In addition, his pride has been battered from actions his ex-wife had taken in the past and that affect him even today.

Finally, he learns to love a child he’d never known existed, and his daughter Becky becomes his pride and joy.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always been interested in the people in books. Even when there’s an exciting storyline, what holds my interest is how the events impact the characters.

Romances are wonderful for showing how two people manage their encounters, conflicts, and attraction, as well as their relationships with other characters in the book. I like to follow along with them through the ups and downs of the story.

And I love the idea of a guaranteed happy ending!

Also, with the home, family, and community focus of Harlequin American Romance, there’s plenty of room for humor and quirky secondary characters, both of which I love to write.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book? Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Since I jump back and forth between the two writing styles, I would say I’m more a hybrid of the two. Every story I’ve written has taken a slightly different course. I started out—at the age of nine—as a pantser. At that point I didn’t know you could plot a book! I wrote what came to me, and what I enjoyed.

Over time, I’ve learned that coming up with a support structure (a solid outline of the story) helps direct me when I’m writing. But by not including every single element that goes into the book, I keep the story fun for me.

As for research, I think what make this book especially fun (as well as different) is that some of the characters communicate in sign language. I didn’t have to research that, as I’m a certified American Sign Language interpreter.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

People might think I came up with the idea for A RANCHER’S PRIDE out of my experiences as an interpreter. Actually, that’s not true.

Sometimes, a book idea starts for me with a flash of a scene, a very brief picture of a character or characters in a particular situation. In this case, the idea that intrigued me was a hero who had no idea in the world that he was a father—and who discovered the fact only when the child was dropped off on his doorstep without warning.

I’ll admit, it occurred to me very early in the planning stages that having this child communicate in another language—a language the hero doesn’t know—would add even more conflict to the story. And romances are all about the conflict.

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

This is one tough question. I love all the characters, from the eccentric town judge whose decision forces Sam and Kayla together, to the child whose welfare has them both at odds, to the tortured hero and heroine themselves—even if I had to be the one to torture them!

I have a lot of sympathy for Kayla, as she has experienced very hard times in her life. She’d had a sister sent away from her family when she was young, and she’s now in danger of losing a child she loves as her own.

And who could not love a sweet little four-year-old?

But if I’m forced to choose, I would have to say I most liked writing about Sam. During the story, he has to make huge adjustments and heartbreaking decisions, and I suffered along with him through each and every one.

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

I try. ;) Let’s say I start off well prepared with backup materials and have the best intentions when it comes to keeping up with them. But then I begin writing, and the characters become so entwined in the plot and their relationships with each other and the secondary characters, they...well...they take on lives of their own. At that point, they’re so real to me, I don’t need to go back to the notes very often.

One thing I definitely try to stay up-to-date with (no pun intended!) is a calendar. It helps me keep the story events and the timeline straight.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Yes—too many to name! I love authors who inspire me by drawing me into their stories, making my heart melt or my blood chill or forcing me to turn the pages as quickly as possible to find out what happens next.

And I’m filled with inspiration every time I read one of the books in my TBR (to-be-read) pile.

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

I hope it’s the virtual tour I’m currently on, where I’ve been invited as a guest at different blog sites to chat about A RANCHER’S PRIDE and my previous books and to get my name “out there.”

My first two books were published just before I had ventured into the Internet. Now, with A RANCHER’S PRIDE and FAMILY MATTERS (October 2010), readers who like the type of story I write have plenty of ways to find info about my books online and to keep in touch.

First, there’s my website: http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com.

Readers should feel free to stop by and visit any time!

They can also look for me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille

What do we have to look forward to next?

Thanks for asking! Right now, I’m working on two more stories that will be published by Harlequin American Romance, both of which are stand-alone books set in the same small town as A RANCHER’S PRIDE.

The first is the story of an injured rodeo cowboy who returns to his hometown seeking to right some old wrongs. There, he encounters his former high-school sweetheart, now a single mom struggling to survive financially and having trouble with her preteen daughter. She’s the woman he most needs to get square with. But he’s the one man she has to avoid.

The second book is the story of a young, widowed business owner who lost her Army hero husband and is determined to make a life for herself and her three kids. The rancher hero is just as single-minded in his goal to keep a promise he made—a promise that will once again turn the heroine’s world upside down.

Readers, please keep an eye on my website, where I’ll post the publication dates of these books as soon as I know them!

Thanks, Barbara!

My pleasure, Kim. Thanks again for inviting me to guest blog with you and to chat with your readers. And for the chocolate, of course. ;)

To celebrate her book release, Barbara is offering a free copy of one of her backlist titles 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...


Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing.

From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.

Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!

Her newest title from Harlequin American Romance, A RANCHER’S PRIDE, was just released this week and has received a 4-1/2 star Top Pick review rating from RT Book Reviews.

Check out Barbara White Daille’s website at www.barbarawhitedaille.com

You can also find her Virtual Book Tour schedule posted there.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. Raise that cervesa and tequila and enjoy your day.

The gals from Much Cheaper Than Therapy

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Combining Historical and Fantasy

In order to answer the question on how I build a fantasy world in an established time period, I have to go back in my writing career to the second novel I wrote, which was a straight historical fantasy. I spent months researching the Victorian era, and I had a lot of fun writing MY UNFAIR LADY. However, the entire time I was writing the novel, I kept asking myself, “What if?” What if magic, and not gender, was the basis for inheriting aristocratic titles? What if there were those who might be immune to the magic, being magical creatures themselves? I then had to go farther back into history to create the basis for the creation of my magical world, which was Merlin’s bloodline.

So, I started with my research into the time period before I ventured to add magic to alter it.

For my new series, THE ELVEN LORDS, I did the same thing; going farther back into history than the time period I knew I would be writing in. I established the basis for my magical world during the invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Instead of unifying England under one rule, my seven elven lords breeched the barrier between their world and ours and created seven sovereignties based on their own magical strength: Black for Mor'ded who rules fire, Blue for Breden who rules sea and sky, Green for Mi'cal who rules the forests, Gold for Roden who is master of glamour and illusion, Silver for Lan'dor who masters the blade, Brown for Annanor who rules the earth, and Violet for La'laylia who enspells gems.

My heroes and heroines became half-breeds, inheriting the beauty and magic of the elven lords, but with a human heart as well. So powers not only differed from realm to realm, but from person to person. I have posted my personal notes on the series on my website, if anyone would like to explore further into how I do my world building.

I think it can be more difficult and time-consuming to base a fantasy world in a historical backdrop, due to the amount of research it requires. It’s easier to create an entirely new world and make up the clothing, social mores, etc. But for me, it’s so much more satisfying to delve into the pageantry of historical eras because it’s a world I long to visit myself. Even if I do alter it with magic.

And one final note: the nice thing about adding magic to my world is that I can alter it to suit my modern sensibilities. For example, the elven lords brought bathing to England with them. I still reference that many consider bathing unhealthy, but in THE THE LADY OF THE STORM, my hero and heroines are clean. :}

By combining historical and fantasy, I have the best of both worlds.

Until Next Time,


Monday, May 2, 2011

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Riva. You've won Gabi's book. Please e-mail Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com ( no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Neurotic Writer Tries Catering

The Neurotic Writer Tries Catering
(A Writer's Therapy Session. Just for Fun.)

Therapist: “Is that flour smudged on your face?”

Suzie Writer: (Wipes it off with the back of her hand.)
“My next heroine is a caterer, so I asked my cousin’s friend
if I could help her out. She was working a wedding.”

Therapist: “A wedding… She let you help her cater a wedding?”

Suzie Writer: “You sound like that’s a bad thing.”

Therapist: “Not bad. Risky. Weddings are a big deal.”

Suzie Writer: “You’re telling me. Everyone takes them way
too serious if you ask me.”

Therapist: “What happened?”

Suzie Writer: “Well, I noticed Lisa, the caterer, sprinkled
flower petals all over the cake. To make it more festive, I
added confetti. I even ran down to the party store to buy it
myself. Instead of thanking me, she yelled that I was not
to touch anything. Can you believe that? I didn’t even charge
her for the confetti.”

Therapist: “Suzie, flowers are edible, confetti is not.”

Suzie Writer: “Oh. Well, she still should have thanked me. I
saved the bride a lifetime of misery.”

Therapist: “What did you do?”

Suzie Writer: “I merely told the groom he was delectable.
Everyone had a cow. You would think I had slept with him
like he suggested.”

Therapist: “How was that saving the bride a lot of misery?”

Suzie Writer: “She could have found out he was a cheating
bum after they got married, instead of before.”

Therapist: “You were with the caterer, right?”

Suzie Writer: “Yeah, right. We were serving dinner at the time.
Ohhhhhhhh. It was the reception. It was after they got
married. Ooops. Maybe she can get an annulment.”

Therapist” “What did the caterer say?”

Suzie Writer: “I didn’t get a chance to talk to her. Hotel
security dragged me from the ballroom. But the cute one asked me
for my phone number. We have a date for Saturday. Maybe
my next heroine should be a security guard.”