Friday, September 30, 2011

Interview with Erin Quinn

I’d like to welcome our guest today, our very own Erin Quinn. 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 Haunting Embrace. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Thank you for having me! I love being a guest on our site. Okay, here’s the blurb for Haunting Embrace, Book 4—and final story—in my Mists of Ireland series.


Within Meaghan Ballagh surges the blood of an ancient sorceress whose long ago love for the druid Áedán ended in treachery—a fate that ensnares Meaghan herself when she is thrust into the past. She can feel the desire between the sorceress and the handsome druid rise inside her. To ensure her survival, she must piece together the history of the woman who haunts her and the man who needs her.

Áedán recognizes Meaghan. He always will. For the spirit of his one true love—and immortal enemy—is in her. A woman for whom Áedán once risked everything he ever had only to be repaid with betrayal and eternal damnation. This time, he’s not going to let Meaghan escape—because together they have the power to change their destiny.

As the passion between them grows, so do their fears of arousing an ancient, haunted, and forbidden love, and for changing a past that could irrevocably destroy the future.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love paranormal—always have, always will. When I was a young adult there weren’t the many choices of paranormal that there are now, so I had to look to Horror to fill that need. Now the choices are endless. I love the idea that normal, everyday people might have extraordinary powers and I’m fascinated by the idea that maybe time isn’t linear, maybe it’s fluid and changes to the past are simply things that were meant to be…..

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

It came to me naturally from the story arc of the series. While each book in the Mists of Ireland series are stand alone titles, they are part of an over-arching story that is reflected in each one.

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

I love the quirky “Encyclopedia’s of” books. Currently reading Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology, the Encyclopedia of Angels and the Encyclopedia of Spirits and Creatures. They give a quick, brief overview to help me find out what I want to research without slogging through tome’s of information.

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

For Haunting Embrace, it was my hero, Áedán. Áedán has an interesting role in my series and, in fact, for most of it he is considered the villain. Watching him transform into a man who hates the world and himself into someone who can love again… That’s what makes me want to be a writer. :)

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?

For me the character emerges as I write him/her. They are products of their actions and words. I have a general sense of person when I start and I usually have an idea of where they come from, but sometimes it’s the words they speak that bring them to life for me.

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

I use a little of all. A lot of my world is in my head, though. I see it like I’m watching a movie and I’m able to rewind and zoom when necessary.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Oh too many to list. I’m in awe of many writers.

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

Ha. Writing them. Seriously, I’m not convinced that any promotion is effective. Unless it comes from top down (meaning the publisher is pushing the book) it’s all just a shot in the dark. Who knows if it’s hitting anyone?

However, I am running a fun contest right now that is connected to promotion called Spread the Word (be sure to click on the image to enlarge and see all the cool prizes)

What do we have to look forward next?

Haunting Embrace brings my Mists of Ireland series to a close and now I’m working on something new. Not ready to talk about—in fact, haven’t even proposed it to my publisher. But I’m very excited about it.

Thanks, Erin!

To celebrate her book release, Haunting Embrace is offering a free book of an autographed copy of Haunting Desire, book 3 in the Mists of Ireland series to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

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

Erin Quinn is an award winning author. Her books have been called “riveting,” “brilliantly plotted” and “beautifully written” and have won, placed or showed in the Booksellers Best, WILLA Award for Historical fiction, the Orange Rose, Golden Quill, Best Books, and Award of Excellence. Book four in her Mists of Ireland series, HAUNTING EMBRACE, will be in bookstores October 2011.

Check out author’s website at

Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Indie Bound

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I Decided to Combine Historical and Fantasy

I decided to combine historical and fantasy because I love both of the genres. I love the pageantry of history and the opportunity to write scenarios that fall within the era: arranged marriages, alpha heroes, damsels in distress (even though my damsels usually do their own rescuing), court intrigue, etc. And I love fantasy, and the opportunity to create a magical world that alters the boundaries of the historical backdrop.

And the ability to add magic to my romance inspires my imagination.

I’d like to share an excerpt from book one of THE ELVEN LORDS series, THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER, to show how the historical, fantasy and romantic elements combine for me. In the scene, Lady Cassandra Bridges has just completed the ceremony for her arranged marriage to Dominic Raikes, the elven lord’s half-breed son. Trained as an assassin to murder his father, Cass has no intention of even liking her husband, and is shocked by the way she reacts to his kiss, which is also reflected in the magical ring Dominic gifts her with.

Cass now stood facing her… new husband. She

supposed she’d have to get used to that idea. Although

she didn’t think she could ever get used to the coldness

of his beautiful eyes. She’d hoped she could use

the general to gather information about the elven, but

right now he did not look like a man who could be

used. Indeed, when his eyes met hers for a moment,

a shiver of dread went through her.

The few times she’d visited him, he had treated

her with a disinterest bordering on contempt. She’d

foolishly thought that when she became his wife that

might change, but it appeared the ceremony affected

him not at all. Faith, how would she manage to share

his bed tonight? Best not to think of that.

She blanched as her new husband slid a ring on

her finger. A band of gold with a rose carved atop it.

But the rose looked so real, the edges of the petals

as delicate as the true flower. Cass couldn’t resist the

impulse to bring it closer to her face, then nearly

jumped when the petals curled closed, changing the

carving to a tight bud.

He’d given her a ring crafted with elven magic.

Her eyes flew up to his in alarm.

General Raikes lowered his head. “It won’t harm

you,” he muttered, a note of exasperation in his

velvety voice. And then he lowered his head and

kissed her, signaling an end to the ceremony.

Cass’s heart flipped over. She stood quite frozen,

unsure of what had come over her. The general

had done nothing more than press his lips to hers.

And her entire body had shivered. From that one

dispassionate touch.

As the onlookers broke into polite applause,

Mor’ded leaned close to his son and said, “Surely the

champion can do better than that.”

She watched her husband glance at his father. Saw

his face harden with challenge. Then the general

wrapped his arms around her and roughly pulled her

against his chest, and Cass could only pray.

Her new husband kissed her again. But this time he

kissed her like Thomas had, bending her backward in

his arms, moving his mouth over hers as if he sought

to eat her alive. But the experience was totally unlike

the one she’d shared with Thomas.

The world seemed to fall away. Cass became aware

of nothing and no one but the man holding her in his

arms. The heat of his mouth, the fire that ran through

her body, the sheer exhilaration of the taste of him.

Her senses heightened. She felt her breasts tighten

and strain toward him. Felt a wetness between her

legs that frightened and excited her all at the same

time. His tongue pressed against her lips, and lacking

any experience of what to do, she opened her mouth

and he invaded it, stroking and tasting until she just

forgot to breathe.

Her new husband abruptly let her go and set her

away from him. Cass swayed. The applause in the

room had risen in volume, and she blushed again to

realize she’d behaved in such a manner in front of

an archbishop, half the country, and in the house of

the Lord, no less. She couldn’t account for what had

come over her.

General Raikes gave his father a heated look. “Will

that do?”

Mor’ded chuckled.

When Dominic took her hand and led her back

down the nave, Cass could do nothing but weakly

follow. But she noticed the rose in her ring had come

unfurled, spreading out into a glorious open blossom.

With the opportunity to work with so many elements that I love, it was natural for me to combine history with fantasy and romance. And I think what it comes down to for the writer is to write what you love because it will be reflected in every line of the story and will truly become the book of your heart.

All My Magical Best,


Monday, September 26, 2011

And the winner is......

Congratulations Lisa Kessler. You're the winner of Rayka'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.

Alexis, you're the winner of the gift card. Please contact Kim as well.

Thanks for stopping by everyone.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Submitting Your Manuscript

The most daunting part of writing is the submission process. I have heard my writing friends say they pitched their story to an agent or editor when it wasn't finished-far from it. They may have gotten a request to see the material, but I rarely hear of an agent or editor buying that manuscript after the writer rushed to finished it.

New York Times bestselling author, Bob Mayer cautions writers against pitching work that isn't finished. In his book, The Novel Writer's Toolkit, he recommends writers "make sure your work is really finished." He says you should let the completed manuscript sit for two weeks before reading through it and making changes. Then, after you submit, start the next book.

You can hear more advice from Bob, and buy a copy of his book, at the Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale Arizona, April 27-29,2012. Go to for more information and registration.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Interview with Rayka Mennen

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Rayka Mennen. 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 Enchanted Destiny. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

So excited to tell you about this book –it’s a fun, sexy read being released on October 1. Enchanted Destiny is a re-release of the very first paranormal novella I wrote, with expanded chapters and a cool new plot twist. Kat never believed she’d fall victim to her family’s stories about destined soul mates—she makes her own fate, thank you very much. When she walks by a construction site and admires the same sexy architect for the zillionth time in a week, the last thing she expects is to be slammed by a vision of his death.

Which activates the spell that will change their lives forever.

Jake is a single dad with a singular focus—create a stable life for him and his son. His ex-wife cured him of any desire to fall in love, but when an intriguing woman saves him from what should’ve been a deadly accident, he can’t shake his fascination. Too bad she’s crazy, claiming she’s a witch and that they’re soul mates—not exactly the “stable life” he had in mind.

Kat’s destiny comes with a deadline. If they don’t fall in love by her twenty-fifth birthday—a mere three weeks away—Jake will never find the peace he seeks and Kat will lose her magic forever.

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

OMG – can I just mention how hard it is for me to come up with a title? This was a combo of my editor and I going through several rounds of titles. In the end, I’m not sure who said what, but we all agreed and all was well.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I like the idea that there are things and people and powers we don’t understand or can’t explain away. Dealing with science all day, I work with hypotheses and statistics. Writing about the paranormal world is a great way to escape that. Plus, I can create my own world with my own rules. When I am Queen…you get the idea.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Everywhere. By that I mean I draw inspiration from almost everything I see and read. But this one, I have to admit-- this one just sort of came to me as I was thinking about writing a paranormal. I had decided to start with a witch and I started going what if…and voila. Yeah, my head is a strange place, I admit.

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

It depends on the book I am writing. For Enchanted Destiny, I just read the Witches Almanac for some dates. For my current WIP which integrates Irish and Indian mythology (as in from India), I go to so many different places that describe the myths and stories. For the Indian myths my mom and aunts are great sources too. Despite its limitations, Wikipedia is a great starting point – it gives me links or terminology that I can spring-board from. For my eagle shape-shifter story, I am linked via FB to an Australian group that has a camera placed to follow the birth and development of two baby eagles. One died about a week ago and there I was reading FB, tears streaming down my face. But what a great resource for all things eagle!

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

In this story, it was Kat. She’s tall (and I’m not), gorgeous (hmm, should I admit to it) and has magic (yeah, not so much). What’s not to like? She also didn’t have a lot of hang-ups so she was fun. Usually I tend to create tortured characters who then turn around and torture me.

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 seem to morph as I write which is very challenging. Suddenly, I’m like…you want to do what? Geez! So I do develop character sheets. I have my own template which isn’t anything special – just takes me through the likes/dislikes, habits, temperament, familiar relationships, friendships etc. I also do a color analysis for each character. This is especially helpful when you have a very alpha hero and heroine. The color analysis helps me separate out their reactions. You can be alpha and yet react to situations differently. Since I discovered, in one deep editing pass, that both my major male characters for my current WIP apparently only knew the same curse words and also propped the wall using the exact same body position, I started adding words used, characteristic walk/habits to the character sheet. Whew!

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

I have to use maps and a table of main elements or I’d drive myself crazy second-guessing myself. If it’s an area that is known – for example, for one book set in Devon, England, I printed out the Google map for the area then marked in the buildings I was inventing, and drew in the river (since I changed its course a bit to suit my story). I have an easel in my study, facing my desk, and if I’m creating a town or a setting for a paranormal, I’ll sketch out the basic elements – mountains here, cliffs there, that sort of thing. Since I tend to set my books in places I have been I also have photographs from my trips to help develop the physical setting.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Georgette Heyer for sure. Hers were the first romances I read as a pig-tailed Catholic school girl back in India. Many of the Mills & Boon authors (we didn’t get Harlequin books at home when I was a teenager). More recently, Mercedes Lackey and her Valdemar series; Nalini Singh; JR Ward in her early BDB books; Patricia Briggs.

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

I’ll have to get back to you on that. I took a break from writing for several years so Enchanted Destiny is my first book after the hiatus. It’s a different world from even eight years ago. All the social media we can use is mind-blowing but I’ll be keeping watch to see what works best.

What do we have to look forward next? The sequel to Enchanted Destiny is Enchanted Desire, Gina and Eric’s story. You meet them briefly in Destiny. Gina has never been able to fully activate her magic, and she has no desire for a soul-mate, destined or otherwise.

Thanks, Rayka!

It was a pleasure visiting. I’ll stop back by in case folks have questions. You can also come by home on the web at I’m a talker – I love hearing from folks, even if only by email.

To celebrate her book release, Rayka Mennen is offering a free e-book of Enchanted Destiny 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 if you are a Desert Rose chapter member, mention that in your comment and Rayka will do a separate drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card for her fellow chapter members.

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 beginning October 1 at major e-book sales outlets (

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Replenishing your creative well

I think all writers get drained--no matter how prolific or talented.  No matter how hard they work to be balanced.  I believe that we all have a creative well.  Some of us have a really deep one, others...not so much.  I know that for me, when I don't give my well a chance to replenish, it's like swimming through mud to get to the ideas.

Some of the techniques I use are to step away from the keyboard.  That means unplug and unwind.  Don't think about email, blogs, newsletters, mailings--none of it.  Focus on doing something fun or relaxing, like watching an old, favorite movie or lounging around in your jammies all day reading someone else's books.

Exercise is also a good way to clear your mind.  Go to the gym, take a walk, ride your bike.  I also tackle things that have been bugging me but I haven't taken the time to handle--like cleaning out that junk drawer, rearranging the office, or purging the pantry.

It doesn't seem like any of these escapisms would improve your writing, but they do.  I am always amazed at how much more I accomplish when I come back to the keyboard after I've given my well a chance to replenish.

What do you do to replenish your creative well?

By the way, the last book in my Mists of Ireland series is due to hit bookstores in just two weeks.  Hope you're as excited about Haunting Embrace as I am!

Monday, September 19, 2011

And the winner is.......

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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

AZ Mr. Right Contest

Do you think you’re hot?
Does your mother say you’re the best looking man ever?
Do you catch women turning to take another look when you walk by?
Can you see yourself on the cover of a romance novel?



Murphy Park – Glendale, Arizona
Valley of the Sun Romance Writers Booth


February 3, 4, 5th, 2012

Valley of the Sun Romance Writers
Sapphire Blue Publishing

This contest is not for the faint of heart, as the competition is expected to be fierce. But it is open to any male 21 or over who believes he can run with the big dogs.

The winner will be awarded a spot on the cover of a romance novel to be published in paperback and e-book format by Sapphire Blue Publishing. In addition, all finalists will have a spot on the Mr. Right 2012 Calendar.

So check out the attached documents at the website below that will outline all Contest Rules and Guidelines and if you think you’re cover model material, complete your registration packet, shine your shoes, and limber up your fingers and prepare to give autographs to your adoring public.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Interview with Kerrie Droban

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Kerrie Droban. 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 In the Company of Darkness. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

My new book release, In the Company of Darkness, is a taut suspense thriller inspired by true events but definitely fiction! The book chronicles the story of prosecutor, Sidney Michaelson’s, investigation into the brutal murder of a wealthy heiress found decomposing in her own refrigerator. But Michaelson’s tenacity makes her the killer’s next target. She knows too much information and not even homicide detective, Cole Vladik, can stop the predator’s ruthless game of spider versus fly. Soon, Michaelson’s quest for the truth is no longer a matter of justice; it is her only hope of survival.

In the Company of Darkness is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The title derives from a true life experience I had when I moved into my first home. I was alone during a raging monsoon in my new home. The electricity had blown out and I had little furniture. I lay down on my sofa and lit up the room with a flashlight only to discover my worst nightmare—above me a web had formed from one corner of the wall to the other and in the center, a large black widow hung. As I gathered my wits about me and kept the flashlight fixated on the spider I followed the threads to the corner and realized the wall was moving. I have never been more frightened or more alone in my life. The book began with the title, “Alone in the Company of Darkness”. I knew my heroine would have to confront her worst fear: spiders.

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

My book is definitely a suspense thriller.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

This genre chose me. I had just started my career as a prosecutor working in the criminal trial bureau of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and my case load involved everything from aggravated assaults to drug offenses. My first experience as an attorney inspired this novel. I was seated in a courtroom observing a trial when a chain of incarcerated inmates was paraded behind the prosecutor’s table. The deputies planned to escort these characters from the courtroom. But just as one inmate passed behind the prosecutor, his hands rose above his head and came down on the prosecutor’s neck. Before I could process what had happened, pandemonium broke out in the courtroom. The lights shut off, pepper spray filled the air and I could barely breathe. We were all ushered out of the courtroom and down the stairwell. All elevators were stopped. Amidst screams and emergency alarms I followed closely behind a pair of shoes in front of me with my eyes just tearing. I later learned that the inmate had gashed the prosecutor in the neck. That episode changed the way inmates were brought into and out of the courtroom. They no longer parade behind the prosecutor’s table but rather are funneled in front. That prosecutor recovered, however, I’m not certain he continued to be a litigator. Shortly after this experience I began to write the scene and In the Company of Darkness formed.

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

I’m what people refer to as a “writer in the mist”. I have nothing but an image formed in my head and the characters follow. I usually have no idea who my villain is or how my plot will develop but I do have my heroine and hero well formed. My background is poetry, therefore most of my writing is borne of dark imagery that shapes and informs the story.

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

I did not have to do much research for this book because obviously I was a prosecutor and had intimate knowledge of the court system, witness preparation and investigation. What I did research was black widow venom and the likelihood of someone dying from multiple spider bites. I also researched the cryonics lab in Scottsdale to learn about frozen heads and body parts and took a tour of the facility. I love researching themes and places for my books. The locations in my novel are real including the factory depicted in the last scene which actually is an old sugar facility in Glendale that has been in disrepair for years. My research is internet based as well as hands on.

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

I enjoyed writing Cole Vladik the most because I identified with him and modeled him after someone close to me although I took liberties with his personality and shaped him into a hero!

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?

When I develop my characters I think about dialogue first and get a feel for how they speak to one another. I’m fascinated by flawed people and believe that even heroes and heroines need to have some tick in order for them to be real. I study people a lot not only in my work but also in daily life and encourage everyone to attend social gatherings, cocktail parties any event that provides a wealth of information about people and the way they interact. My heroine in this novel for instance has control issues and she’s constantly being placed in situations where she either has no control or cannot control the outcome. The situations force her to confront and overcome her worst fears. The other “technique” that I enjoy doing with my characters is analogizing them to a particular animal. The villain in this story of course closely resembles a spider. His eyes are described as “oily” and “black”, his body “wiry” his personality “quiet and calculated.” By comparing my characters to a particular animal it forces me to be consistent with them. If Cole, for instance is described as a “wolf” he cannot also be extremely extroverted and gregarious.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

My favorite author and really the one who inspired me to start writing novels is Tami Hoag. I fell in love with her voice and her characters and I identified with her narrative. I was vacationing in Napa Valley with my husband (pre kids) and I brought her book, The Thin Red Line, with me. I read it cover to cover (it’s fat) in one sitting (missed several wine tasting events much to my husband’s chagrin) and had a life-altering moment. I put the book down, felt completely charged and thought….I can do this.

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

The most effective promotional “tool” has been public speaking, finding venues that allow me to speak about topics and/or themes highlighted in my novel. I have branded myself as a criminal defense attorney who writes gritty, graphic realism. This platform affords me a way to talk about other fascinating elements of my work in conjunction with my writing. I strongly recommend that every author find her “brand” and use that platform to launch her books. Positioning yourself as an “expert” in a particular field offers multiple opportunities to speak and develop rapport with readers. It also bridges that awkward gap that most of us have experienced at booksignings where readers don’t quite know how to approach authors and authors don’t feel comfortable “selling” their books. If you’ve given a speech about a fascinating topic, readers have every motivation to approach you, ask further questions and of course buy your book. I do not recommend wasting valuable resources on promotional trinkets that can be “given away” at booksignings because they’re not memorable, they don’t connect the reader to the author and usually, sadly, they’re tossed.

What do we have to look forward next?

My next novel is called The Watchman’s Circle, another suspense thriller about rogue cops who have formed a secretive club that pushes the limits of law of order. It won the Daphne Du Maurier Award for excellence in suspense writing and is just as dark as In the Company of Darkness.

Thanks, Kerrie!

To celebrate her book release, Kerrie is offering a “Two In the Company of Darkness, Couple’s Night Out” at the movies! Two tickets and popcorn to one lucky commenter on today’s blog. 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 Kerrie Droban’s website at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Makes a Hero...?

Ahhh... the hero. We all love them in movies, books and television and in real life. But what makes one? I'm sure we all have varying opinions. We have the supernatural heroes with super human strength. Wouldn't we all want one of those in our lives? Hey, I like to dream.

Much of media portrays heroes as strong warriors that vanquish the villain and free the subjugated. That image feels like a a flat characterchure of the true meaning.

I think a person can be noble but not necessarily a hero. They can save a person from injury or death but not necessarily put themselves in danger to do so. When a person serves others at a cost to themselves I find that heroic. What is wrong with a little self-sacrifice? Yes, there comes a point where it becomes unhealthy, but I think we have long left the me generation. I like to think I have.

There are children who put their careers on hold or completely abandon them to care for a sick parent and avoid placing them in a nursing home. They do it without boasting, without crying 'look at me'. They genuinely care and feel there is no other option.

There are a number of traits that come to mind when I think of heroes. Bravery, humility, inner strength, helpfulness, fearlessness. An everyday person who changes the world with one action or multiple actions. Ego doesn't come into play. They act without selfishness, without thought of themselves. They can be:
  • Sick children
  • Homeless
  • Firefighters
  • Police
  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Teachers
  • Thieves
  • Atheists
  • Catholics
  • Wild or domesticated animals
  • Mentally ill
  • Accountants
I could go on and on, but I think you get my point.

So remember when writing your hero, he or she can be anyone. It's how you portray him that is paramount to having your reader fall in love with her/him.

Carol Webb

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Kim Watters here.....

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'

Everytime I hear that old song, I think of the old ketchup commercial from my childhood. While I'm not waiting for a thick, rich, slow tomato sauce to appear, I am waiting impatiently for my upcoming trip to NYC to meet my editor face-to-face instead of over the phone or through e-mail. I'll also get to tour the Harlequin offices and meet many of the other wonderful people I've communicated with as well.

Another wonderful highlight of that trip will also be to go to another class reunion--and the real reason for my trek back East. This would be the class I would have grdatued from had we not moved from Philly to Chicago. And best of all, I get to hang out with my dearest childhood friend, whom I haven't seen in years.

So adios.....I'll post pictures when I get back.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


When life is getting too monotonous or stressful, you might need to escape.

Over the Labor Day weekend, my husband and I decided last minute to escape the Arizona heat and drive to San Diego. The cooler temperatures and time spent outside in nature helped to recharge my batteries. After returning I felt refreshed. I return to my job with renewed energy and to my book feeling more creative. I highly recommend an escape whenever possible. If you can't leave town, try getting out in nature near your home. Of course, if you live in Arizona when it is over hundred degrees, you might need to escape to an ice rink.

Until next week,

happy writing!

Tina LaVon

Friday, September 9, 2011

Interview with Tia Dani

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Tia Dani. 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 release out called Death Unseen. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous book?

We’d love to Kim. It starts when Navajo Tribal Policeman, Lance Logan, discovers his cousin’s body brutally mauled and senses there’s more to the death than it appears. His intuition leads him from Four Corners, New Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona where he finds himself embroiled in another murder.

Our heroine, Carly Carlton, could be considered an ordinary woman—except for two traits she tries to keep hidden—clairvoyant powers and the ability to experience death in dreams. Her talent to see beyond the veil of reality, as she and Lance try to find a killer, helps to soothe his embittered heart and softens his revenge.

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

It seemed fitting for our mystery. Murder, intuition, and death in dreams, are all a part of this book.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Although we write in various genres, paranormal has always been our favorite. When this story line bloomed in our minds, we became so excited that we put all our other stories on hold until this project was completed.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

We must have channeled it from somewhere out in the universe. The idea came to us as we talked about storylines over coffee. We bounced it around for several days and did a lot of research, but before long we had a basic plot down. Of course we had to work out the details, but the main idea popped out during brainstorming.

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

In truth there isn’t any one particular book that’s our favorite. We use a mixture of books that explore all types of elements. In, Death Unseen, we researched a lot on Native American teachings and modern clairvoyant experiences.

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

All our characters are special to us, but maybe Lance. He gave us an exciting, strong and determined man to work with which is always a good thing. Although, our villain was certainly interesting. He’s a very sick and evil man who gave us an opportunity to step outside our comfort zone.

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?

Character sheets are very important to us and we get very detailed with them. We write background history for each character, including, family, hobbies, pets, and relationships with brothers and sisters. We go through magazines and cut out clothing items our characters would wear. We feel, to be able to write about a character, we need to know everything about them and how they would react in any given situation.

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

Photographs of scenic places helped visualize the landscape and buildings. We also created a scrapbook page of each chapter with important points. It helped us by looking at it whenever we became stuck.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

We’ve discovered that every author we read, from best-selling to first-selling, gives us an insight into writing one way or another. To mention them all would take forever.

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

Promo is hard. As fairly new authors we are still experimenting with author promotion. We want to find out what works the best for us and what doesn’t. Authors need to get their name out there. A nicely designed website is important, along with personal blogs, and other internet sites such as facebook and twitter. Contests with prizes seem to generate interest. Be creative. Your goal is to draw readers to your site and get them excited about your writing and your books. Another step is to be involved with local and national activities. We have several workshops planned and will be offering them at different conferences in the near future.

What do we have to look forward next?

We have another short erotic story that just released with Sapphire Blue Publishing, titled, COME FLY WITH ME.


Expanding her business means constant travel, leaving Bree Alexander with no time for a social life and no sex life. For months, she has fantasized about a fellow frequent flyer she’s labeled Mr. Sex God.

Steven Cain notices her every time he travels. Despite his secret desire he hasn’t been able to “connect” with her—at least not in the way he’d like. But when an unexpected flight delay strands them together, will Bree and Steven take the opportunity to turn their erotic fantasies to reality…before their layover ends?

Thanks, Tia Dani!


Tia Dani is the published writing team made up of good friends, KrisTia Eaton and Dani Petrone. Together they create endearing and realistic characters, humorous dialogue, and unusual settings.

Storytelling has been a passion for Tia since childhood when she regularly enthralled the neighborhood children with make-believe fairy tales and wild adventures.

Always the lover of a good romance, Dani’s goal is for you to step into the shoes of her heroine, fall head-over-heels in love with her hero, and most of all believe in the magic of love.

Tia and Dani happily call Arizona home where they play in the sunshine and dance in the twilight of the beautiful Sonoran desert.

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When Life Gets in the Way

There are times when life gets in the way. It doesn't matter if you work at home, at an office, or in a factory. Life intrudes sometimes preventing you from showing up to do your job. Frankly, I don't mind taking an occasional sick day from the day job to watch over my children/husband/dog.
But these sick breaks don't just effect my job in the lab, they also effect my writing.
You see the romance genre isn't just about the Happily Every After, it is about the emotion--love, arousal, and acceptance.
To write while under emotional stress is a lot like taking the cap off a hot radiator. It's liable to blow up (literally) in your face and lead to a painful recovery. So how do I cope?
Lately, I've set myself writing goals for the month. It works out to 5 pages a day, but because my life is quite hectic, I give myself permission to take days off. Sometimes this means I'll write 95 pages in the last week of the month. Other times, I'll write four days a week then none on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This gives me the flexibility to deal with the other matters without stressing myself out.
Another way I deal with stress is moving about. Okay, I do this at work so I'm well aware that it looks funny, but I'll either hike up and down the stairs once a half hour or do ten lunges at my desk. Movement helps and both my day job and night job are pretty sedentary.
I also drink plenty of water. Did you know staying hydrated actually helps fight stress? Drinks with sugars/electrolytes/etc inside them tend to be viewed as food stuffs by the body, so it takes a bit longer to be absorbed. Try this trick: hold the liquid in your mouth for about thirty seconds, allowing it to touch the soft palate. What effect does it have on you?
Conscious breathing also helps. Inhale through the nose to the slow count of four, hold for two seconds, then exhale through the mouth for a slow count of four. By focusing solely on this counting, your conscious mind will allow the subconscious mind to look at the problem.
Talking to others about the stressors also helps. But be careful, we have people in our lives who are solvers. They will take your problem and present you with solutions. Which is good in a way, but sometimes, you just need to vent without judgment.
And lastly, my favorite way to deal with stress is to read a book. I write what I like to read and romance may twist my emotions but I know I'll get that happily ever after in the end.
And that is usually just the right boost I need to put things in perspective.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Arizona Night Writers Conference

20th Annual ANWA

Writers Conference

February 23 - 25, 2012

Registration opens October 1, for the 20th annual ANWA Writers Conference, Time Out for Writers, February 23-25, 2012 at the Mesa Hilton Hotel. Space is limited - so register early.

The first 20 to register for the full conference AND book their Mesa, Hilton Hotel room will be eligible to have breakfast Saturday morning with an agent, editor or author on the faculty.

Also, Thursday night's workshops on Query Letters and Pitches and Critique Camp are FREE if you register for the full conference AND book your Mesa, Hilton Hotel room.

A variety of classes for beginning to advanced writers are available. Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book, Joshua Perkey of the Ensign, Linda Radke, President of Five Star Publications, and several national literary agents will be on the faculty. Other faculty members include million-book selling author Janette Rallison, award winning authors Donna Hatch and Joyce DiPastena. Well known children's author, Conrad Storad, will be back by popular demand. Sara Fujimura will teach essay writing and writing for magazines. Illustrator/author, Deirdra Coppel will teach about illustrations and contracts.

Learn how to make money doing Copy Writing with Matt Peterson. Other classes include; Writing Basics, Dialog, Characters, Plot, Family History and Music Writing. Pitch opportunities will be available. Check back for updates as we add more exciting presentations.

For the FIRST TIME EVER ANWA will host the "BOB" Writing Contest. BOB stands for "Beginning of Book". Attendees will have the opportunity to enter the first 500 words of their manuscript. Enter as many manuscripts as you wish. There will be awards, and entrants will receive comments and feedback from the judges. More details will be posted on the ANWA Conference web page.

Another new opportunity this conference: The Meet & Greet Friday Evening with the editors, agents and authors will ALSO include bookstore owners and managers scheduling book events for their stores with authors that attend the conference.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Wisdom of Breaking the Rules

Should you or shouldn't you?

Some people think that’s the best advice any creative person can hear. Let’s face it, rules are the enemy of the creative process. I mean, what’s this stuff about plotting, about character sketches, about inciting incidents and turning points. I just write and those things take care of themselves.

Don’t they?

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes everything just flows. Your people come alive, your story holds together and sizzles with tension. Never, ever, have you not needed rules more.

What happens, though, on those days when you aren’t quite in the groove? If it’s just a day or two, you think it’s a touch of the flu or your preoccupation with an upset in your life, and it goes away. But then your editor calls and offers you a novella and you’re tearing your hair out trying to find an idea. Plus, your work in progress hits a really saggy middle. The realities of being a successful author sink in.

When inspiration fails you, rules come in handy.

Not stuffy rules like, oh say, the heroine’s mother always has to be a paragon among women. Or the hero always has to be the richest man in the free world. Or there can be no romance or sex in mysteries and fantasy. At one time these were standard conventions in contemporary fiction and cross genre writing was a big no, no, and no one read erotica that didn’t come in a brown paper wrapper.

No, I’m talking about using rules to build a comfortable structure in which to write. Rules like, say, every story needs an arc. Characters should have flaws. Listing twenty things that could happen in your book on a daily basis keeps ideas flowing. A consistent writing schedule is the surest way to productivity. Take rejection in stride. Pay attention to methods of promoting your career. Be alert to a changing market.

These rules create professional writers. Craft and business rules provide a foundation for your daily writing routine and support your writing efforts when inspiration alone isn’t enough.

That said, I now circle back to the title. Watch out for the subtler rules that inhibit creativity. We often call them conventions. For instance, for a long period of time contemporary romance was always written in third person — definitely an unspoken rule. Before that, much of it was in first person, then that died one day and, lo, first person was shunned. Mysteries remained solidly first person; you seldom saw one written in another voice. Although taking place in invented worlds, fantasy were always Medieval-like. Westerns could only be written by Louie L’Amour (just kidding).

If no one had ever broken through these conventions, we wouldn’t have riveting third person thrillers, chick-lit would have never been born, urban fantasy would still be a fantasy, the western romance would be even more unpopular than it is today (another joke).

Another area where rules are being challenged is the area of being published at all and the arenas in which our works will be offered. Nobody knows right now where publishing is going and writers who cling to the rules are in danger of being left behind.

Rules are a mixed bag. Even the foundational rules of structure — plot, character flaws, scene and sequel — can sometimes hinder. Which mean we have to be willing to stretch beyond “what everybody does.” Once upon a time the way to modest success was to find someone who’s doing it well and emulate them. No more. Those who soar to the top always write with a distinctive flair. They push stories to the edge, and then slightly beyond. They take a different approach than the average meerkat. And at the same time they scrupulously follow important rules like consistent writing schedules and meeting their deadlines and networking as needed.

Most of us know how to follow rules. It takes tweaking of the perspective to break rules. If you’re interested in pushing your own personal edges, take a hard look at your current writing. Do you always write in third person? Try a chapter in first person. All your heroes are alphas? How about introducing yourself to a beta hero.

Is your writing style in a distant and objective point of view? Try writing just one scene in the emotional deep pov. If you always write romance, try you hand at a young adult, or a mystery, or a goofy comedy – not the whole book at first — my, that would be too daring — but a scene, a chapter, a short story. Stretch the way you write, continually look for new approaches. Just for the heck of it, despite your deadlines. Who knows, you could enter a new period of your writing when a fresh voice just bursts out of you.

How do you deal with rules and with the need to adapt in your writing career and, just as important, in your own life? If you have comments or insights, I invite you to post them.


Monday, September 5, 2011

And the winner is......

Congratulations Na. You're the winner of Linda'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.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with our very own Linda Andrews

I’d like to welcome our very own guest today, Linda Andrews. 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 Fiona. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Fiona is the story of an American heiress who receives a telegram from her aunt and uncle requesting help speaking with the dead. Fiona accompanied by the spirit of her dead fiancé sets off to England. She arrives only to find her aunt and uncle missing after a shipwreck. Hoping to find clues to their disappearance, she has to enter London Society during the Season. Unfortunately, matchmakers and fortune hunters keep getting in her way. Enter Kingslea a destitute Earl whose past has given him a deep aversion to American heiresses and an even bigger one to the Duke of August. The very man who may be threatening Fiona's life.

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

Well, I thought and thought and thought and then my editor just named the book after the lead character because she didn't like what I'd thought up.:-)

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love ghost stories and the Victorian Era. And really there's no place that screams Victorian more than London. When I was doing my research, I discovered that many American Heiresses paddled across the pond in search of buying an English title. So what would happen if an American heiress traveled to London and had to enter Society, but everyone was determined to win her and her fortune? How would she survive the treachery and keep her reputation intact with only the ghost of her fiancé to protect her. And even he is determined to win her a husband.

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

I didn't really do a lot of research on ghosts for this book because it is a genuine interest of mine. But I love to visit ghost hunters website and love to follow Urban legends.

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

I loved to write Kingslea. He is in many ways a bit of an homage to Sherlock Holmes who donned fabulous disguises to blend in with his surroundings and get information. Of course, he is quite vexed when Fiona sees through each one.

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

I'm not sure how I develop my characters. I'm pretty sure I just wait on the literary street corner until they come by and start talking to me. It is when I'm writing and they do/say/or act a certain way that I write it down. Habits, favorite phrases and mannerisms usually help the reader define the character and also gives a good indication of what they're thinking versus what they're saying. The Victorian era was quite constraining for American Misses, and Fiona is a departure in that she went into business, is willing to speak her mind (even if it offends some) and has an opinion. She is her parents' daughter although she fights to conform to Societies expectations. Kingslea is also bound by rules he doesn't like. He was a second son and never expected to inherit, but he fell in love with an American Heiress who threw him over for a bigger title. Now, he's determined work (Good heavens, the scandal!) except he deals in secrets of the nobility which puts him right in Fiona's path.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?
I have maps and charts of Victorian London, but I pretty much used the one that actually existed. Only the ghosts have been added, although I think England has it's share naturally (or supernaturally, if you want to get technical).

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I grew up reading Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and MM Kaye. Lately I've been downloading a lot of indie authors and finding gems, but for the big names I always pick up Amanda Quick, Linda Howard, Julie Garwood and lately I found Gail Carringer.

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

I really don't know what is effective or not. I just keep trying different things and hoping something sticks.

What do we have to look forward next?

Animosity is also out this month. It is a SciFi Romance set on another planet. Here's the blurb: Commander Brongill of DaHap and his Earthling wife, Alderina of Rutgers, crash onto a planet he never wanted to see again: His home world of Terrill. War has ravaged the landscape for more than a thousand years and both sides are still fighting to the death. While Ally’s children and Brongill’s crew have been taken prisoner by the defiant Neitz, Brongill and Ally are captured by the fanatical Isfer. Both sides demand, Brongill fulfill the Prophecy of Ages and vanquish their enemies once and for all.

For the sake of Ally’s children and his crew, Brongill is determined to forge his own destiny and unite the two sides in peace. But can he overcome centuries of hatred before the last habitable zones of Terrill are destroyed? For underground lurks an enemy with its own agenda: To see everything and everyone on Terrill erased forever.

Next year, I'll have the last of the Grey sisters out. This time I traveled to Egypt!

Thanks, Linda!

To celebrate her book release, Linda is offering a free ebook of Fiona 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...

Linda Andrews lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, Arizona. When she announced to her family that her paranormal romance was to be published, her sister pronounce: "What else would she write? She’s never been normal."

All kidding aside, writing has become a surprising passion. So just how did a scientist start to write paranormal romances? What other option is there when you’re married to romantic man and live in a haunted house?

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Birthday Girl

One of us is having a Birthday. Guess who?

Nope. It's not Dani. But, Dani wanted to make her a cake.

She wanted the cake to look just like this.

But it turned out like this!

Dani wanted to have pretty candles on top.

But Dani was afraid it would look like this!

So we ate pie.

Happy Birthday Tia!

Tia Dani wants to wish all our Virgo friends and fans a happy birthday. We're thinking of you warmly and wishing you a birthday that will bring a lot of happiness to you. We're hoping that your day begins a year that's really special, a year when all your favorite dreams come true.

Be sure to watch for our, COME FLY WITH ME, from Sapphire Blue Publishing. Coming soon!