Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writer U July On-Line Courses

July 1-31, 2011

Laws of Motion: Plotting the Compelling Story

by Laura Baker



Do you know what your story is REALLY about? How would your writing be different if you knew the answer? Receive personal attention and brainstorm on your own story as you plot your book with critically-acclaimed and award-winning author Laura Baker. With over two decades of experience as a writer, teacher, critiquer and judge, Laura will teach you a revolutionary way of managing the dynamics of plot, character and conflict. This session is packed with information and feedback, but all the lessons and plotting are at your own pace.

In this class you will:

* Learn how to construct Story and Character Arcs* Use the Story Question to create clear and compelling conflict

* Define the decision that changes your protagonist's life

* Plumb the heart of your story using struggle and insight

* Discover and use three setup scenes for every Turning Point

* Use mini-epiphanies to launch the protagonist into escalating action

* Create a visceral connection of plot to subplot

* See your story vision come to life

With Laura's coaching, many unpublished writers are now published, and the techniques she teaches are used by NY Times bestselling authors. One writer said, "I now know what's been missing from this story. I finally 'feel' the layers and the textures and the plot is no longer contrived. I'm so excited! I'm digging in, writing my little brain out!"

For more information about Laura's coaching, classes and critiquing, visit her website:

~ ~ ~July 11-22, 2011

MASTER CLASS: Urban Fantasy

by Eileen Wilks



Prerequisite: Must be reading, writing or considering urban fantasy.

What is urban fantasy? Why has it stayed hot?

Eileen Wilks, NY Times bestselling author of three dozen novels and short stories -- including the twelve which comprise her World of the Lupi series -- addresses the 21st-century genre that's attracted millions of new readers and continues drawing more every month. Focused solely on writers with an interest in urban fantasy, this hands-on workshop looks at the craft of blending fantasy, and reality...with in-depth information on topics like building a world and creating plausible characters ("Mary Sue need not apply").

During this two-week session, you'll also learn about:

* What urban fantasy readers look for

* Genre-busting books that work

* Placing limits on characters -- supernatural and otherwise

* Creating a setting and magic that works

* Urban fantasy publishers to watch for

* Writing a series: how much planning does it take?

Ever since her first release in 1996, "World of the Lupi" series author Eileen Wilks has consistently appeared on national bestseller lists. With thirty-two books in print and novellas in nine anthologies, her award nominations include Career Achievement in Series Romantic Suspense. Eileen covered territory in Canada and Venezuela, as well as twelve U.S. cities in five states, before coming home to West Texas where she's lived for over 30 years.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sixty Seconds of Magical Romance

Today I'd like to share the book video for my upcoming release, THE LADY OF THE STORM, in case you didn't catch it on my website. I enjoy making these, and I hope you enjoy watching it. Hmm, even better, I hope it makes you want to read the book, and spend hours in my magical world of adventure, instead of only a few seconds. :}

Until Next Time,

Monday, June 27, 2011

And the winner is.....

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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bring on Happiness!

According to Rhonda Byrne's book, The Power, if you send out love and are happy, more things will come to you that make you happy. I found perfect examples last week. As many of you know, I got married last weekend, so I was definitely happy and sending out love. Wednesday, I took a reading class as part of my teacher continuing eduction. I randomly selected a table and two teachers joined us who brought more happiness into my life.

The teacher sitting across from me introduced herself. When I told her where I taught, she said, "You got our principal. We are going to miss him." In June, our school did hire a new principal, but I had not yet met the new principal. I was glad to hear from this teacher that the man we hired is nice, calm, and easy to talk to. This made me extremely happy.

The teacher who sat next to her recently got married as well. She had already started the name change process and shared what she had learned. For example, in Arizona, you have to change your social security card at least two days before you can change your driver's license. I wouldn't have known that if it weren't for her. I was planning to change my drivier's license first. She saved me at least an hour of wasted wait time at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.

Needless to say, I was even happier when I left the class that day than when I arrived. I also knew none of this was a coincidence. It was a result of The Law of Attraction. So be happy and bring more happiness your way.

Until next Sunday,
happy writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview with Alix Rickloff

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Alix Rickloff. 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 LORD OF SHADOWS. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

This is the second book in my latest regency paranormal series—The Heirs of Kilronan which follows one family’s struggle to stop a madman from resurrecting King Arthur as part of a plot to instigate a war between Other and Mortal.

LORD OF SHADOWS features Lady Sabrina Douglas. Since her father’s murder, she’s hidden herself and her healing powers away from the world. But when she saves a half-drowned man, she’s unwillingly drawn back into her family’s dark legacy. A man with no memory, Daigh MacLir seeks his past. But what he discovers is more chilling than anyone could possibly imagine. Defying death was only the first step in the task he was given, and Sabrina is his last hope.

LORD OF SHADOWS is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I’d love to say I came up with it all on my own. But Pocket had more to do with it than me. They wanted a title that conveyed both the paranormal and the regency aspects of the story. And for what it’s worth, I think they did a fabulous job.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always loved the Regency period and devoured both non-fiction books exploring the era as well as fiction set during the period. But I’m also a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction. It seemed natural to try and combine the two into something unique. Thus was born the race of Other.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Actually, the inspiration came from a previous manuscript. The heroine of that book’s father was murdered under mysterious circumstances, and now and again there was an allusion to some larger dark conspiracy. From those seeds, the entire Heirs of Kilronan series grew. Though it wasn’t until I began writing the first book, EARL OF DARKNESS, that the King Arthur ah-ha! moment struck. After that, the story clicked into place pretty rapidly.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

My office shelves are overflowing with wonderful resources on everything from fashion to architecture to military history, but I have to admit I’m a map geek. I have books of Napoleonic Wars maps, English town and city maps from 1800-1855, old county maps of England; one from the Tudor era and one from the 1830’s. I have maps of Regency era London, a Cary’s Itinerary with coaching routes and timetables, and a Taylor and Skinner that offers the same information for Ireland. My pride and joy is my Cary’s. It’s an 1812 edition. Musty and a little foxed round the edges. I love reading it and thinking of all the people who browsed its pages as they planned their journeys.

Maybe that’s why so many of my stories have traveling in them. I love flipping through the maps and imagining where my characters went, how they got there, and what they passed along the way.

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

I love Daigh MacLir. He’s an honorable man forced to do dishonorable things. And fighting the compulsion every step of the way. He’s a character who really took charge of his own destiny, evolving in ways I never envisioned when I first sat down 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 start with character sheets, but the information I enter is very basic. The characters really don’t come alive until I begin to write. At that point, their quirks, backstory, motivation, and conflict flow onto the page. It makes for a very messy and drawn-out process, but somehow it all works and by the end, they’re fully fleshed out and completely realized.

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

My books are paranormals with plots that rely on an otherworldly universe of my own creation, but the setting is a real one, and thus I want to make sure when my characters are not battling demons or wielding magic, they interact with a well-researched Regency world.

With Lord Of Shadows and the Heirs of Kilronan series, the history major in me reveled in chasing down sources on early nineteenth century Ireland. The landscape, the flora and fauna, the daily life of both the rich and the poor in what was basically an occupied country in a perpetual state of armed stand-off.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I don’t know about inspire, but I love Robin McKinley’s Damar books and anything by Anne McCaffrey. These are my go-to books, and I usually end up re-reading them every few years.

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

I can Facebook and blog and toot my own horn forever, but in the end, it’s all about getting my book in the hands of readers. So, anytime I can give away a copy, I’m creating a potential fan. Hopefully, today will be one of those opportunities.

What do we have to look forward next?

The thrilling conclusion of the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy comes out in January 2012. HEIR OF DANGER features Brendan Douglas. He’s been on the run for seven years, but with the looming threat of King Arthur’s return, Brendan will have to confront his past—including the woman he left at the altar. I’m also working on a new regency-paranormal project that I hope to unveil soon.

Thanks, Alix!

To celebrate her book release, Alix Rickloff is offering a free book of LORD OF SHADOWS 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...

ALIX RICKLOFF has never been able to decide who she enjoys reading more; Austen or Tolkien. That lifelong indecision drove her to create stories of her own, combining those distinct loves. Her writing awards include a final in the Golden Heart, while Romantic Times Magazine calls her work both compelling and original.

Check out author’s website at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Call for Submissions: Samhain Publishing Superhero Romance Anthology

It’s up, up and away we go, to a world of superheroes and supervillains, where heroes and/or heroines with special abilities and crime-fighting prowess protect the public…and fall in love.
I’m very happy to announce an open call for submissions for a new, yet-to-be-titled spring 2012 superhero romance anthology. For more information on what I’m looking for when I ask for superhero stories, check out these entries on wikipedia.

The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in spring 2012 and in print approximately one year later.
Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be considered either. Be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

Please note: fanfiction of popular, trademarked and copyrighted superheroes will not be considered. Only original works please.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, be sure to use the naming convention Superhero_Title_MS and Superhero_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn’t get missed in the many submissions we receive.

Submissions are open until September 1, 2011. No submissions will be accepted after this date—no exceptions. A final decision will be made by October 1, 2011. Send your submission to and include Superhero Anthology in the subject line. Questions and queries can be addressed to Sasha Knight ( though do your due diligence and read this anthology call completely and check the Samhain Submission FAQ page before emailing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When the end is just the beginning....or really the end of the road....

Nothing feels quite as good as writing THE END...for the last time of course.  For me, it takes several drafts before THE END is really THE END.  But even when I know I have several versions to get through before I’m really, really finished, getting to those two words is a beautiful thing.

Usually I have an idea of what I want to do next when I finish a book.  By the time I’m working on those final reads, I’m jotting notes about what I’m going to write next.  Usually.  Sometimes those notes are disjointed and random, sometimes they are cohesive and sequential.  And sometimes they are just garbage.  Twice in my career I’ve found myself with a finished novel I’m rejoicing over and a dry well of creativity I’m bemoaning.  It’s a scary thing to be a writer who’s out of ideas.

Of course I know that my creativity isn’t really all dried up, but sometimes that feeling is indicative of a greater problem.  It’s not that I don’t have ideas….it’s that I’m tired of what I’m writing and I need a change.  Several years ago I read an article in RWR about reinventing yourself and it made a huge impact on me and guided me from writing as Erin Grady into writing as Erin Quinn.  As I await the final edits on the last book in my Mists of Ireland series—the only series I’ve written—I’m finding myself dissatisfied with the false starts I’m making on my new book and asking myself why?  Is it time to look at reinventing myself again or is this the point in a writing career when the tough work through the indecision and the weak fold up their laptop and take it home?  Is the feeling of not knowing what’s next a symptom of burnout or is it natural to feel unsure after having been committed to one story line for so long?

What do YOU do when you find yourself faced with the blank page and a lack of enthusiasm to fill it?  Inquiring minds want to know….

Monday, June 20, 2011

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Na. You're the winner of Theresa's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Let Kim know if you want a print copy or ebook. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Challenges Are a Good Thing

You are probably wondering why I have a picture of cappuccino and candy with a blog post about challenges. I have learned the best thing for me to do when I have a challenge is to relax, preferably with a cup of coffee and something sweet. I have a Type A personality, which most people would not suspect. Over the years, I have learned to control the raging beast inside. I've made it a point to let life happen and not get upset whenever possible.

When my pulse races and I'm afraid my blood pressure will get too high, I meditate. I also look for the positive in any situation. I once read that there is an imaginary circle around you representing what you can handle in any given situation. New challenges widen the circle making many more events manageable.

Lately, I have been faced with challenges, which have turned into positive learning opportunities. Last night the Irish Charmer and I got married. (No, I did not wake up the day after I got married to go my blog. :) This is a scheduled post.) My focus over the past few weeks has been to turn the wedding into more of a party. By not having certain expectations, I have found the event more enjoyable and friends and family have surprised me with their kindness.

While preparing for the big day, my upstairs neighbor's pipes have leaked through my bathroom ceiling for the third time. I definitely had to meditate over this one. My tendency is try to control the situation and resolve everything immediately. My fiance stepped in to help and I have discovered how great he will be in an emergency situation. He is intelligent and calm. Qualities I respect. Also, by not taking charge myself, everything is falling into place. In the end, the situation will finally be resolved and I will have a nicer ceiling. It doesn't have to happen today.

So, while I am planning for my wedding and watching the paint fall from my bathroom ceiling, I received an adjusted tax statement from the AZ Dept. of Revenue and due to the high volume of calls, I can't get through to a live person. Apparently, they are not recognizing that I did pay my taxes through my non-writing career because they are looking at a tax ID number and not my social security number. In the past, I would have been extremely upset and ranting, but I have decided this can wait until after the wedding. I have learned to prioritize and put some things aside until later when it can be dealt with in a more relaxed manner.

Looking over the past week, I am amazed by how I have managed to stay sane with so much going on. I am learning to allow others to help - something new to me these past few years - and to let some things, although important, to take a backseat for awhile.

Of course, meditating more often is helpful and I'll blog about that another time.

Until next time,
happy writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, June 17, 2011

Interveiw with Theresa Meyers

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Theresa Meyers. It’s a pleasure having you come back to 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’m thrilled to be back! Chocolate is one of my favorite things and you seem to always have so much of it lying around here!

I understand you have a new release out called The Vampire Who Loved Me. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Sure! It’s the story of two very different people who go from sworn enemies to forbidden lovers. Dr. Rebecca Chamberlin hated nothing more than the vampires who had turned her loved ones into creatures of the night…until she became one herself. Now her experimental vaccine has become more urgent than ever, and has made her the target of vampire security chief Achilles Stefanos. Built like a Greek god with golden hair and an irresistible allure, Achilles awakened part of her the way no mortal man had before. Beck could no more deny her craving for him than she could the hated bloodlust in her veins. But when her vaccine fell into the wrong hands, Beck has a difficult choice to make—one that challenged everything she’d always believed…..

The Vampire Who Loved Me is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Would you laugh too hard if I told you it came from a long holiday weekend spent watching a James Bond marathon? I think other titles that came from that were The Vampire with the Golden Fang, From My Vampire With Love, Being Vampire is Not Enough and Vampires are Forever. I’m still working on those books! LOL. The title seemed to fit the story for me. Dr. Rebecca Chamberlin was actually out to create a vaccine that would allow people to change back into their human form if they’d been accidentally exposed to the vampire virus in the blood supply and been turned into vampires unwillingly. She actually has a strong personal distaste for vampires, but when testing for the vaccine goes horribly wrong, and she begins to turn into one herself, she’s assigned the Cascade Clan’s security leader, Achilles Stefanos, as her mentor. What neither of them understand until further into the story is that the imprint forming between them is centuries old. Achilles has loved her before, and that makes what has to happen now, and the fact that Rebecca wants to stay human, even more torturous for him. Because of their shared past, he is the Vampire who loved her.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Actually I’d have to blame that on my mom. She was always doing things to bolster our sense of the magical in the everyday. For instance, when I was about six she read me the story of the Shoemaker and the Elves. Just about the time she finished reading she acted like she heard something outside my bedroom window and told me to listen. I could hear little tiny voices talking. The next morning I woke up to find my room was clean. My mother suggested that perhaps it was the elves that lived in the big stump in the back yard and that I should bake them some cookies or make them something to wear as a thank you (which of course, I did with her help). I didn’t find out until I was in my twenties that she’d put a tape recorder under my bedroom window with a long gap of silence at the beginning of the tape so she’d have time to finish reading the story.

As I’ve gotten older, I still tend to see the world through that lavender colored lens where there is magical in everyday things, whether it’s the changing of the seasons or the opening of flowers or the frogs announcing at night that spring is coming. I try to be sensitive to my sixth sense and feel things just as much as I hear, see, taste, touch or smell them. I guess in many ways paranormal is my kind of normal.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

For me the story of The Vampire Who Loved Me was just an natural extension of what started in the first book in the Sons of Midnight mini-series, The Truth About Vampires. In The Truth About Vampires, humans learn that vampires are real and have been living among us. In The Vampire Who Loved Me, we see the backlash to that sudden knowledge.

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

Actually some of my most favorite research books have nothing to do with paranormal things, so much as history. To date the two I’ve used the most have been The MacMillian Illustrated Encyclopedia of Myths & Legends and D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. I feel that one important element in this series is looking at how history repeats itself and finding ways to bring those threads into the story of my couple falling in love and the obstacles they face.

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

Achilles of course! He was just so magnetic from the first moment he stepped onto the page as a secondary character in The Truth About Vampires that he practically demanded his own book. He’s a Spartan warrior who became a vampire through the original ancient cult in the ancient world. The problem is while he’s a warrior and a vampire, he’s also a Halfling. He bonded with his mentor, which in my vampire world means more than an emotional attachment. A bonded pair share not only each other’s powers, but each other’s pain and a love that lasts past death and can be reborn again. But his mentor, Ione, was killed during the Inquisition, which left him tortured and unable to truly feel emotions. Without the clan, he’d go insane. He tries so hard to joke around and tease feelings out of other people because he can’t experience those emotions himself.

He’s the ultimate tortured hero, who sees his past repeating itself as is terrified of it. I found the song “Wake Me Up Inside” from Evanescence perfectly described him and I ended up playing it over and over again as I wrote scenes in Achilles’ point of view.

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 do all kinds of strange things to find out more about my characters. The first thing I do is “run the numbers” on a character’s name using numerology to quickly nail down what truly drives the person, what they think about themselves and how others perceive this person. Then I move on to taking the numbers I get from that and pair them up with character archetypes found in The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines. If I get stuck from there sometimes I’ll do interviews just to uncover something more about the character and understand why he or she is motivated to make the choices they do. Sometimes my research will impact my character’s background or their dialog, but it rarely changes who they are, how they see life and how other people react to them.

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

For more complex worlds, I’ll develop a map for myself. For most of the work I do I use contemporary maps because the stories, while paranormal, are still set in real places that already have maps of them! Sometimes I’ll use a book I have that has historical maps, especially if I’m writing steampunk with a European setting and I want to know what countries were where during a specific decade. Since the Victorian era spanned from the 1830s to the 1900s, an awful lot changed! To keep my vampire world straight I have a continuing series notebook where I add factual information as it appears in the stories (such as which emotions correlate with which scents since my vampires can smell those things.)

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I really enjoy reading paranormal and action adventure as much as I love writing it. Give me a book by James Rollins, Yasmin Galenorn, Cherry Adair, Jessica Andersen, Kim Harrison, Alyson Noel, and I’m a happy camper.

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

Good question. For now the most effective thing has been blog tours with Bewitching Book Tours. They’ve been fantastic about get a schedule put together and keeping me on task. I also spend time just chatting with folks on Twitter a lot, and while I have a Facebook author page, I only go on once a week or so. I find giving classes is also something I really enjoy and helps give readers an incentive to want to purchase the books because they have a great time.

What do we have to look forward next?

My next book out in Oct. will be a novella called Shadowlander, from Entangled Publishing. It’s the start of a new urban fantasy romance world featuring dark fae that takes four sisters who can see the fae and get drawn into their world to save each other and mankind.

Then in November, my first steampunk romance The Hunter, will be released from Zebra. The Legend Chronicles series features three brothers, named after their father’s favorite guns, Winchester, Remington and Colt, who fight supernaturals, kind of like if you plunked down the Winchester brothers from the television show Supernatural in the West and gave them some really cool steampunk inventions for fighting. It’s part Indiana Jones, part Wild Wild West, and part Supernatural.

After that will come the third book for the Sons of Midnight series for Harlequin, The Half-Breed Vampire, that’ll be out in spring 2012. It’ll be a slight expansion of the current world because we get to see how the Cascade vampire clan clashes with the Wenatchee Were pack when a vampire isn’t everything he seems.

Also coming out in spring 2012 will be The Slayer, the second book in my steampunk Legend Chronicles series, featuring the oldest brother Winchester and his efforts to steal back the second piece of the Book of Legend with the help of a vampire Contessa.

In late 2012 there will also be the release of the first full-length novel for the Shadow Sisters series, Shadow Hunter, as well as the next Sons of Midnight book for Nocturne.

It’s going to be busy, but you’ll have lots to read between these three different series!

Thanks, Theresa!

Thanks so much for inviting me over for chocolate! By the way, are you going to finish that? (no. Here you go! KW)

To celebrate her book release, Theresa is offering a free copy of The Vampire Who Loved Me 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 professional writer since 1993, Theresa Meyers started her career in newspapers, moving on to freelancing for national magazines. Eventually she delved into the world of corporate and agency public relations for more than fifteen years landing coverage for her clients in places such as the “Wall Street Journal”, “Good Morning America” and “LIVE! With Regis and Kelly”. She launched her own public relations agency focused on the publishing industry in 2001, and eventually transition from full time publicist to full time multi-published fiction author herself, writing paranormal romances for Harlequin Nocturne, Steampunks for Kensington’s Zebra line and urban fantasy for Entangled Publishing.

Check out author’s website at

or find her on Twitter at


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Five Parts Of Amazon

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon! This eRetailer sets the example for the power of online selling. Currently, the largest online retailer in the United States, Amazon did over 9 Billion in sales in the first Quarter of 2011. Not bad for a website that started out initially selling books.

We may wonder how these huge profits might benefit all of us – the little guy. They certainly do. Because of their large profit margin, Amazon has been the leader in developing one of the most user-friendly programs for authors to promote and sell their books. The benefits do come back to us by way of better software development, better book sales programs and customer support. The Amazon programs for authors are the easiest to work with and navigate in the industry and have set the standard for the other eRetailers such as Barnes & Noble and Google eBooks. Apple is limping behind. Below are the Five Parts of Amazon that you as a writer should be familiar with:

Amazon Advantage

Amazon Advantage is considered a “self-service consignment program” where you can sell and promote your books online. You apply for membership ($29.95), indicate the title(s) you have for sale and Amazon orders books directly from you and sends them to the customer. You pay for shipping to Amazon. Amazon keeps 55% of the List Price set by you but they have the right to change the price. More at:

Sell on Amazon

Sell on Amazon is for Individual and Professional Sellers. This program is for those who want to sell their book on Amazon and handle the stocking and shipping themselves. You list your items, handle payment from customers and ship the item. Amazon takes a small fee and you keep the rest. More at:

Create Space

Create Space is Amazon’s Print-on-Demand program for print books. You only order the number of print books you need. Set up is fairly easy and your book is listed on Amazon and you receive 40% royalties of the list price. Firebird can help you prepare your manuscript in print format if needed at a very good price. More at:

KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)

This is the Kindle eBook Publishing part of Amazon where you can self-publish your books for the sale in the Kindle Store. Royalties are 70% of the list price. Your readers can purchase your book for reading on Kindle devices and use the Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices. More at:

Author Central

Author Central is an author information site where if you have a book listed on Amazon in print or eBook, you can set up an Author Central account. With this program you can promote yourself, track your sales and ranking, connect with other authors and readers, feed your blog, list your website and generate sales. Many of the top authors on Amazon use Author Central to increase their exposure and therefore sell books and eBooks. Kind of like a social media hub for authors and readers. We highly recommend you set up an Author Central account if you have not done so already. More at:

Note: Use your existing Amazon account as your login to keep them connected.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New York Publishers Collaborating on Online Bookstore

This New York Times article could be announcing a game changer. It came to me through the Sisters in Crime monthly recap. If we worry that traditional publishers are giving up on print, we may be very wrong. It looks like the Big Six (or is it five or seven?) still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Also, while it shouldn't distract us from our writing, novelists need to stay aware of the dangers of content and distribution being in the same hands. Amazon is getting too close to being a monopoly and this decision by the major publishers might even up the competition and keep everything a bit more equal. Here's a cut and paste version of the link if the one above didn't work for you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home Sweet Home review and interview

Kim Watters here. My June release, Home Sweet Home, on the book shelves right now got 4 Stars from Susan Mobley at Romantic Times.

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

And for your reading pleasure, here's an interview with the heroine Abby.

1. Abby Bancroft, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

Wow. I never thought of myself as an interesting person. I’ve always just sort of functioned. But it I had to pick something I guess it would be my work experience. Let’s see, I’ve worked a lot of dead-end jobs, waitress, bank teller, pizza delivery girl, but the most interesting one was a lifeguard position in LA. Let me tell you though, it wasn’t as glamorous as they portray on TV. Most days I spent counting one-piece versus two-piece bathing suits and whistling at people with more brawn than brains.

2. What do you do for fun?

Fun? I don’t know the meaning of the word. We never had any money growing up and we moved around a bit so I never had a chance to make friends. My mom used to love to go on long car rides, but since I got motion sick a lot, that wasn’t a highlight for me. Now it’s all about work and renovating this place so I can open my Bed & Breakfast. I did go sledding with Cole, the man who’s helping me with the work. That was fun, but an isolated incident.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I don’t like to shop. Hate it in fact. But there’s so much to do and so many choices to make and things to buy for my new home and only some of it can be done on-line. I’m going to have to get out soon, though if I want to open on time.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

That I’ll never find a place that will accept me. All I want is a home and place to settle down but I haven’t managed to find it yet. I’m hoping that inheriting this monstrosity my grandparents left me will be the answer.

5. What do you want out of life?

To get through it? I don’t know. You certainly ask deep questions. I guess I want to be happy. Fulfilled. Stay in one place and put down roots and raise a family if I ever find a husband who can accept me for who I am.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

After all the years of wandering around, I just want to settle in one place. Find a home, you know? Feel like I belong somewhere. I certainly hope Dynamite Creek is the answer.

7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Hmmm. Good question. If you’d asked me a few months ago, I’d say I’d need to work on being less defensive and more trusting. Today though, I say that I wished I’d found God sooner. I’m still finding my way, but with Him being in my life, it certainly has changed things.

8. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

I do. Mittens is a stray cat that has been scrounging around the neighborhood for years. I took him in because he’s not the only one looking for a home. Now that I have a house and a cat, what more do I need? It’s certainly not Cole. He’s a wanderer like I used to be. I do hope he finds what he’s looking for.

9. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I’d go back and ask my mother why she made the choices she made. I mean, I had a family, grandparents I never knew about. And I never got to meet them. I never knew they existed until I inherited the family home. I’d like to know about her life and find out the real reason why she ran away, and why she refused to come back.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And the winner is.....

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Simple Summer Weddings

Next weekend, The Irish Charmer and I are getting married. This being a second wedding for us both, we decided to keep things simple. After watching a couple of reality shows where the bride loses her mind over the dress or the details of the big day, I knew I didn't want to go there. I want to enjoy every minute. Our goal has been to share this moment with the people we love in relaxed setting, without going bankrupt, or crying for hours. So far, we have managed to keep the cost around $1,000. I thought someone might benefit from what we learned.

* Location - I like to say we are having a party with a time-out to get married. We decided to have both the wedding and reception at my cousin's house. Her husband even installed a misting system on the patio. What a guy! Even though it is an evening wedding, it is still Arizona in June. Not renting a church or hall saved a lot of money. Of course, I have bought a gift for them to say thank you.

* Drinks - I bought the beer, sodas, and water over a holdiay weekend. I checked the local flyers and discovered Frys grocery store had them on sale cheaper than Costco.

* The Dress - Can be a huge expense. My sister loaned me hers, but I soon discovered I would have been overdressed for this simple wedding. Instead, I found a cute white sundress for $100 at Pennys. They had a wide selection of white sundresses to choose from and some were less expensive.

*Shoes - Kohls turned out to be the perfect place to buy heeled sandals. I received a ten dollars off card in the mail and the shoes were on sale. I paid about $12 for the shoes. Great deal!

*Food - Catering is not cheap. Costco couldn't be beat for food. Yesterday we loaded our cart with frozen appetizers we will heat up that day. Tip: to get them all in the freezer, I had to take the plastic packages out of their cardboard containers. I saved the preparation directions and tossed the rest of the boxes.

*Extra expenses - Relatives and friends want to help, so let them as long as they don't have outlandish ideas. I have wonderful people in my life who want to be a special part of our big day. My adult daughter is taking me out to get my nails, hair, and makeup done. It will be a wonderful bonding moment. My sister is paying for the minister who is a friend of hers from work. My aunts and uncles are bringing coolers and long tables. And a friend from work is providing 20 of the chairs. We are renting the rest from a place with reasonable prices.

*The cake - The Irish Charmer and I were going to get a sheet cake. We didn't want to spend a huge amount of money on a traditional wedding cake. My daughter said the resorts are using cupcakes these days so my mother is ordering dozens of red velvet cupcakes. We have three towers to put them on for a decorative display.

*Decorations - Don't forget your local dollar store. I bought eight centerpieces; simple glass bowls to float roses inside. My mother donated satin rose petals for the table. I did splurge for bubble tubes, candy, and the netting to put them in at Party City. I'm sure I could have found it cheaper elsewhere, but I was running out of time to compare prices. They did have satin ribbon for only 59 cents. Cheaper than most places I had checked for ribbon.

* Photography - Again, this is a second marriage so we didn't feel the need to spend hundreds of dollars on pictures. I bought a package of fun cameras to place around on the tables for guests to use and we are also bringing digital cameras. I'm confident there will be enough photographs to capture the spirit of the day.

* Flowers - I could have ordered flowers at Costco, but Frys has them for about ten dollars a dozen. I ordered 3 dozen and with floral tape and ribbon will make my bouquet and the flowers the ladies standing up with me will hold, plus the roses for the centerpieces. Much cheaper than going through a florist.

Overall, I am very happy with what we have accomplished. I haven't lost my mind and am enjoying every moment. And at the end of the evening, we will be happily wed. That is what matters most.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Interview with Regina Hart

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Patricia Sargeant who writes contemporary romance as Regina Hart. 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 next therapy session has begun.

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

Kim, thank you for letting me visit with your blog community and for asking about Fast Break. Fast Break is my June 2011 release, which introduces my contemporary romance pseudonym, Regina Hart. Fast Break is the first book in my trilogy featuring a fictitious New York professional basketball team, the Brooklyn Monarchs. The hero, DeMarcus Guinn, is a retired NBA future Hall of Famer. The heroine, Jaclyn Jones, is the franchise owner. To save the franchise, DeMarcus and Jaclyn will have to take their perpetually losing team to the playoffs. That’s easier said than done since they’re both used to being in charge and getting their own way.

Fast Break is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Fast Break is a basketball term. It also suits the tone of the book. There’s a urgency to the situation. DeMarcus and Jaclyn will have to move fast to turn their losing team into a winning franchise.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I think it was my subconscious. I love basketball but I’m more of a football fan. However, I noticed that in most of my past titles – You Belong to Me, On Fire, Heated Rivalry – I’ve made a reference to the National Basketball Association.

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

I’m a plotter. Planning the story in advance helped me realize Fast Break’s true theme. The story’s message is that, if you want to win, you have to be willing to lose. For example, if you want to be published, you have to be willing to risk rejection when you submit your first manuscript. (Amen! KW)

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

Yes, I did do a lot of research for Fast Break. I spoke with two college basketball coaches and read interviews of players and coaches. I also read player blogs and sports articles. The coaches let me watch several of their practices. That was a tremendous help. My favorite research site is

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I want to use this story in part to introduce the Monarchs to readers – who are they; how did they get to this point in their franchise’s history; what does Jaclyn have to do to save the franchise; what does DeMarcus have to do to get the team to win?

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

I enjoyed writing all of the characters, actually. I loved DeMarcus and Jaclyn’s character arcs. The other players are quirky. The main villain, Gerald, is deliciously evil. The assistant coach, Oscar, is wonderfully cranky.

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 create character sheets. I start with the characters, what does she want; what does he want; why; and what’s keeping them from achieving their goals. The character drives the story.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

There are so many authors who’ve inspired me. I’m probably forgetting a few. Beverly Jenkins, Dianne Castell, Susan Elizabeth Philips, Kate Angell, Shiloh Walker.

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

Requesting book reviews. Studies continue to show that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. Getting reviews is a great way to spread the word about your book. Guest blogging is another great way to get the word out, which is one of the reasons I’m very grateful to you for letting me spend this time with your blog community. (You're welcome. KW)

What do we have to look forward next?

Game Plan is the second book in my NBA trilogy. It features two of the characters readers will meet in Fast Break, Troy Marshall and Andrea Benson.

Kim, thanks again for letting me stop by!

Thanks, Patricia!

To celebrate her book release, Regina Hart is offering a free copy of Fast Break to one lucky commenter on today’s blog. (Please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning are 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...

Regina Hart is the contemporary romance pseudonym of award-winning author Patricia Sargeant.

Regina’s contemporary romances feature the franchise members and friends of the Brooklyn Monarchs, a fictitious National Basketball Association team set in Brooklyn, New York.

In addition to Patricia Sargeant’s various pastimes and hobbies, Regina loves football, basketball and track-and-field – college as well as pros. Her favorite teams are the New York Knicks, New York Jets, New York Giants, Syracuse Orangemen and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Regina also loves chatting with readers. You can contact her at

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

History Builds Character

I love research.
I'm sure part of it stems from my love of learning. The other part is because I know that the smallest detail can bring a scene alive for a reader or deepen the conflict for a character.
This is particularly important when writing historic, fantasy, paranormal or science fiction stories. (Not to mention useful in contemporary stories, too). Sometimes, it even provides the spark needed to create just the right character.
When I was researching the moneyocracy in Ghost of a Chance, I came across a section about the need for the nouveau riche in America to set themselves apart from the rest of the middle class rabble. Because of this need, many a rich man sent his daughter oversees to marry into the impoverished nobility, mainly of England, but really any title would do.
Although I didn't use this idea in Ghost of a Chance, it stuck somewhere in my head and eventually shook loose in their daughter, Fiona's story. Unfortunately, by the time Fiona was of marriageable age, those rich papas had decided that poor nobs who looked down their aristrocratic noses at the working masses weren't quite the in-laws they had in mind.
Furthermore, the invasion of American Heiresses had left many of the British Ton resentful, particularly the daughters.
This didn't quell the need or desire of royalty for an infusion of money.
And just like that a hero was born.
The proud Marquess of Kingslee is quite impoverished and worse, his stepmother insists on gambling and racking up more debts. Fortunately for him, he's williing to work. So while going into trade is out of the question, he has found another means to support himself and try to work off his debts. You see British royalty rarely deigned to allow Scotland Yard in their midst, so Kingslee manages to repay his debts (and his stepmother's) while still maintaining his veneer of nobility. And while he could have wooed Fiona to gain her money, he'd already been burned by another American heiress who tossed him aside for a higher title.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


HAIKU MADNESS with Connie Flynn

Connie is offering the Bootcamp's first off-topic course, called a Sidebar, which is a quick two-week course that will cover creative writing areas that are outside the usual areas of novel writing. She's starting with Haiku poetry, where students will learn the basics of this often misunderstood poetry form.

What is haiku? It's a Japanese poem structure that is measured by syllables. Traditionally only three lines long, each line is a specific length — line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables and line three is again five. Click this link to see a sample haiku:

So why haiku? I think it also frees the creative mind, kind of like mental doodling. In this course we will write haiku on various topics, starting with the classic season/nature themes, then moving on to satirical haiku, and then free for all haiku on topics far and wide.

It's a two-week course. You can come in once a week for the lessons or pop in an out every day. There is no constructive (or non-constructive) feedback. You just take your bow each time you post. At $15, this course is a steal, and just what many of you need to relax those overworked mental muscles of yours.
FEE: $15

The Return of Ever Popular Historical Author

Learn to weave historical facts into your novel so deftly that readers
feel they've entered a time machine while reading your book.

In this course you'll learn how to create your characters' world view and create conflict by letting some of them rise above the "truth" of their time period. You'll also learn how to balance historical fact and events with your fictional story to make them seem true to their time. Finally, you'll learn what in their environment they need to see and interact with so you can create a bridge between our time and theirs, the bridge that will take your readers on their journey into the past.

But don't think that these research tools are for historical authors only. Any author who writes about an unknown setting or occupation will find this course invauable for creating a believeable world.
FEE: $28

A 2 week mini-course taught by Linda Style

Pacing isn't all about speed. It's also about moving readers along. And even more. Pacing has many facets and involves everything from the tone of your book to the language you use. In this class you'll learn the ins and outs of pacing from story to scene to paragraph to sentence and how to use pacing to benefit your story.
FEE: $15

JULY 22 to SEPT 2
Mythology was made famous by Joseph Campbell and later applied to screenwriting and storytelling by Hollywood, yet the principles of this powerful tool to a reader's subconscious common links are only vaguely understood. Learn that archetypes are actually placeholders and how the journey itself takes many forms. This course is six weeks long and features considerable discussion as well as exercises for employing the "Journey" method.
FEE: $48
SAVE $5 ENROLL BY 6/24 Fee: $43

Includes: query letter, voice & style
A unique voice and style can make your synopsis stand out among the hundreds of submissions editors and agents receive. In this class you'll learn all the elements necessary for a successful synopsis and receive direct feedback on your work. In order to get the most from the class, it is recommended that you have completed at least half of your manuscript.
FEE: $48
SAVE $5 ENROLL BY JULY 15 Fee: $43

Bootcamp for Novelists is has been online for over two years. Instructors Connie Flynn and Linda Style teach step-by-step novel writing that starts at the beginning and takes you through the polish. Enroll at

Things your burglar won't tell you.

Good morning everyone. I found this in my e-mail files and thought it worth posting. To keep with the theme of being industry related, I'm going to tie it in to some of the things we do as writers and readers. especially with the summer months upon us. Here are things to know when you're off to a conference or workshop, research or vacation. From the mouth of burglars:

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put
motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it athttp://www.faketv/.com/)

More Things A Burglar Won't Tell You:

1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.

4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.

8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California,
and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey,
and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University
of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book
Burglars on the Job.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Use Pen Names?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

— William Shakespeare

When I first started writing back in the last century (the 1900's not the 1800's :-), many publishers required their writers to use pseudonyms and everyone I know was itching to use their own name. I’d been advised by my agent to keep all my writing under one name and it took a nice bit of negotiation to convince one publisher that I should write future books under my own name. That was considered quite a coup d'├ętat.

Lately, many writers assume a pen name even before they are published and I often wonder why. I know some authors hope to publish academic or political papers someday and fear that being linked with writing genre fiction might be a stigma. Others are writing edgy erotica that they might not want their grandmother’s uncorrupted eyes to see — although I’m not sure those eyes exist much anymore.

I had a personal experience with the benefits of pseudonyms when one of my romantic comedies came out shortly after my first werewolf romance, SHADOW ON THE MOON. A reviewer loved SHADOW and gave it her highest rating. Two months later the same reviewer read ONLY COUPLES NEED APPLY, the comedy, and gave it a scathing review, the kind that melts toenails. I liked both books but must admit the content were world’s apart and I suspect the reviewer was expecting a touch of S&M and was quite disappointed when I gave her M&Ms. I’d failed to live up to her reader expectations, which makes this incident a very good argument for using pseudonyms.

After all, very established writers like Nora Roberts and Jennifer Ashley use a pen name when they writer for a new genre, especially if the genres don’t cross over well. Partly it’s a financial decision involving sales figures and such, but that motive aside, I can’t see much benefit in taking on the enormous task of supporting and publicizing two or more career names. I’m sure there are many reasons that haven’t occurred to me but I’ve been giving it a lot more thought since I started writing two series, one fantasy, and the other thriller/suspense.

So what do you think? Do you have a pen name? If so, why? Is it to keep your genres separate or to keep your grandma in the dark? Or just because you like the sound of the name you chose? There’s no right answers so if you’ve got an opinion, sound off. I’m listening. You may help me make up my mind.

Monday, June 6, 2011

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Cathy M. You're the winner of Sharon's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Friday, I decided to meditate before looking
over my manuscript once last time before sending it out.
I intended to visualize what I wanted in my life. The
interesting thing about meditating is what you need, rather
than what you want, can come to you rather quickly.

At first, I was mentally cataloging what to visualize and
then I remembered what Mike Dooley, author of Manifesting
Change, said when I heard him speak. He believes if
you focus in just being happy, the universe will give you
what you need to be happy.

Rhonda Byrne, author of The Power, claims your life will
change for the better if you are happy and sending out love
51% of the day. I wrote 51% on my bathroom mirror as a

Instead of rushing around because I have so much to do,
I have decided to seek out the joy of every moment. Feel
the overwhelming happiness that flows through my body
when I do this and trust that I will accomplish all that needs
to be done. Instead of feeling stressed, I will be grateful
and happy. I suggest you give it a try, too.

As a result of my new attitude, I had a positive writing
session and wonderful evening with family. It was truly
a great day!

I am writing this paragraph on Saturday, although it will
post on Sunday and I am already feel the love. I am
ready foranother fantastic day! I hope you have one too!

Until next time,
happy writing!

Tina LaVon

Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview with Sharon Ashwood

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Sharon Ashwood. 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 Frostbound: the Dark Forgotten. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Imagine meeting someone who was young, handsome, protective, and handy when it came to fixing a leaky tap or taking out the villains. He’s the go-to guy in the community for problem solving and leadership. Everybody likes him. He oozes competence and has a great sense of humour.

Unfortunately, he’s not only from the wrong side of the tracks, but is the wrong species entirely. Just to complicate things, this alpha male with the Ruger Blackhawk is the only person standing between you and an unknown killer who just beheaded your roommate.

This is what happens to Talia Rostova, the fugitive vampire in Frostbound. When she meets Lore, the hellhound Alpha, the first thing he does is chain her to his bed for safekeeping. It makes perfect sense to him—even if she does a lot of yelling—until he stops thinking of Talia as simply a vampire and a murder suspect wanted by the cops.

Frostbound is an adventure story, but it’s also a very sensual tale about forbidden love and personal choices.

Frostbound is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The title came in two ways: there is a freak snowstorm that slows down the city where the story takes place. The other is that the two main characters are trapped by their cultures to see the world a certain way. They have to break free of those ideas and obligations before they can move forward.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always read stories of the supernatural. When I was growing up, there was of course epic fantasy and horror, but there was also a fabulous stream of stories that blended contemporary settings and ancient magic. A lot were from the UK—Susan Cooper and Alan Garner come to mind—and I gobbled them up the moment they appeared on the library shelves. I guess you could say I was programmed from that moment forward. Resistance was futile.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Lore. He’d been demanding a book since he first showed up in Ravenous. He was meant to have a very minor part, but he simply would not go away. It’s appropriate he’s a hellhound—he has that canine ability to shove his way to the centre of attention and look innocent about it. It helps that he’s hot.

Anyway, because he kept showing up again and again, the hellhounds started evolving. For those not familiar with the series, they begin as prisoners in another dimension and eventually escape into our world. By Frostbound, I was really curious about how they would adapt to life among the humans. They’re essentially an immigrant people, with all the challenges and joys of having a tight-knit community only partially in tune with the city around them. Lore is their Alpha, and we get to see what that really means. It’s a huge amount of responsibility and sacrifice.

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

My favorite paranormal books are reprints of historical books about magic—usually eighteenth or nineteenth century works. I don’t think there’s a lot of useful data there, but they give a fascinating insight into how people thought about the supernatural back then. I have some old books of spells and, no, I’ve not tried any them. With my luck, they’d work and I’d turn my cat into a footstool or something.

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

In Frostbound, Talia was the greatest challenge. She wasn’t always fun to write, because she has such deep emotions and such a terrible past. Bringing her through the difficult moments, especially once she’s finally grappling with her demons, was hugely rewarding. However, I was exhausted by the end. To write well, I have to internalize what the character is going through and her journey was pretty harrowing!

For pure amusement, I love writing Perry the werewolf computer nerd.

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?

My characters walk into my head pretty much fully grown. They don’t always reveal all their secrets right away, but they are well-defined individuals. I don’t really need to work on them in a formalized way, although I do make notes about their motivation and goals. I would say that the characters often drive what research I do. If they show up and say, “Hi, I’m a lion tamer!” I’ll need to go off and find out what a lion tamer does.

That’s exactly what happened with my heroine from Unchained. When I first “met” her, I knew very little except that she’d run away from home, gone to Spain and married a toreador. My first thought was, “huh?” But it turned out to make absolute sense by the time her book rolled around. The hardest part is trusting the process. The story knows what it needs, even if the author doesn’t.

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

The Dark Forgotten world is largely our own, so my approach is a bit more relaxed than if I were writing epic fantasy. The most elaborate system I have is a bunch of toys on my desk that I move around to figure out action scenes.

However, my world has a ton of detail on magic and I just keep adding to it. On my website, I’ve got a page called the Monsterpedia and it’s full of facts about the various places, history, and species. It’s there as much to keep me on track as for the readers!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Lots. There are so many great paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors. I also read older authors like Dickens and Jules Verne, contemporary and classic horror, and social history. Right now I’m into a big fat historical novel about the era of the Tudors, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s an absolutely amazing book.

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

My theory is that excited readers are the best advertising, because they tell their friends how great an author’s books are. If I say how great I am, it’s never as convincing.

What do we have to look forward next?

Frostbound is out on June 7. Next up is an ebook anthology in the fall. The working title is Crave the Night, and I am contributing a novella. One of the characters in Frostbound (Darak) makes an appearance. What’s different about this story is that it takes place in ranching country. A little cowboy hotness just to change things up.

Thanks, Sharon!

To celebrate her book release, Sharon will offer a copy of any one of the Dark Forgotten series Ravenous, Scorched, Unchained, or Frostbound (reader's choice) to someone who comments on this post. This is open to international mailing. Check out her book page for trailers and excerpts. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Sharon Ashwood is a free-lance journalist, novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle fantasy would never work out, so she writes paranormal romances instead.

Sharon lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

Check out author’s website at

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tia Dani -- Who Are We?

First and foremost we are a dedicated writing team who loves playing with words, creating the "what if's", and are following a shared dream.

When Tia Dani was invited to join the authors here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy blog, we were thrilled. As part of this group we hope to create interesting information that isn't full of self promo, but will give our readers a chance to get to know who we really are. Find out how we work and how we play. Learn how we struggle with balancing our everyday life, how we draw our stories out of our heads, then work together to finish them, and then on to becoming a published book. And we do it without losing our precious friendship.

Who are we?

We are wives, moms, and grandmas.

Who are we?

Tia -Virgo: Earth Sign. Ruling planet: Mercury. Symbol: The Virgin. Birthstone: Sapphire.

Life Pursuit: To do the right thing.

Vibration: Compassionate and caring.

Virgo's Secret Desire: To love and be loved in return. When a Virgo shines, there is practically no sign to match their inner light. An in-tune Virgo is a treat to meet. When a Virgo is confident within their heart, they are the most successful, structured and creative of all signs.

This is the perfect sign for a romance writer.

Tia's favorite color- Green

Tia also loves to scrapbook and in her spare time she makes jewlery. These hobbies get her creative juices flowing.

Handcrafted by Tia.

Dani- Aires: Fire sign. Ruling planets: Mars. Symbol: The ram. Birth Stone: Diamond.

Life Pursuit: The thrill of the moment.

Vibration: Enthusiastic.

Aires Secret Desire: To lead the way for others.

Aires gift is that they are always children at heart and the world is always a magical place for them.

What a great sign to be born under if you're a writer.

Dani's favorite color is red. Although you might not know that since she usually wears black.

Other interests of Dani's are cooking and baking up yummy desserts for her family.

This cake is decorated with live flowers.

Now, don't you agree that we are the perfect combination for a joint collaboration of writing a wonderful story?

We hope you've learned a little bit about Tia Dani and will stop by again to find out what's new with us. We'd love for you to have as much fun reading our books as we have writing them.

We are Tia Dani, a team committed to our dreams.

Please leave a comment and we'll put your name in a drawing for our erotic ebook, Seduction To The Altar, plus a pair of earrings made by Tia.

Thanks everyone, and have a great day,

Tia Dani