Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Tips on Character Names

The past few weeks I have been discussing where writers find names for their characters. I almost forgot to share some helpful hints. For starters, you don't want all or many of your characters names starting with the same letter. It helps to avoid confusion and aids in giving every character their own, separate, identity. A friend once told me she writes the alphabet and when choosing a first or last name she marks the first letter off her alphabet. I found this useful.

The next piece of advice came from another writing friend who read my book, Liquid Hypnosis. She told me she is Dyslexic and names which end the same confused her because she sometimes starts at the end of a name. I believe I had a few characters whose names ended in S.

My next book has a character whose last name is Stevenson, so I need to make sure no one else's name ends with son too.

I hope you find this advice useful as well.

Until next week,

happy writing!

Tina LaVon

Friday, July 29, 2011

Once Upon A Cowboy by Pamela Tracy

Good morning everyone. I'm on my way to Chicago and unable to watch the blog today so I thought I'd leave you with a treat. Pam is a dear friend and her book released a few days ago. She gave me an advanced copy and I must say, it's awesome. So here's a tidbit to whet your appetites. See you back to our regularly programmed schedule next week with Kimberly Lang.


A bull-riding injury has sent Joel McCreedy crashing—literally—into his tiny Iowa hometown. But the last thing the prodigal son wants is to stay. On top of a bruised head and ego, he has relationships to mend and a reputation to clear. And then there’s lovely Beth Armstrong, his nephews’ teacher, who’s willing to give them all lessons in family and forgiveness. But Joel isn’t the dutiful “family first” man Beth deserves. Or is he? Suddenly, instead of wrangling bulls he’s helping with homework. And instead of craving his next win, he’s determined to be Beth’s once-in-a-lifetime love.

ONCE UPON A COWBOY (4) by Pamela Tracy: Cowboy Joel McCreedy returns home after an eight-year absence and receives a cold welcome. He’s rescued from a minor accident by Beth Armstrong, who had a crush on him in high school. When Joel discovers his reception is because he’s suspected of stealing money the night he left, he’s determined to prove his innocence. If this helps win him Beth’s love, it would be a gift he’s not sure he can keep, especially after he discovers who the real thief is. A delightful romance about misapprehensions, jumping to conclusions, and love that, when not guided by God, can lead to sad consequences.

Reviewed By: Susan Mobley

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bootcamp for Novelists Fall Courses

To Enroll or Get More Information Go to the Bootcamp website

July 22 to September 2

Late registration accepted until July 29
C1 Applying the Hero's Journey

Mythology was made famous by Joseph Campbell and later applied to screenwriting and storytelling by Hollywood, yet the principles of this powerful tool to readers' subconscious common links are still only vaguely understood. Learn how the archetypes are actually placeholders and that 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

August 5 to September 16
LS1 Secrets To a Killer Synopsis
Plus Query Letter and First Three Chapters

The best story in the world won't sell if the editor can't get past the query letter and the synopsis. Most publishers give very specific guidelines on what they want in a submission, but they don't tell you how to make your submission stand out among those hundreds of submissions they receive daily. In this class, you'll learn how to do just that, and you'll get direct feedback on your query letter and your synopsis. It is recommended that you have completed at least half of your manuscript in order to get the most from the class.
FEE: $48

September 2 to September 16
SB1 Haiku Magic — a gentle journey into poetry

Haiku is a Japanese poem structure that is traditionally 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.

Why haiku? Bootcamp students know I'm constantly after them to write concisely and make precise word choices. What better way to learn that skill than playing around with a form of simple poetry that limits you to seventeen syllables. Plus, it asks you to form a mental image with those few sounds. Talk about showing, not telling.

It also frees the creative mind, kind of like mental doodling. At $15, this course is a steal, and just what many of you need to relax those overworked mental muscles of yours.
FEE: $15

September 9 to October 7
7B Punch Up Your Prose w/Connie Flynn

You can have great characters, excellent plots,and zingy dialogue but if you don't write the story with brevity and clarity and evocative words you'll lose readers by page three. You'll learn how to stay in active voice, what excitement killers must be avoided and how to exploit sentence structure and punctuation to get the most out of your writing. engaging.
FEE: $28

October 28 to November 18
8P The Big Black Moment

Dramatic, powerful storytelling doesn't just happen. There's a plan. A story plan. The Big Black Moment is only one piece of the plan, but it's one of the most important and many writers fail to get it right. Most writers understand that this is the moment when all seems lost, but they don't understand why or what goes into making it that way. In order for TBB to be emotional, certain components must be there. In this class you'll learn what TBB really is and how you can make it the most powerful, emotional point in your story.
FEE: $28

Like regular Bootcamps, each of these package courses is a full four weeks and covers the same material as a regular Bootcamp. There will be a one-week break between each course and you still have the option of registering for each Bootcamp individually, just without the package discount.

Begins September 30
1B - Creating Characters
2B -Dynamic Plotting
3B - Sculpting Scenes
4B - Conflict That Sizzles

These four courses develop your basic writing skills and give you the foundation for writing your book. You'll go through step-by-step exercises that can sometimes be frustrating but are designed to help you identify how to create the memorable characters, can't-put-it-down plotting, and tense, crackling scenes that are found in all the best books. Plus, knowledge at a bargain. Individual courses are $28 each. You''ll save $20 by enrolling in the combined package.

Begins November 11
1P - The First Three Chapters
2P - Deepening Character
3P - Escalating Consequences
4P - Creating Strong Subplots

The advanced techniques in these four classes are designed to expand and build on your basic foundation skills to take your writing to another level. The lessons and exercises, using your own work, will give you hands on experience as you learn the concepts and practice the techniques that create the kind of stories that make a bestseller...complex stories with memorable characters that readers will remember long after they've turned the last page. Individual courses are $28. You'll save $20 by enrolling in the four-class package.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Win 'magical' jewels and a book for your friend!

I have launched my new contest on my website!

Second contest for

To celebrate the upcoming release of THE LADY OF THE STORM, I am offering a gorgeous genuine 16.75 carat sky blue topaz necklace, which represents the magical power my heroine half-breed inherited from her elven lord father.

This second contest is all about your friends. To enter, just e-mail a friend and tell them about my books, and either cc or forward your message to me at: (or use the link at Please send a separate entry for each friend if you e-mail more than one. If your entry is chosen as the winner, you will win the 'magical' jewelry AND your friend will win an autographed copy of THE LADY OF THE STORM!

A winner will be randomly chosen using RANDOM.ORG. Your information will be kept confidential. Contest ends August 1, 2011. One entry per friend. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. Odds of winning are determined by number of entrants. This contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

I am receiving several entries per friend, which increases the odds of winning, so be sure to reach out to all your book-loving buddies!

Monday, July 25, 2011

And the winner is......

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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Naming Your Characters

Two Sundays ago, I mentioned Best-selling Author, Janet Evanovich, searched through yearbooks and phone books to find names for her characters. Usually names come to me, but I have discovered a couple of resource books I have used often.

Character Naming Source book by Sherrilyn Kenyon, another New York Times Best-selling Author. She lists names by their nationality and gives their meaning. According to her book, Tina is English and means river. Maybe I shouldn't have looked. I've seen better definitions elsewhere.

My favorite resource book is The Secret Universe of Names by Roy Feins. He believes names have a subliminal power. We form an image of someone when we hear their name. This is helpful for writers who are forming characters with particular traits. This gives us an edge if the reader already has a predisposed belief system about names.

He lists names according the significant letters. For example, Tina is listed under tn. He then gives a page describing the personality attached to the name. I read through the page for Tina. Some of it applies to me, but not all. He also lists strengths and weaknesses. My strengths would be Energetic, Talented, Warm. I can live with that. My weaknesses would be Self-important, Pushy, Demanding. I guess I have been those at least once. My friends would say I am definitely not pushy or demanding. Perhaps when I was younger or if I feel I am standing up for someone's rights.

The author also gives a rating scale on how likely someone with a particular name is to be charismatic, have a successful career, be lucky in love and friendship, and how much power they might have. My scale is the highest when it comes to love and friendship. I would have to agree.

Until next week,

happy writing,

Tina LaVon

Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with Nancy Gideon

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

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

A: BOUND BY MOONLIGHT is the fourth installment in my dark paranormal BY MOONLIGHT series with Pocket Books. It concludes the romance arc for NOPD detective Charlotte Caissie and her shape-shifter lover Max Savoie who is pulled between his obligation to the criminal empire he inherited from his mentor and the Shifter clan who believe he’s their prophesied leader. When Cee Cee discovers her new serial killer case might involve the missing daughter of one of her colleagues, she enlists Max’s preternatural skills and his former illegal connections to try and find her before time runs out. As he struggles to keep his secret from spreading, Max must also find a way to protect his family and his clan from the danger that stalks him. There’s plenty of action, steamy romance and surprises as Max and Cee Cee reach for their happily-ever-after. You can read it without having first read the other books.

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

A: No, it has nothing to do with whips or chains. It refers to the bond between the main characters; both the emotional connection of love and trust, and the paranormal link they’ve established through their unprecedented mating, but don’t quite understand.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

A: I’ve always loved paranormal stories ever since cutting my teeth, so to speak, on Dark Shadows when in middle school and becoming fascinated by the Dracula legend. I like to be led along by a scary, suspenseful tale, but I’m a sissy, so I also enjoy the happily-ever-after safety net. Writing paranormals gives an author an extra dimension to play in, that of making anything possible as long as you make it believable.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

A: I started the BY MOONLIGHT series with the idea of having the same continuing hero and heroine throughout, but when Pocket asked that I branch out to feature different characters in that main role, as well, I wanted BOUND BY MOONLIGHT to wrap up Max and Cee Cee’s emotional involvement without necessarily tying up all the series’ loose ends. So, as you’re reading, see if you can spot the cameos for the next pair of lovers.

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

A: I love to cull inspiration from old myths and legends. I couldn’t get enough of them when growing up, and went through all the volumes in my area libraries: Norse gods and godessses, American Indian lore, Celtic folktales, right down to campfire urban legends. If someone thought it up, maybe there’s a grain of truth there somewhere...

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

A: I love making each secondary character strong enough to carry his or her own book. They are the most fun to develop because even if they start out as villains, they can be redeemed. I got a kick out of Jacques LaRoche and Giles St. Clair and their relationships with Max and Cee Cee. And recently Philo Tibideaux has gotten pretty interesting…

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

A: Plot and characters have to support each other so they grow together rather organically. I do very brief character sketches, mainly so I don’t have eye color changing half way through the book and to lay out the main conflicts, both internal and external. Once I get the ‘look’ of my character in my mind’s eye, finding the right name is the next important step. A name says a lot about personality and setting. How characters react to their surroundings and each other depends upon background and environment so that’s where the research comes in. The world that surrounds them sets up their reactions and circumstances. I think of plotting and character like knitting or weaving, everything going in and out and around to form one solid whole.

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

A: If it’s a real setting, I like to visit to get a tactile feel for the place through the five senses and a look at the culture. I use street maps, Chamber of Commerce, weather sites, etc. so I know what my characters are exposed to. A character’s personal involvements re: job, family, recreation, interests are another layer. Then there’s the social hierarchy in which the characters function. In a paranormal, you have the luxury of building supernatural social structures as well. My By Moonlight world has been unfolding book by book as Max learns about his heritage so I’ve had time to think out a firm foundation. That’s about to explode into all new directions with the next two books. I visualize it like a big family tree, how one branch interacts or interlaces with the next. I’m OCD. I love a complex network!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

A: I adore Dean Koontz. I admire the way he pulls you in with his very real characters to ground you, then hits you between the eyes with the unexpected and unnatural. I also recently met Sherrilyn Kenyon in New York and was just awed by her personal story of overcoming adversity. And then there’s my critique group: Seven wonderful and very diverse ladies who’ve kept me focused and looking at the big picture instead of momentary setbacks and annoyances. They are my idols!

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

A: I guess we’ll soon see. I did no social media before the first book in the series except for a rarely updated website. Now, I’m on FB, Twitter, Pocket After Dark and Goodreads, blogging, posting photo diaries, making book trailers, romance trading cards, doing giveaways, and, while in New York, my first video interview. I’m proudest of my own blog which just debuted with an awesome contest giving away a Kindle. Check it out and try your luck at

What do we have to look forward to next?

A: HUNTER OF SHADOWS, the next book in the BY MOONLIGHT series will be out on November 29, 2011. I had such fun writing it, expanding the Moonlight mythology and creating two of my favorite characters, a dedicated Shifter cop with his own agenda and a fearless assassin determined to interfere with it, both professionally and intimately. The sixth book will be released in July, 2012, but I don’t have the title yet. I’m also planning some interesting things for my historical backlist. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks, Nancy!

To celebrate her book release on July 26, 2011, Nancy is offering a free copy of BOUND BY MOONLIGHT along with a set of her Romance Trading Cards 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...


With over 50 books sold, Portage MI author Nancy Gideon’s writing encompasses romance genres from historicals and regencies to contemporary suspense and the paranormal.

Her 25-year career journey has traveled from writing her manuscripts by hand then typing them up on her Smith Corolla to learning social media skills (but she still doesn’t text!). Two grown kids and a full time job as a legal assistant later, she is still going strong with her six book BY MOONLIGHT dark paranormal series from Pocket Books.

A prolific writer, Nancy attributes her creative output, which once peaked at seven novels in one year, to stubbornness, a gift for storytelling, the discipline learned through a background in journalism, and OCD. She’s a member of GDRWA, MMRWA, PASIC, FF&P and Novelists Inc.

Check out author’s website at


Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Get Book Review Quotes

So you've successfully landed that first book contract with a publisher or self-published your book? Now you want to garner a book review not only to separate you from the rest of the pack but to emphasize your stellar prose, your amazingly tight and intricate plot or your in-depth characterization?

Getting quotes is a tricky endeavor if no one has heard of you. Exactly where do you start?

  1. Friends - Granted they might not be always truthful, but I bet you they'll give you a glowing review.
  2. Fellow Authors - If you are just starting out don't expect Dean Koontz to give you a review. Start small, work your way through newly published authors who will be happy to have their name publicized on your web site or book cover.
  3. Small Reviewers - Again don't start with the LA Times. A quote is a quote if it comes from a reputable reviewer.
  4. Niche Reviewers - Send to reviewers in the same genre or non-fiction topic your book is about.
  5. Blog sites - There are many blogs on the web that do reviews. Again start small.
  6. Local newspapers and magazines.
  7. Independent Bookstores
  8. Niche stores - If you book is about bikers, try talking to someone who works for a biker dealership.

Before you send out to local newspapers, independent bookstores or other potential reviewers, put together a press release. Don't be cheap on on time or money. This is one of your largest marketing tools.

The Dos -

  1. Follow up. Check back in several weeks to ensure they received your material but don't inundate them with phone calls or emails.
  2. Read submission guidelines and follow them.
  3. Do your research. Before submitting to a reviewer, find out what genre they review. Sending a romance to someone who only reviews horror is a waste of time for both you and the reviewer. Also check they're previous reviews and make sure the story or topic you have is in the same vein as to what the reviewer likes.
  4. Always be positive when dealing with a potential reviewer. Never trash another author or include other reviews including your own to that potential reviewer.

The Don'ts -

  1. Don't pay for a person to review your book. I can tell you right now, if they are asking for money, they are not reputable. Run away, far, far away.
  2. Don't give the person any time constraints. Like agents and editors, reviewers are inundated with material. Be pleased that they are willing to take the time out of their busy schedule to look at your book.

Remember the best cover quotes may not increase your sales. It is just one of many marketing tools at your disposal. Times may have changed from how it was in your parents day, but one thing hasn't changed - Word of Mouth. With today's lightning speed communication avenues, word of mouth information spreads like wildfire. Either in a positive or negative way and it always comes down to the product. Just write the best book you can.

Carol Webb

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writer U August On-Line Course

August 1-26, 2011
Writing Your Synopsis "Mad Men" Style
by Laurie Schnebly Campbell
$30 at

What do successful students say about this advertising-style workshop? American Title winner Marie-Claude Bourque: "That synopsis I me into the 8 finalists!" NYT bestseller Allison Brennan: "Laurie's classes are fabulous. I'm still not an expert at the synopsis, but I'm head and shoulders better than I was." Brand new Harlequin author Patty Hall: "It taught me a great deal more than I thought I could learn." Four-sales-in-a-row Sally Clements: "This approach has given me all the tools I need to go back and whip my older, non-selling synopses for previous works into shape." Tools include...

* Why synopses are like ads (and what makes them work)

* Choosing your target market/s (and how to reach them)

* Getting to know your product from the buyer's perspective

* Communicating your unique selling points (like all great ads do)

* Brainstorming, strategizing, nuts & bolts, and the big DON'Ts
* Homework assignments (always optional) to exercise your new skills

Laurie Schnebly Campbell credits her day job in advertising with making it easy to write every synopsis she's ever done, but it wasn't until friends commented on her ability that she realized not everyone HAS a Madison Avenue background. So she put together the copywriting techniques that make people want to buy whatever new product they read about, and shows how to use 'em during this hands-on workshop (followed by a master class in October).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh how it's changed...

For an industry that hasn't had a major revolution since the invention of the printing press, publishing is experiencing mind boggling changes.  Not only has the eRevolution taken the publishing world by its ears and tilted it sideways, but the role of the writer has morphed into something new as well.

It used to be that writers pounded out their books on typewriters (or laboriously penned it longhand), made one round of corrections that required patience and perseverance (as well as scissors, white out, and tape).  They shipped their manuscripts off through the postal service and waited.  The physical act of writing/typing the manuscript took more time than the act of crafting the story. 

In fact, did you ever wonder why the keyboard of our typewriters/PCs are laid out so strangely?  The reason is, they were designed to slow the typist down.  In the day of the typewriter, the keys could not be struck too quickly or they would jam, so the inventors--never envisioning a day when typists would type 100 words/minute--made the keyboard as unintuitive as possible.

In the 21st century, writers don't write just one or two drafts.  Word processing makes it possible to write as many drafts as we want.  (And let me tell you, I write a lot of them).  I often wonder, does the ease of revision make the book better...or does it make it worse?  I agonize over every word.  Sometimes I fear I polish the shine right out of my prose, I work it so hard.  Is the original idea--that crystal clear image that motivates us to start our books, diluted by the constant revisions we make?  Who can say?

All in all, I think publishing is changing for the better and I am eager to see what the world of publishing looks like when the dust settles.  One thing is sure to stay the same though:  writers will write, spend countless hours of angst wondering if they’re good enough, and continue to strive to get their stories read.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Maureen. You've won a copy of Susan's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Writing Tip

Where can you look to find names for your characters?

Bestselling Author, Janet Evanovich, creator of the Stephanie Plum series, mixes and matches names from old school yearbooks, telephone books, and books of baby names. She warns not to use trendy names like Chasmere or Cappuccino.

---From How I Write by Janet Evanoich with Ina Yalof

Friday, July 15, 2011

Interview with Susan Lyons

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Susan Lyons. 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.

Thank you so much for inviting me. As for the chocolate, I’m grabbing my new favorite, Ritter Sport dark chocolate with marzipan.

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

It’s the third of my Berkley Heat titles set around a destination wedding—where it’s not only the bride and groom who find sexy romance! Sex on the Beach was set in Belize, Sex on the Slopes was set in Whistler, and Heat Waves takes place on a Greek island cruise.

In charge of her first destination wedding, sex is the last thing on widowed wedding planner Gwen Austin’s mind—until Santos Michaelides helps her rediscover herself as a single, sensual woman. But then Gwen finds out that there’s more to the charismatic cruise director than meets the eye…

When Kendra Kirk meets up again with Flynn Kavanagh, the sexy IT consultant she’d unsuccessfully prosecuted, sparks of all kinds fly. But her newfound ability to put her life ahead of her career will be pushed to the breaking point when she learns the truth about Flynn…

The two novellas intertwine, and take place during the same time period. In fact, Santos is an undercover investigator—and he’s investigating Flynn!

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

My editor and I considered a number of titles. This one just seemed to fit best, especially given the ocean setting. I also created a signature drink for the wedding cruise, which I called a Heat Wave. It’s fruity and boozy and fun, and you can find the recipe on my website.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’m a character-driven author. I love taking characters who have flaws and vulnerabilities and challenging them to dig deep inside themselves, face their fears, and have the courage to change and grow. To have the guts to do that, a person needs strong motivation. Meeting someone special—someone who doesn’t fit neatly into the emotionally safe life you’ve constructed for yourself—and starting to fall for them can be a wonderful motivator. So, that’s why I write romance.

Why contemporary? I relate to the people I know and the issues we face, and that’s what I like to write about. It’s also, most often, what I like to read about.

Why super-sexy? Well, sometimes a romantic relationship develops slowly, and the sex is a natural progression in that development. But sometimes, a couple connects immediately (call it lust, call it chemistry, call it pheromones), and they land in bed before they really get to know each other. And then what? Likely, they didn’t intend a serious relationship, and so they could just walk away. But what if they can’t? What if there’s a special connection that makes them want to see more of each other, to get to know each other, to maybe risk taking that initial fling into territory that’s emotionally dangerous? I think that’s a fascinating journey, and I love traveling it with my characters.

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

Mostly a pantser. For me, it’s more fun to learn about the characters as I go along. That means I need to do lots of revising, but that’s just part of my process. It’s tougher to “pants,” though, when I’m writing interconnected novellas as in Heat Waves. They both take place in the same period of time, and hero #1, Santos Michaelides, is an undercover insurance investigator who’s investigating hero #2, Flynn Kavanagh. There are lots of details of timing and activities that I needed to keep track of, to make sure both novellas matched. So it was a challenge!

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

I researched a number of things. I needed to update my information on the Greek islands, because it’s been a while since I was there, and to figure out how things work with a small, privately chartered cruise boat. I needed to research some law, and verify my understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome (which Flynn’s brother has).

My favorite research method is reading novels that deal with a particular subject, then verifying by searching the internet. I also love person-to-person research, and for this book my friend Nick was especially helpful in sharing his memories of an anniversary cruise in the Greek islands. I also had the lovely experience of asking on a writing loop if someone spoke Greek, and having an author respond—from where she was cruising in the Greek islands!

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I had so much fun writing Sex on the Beach and Sex on the Slopes that I was dying to write another destination wedding book, and fortunately my editor agreed. So then I had to choose the location. I thought about various places I’d traveled to on holiday, such as Mexico and the Bahamas—but they felt too similar to my Belize book. Then I had one of those “aha!” (or, “well, duh, dummy!) moments and realized that my very favorite place, Greece, would be a perfect setting. I’ve been there twice and loved it, and always wanted to set a book there. So, this is my time.

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

Ooh, nasty question! That’s like asking which of my best friends is my “bestest.” I love them all. Gwen tugged at my heartstrings as a minor character in Sex on the Slopes—a widow who’d married young, only loved one man, then lost him, was devastated, and was trying to get her life back together. She tugged at my heartstrings even more when I wrote her story in Heat Waves. As for her hero, Santos, OMG, I want that man! He’s tall, dark, handsome, sexy, charismatic, and a little bit dangerous. In other words, just perfect. But then hero #2, Flynn, is perfect too, in a very different way. He’s got that wounded hero thing going on, and he’s utterly loyal to his single-parent mom and his Asperger’s little brother, and of course he’s gorgeous too and he has an Irish lilt to his voice. As for heroine Kendra—she’s wounded too, and she’s a character type I love to write: the smart, driven, buttoned-up woman who doesn’t believe she’s feminine and sexy until the right man brings out her repressed sexuality.

No, sorry, I just can’t pick. I love them all, and had so much fun joining them in Greece (at least in my imagination) and giving them their challenging journeys to love, and their happy endings.

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?

Character sheets? Interviews? Oh man, that’s way too sensible and organized for me. Not to say those aren’t great tools, and as it happens, in most aspects of life I’m very sensible and organized. But when it comes to creativity, my muse isn’t so keen on structure and sensibility.
I develop my characters by writing them, thinking about them, worrying about them, taking walks and mulling them over, brainstorming them with my critique group, and referring from time to time to books such as The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders and Believable Characters: Creating With Enneagrams by Laurie Schnebly.

And yes, my research does affect character development, and I’m trying to learn to do the research before the fact or at least as I go along, rather than waiting until I finish the book. Elements relating to occupation, family circumstances (e.g., Flynn’s brother’s Asperger’s), etc., can definitely affect character.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Oh, only pretty much every author I ever read. Writing a book is an amazing thing. When I’m in the middle of writing a book, I often go through a crisis of faith, wondering if I’ll ever make the thing work and finish it. I know that many, many other authors have their own crises of faith, and yet we keep turning out these wonderful books. The writing community always inspires me and buoys me up. Also, I’m a reading addict and whenever I’m absorbed in a book and happily taking a break from real life, I’m so grateful to the author for giving me that gift.

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

We never really know which promo efforts pay off. For Heat Waves, I’ve done ads in RT BookReviews, Romance Writers Report, and Romance Sells—also featuring the other two books in my destination wedding series. I have also prepared a booklet with excerpts from all the books (contact me through my website and I’d be happy to mail you one). I handed that booklet out all over the place at the RWA National conference in June, and am sending it to other conferences and to reader groups, bookstores, and so on. And of course I’m guest blogging—and thanks again for having me here.

You're welcome. :) Thanks for coming back. KW

What do we have to look forward next?

In my Susan Fox author persona, last year’s Brava Christmas anthology, The Naughty List (with novellas by Donna Kauffman, Cynthia Eden, and me as Susan Fox) is being reissued in mass market in October.

Also as Susan Fox, I’ve been writing the Wild Ride to Love series for Kensington. It’s a “planes, trains, automobiles, and a cruise ship” series in which three older sisters travel home to Vancouver, BC, for their baby sister’s wedding and find sexy romances along the way. The fourth and final book comes out in December. Yours, Unexpectedly is baby sister Merilee’s story. Let’s just say that her honeymoon cruise doesn’t work out exactly the way she’d expected!

After that, the next two upcoming titles are Body Heat from Brava (a Susan Fox book) about a buttoned-up accountant who falls for the hot guy on the Harley, and Dirty Girls Book Club from Heat (under a new pen name, Savanna Fox): don’t you wish your book club read sexy books? LOL.

Thanks, Susan!

To celebrate her book release, Susan Lyons is offering a free copy of Heat Waves 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...

Susan Lyons, who also writes as Susan Fox (and in future as Savanna Fox), is the award-winning author of “emotionally compelling, sexy contemporary romance” (Publishers Weekly). She is published by Kensington Brava, Berkley Heat, and Harlequin Spice Briefs. Publishers Weekly gave her February Brava, His, Unexpectedly, a starred review and ranked it as a Top 10 Romance for Spring 2011. A resident of both Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., Susan has degrees in law and psychology but would far rather be writing fiction than living in the real world.

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, July 14, 2011

5 must-haves for memorable characters

Coming up with a story idea is very easy for me. In fact, I have three notebooks and hundreds of scraps of paper with ideas for books. Many of which will never be written. Why?
I don't have the characters to bring the idea to life.
But I live in hope that when one book ends, the universe and my personal story fairy will provide me with more characters for the next book.
Which leads me to the obvious question: How do I know which characters go with which story idea? I've come up with five character must haves for me to actually start writing the book:

1.) I have to like the characters (villians exempt, of course). Writing a book of 100K words can take six months to a year. That's a long time to spend with an imaginary someone you don't like.

2.) The character's goal has to be something in keeping with their natural tendencies. This is what's usualy referred to as motivation. I have to believe that despite the odds the character has a chance to achieve their goal--even if they don't think they can. I really love underdog characters.

3.) The characters inner conflict has to raise the stakes for the plot. For example, in my current book, one of my heroes needs to fix problems, solve things (his self-worth is dependant on what he can do for others)--he's a man of action. Yet he's facing the Plague (yes that plague) and his gun is useless, but he keeps trying and ends up making things worse.

4.) They need to have habits that reflect their weaknesses and strengths. Someone who craves order will constantly be arranging things, thiers or someone else's, especially as events spin further and further out of their control. Bonus: This will also help the reader identify the characters faster if the book is written in multiple POVs.

5.) The character's voice inside my head has to be unique. What they say MUST reflect who they are. This applies to both internal and external dialogue. My cyborg soldier from The Syn-En Solution would say, "put a magnet in your circuits" or think, must be an organic thing. Where as my human heroine would keep calling the cyborgs people. In short, a soldier would not think like a housewife, nor a doctor like a lawyer, and men don't think like women, etc.

Obviously, there's a lot more that goes into creating believeable characters but these five points are always my jumping off point. And once I have them, I can write the story they tell me (no plotting needed).

What about you? What are your character must haves?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 Hot Prospects Contest

2011 Hot Prospects Contest
Sponsor: Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

Looking to sign your first book contract, switch from a small press to a large publisher or simply explore another genre of romantic fiction? Turn up the heat on your writing career with the Hot Prospects Contest.
Fee: $25 for Valley of the Sun RW chapter members
$30 for non-chapter members
Chapter website has PayPal capability…

Postmark Deadline: September 1st, 2011
E-Submit Deadline: September 1st, 2011

Eligibility: Any uncontracted work by an RWA member in good standing, who is able to enter RWA National Golden Heart or Rita contests may enter any category. This includes both published and unpublished authors.

Enter: 3-5-page synopsis and up to 25 pages of story (30 pages max). Entry or synopsis may be shorter, but neither may be longer than specified.

Categories/Judges: Trained judges for preliminary round,
Editors and Agents for final round.

1) Historical/Regency
Editor - Katherine N. Pelz, The Berkley Publishing Group

Agent - TBA
2) Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal
Editor – Deborah Werksman, Sourcebooks, Inc.
Agent – Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
3) Romantic Suspense
Editor – Amy Pierpont, Editorial Director, Grand Central Publishing
Agent – Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management
4) Contemporary Long/Single Title
Editor – Jennifer Enderlin, St. Martins
Agent – Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency
5) Series Contemporary
Editor - Johanna Raisanen, Associate Editor, Harlequin
Editor - Leanne Morgena, Senior Editor, Sweetheart Rose, The Wild Rose Press

GRAND PRIZE: The winner can choose between a book trailer, static banner and active banner from Firebird Entertainment for the book of their choice (a $300.00 value) or $100.00 USD.

For More Information, entry form, and rules, see website at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Death, Taxes and the Writer

Kim Watters here. Today I wanted to talk about death and taxes. Yes. That’s right.

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Thanks, Benjamin Franklin. True today as it was two centuries ago.

So how does this relate to writing? Interesting question. Well, sit back and grab a cup of coffee see if you can agree with me.

My daughter’s robo dwarf hamster died a few weeks ago. Tragic, I know, but not completely unexpected for the two year old hamster. I knew by how Twister was acting a few days before that something wasn’t quite right and had tried as best I could to prepare my daughter. So on that fateful day when I went to feed Twister, I knew the inevitable had happened. Now I had to tell my daughter.

I cried as I held her trembling body, but this is a fact of life. We are born, live and die. I hate to tell you folks it’s inevitable. Some of us just hang around a bit longer than others and some species are just blessed with longer life spans. Between my two children, we’ve gone through 4 hamsters already; each one receiving a proper burial befitting their family status.

I think she recovered quicker than I did and is already talking about her next ‘best friend’. This time we adopted a cat. Two actually. Of course my son’s still alive and kicking hamster is throwing fits about that. Hmmmm. I wonder why?

Anyway, I must admit I kind of feel like a death has occurred when I finish a manuscript. I’ve spent so much time with the characters that once I’ve finished their story and have to say goodbye, it feels so final. I know it’s coming and I can only prolong it for so long. Deadlines, you know? But each time I type ‘The End’ a part of me has died; the relationship ended. The funeral takes place as I ship the package off to my editor. As authors, how do you feel? For you readers, what do you feel when you finish a book?

The other certainty in life is taxes. While that part isn’t quite so traumatic, it does leave my checkbook lighter. Because we’re considered self-employed, writers have to pay their own taxes, and Uncle Sam really likes it when we send in quarterly estimates to avoid penalties and interest come tax day.

So there you have it. Death and taxes from this writer’s perspective. Anyone else care to elaborate?

Monday, July 11, 2011

And the winner is.....

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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Meet an Editor and/or Agent

Registration for the 2012 Desert Dreams Conference,
to be held Apri 27-29, 2012 in Scottsdale, AZ,
is now open.

The first 50 people who register and pay for the
2012 conference will have their names placed in a
drawing and 10 lucky people will win a spot next
to one of our editors or agents at the Saturday luncheon.

We don't have our full list of 10 editors and agents shown
on the website yet, as we're still confirming the last few,
but you'll have time to adjust youreditor/agent appointments
before conference if you register now. It's still based
on first registered/first paid basis.

If you're one of the lucky 10 to win the promotion,
this gives you extra one-on-one time with an editor/agent,
as it doesn't have to be the same person you meet with
for your appointment.

Register online at
to take advantage of our early bird pricing and
be entered in the drawing for the chance to spend
an entire lunch session with the editor/agent of your choice
based on the time of your registration).

As soon as we have 50 registrations, we will use
the contest engine to determine the 10
winners at random. We will notify each person.
As soon as our 10 editors and agents are finalized,
you will have a chance to pick your lunch partner.

Don't wait! Register today at

Questions? Email

Friday, July 8, 2011

Interview with Catherine Mann

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Catherine Mann. 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 COVER ME. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

COVER ME is the first in my new military romantic suspense series. “Elite Force” features air force special operations pararescuemen, trained in high-risk rescue, combat or humanitarian. More books are already in the works with HOT ZONE (December 2011) and UNDER FIRE (May 2012.)

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

COVER ME fits the story on a number of levels. The book is a military suspense novel, so the COVER ME refers to the hero and heroine watching out for each other. The book is also set in Alaska, so there’s a very literal sense of keeping warm. And of course it’s a romance, so COVER ME has a sexy connotation on those cold Alaska nights.

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

I would call it military romantic suspense, but it’s been interesting to see some of the reviews coming in label it s a thriller. All have agreed it’s steamy!

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always been an avid reader of both romantic suspense and romances. So it’s a natural fit for me to write in both genres for Sourcebooks, Harlequin and Berkley. As for the military angle, my husband served for over twenty years as an air force aviator.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I had already decided to write a PJ series and was brainstorming ideas when I came across an article in National Geographic about the Aleutian Islands. The article noted how Russian missionaries referred to it as “the land that God forgot.” That sent a real chill down my spine. I knew then, I’d found the place to set the first book in the “Elite Force” series!

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

When I begin a book, I have a basic outline in place, along with a number of key scenes in mind. I have character sketches for all the main players, including the villain. However, I do have to say the villain in this story really surprised me. I had a major revelation about his character about three weeks before I turned the book in and had to go back and re-work all his scenes. While I was surprised at the twist my story took, I am thrilled with how it all played out!

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

My husband served for over twenty years in the Air Force and is awesome about brainstorming story ideas and plot points. He proofreads my books for fact checking. I also live only a few miles away from Hurlburt Field, headquarters for Air Force Special Operations Command. And in a lucky twist of fate, my chiropractor also happens to be a retired pararescueman. He’s been great about sharing stories about his active duty adventures.

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

I always enjoy creating a new military squadron – especially coming up with their back stories and call signs (nick-names.) Once I have my crew/team, I’m ready to roll!

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 keep files on characters with lists of their histories (or as much as I know when the story starts.) I also choose photos of actors and actresses who resemble those characters. Research adds layers to those characters, like suiting them up for battle.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I’m an avid romance reader and have been a long time fan of books by Suzanne Brockmann, Lori Foster, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Gardner, Linda Howard, Teresa Mederios, Christina Dodd… My list could go on and on.

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

It’s tough to know what’s the most effective, but I do know what’s the most rewarding. I truly enjoy interacting with readers on Facebook (Catherine Mann author) and Twitter (CatherineMann1). I can also always be reached through my website:

What do we have to look forward next?

I have a wonderfully busy few months ahead on the shelves:
COVER ME, Sourcebooks, July 2011
BILLIONAIRE’S JET SET BABIES, Harlequin Desire, Oct. 2011
IRRESISTIBLY HIS, Harlequin Showcase, Nov. 2011
HOT ZONE, Sourcebooks, Dec. 2011
PROTECTOR, Berkley Sensation, March 2012
PROMOTED TO PAPA, Harlequin Desire, April 2012
UNDER FIRE, Sourcebooks, May 2012

Thanks, Catherine!

CM: Thank YOU for inviting me to hang out!

To celebrate her book release, Catherine Mann is offering a free book of COVER 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...

USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann has over two million books in print in more than twenty counties. A RITA Award winner, she lives in the Florida panhandle with her flyboy husband, their four children and menagerie of pets.

Check out author’s website at
Buy at amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Office

Question. What is your dream office/writing space?

When Tia Dani started working together several years ago things were perfect. We lived close enough so we could get together on a daily basis. Because of it, we were able to sit side by side and create our stories in one office.

By working so closely, we really got to be in each other’s head and understood what we wanted to say. We talked for hours about a scene before the words actually went down on paper. It was easy to critique each page and work it out as we went. Sure it took some time, and our story didn’t move as fast as we would have liked, but it’s how we learned to become one voice. We worked hard at it, blending ourselves to become one.

Unfortunately, because life has a habit of changing things unexpectedly, it happened to us. Personal circumstances made it so we could no longer work together on a daily basis.

It meant Tia Dani had to change...and...WE both hate change.

But we are committed to our team writing. We are determined to figure out a way to make it work. And, we have. Though we now have separate offices on the other side of town from each other, we communicate daily (one way or another). We talk by phone, by email, and we added Skype to our arsenal. We still write and it’s working.

You might say, by being able to spend so much time together in the beginning it made us successful as a team. It’s also made our friendship extremely strong.

Could we have still been a writing team by not spending so much time together in the beginning? Maybe...maybe not. Team writing is hard no matter how it begins. There are lots of sacrifices to make, as there are in any partnership. Partnerships work if you are committed. And we are. Tia Dani plans to be around for a long time to come. We have lots more stories to tell and we hope you will read them and enjoy them as much as we have writing them.

Be watching for our newest release coming from Sapphire Blue Publishing in August. We guarantee it will be hot.

This is our writing space/office.
Tia’s new office

Dani’s new office

This is us working together in Tia’s old office.

What a glamorous life. Pass the bon bons, please.

Death Unseen, Available in print and ebook

Seduction to the Altar, ebook

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Mystery?



Write STRONG: A Writer's Workout

Desert Sleuths WriteNow! 2011 Conference, “WriteSTRONG: A Writer’s Workout” will be held August 20, 2011, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. in the Webster Auditorium at Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008.

Registration $75, $80 at the door. Professional editing sessions with Carol Test, $15 per submission.

Featuring multi award-winning, bestselling authors Sophie Littlefield, Kelli Stanley and Juliet Blackwell. This will be a high-energy event designed to whip you and your writing into shape. Visit for more details and to register.

This is one of my favorite conferences and I never miss it. Always
conveniently located, as of late it's also had some classy venues. Last
years it was at the Wrigley mansion and this year's will be, as mentioned
above, at the gorgeous Botanical Gardens.

The speakers cover truly diverse topics from supernatural mystery to using
grammar correctly, and . . . a great editor to run your work by. Carol Test
is my colleague in the Creative Writing program at Phoenix College. If
you're ready to have a sample of your work evaluated, I highly recommend
that you take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

Plus, did I mention that the conference price will be easy on your wallet -
-$75 in advance and $80 at the door. That includes lunch.

I hope to see you there. All good books contain suspense and learning how to
build a strong mystery can only improve your stories no matter what genre
you write in.

For more detail, check out the Desert Sleuth website

And you might want to stop by a monthly meeting -- Grimaldi's, Old Town
Scottsdale. 4000 N Scottsdale Road, 6pm, third Wednesday of the month.

Submitted by Connie Flynn

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Concerns You?

Last night I dreamed I was awakened on America’s Top Model by a 4am call to a surprise modeling gig. I’d slept in my clothes, my hair was a mess, my breath probably worse, and we were leaving NOW. The girls and I had partied in our model’s apartment the night before and I was badly hung over. And because I was still the age I really am (shouldn’t I have been younger and better looking? It was my dream!) and the other girls were young and beautiful and probably handled their booze better than I do, I was already at the back of the pack. America’s top model? Please.

Soon I was hanging out on the sidewalk in front of a designer’s studio and I got to assess how bad it was. I had on blue jeans, the I’m-about-to-paint-the-house kind, with a t-shirt bearing some rude slogan I refuse to share, and flip-flops, which — according to my friend who was subtly gloating because she’d done everything right — was something designers absolutely hated. Hey, they were wedgies and in a tasteful black, so how bad could that be?

I woke up defending my flip-flops, if you can imagine that.

But it wasn’t a bad dream. How many middle aged women get a chance to pretend they’re hot models? And, of course, I’m still a writer and a writing teacher and in no time I noticed that my dream was an inciting incident. My character had a (barely) achievable goal, a worthy motive to prove that old broads had a chance, and a conflict revolving around overcoming not only age, but being fully unprepared that morning.

If I were to actually take off with this unlikely premise what else would I need? After all I have this huge goal, a good reason, and an obstacle.

What’s missing is focus. Having caught a few episodes of Top Model, I discovered these girls have lots more to worry about than just looking good. They’re expected to be versatile – looking like an angel in one shot, sultry in another. They’re expected to be outgoing. Graceful in movement. Adaptable. And to never, never complain, no matter that the boning in that gown is threatening to give you an unscheduled mastectomy. x

It’s true — who would have thought it? — and it was the breadth of the demands that made me see what rich material this reality show provides. One girl, well, actually a woman — me — would worry about wrinkles, stamina, whether that roll around the waist was too big to hide. Another is too shy, someone else is not classy enough, another’s boobs are too big, another is too thin and suspected of being anorexic.

These are their concerns and are the core of unique characterization. You can make your character an Amazon or a cherub or a tough-as-nail cop but what makes this person behave like an individual are th
e things/people/events/desired images that concern her/him. Does she strive to be thought of as competent, then her concern is to do things correctly. Does he think of himself as fearless? Then his concern is to keep alert for frightening things to stomp on. Do his children mean everything to him? His concern is to keep them safe and happy.

This is a self-evident truth writers easily forget. Partly because concerns stem from external demands.but we tend to think they're internal. If one person is a go-getter who is hell-bent-for-leather after success, and another is a laid-back party-hearty guy, their concerns would be different. Character A is intent on impressing the boss. Character B is more interested in keeping beer in the fridge. They seem motivated by widely different things, but it is their concerns that drive them. If Character B got kicked out on the street, with no fridge, and no bucks for beer, he’d suddenly become intent on impressing the boss, any boss. Likewise, given enough bad luck, Character A could end up a beer-guzzling slacker. External demands and expectations drive the concern.

So, back to my dream. Although I risk making a fool of myself, I’d like to go into what my concerns might be if I really were on America’s Top Model competing with a dozen women young enough to be my daughters.

Well, I’d probably be the first one to hit the gym each morning, making sure that nothing sagged. And I’d watch my diet more closely than the younger ones. I’d also make sure everyone liked me. I’ll need the support since I’m already one down.

If I’m smart and actually hope to be a winner, or at least snag a modeling contract, I’d make sure I didn’t lead with my weaknesses. Nope, I’d be up first in the morning, getting the makeup on perfectly, styling my hair (gosh, I’m getting exhausted thinking about it). All of these concerns, these efforts to make these little things right, create events. I, for instance, might need my particular curling iron to get my hair just so. Another girl keeps borrowing it without asking. Micro-conflict coming up, which could possibly get bigger depending on the concerns of the other girls.

Now this is the most important thing to remember when you strive to give character’s individuality: each character has their own concerns, which blends or clashes with other characters, or make that person seem weird. But it doesn’t take much backstory to make the weird believable. All you need is a reason. I want to win the modeling contest. If I’m reasonably successful at hiding my age, my insecurities will seem weird. But as soon as the reader know the reason, it no longer does. Concerns are the outward evidence of motivation and when used effectively they make every character unique.

Which leads me to think, with this much concern would I have partied hard enough to have a hangover? It looks like I did. What’s up with that?

A new concern, one not yet revealed. One that derailed me. What could it be?

Well, the dream ended so we’ll never know, but if you think of something include it in your comment and maybe share what you would do if you found yourself trapped inside a reality show. What show would you be on? What concerns would reveal your motive?

Until next month, follow your dreams,
Connie Flynn

Monday, July 4, 2011

And the winner is......

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011


This weekend we celebrate Independence Day in the United States. We recognize the fact we won our freedom during the American Revolution. We may be a free country, but there are all types of binds we place on ourselves. During these weekend celebrations, I challenge you to take a good, long look at your life. What do you need to free yourself from? Do you spend too much time with toxic, negative people who deplete your energy? Do you eat too much junk food that clogs your body and also drains your energy? Are you spending too much working and not enough time with your loved ones? Identify what detracts from the quality of your life and start your own revolution to free yourself.

I am going to increase my energy levels by increasing my water intake, eating healthier food, and exercising more. What will you do?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Interview with Caris Roane

I'd like to welcome our guest today, Caris Roane. It’s a pleasure having you doing the author interview today 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 need therapy! I do, I do! The chocolate kind anyway. But I’m thrilled to be here talking about my favorite things: writing, books, and the series I’m currently working on!

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

BURNING SKIES is the second installment of my paranormal, winged vampire series, called GUARDIANS OF ASCENSION. In a world of six ascending dimensions, BURNING SKIES tracks Warrior Marcus and his woman, Havily Morgan, as her darkening power emerges, the enemy wants her dead, and Marcus makes it his mission to protect her.

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

For some reason, I don’t excel at titles. I mean, every once in a while I can have a true inspiration, like the first title of the series, ASCENSION, which actually was my idea. HOWEVER, the rest of the titles in the series, which I absolutely LOVE, have been the result of real team work between my fabulous editor, Rose Hilliard, and my equally fabulous agent, Jennifer Schober. They seem to have magic when it comes to titles. I mean listen to these, and these are in order: ASCENSION, BURNING SKIES, WINGS OF FIRE, BORN OF ASHES, and OBSIDIAN FLAME. Aren’t they great?!? But what I love best about them is that they truly reflect what’s going on in the series! My vampires have wings, they do battle in the air, they’re fighting death vampires, a war is on the horizon, firebombs have exploded in the air. This is a world in deep trouble and the titles give us a flavor of that.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Pure passion! I absolutely fell hard for the paranormal genre beginning with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. But I should add, that I had already dipped my toe in these waters during the early 90’s when I included both vampires and Greek mythological characters in several of my early Regencies.

Where did you get your idea for this particular series?

Once I read the Dark Hunter series, I was determined to write my own vampire tale. I had no idea what it would be about except that I wanted a brotherhood of hunky warriors. Beyond that, I wanted a HUGE world, so that should I develop a real following, I could write in this world for years to come! What emerged were six ascending dimensions in which powerful mortals receive a ‘call to ascension’ and the opportunity to live in a new world and to take on the mantle of the vampire.

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

I absolutely LOVE writing about each of my warriors, of which there are nine in the series. Currently, I’m working on Thorne’s book so of course I’m carrying him around in my heart and loving every second of it. HOWEVER, I do have one recurring character that is both a blast to write and about which I get all sorts of website and Facebook comments, and that’s the ruler of Second Earth, the mucho-snarky Endelle. She’s fun because she’s irreverent, and profane, and pretty bad at her job, but she’s uber-powerful, loves the warriors, and down deep has the best heart in the world. Oh, and she dresses like it’s Mardi Gras everyday.

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 use a lot of different methods to develop my characters, as in character sheets and interviews. But I often find that the depth of the character really starts to surface once I begin to write the story. Plot and character work hand-in-hand at this point as well, all the way through the first draft. I go back and forth, making adjustments both directions. Plot often influences who a character is and a character can often tip a plot in a new direction. The whole thing is a lot of fun…occasionally frustrating, but mostly fun!

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

For this series, I have pictures in my head about what each setting looks like. It’s rare that I would actually sit down and draw something out. Once it’s fixed in my mind, I can usually get back there with a thought. Also, because this is a series, once I include a setting in a scene, or part of the world, I’ll frequently refer back to how I originally described that setting or part of the world. I also keep a huge spreadsheet on character details, like which powers each character has, what color their wings are, when each person ‘ascended’ to Second Earth, that kind of thing.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

My favorite authors in the paranormal genre totally inspired me: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter, Lara Adrian, Kresley Cole, JR Ward, and many more. In addition—and this is something of a mystery to me—I find I go through periods of weeks when all I want to read is women’s fiction and general fiction. Some of those authors who have really affected me are: Marisa de los Santos, Lolly Winston, Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver, and Anita Shreve.

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

I think the most effective promotion has been the total effect of doing it all: having a website and a blog, having a newsletter, being active on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Shelfari, doing book trailers, and doing other blogs like this one. Each time you reach out into the cloud, you have the opportunity to tap into an entirely new group of readers and possibly reviewers. Every reviewer, for instance, is the center of their own universe, and therefore can usually offer a large group of potential readers who have probably never heard of you. My current goal is to blog on other blog and review sites once-a-week just on principle.

What do we have to look forward next?

I’m really excited to be releasing, in e-format, a novella based on my GUARDIANS OF ASCENSION series. During the month of May, this novella was available to read for free on the website Heroes & Heartbreakers. But now, it will be available for $.99 on Kindle, Nook, etc. ALSO, for readers who might not know this and don’t own an e-reader, all kinds of apps are available for PCs, for iPhones, for iPads, etc. That way, you can read the occasional e-only novel or novella without having to invest in one of the dedicated e-readers. (One of my fans on Goodreads and another one on Facebook enlightened me on this subject…I wish I’d known. I purchased a Kindle but discovered that I’m just not crazy about the electronic form. I LOVE holding a book in my hands!)

Of course following close on the heels of the novella, is my next full length novel, the Third book in the series, WINGS OF FIRE, which is a September release.

Thanks, Caris!

To celebrate her ongoing series, Caris is offering an ARC of WINGS OF FIRE or a signed copy of BURNING SKIES 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.)

Also, Caris is considering expanding her world, once the Third Dimension opens up, to include shifters. Do you enjoy shifter books? If so, tell us what you’d like to see on Third Earth.

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


Check out author’s website at Buy ASCENSION, BURNING SKIES & BRINK OF ETERNITY.