Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ENCHANTING THE LADY is in bookstores! By Kathryne Kennedy

 The re-release of ENCHANTING THE LADY, the first book in the RELICS OF MERLIN series, is in bookstores August 1st with a fabulous new cover! Since the magical relic in this book is a pearl, I’m celebrating with a new contest on my website, where you can enter to win a gorgeous pearl necklace. All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter. The details can be found here (after August 1st): http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/contest.html

Since this is a re-release, I won’t be doing an official blog tour this month. However, I do have six autographed Advanced Reading Copies up for grabs. You can enter to win two here, just by leaving me a comment (Make sure to check the comments tomorrow to see if you have won, I’ll post the winners at the bottom of the comments section.) I would love to know what you like best about the new cover. For me, my favorite element is Daisy, the little dragonette on Felicity’s shoulder!

As Always,
Wishing You My Magical Best,


In a Victorian England with a rigid hierarchy of magic, lion shape-shifter Sir Terence Blackwell is at the bottom rung of society. Only Lady Felicity Seymour, who has no magic, no inheritance, and no prospects, may be willing to judge the man strictly on his own merits.

When family pressures push Lady Felicity into a terrible fate, she has only Sir Terence to turn to. As the two outcasts are propelled by circumstances beyond their control, they are forced to explore the unseen depths beneath society’s fa├žade. And what they discover about each other is more real and more beautiful than they ever could have imagined…

"Simply delightful, imaginative, historically vigorous, and ripe for further adventures."—Publishers Weekly

"Delightful, refreshing, and unique."—Single Titles, 5 Stars

"Fabulously imaginative setting and charmingly original characters"—Chicago Tribune

Kathryne Kennedy is a critically acclaimed, best-selling, award-winning author of magical romances. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at www.kathrynekennedy.com. She’s lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives with her wonderful family in Arizona, where she is working on the next book in her Relics of Merlin series, Everlasting Enchantment.

Monday, July 30, 2012

How We Get Our Ideas

It seems that every time we meet a new reader the subject of storylines comes up. One of the first questions we are constantly asked is, “How do you get your ideas?”

The answer is everywhere.

We always have ideas. They come to us in the form of a picture, a song, a piece of dialogue, or an object we find interesting. Sometimes it’s an event which we say, “I wonder ‘what if’ it happened this way?” Then we take our small idea and bounce it around. We ask each other questions letting the answers take us to wherever they lead. We have learned that a good story is a process. With the two of us working together, we’re able to start with a small inspiration and expand it into a full blown storyline over breakfast. And, we’ve also discovered this process of working on one idea usually creates another storyline for a future book.

An additional way is to be a people watcher. We are notorious people watchers. We love to have lunch at our favorite restaurant and observe different personalities, interactions, and interesting
characteristic actions. We see a couple across the room and imagine an entire story about them. Did they meet online and this is their first in-person date? Or, are they superheroes plotting how to save the world?

How about the great looking guy you noticed in line at the supermarket or at Starbuck’s? Do you see him as the hero (or villain) in your next story?

The ‘what if’s’ are endless. And, fun.

If we find ourselves still stuck for an idea, we take a break. Maybe watch some TV. Television is a great way to get inspired and discover ideas for characters, plus, we can see what is hot on the networks. Or we pick up a book we’ve wanted to read for a long time and spend an hour or so letting our minds refill the empty well with words.

When we wrote our paranormal novel, Death Unseen, we knew we wanted our heroine to have psychic powers. We wanted her to be able to see in dreams the murders as they actually took place. We did extensive research on precognition dreams before we started writing. This information was cataloged in our heroines character chart. Then we decided to take it a step deeper and give her some extra powers. Who we ended up with was a psychic heroine with clairvoyant powers who also had the ability to experience death in dreams.

Now our psychic heroine has to convince the police this skill she has is real. Will anyone believe her? Probably not. So, we made our hero a Navajo Tribal Policeman with intuition of his own. We wanted someone who was open minded enough to eventually believe her. We spent hours on the internet researching tribal policemen and Navajo beliefs. We established an extensive file for all our research material in case we needed to recheck our sources at a later date.

We also wanted this book to be a murder mystery, so we made the killer a madman who is after our hero’s DNA. We opted to have our story set around Lake Pleasant, in Arizona. The area is abundant with wildlife so we agreed to have a bobcat and a hawk as the animals involved. Again we did research on both animals before we started writing.

We ended up with something like this:

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 the Four Corners, New Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona where he finds himself embroiled in another murder case.

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.

Unbeknownst to either, Lance carries the DNA key coveted by a maniac—intent on creating a human with animalistic-killing tendencies. But the madman’s plan doesn’t include Carly’s
expanding talents or her unconditional love for Lance. She will do anything too save him—even if it means sacrificing her own life.

And that’s how we do it. A completed story all started because we wanted a heroine with ESP.

So the bottom line on where ideas come from, remember this. Writing is just like everything else, the more you do of it, the better you will be. Don’t worry if your story line starts with a character you put in a certain situation or from a plot you have running through your head. Make use of something you’ve read in the news, an event that keeps catching your attention. Play with your ideas. Have fun with them, brainstorm with your critique partners and get those ideas down on paper. A story will come, trust us. And more importantly trust in yourself.

Tia Dani
Death Unseen - Amazon - The Wild Rose Press
Seduction to the Altar - Breathless Press - Amazon
Come Fly With me - Amazon
Color of Dreams - Coming Soon - Breathless Press

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Basted Omelet

I'm still plugging away on my South Beach Diet. I admit I cheated last night with half a cup of ice cream, but still managed to lose that elusive pound that wouldn't drop. My favorite meal while on Phase One of the plan has been omelets.

I admit, I am not good at flipping omelets, so I came up with my own way of preparing them. While the egg mixture is cooking, I baste the egg to cook on top, by placing two teaspoons of water around the edge of the pan and then covering. I used a rather large pan, which does not have a lid, so I place two pieces of aluminum foil over the top. Once the egg is cooked, I sprinkle the cheese on top, recover, and let the cheese melt.

Basted Omelets
2 servings

Ingredients:  (Sometimes I only use ham and cheese.)

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup diced lean ham - I used luncheon meat that I cut with kitchen scissors.
1/4 diced tomato
1 cup of low fat, shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
3 eggs or egg substitute
1 tsp. Canola oil

Saute the bell pepper over medium heat, in 1 tsp. of oil, in a large pan, and then set aside in a small bowl.
Add the diced ham and tomato to the bowl.and set aside.
Beat 3 eggs with a fork in a different bowl and pour into the same pan heated at a medium temp.
Baste the eggs as described above. Add the cheese and melt as described above.
While the cheese is melting, microwave the bell pepper, ham, and tomato for 40 seconds, and then sprinkle over one half of the pan. I'm not good at flipping omelets, so I cut a slit through the middle of the side without  the ham mixture, so I am folding one quarter of the omelet over the mixture and then the remaining quarter. You should now have an omelet similar to the one pictured above.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Author Spotlight with Kathryn Meyer Griffith

The Writing of THE ICE BRIDGE
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Eight years ago my husband, Russell, and I were celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and decided to return to quaint Mackinac Island in Michigan. We’d been there a few years before, but just for a quick afternoon stopover on our way home from visiting family in Wisconsin. We’d loved the Island for the few hours we’d been on it and promised ourselves we’d go there again someday. So when we began to plan for our anniversary vacation we traveled back for a longer stay of six days. I’d made reservations months ahead at the Iroquois Hotel on the water’s edge of Lake Huron and when the time came, after packing up everything we’d need, we jumped in the car and took off.
The Island doesn’t allow cars, only bicycles, horses and snowmobiles (in the winter) so we left our vehicle in a Mackinaw City parking lot on the mainland and boarded the ferry that would take us across the water to the Island, our luggage and two bicycles in tow. It was much cheaper to bring our own bikes instead of rent them there.
It was late August and the Island was beautiful. Crowded with colorful, fragrant flowers, clomping horses, whizzing bicycles and, of course, lots of tourists. Fudgies as they were called because they came, purchased and devoured so much of the little town’s fudge.  
The Iroquois Hotel was lovely with its bright pastel colors and friendly service; a fancy in-house restaurant and our room with its wall of windows facing the lake. A lake that to me was as large as an ocean…because it went on forever.
Our six days there were heaven. We rode our bikes, peddling around the horses, carriages, and equine taxis, around the eight-mile in circumference island and enjoyed the sights. The friendly people. The breathtaking views of water, boats and woods. The fudge. We sped along West Bluff Road to the ritzy Grand Hotel (made famous in the 1980 romantic time travel movie Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve), ate the scrumptious and lavish tourists’ brunch there and afterwards, so full we could barely ride our bicycles, we gawked at the magnificent Victorian mansions with their elaborate gardens lining Lake Shore Drive.
We visited Fort Mackinac and listened amusedly to people talk about the ghost soldier some had reported seeing when twilight began to fall. My husband, a photography buff, even slipped out of our hotel room in the middle of one foggy night to get artsy pictures with our new digital camera of the fort, hoping to catch the ghost. He captured no ghost, but plenty of stunning photographs.
One night we even sat, spellbound, as a Lake Huron thunderstorm pounded wildly at our wall of windows. It was as if we were gazing at a tumultuous ocean.
Then one day someone, in a cubbyhole of a local hamburger joint, over our lunch, said something about the ice bridge, as the islanders called it. During the dead of winter, when the straits froze over, it was a narrow path that stretched about four miles across the ice that separated Mackinac Island from the St. Ignace mainland. The locals would drive in old Christmas trees along the path to show the way, to show it was now safe. To them the ice bridge meant freedom to come and go for up to two months a year without paying ferryboat or airplane fees. To me it sparked an idea for my next book…what if someone crossed the ice bridge one wintry night and fell through the ice? And disappeared…maybe even died?
I started asking questions of the locals: Had someone ever fallen through the ice and perished? Turns out over the years, that yes, some people actually had. Fallen in. When the ice wasn’t firm enough. Or when they’d gone off the solid marked path. Or in a snowstorm. Some on snowmobiles. Some were saved, dragged out, and some had not been. Hmmm.
That’s all it took for the book to begin forming in my head. The rest of the trip I looked at the Island with different eyes. A writer’s eyes. Writer’s ears. I filed away the memories and the home-grown stories recounted to me. Though most of my earlier books were romantic horror, I’d written a couple of straight contemporary murder mysteries, Scraps of Paper and All Things Slip Away, a few years before and Avalon Books had published them. I’d quite enjoyed writing them.
So I thought I’d write another one with Mackinac Island and its real and fictional ghost tales as the background. I’d show the beauty of the island, changing of the seasons, what it was like in summer, fall and winter (tons of snow and ice), and describe the historical landmarks. I’d spotlight the quirky close-knit inhabitants and have the protagonist gather their imaginary spirit stories to put into the ghost book she was writing. I’d make the Island nearly a main character itself with its enigmas, water, snow, ice and fog.
The novel would be about a woman, Charlotte, jilted in love, coming back to heal and visit her poignant childhood playground, and her lonely Aunt Bess. She’d meet an Island cop, Matt, and together they’d not only fall in love but would embark on a great dangerous adventure together. There’d be a spunky old lady, Hannah, living next door and the four would be great friends. Until the old lady disappears on a winter’s night while crossing the ice bridge and the mystery would begin. Had Hannah been murdered by someone….how exactly…by whom…and why? The remainder of the book would be the unraveling of that mystery as the central characters try to keep from being killed themselves by the devious murderer behind Hannah’s death. I’d embed the Island’s so-called ghost tales throughout the book to spice up the story even more. So it’d be a romantic ghostly murder mystery. Ah, ha. I couldn’t wait to begin.
When my husband and I returned home, refreshed and happy, I started it right away, with the memories of lovely Mackinac still fresh in my mind. Gosh, how I’d loved that Island. A tiny piece of old-fashioned paradise. The book came easily to me. And so The Ice Bridge was born. Now with a stunning new cover by Dawne Dominique and edited by my publisher, Kim Richards Gilchrist, it’s out in the world for everyone to read and, I hope, enjoy.
Written this 10th day of June 2012 by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith 
Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels, 1 novella and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres. Learn more about her at www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG and http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486       
Her published novels & short stories:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure 1984; Damnation Books 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010)
Witches (Zebra 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Nameless One (short story 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
  Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Calling (Zebra 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Winter's Journey (The Wild Rose Press 2008; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press 2008; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Don't Look Back, Agnes short story (2008; ghostly short story Eternal Press 2012)
In This House (ghostly short story 2008; Eternal Press 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels: Volume 1 2011 (I wrote the foreword) ***

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Recipe for Dieting

I am glad to report I am still on my modified version of The South Beach Diet and still losing. I'm not very good at eating vegetables, so I decided to cook something up. In the book they have a recipe for cherry tomatoes with mozzarella stick pieces heated up inside. I don't know where I saw a variation with mushrooms and couldn't find the recipe. This is my version. I enjoyed them and hope you will, too.

Ingredients to make 6:

6 Portabella (aka Portobello) Mushrooms
1 Tomato, cut into 6 slices
3 Mozzarella Low Fat Cheese Sticks
Parsley Flakes if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
I used a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, but only because I hate to clean. It takes away from writing time.

 First, I sliced the caps off the mushrooms, brushed olive oil on top, and heated for 7 minutes on the side with the oil facing up and 2 on the other. You can change this how you see fit.

Next, I placed a tomato slice on top of each mushroom, and then mozzarella on the very top. I had to slice cheese sticks because that is all I had available. You can use shredded mozzarella or slices.

I baked them for 10 minutes, but they are done when the cheese is melted.
Optional: I sprinkled parsley flakes on top for added color.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How I Get Story Ideas

Story ideas…. There are times I wonder if I’m going to run out of them and other times where ideas come flying at me to the point I can’t write them all down. When I start doubting ideas are going to stop coming to me though, I intentionally let go and turn my direction to movies and books that inspire me. From there, I get a jumpstart.

 I do have one great secret weapon and that is my little black tape recorder. If I find myself having problems generating ideas. I let my mind wander right before I fall asleep. If nothing comes that night or the next, I don’t worry about it. They do come eventually just before I fall asleep. I record them right then and there; otherwise, I know I’ll forget most of everything in the light of day. If I can’t find my tape recorder, I’ll resort to a notepad by my pillow.

A great way I get story ideas is by using the ‘what if’ question. I’ve used it for years and have come up with some great ideas that have ended up on published pages. I’ve always been one who will read a book or watch a movie and then go “Oh, what a great idea, but ‘what if’ the hero did this or that, or ‘what if’ so-and-so shows up on scene or reacted this way. From those ‘what if’ questions or scenarios, I add even more to them until I have a completely different story. I found myself doing that with H. G. Wells and Alexandre Duma and was amazed at what I came up with.

I did many a ‘what if’ with one of my contemporary romances, The Long Road Home, and had such fun doing it. I have the hero and heroine on a road trip from New York to California and thought of some hilarious scenarios they could be hit with. Some of them didn’t get put into the book because they were just too outlandish BUT I did give them a couple of huge obstacles along the way, including a dress, a dog and a bear.

The Long Road Home: Travel across the country with her old lover, John McDonnell--and his girlfriend? Impossible. But Clarisse Madison is desperate. Terrified of flying and unable to drive long stretches because of a knee surgery, she sees no other way to get from New York to San Diego and her sister’s wedding.

Three years ago, a plane crash disfigured her leg and destroyed her career as a model. Self-esteem crushed and fearful of rejection, Clarisse severed her relationship with John. Now, forced to travel across the country with him and his girlfriend, Vivian, she is determined to hide her disfigurement. Driving through state after state and mile after mile, though, she begins to fall in love all over again.
But can anything come of it? Can she overcome her pride for the sake of love?

Available on Barnes &Noble, Amazon and Kobo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gearing Up for RWA

The countdown is on.  T minus 7 days will find me on a plane heading for Anaheim, California where I'll be part of the RWA National conference.  I love this particular conference for many reasons.  The first is the chance to catch up with my friends and fellow writers.  Writing is such a solitary profession that I relish the chance to be social and talk with people who understand me and my passion for putting words on a page, even when I hate it.

Lucky me, I'll be rooming with my good friend and talented writer, Calista Fox.  We've torn up a few towns at this conference so I'm sure there won't be a dull moment.

I'm also giving a workshop at Nationals.  If you plan to be there, please add me to your schedule.  Of course I have nightmares about no one coming and me in a big room with my laptop, projector and one lone attendee blinking myopically at me.  Workshop details?

SOS (Simple Organic Structure) for Writers (CRAFT)
Speaker: Erin Quinn
Multipublished author Erin Quinn teaches an innovative method for creating page-turners that even a panster can follow.
Presentation Date: Saturday, July 28
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Room: Platinum 7

Also, don't miss the 2012 "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing.  I'll be there (at table 903) along with amazing bestselling authors Nora Roberts, Nalini Singh and dear friend Sylvia Day whose new book, Bared to You is burning up the bestseller lists!  You can see the layout where everyone is at:  http://www.rwa.org/galleries/rwa2012/RWA2012%20Literacy%20Layout.pdf.

You'll also find me in the Berkley Authors signing on Saturday, so there's no excuse for not saying hi!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The First Week on The South Beach Diet

I think most writers recognize the fact, we can produce more if we feel healthy and energetic, but we also recognize the fact getting there isn't always easy. We fall into bad habits and then one day we wake up and tell ourselves it is time for a change.

I truly believe dieting is absolutely horrible! I chose the picture above as a reminder of what I have had to give up. I have been battling my weight issues most of my life. I did lose quite a bit of weight a few years ago when I went through a blissfully happy time period. I played The Secret DVD and CD over and over and ate less without much effort. Then my class size at work grew. Last year I had 28-30 second grade students in my class in a high risk area of town. Last June, I married a wonderful man, but that also meant blending our lives together with an adjustment period. My daughter and my sister also got married this past year. I was the maid-of-honor for my sister and had no clue what to do when it came to throwing her a bridal shower. Oh, and did I mention I co-coordinated a writing conference in April with about 250 attendees? I truly believe stress causes you to gain and retain weight, which I did.

I tried the Dukan Diet and almost fainted. I tried eating less, but I was always hungry. Then my cousin, who is also a teacher, told me she lost weight on The South Beach Diet and so did her husband. My mother lost a lot of weight giving up bread and potatoes. Turns out she was on South Beach. I decided to give it a try. I bought the new book The South Beach Diet Super Charged.

I am one of those people who loses weight when the time is right. There is usually some sort of trigger. No, it's never a major event. I have never lost weight because of a reunion or wedding. That is too much pressure and I gain weight under pressure. This time the trigger was my doctor telling my husband that he should take me on his walks because he is worried about me. My doctor is wonderful, so I'm not upset about him saying anything. I love my husband dearly. He is the greatest and I don't want him feeling bad that he couldn't get me to exercise, so I decided it was time to take this seriously.

First, I'll admit I haven't read the entire book yet. I skipped around to what I think I needed to know.
I also cheated a bit, but not much. My husband and I have routines where we share meals when we go out between the time he gets off work and he joins me at Barnes and Noble where I write. We both enjoy the fried shrimp at Leo's Hawaiian BBQ. I did give up the macaroni salad I love. We also share a shredded beef quesadilla at Ajo Al's once a week. I did give up the chips and salsa.

The biggest change for me was giving up flavored creamers in the morning. Anyone who knows me well will tell you I have a little bit of coffee with my creamer. I never thought I would give it up, but I did. I switched from 2% milk to 1% and put that in my coffee with sugar substitute. It is nowhere near as satisfying as my flavored creamers, but it is manageable. My husband asked me if I was feeling well when I told him I hadn't had creamer all week. I mainly ate omelets in the morning and salad for lunch. We usually grill meats for dinner when we are home. I also cooked up a whole package of turkey bacon to munch on when I get hungry.

Overall, I would say, I'm not hungry as much as I usually am when dieting. There were a few moments when I panicked because I felt limited on choices. Sugar Free Popsicles got me through those times. Since I had already lost a couple of pounds before beginning the diet, I didn't lose as much as I might have, but I did lose three and a half pounds this past week. Not bad considering I cheated a few times.

If you are interested in this diet and sharing ideas, I will be blogging about my adventure at http://www.suspensebytina.blogspot.com

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery by Kris Tualla

Brander Hansen lost his hearing at age seven, his inheritance at twenty-three. Furious at his father's betrayal, Brander leaves home to make his way as Lord Olsen, a 'discreet gentleman of discovery' in 1721 Christiania, Norway. He intends to gain his own estate and begins buying the debt markers on Kildahlshus.

Baroness Regin Kildahl's husband has gambled away her estate and sunk to more dangerous habits. She writes to Lord Olsen soliciting his help saving both her husband and her home. When her husband dies, Regin offers herself and her title to anyone who will redeem his gambling debts, unaware of Brander's plan and circumventing his efforts.

The Hansen heir accepts her offer and hires Lord Olsen to deliver his bride. Brander's choices are clear: give the widow and her estate to his younger brother, or claim them both as his own. But who would accept a deaf husband?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Story Ideas

One of Albert Einstein's more famous quotes is that "imagination is more important that knowledge." I love that quote. And I absolutely agree with it, but... You knew that was coming right? But your imagination needs to have something to build on, in other words, you need enough information to springboard your ideas and not hamstring them. So do you get the right amount of knowledge? I haven't a clue:-) Because what and how much you need to know is vastly different than what I need to know. Then there are other variables like genre, theme and style that make any attempt to quantify it an exercise in futility But I can tell where to start: read. Yeah, it really is that simple. If you want to learn how to tell a story read a book by your favorite author. Much of story telling is intuitive, the rhythm and flow of words, the mounting tension, the staccato of action and the prods to the reader's imagination that take them down the road you want them to go. Of course, you can't just read in the genre you want. You have to read outside it as well. There's a wide world out there that affects us and your characters, the more knowledge you have about it the more realistic your characters will be and the more the reader will identify with them. Don't use fiction as research. Yeah, Fiction by the definition of the word means liar, liar pants on fire. That doesn't mean the facts are wrong, they just might be skewed a bit to fit the author's vision. And lastly read, nonfiction. No, I'm not talking about weightloss books. I'm talking, gulp, the news. A paper, internet article or magazine can provide tons of material for story ideas and those lovely little twists and turns authors like to throw at you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Last Spark

 Kim Watters here. My daughter wrote this poem the other day on the way to the grocery store. I think she's very talented. Of course she is related. Pretty profound, don't you think?

My Last Spark
By Emily Watters

My light is dimming,
As I lay in the hospital bed,
Alone. With no one to come.
When I was born, a candle was lit
And when that candle goes out,
I know that I have lived a long and healthy life.
My time is near,
The candle has shrunk,
And I have done my best to treasure it.
But now the light has gone out.
With one last spark,
I say goodbye.

And on that note, my newest release And Father  Makes Three is still available in the stores and on-line. 

And Father Makes Three
July 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0373877560

“Your Daughter Needs You.”

She’s saved countless lives, yet there’s one person emergency room doctor Elizabeth Randall can’t rescue—her adopted daughter, Jordan. Perhaps meeting her biological father, Blake Crawford, will be the lifeline Jordan needs. The handsome, guarded firefighter takes risks every day. But facing the daughter he never knew—along with lovely Elizabeth—has him thinking about family. With fatherhood thrust suddenly upon him, there’s no way he can turn his back on his sick child. Will working together to give Jordan a second chance at life also lead them to a second chance at love?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ideas for Writing Romance

Continuing with the topic of where we get our ideas, I want to share a brainstorming technique I came up with years ago. If you read Harlequin romances, you know some themes are more popular than others. In fact, I once saw a list on their site where you selected the ones you liked most. I believe it was intended for market research.

I decided to use their list for myself. Unfortunately, I later decided not to write category romance and tossed the cards. A decision I now regret since I've shared this technique multiple times. I know I wrote topics on index cards. For example, I might have written my heroes on blue cards. One card might have said Cowboy, the next Fireman...Soldier...Lawman... Other cards dealt more with themes and I chose another color, perhaps purple. One card might have said Twins, another Secret Baby...Secret Past...Bad Boy Past... For more topics you could read the blurbs on the back of romance novels, especially Harlequins. After I had a pile of cards, I was ready to brainstorm ideas for a book.

The brainstorming technique was easy and fun. I took my pile of cards and shuffled them, then I placed a blue and purple card on the table in front of me. Reading the cards, I would let my mind wonder to see if an idea came to me. If not, I would place down another card and see if it inspired an idea. Usually, I had a basic idea within fifteen minutes. From there, more ideas would come which would lead to a fuller, more complex plot.

This brainstorming technique could work for all types of books. I might create a stack for my mystery series with different colored cards for criminal types, weapons, motives, and locations. It reminds me of the game Clue. It was Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the candlestick.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Aidan: Loyal Cowboy by Cathy McDavid

Aidan "Ace" Hart left Flynn McKinley heartbroken when he put family duty above her feelings. Then one night, the old passions were reignited and now Flynn is about to get something she's always wanted—a child to love.

Ace takes his responsibilities very seriously. Running Thunder Ranch and his busy veterinary practice leaves little time for a personal life. That'll only get worse now that he's spending every spare minute with Midnight, the champion rodeo stallion he hopes will save the ranch from financial disaster.

Flynn refuses to marry Ace and be yet one more "responsibility" to him. She wants Ace to want to marry her! And until he admits he loves her, she's determined to raise her baby alone….

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July from all the girls at 
Much Cheaper Than Therapy. 
Have a safe, happy, healthy holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Getting Fresh Ideas

Some writers have trouble with ideas, but I'm not one of them. Every time I go to a cocktail party someone says they have a story and would I care to write it for them. They'll give me half the royalties.

Just kidding. Not about the offers, but about the cocktail parties. I rarely go to any these days, but it doesn't matter anyway. I've never  accepted an offer. There's just too much out there to inspire a story for me to even consider drawing on someone elses imagination.

I think it helps that love pop culture and current events because it's where I get most of my ideas. My SHADOW werewolf series came out of memories of Abbot and Costello meeting the tragic wolfman, Lon Chaney. THE FIRE OPAL was inspired by the cartoon movie, The Rescuers. THE DRAGON HOUR was inspired by Dr. Who, a British syndicated TV show of the 70's and 80's. And, because someone said I should make Scotland my next setting because Scotland was all the rage.

It all comes from being engaged in everyday life. Tonight, for instance, inspired my approach in this blog. I was watching the final Olympic trials while I was composing the blob and it occurred to me that something momentous was happening. Dara Torres was competing for an Olympic slot on the American swim team.

Unless you followed the Beijing Olympics you may not know who Dara Torres is. She competed with the American team and it was her eighth Olympics. She was forty years old competing against teenagers and had already won nine medals. Her first child was fifteen months old and this was going to be her last Olympics. But she wanted to go out with a gold medal. 

She missed by a fraction of a second. She placed in all three events where she swam, but always the silver. My heart ached for her when she stood on that podium to receive her final silver medal, trying to hold back the tears trickling down her face. It was, she thought then, her last Olympics and she wasn't leaving as the gold medalist she wanted to be. 

Now here she was in Nebraska four years later, competing against fifteen-year-old.  Age forty-five and attending with her six-year-old daughter, she wanted to make the team for her. This would be her ninth Olympics and twenty-eight year in the sport. She would never swim competitively again. Truly her last chance.  If you watched the Olympic trials or followed the news, you know how it turned out.

She failed.

Not only would she not win her last gold, she didn't even make the team. Her heart was breaking and her daughter was inconsolable.
(Although, if you check out the Dara Torres Wiki page,  it's clear she's a full-on incomparable champion).

So there's the fresh idea, you might say. It has it all. A huge goal, high stakes, committed heroine, competition, conflict, unpredictable obstacles, helpers, friends, enemies. I could go on and on (oh, I think I did). But that's not where I would start her story. Why? Because it begins with so much hope then ends with failure.

I hate to end stories on a downer. I prefer to begin on a downer. Here Dara--okay, let's make it Cara since this is now fiction. Cara has finally been defeated. She can't rise from this one. Her knees are shot, her lifelong coach has died, her beloved daughter, who just knew her perfect mom would qualify, is sobbing.

Dara's story can be expressed as an idea this way: A young girl dedicates her entire life to being a champion swimmer and wants to exit her career with a gold medal.

Having failed, the the story changes to: a middle aged woman must finally acknowledge that her career is over.

This is where I'd start the story. This is the fresh idea.

What, you say, you've gotta be nuts. Probably true, but look at it this way. A fresh idea is nothing but a new blank page.

Fresh ideas don't already contain all the pieces of the story. They are the launch pads for new stories. This now becomes a story about a woman, a wife, a mother who was once a world class swimmer and now needs to replace her passion for swimming with an equally compelling purpose.

So, most likely, a good fresh idea is something that sparks a question and good stories only come to life when the questions begin to get answers. You think that might be right?

One thing I believe to be absolutely true is that fresh ideas don't come to you out of the blue. They come from paying attention to life, to human behavior, to sounds and sights and smells and the way things feel when you touch or taste them. Some writer think ideas are in the ozone and just land on your shoulder in their own good time.

Could be true, but I would still add that the idea will land a lot if you view every moment you live as a  potential idea.

So how about you? What do you think constitutes a fresh idea? What triggers your ideas? Where do you think they come from? How do you generate them? I'd like to get your thoughts. Leave your contact info when you comment and you'll be entered into a drawing for SHADOW ON THE MOON, the first book in my bestselling werewolf series. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing a Series: Ideas

Ideas for Series

I love this picture! I have felt this way before when trying to come up with an idea for writing a series.

Series are popular with readers, and therefore, with editors. When my agent pitches a proposal for me, she wants a synopsis for each of the three books in the series and the first three chapters of the first book.

Ideas can come from anywhere. Cozy mysteries, which rarely contain graphic murders, have a theme. The main characters could run a cupcake shop, crochet, remodel homes, or cook for the president. Each story, and book title, reflects on the theme. I keep a list of the themes being used and then brainstorm a list of possible ideas not on the list.

When I write a mystery series, I know I need a theme, three motives for murder, and a cast of characters. Any of these can come to me in any order, from any source. My first series came to me when I witnessed a feud. I decided to take the situation and place it in a fictitious neighborhood, with fictitious characters, and make it much worse than the real feud. An idea might be inspired from a news report, an incident from one’s past, or asking a what if question.

The idea for the first book in a series usually comes to me easily. The second and third books are a bit more difficult. I need a situation in which my cast of characters will be needed to investigate, so the murder must come to them. Then I need a motive. Several times I have written a list of reasons why people kill as a means of brainstorming. I’ll write greed, revenge, passion…and then I usually come up with an idea. Once I get started with the synopsis, the twists and turns come as a natural progression of the investigation and the killer’s desire not to get caught.

If I’m stuck, I find spending time outdoors, meditating, burning incense, or talking it over with friends helps.