Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Release of The Haunting of Amelia Pritchart!!

It's finally that time. I've waited almost a year for this day and I'm sharing it with you. There's a goodie bag up for grabs, too. All you have to do is leave a comment here on the blog and I'll drag a random name at 5:00 p.m. EST. Good luck!

Now for the remains of the day ;-) Yeah, I went there!

Blurb: Amelia Pritchart’s life is a mess. Her house is crumbling down around her, she’s got a bad case of writer’s block, and divorce papers await her signature. The trouble is, she still loves her husband.

And if that’s not bad enough, she comes face to face with a ghost—who has problems of her own. The restless spirit demands Amelia help her tormented soul so she can finally rest in peace. Intrigued, Amelia sets out to grant the wish, but soon finds there’s much more to the ghost than just being dead.

When her estranged husband shows up on her doorstep on Halloween, Amelia must face two pasts, both full of pain. Can she help the ghost without becoming eternally haunted? And can she face her own fears and insecurities about her marriage in order to grasp the second chance at happiness her husband offers?

Excerpt: “Tomorrow is All Hallow’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight, ghosts that have been unable to pass from the mortal world are allowed to assume their human body for 24 hours. In that time period, we are instructed to make peace with those issues that are preventing us from moving forward.”

“What does that have to do with me?” She frowned when Elizabeth’s form began to fade.

“It’s becoming difficult for me to see you.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I find that allowing myself to be seen by human eyes takes a good amount of energy on my part. I need to rest. Before I go, I would like you to find a descendant of Samuel’s. I need to confess my secret. Please help me.”

“I’ll try.” Amelia scrambled for the small notepad and pencil on her bedside table. “What’s Samuel’s full name? I won’t be able to hunt down his family without that information.” She set aside the incredible fact she was conversing with a ghost.

“Samuel Pritchart Carmichael. Please do your best, Amelia. My hope is resting on you.”

Amelia blinked, and her shiver this time had nothing to do with the temperature of the room. “Pritchart? But that’s impossible.” Her stomach threatened to revolt at the familiar name. Before she could question the specter further, the ghost evaporated into the darkness with a soft sigh. “Elizabeth?”

Leaving the safe harbor of her bed, Amelia padded across the creaky hardwood floor. As she inspected the chair for signs that the ghost really had visited, she passed a hand through the air before her. The ghost left no evidence of her visit.

How could she possibly help a woman who died 90 years ago?

Available today through The Wild Rose Press!!

You can watch the book video here:

It’s been reviewed as well! "The Haunting of Amelia Pritchart is what a ghost story should be, intriguing, exciting, and leaving me anxious for more."
For the full review, please visit:

And please drop by my website to see what else I’ve been up to!

Thanks for reading and if you're hungry for more, please buy the book then join me over on Facebook or join my online launch party Yahoo group to come chat with me and the others who are celebrating with me. Three random names will be drawn throughout the day so what do you have to lose?

Trick or treat ;-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Summer's Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book II releases

And now for some shameless self-promotion….

I am so pleased to announce that Summer’s Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book II released yesterday evening from Liquid Silver Books.

First of all, let me say thank you to all of you who came out and supported Her Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book 1. I was blown away by so much support and so grateful. So many of you have contacted me to tell me how much you enjoyed Ashlee and Tristan and that made me so happy because I love them too. They started a journey for me that I am still travelling and I’ll always be grateful that they showed up in my head.

This next book, Summer’s Wolf, picks up with the love story between Summer, Ashlee’s younger sister who you were introduced to at the end of Her Wolf, and her mate Cullen who was, at one time, the right hand man of Kendrick Kane. Cullen’s motives and loyalties are still in question with the pack and even though he risked himself so valiantly at the end of Her Wolf, no one is entirely certain of his motivations.

Summer and Cullen have a journey to take that will change the Westervelt Wolves and alter the shape of things to come for the entire pack.

Here is the official blurb:

Three years ago, Summer Morrison’s happy, normal life was thrown into upheaval. Forced to discover, before she was ready, that she was half-wolf shifter and mated to the pack’s enforcer has left Summer moody, shaken, and resentful. When tragedy strikes her family, Summer is forced to come back to the world of the Westervelt Wolves…and into the arms of Cullen Murphy.

Cullen has waited three years for Summer, having promised her mother he would give her time to grow up. But he’s never forgotten his mate and craved her presence since he first saw her on the battlefield three years earlier. The trouble is, now that Cullen has Summer, he has no idea what to do with her. Three hundred years of being alone has left Cullen socially inept and more lonesome than he would ever admit. He lives with the guilt and shame of his deeds, while knowing his role is pivotal to the pack’s survival.

Together, Cullen and Summer will heal each other’s wounds and discover that life is worth living as long as they are together. Now there’s just the little matter of Kendrick and Claudius, their evil henchmen, the army of miscreant wolves, and the demons that keep attacking. If they can survive, their love will be everlasting. But failure will mean not only their destruction, but the end of the Westervelt Wolves.

When love is eternal, failure is not an option.

I hope that you’ll come by and check out Summer’s Wolf and keep up with us on this journey with the wolves and their ultimate destiny.

On a separate note, I did give birth last Monday to my third son. Baby D and I are both well and glad to be home.

What a week I am having!

Also, please stop by and enter my contest where you can win a really cool Summer's Wolf tee-shirt.

Best to all of you,

Rebecca Royce

Monday, September 28, 2009


Happy Manic Monday, I’ve brewed some pumpkin spice coffee for anyone interested in celebrating the fall season with me. Rebecca Royce has a new release today – Summer’s Wolf from Liquid Silver Books. Congrats.

This week marks a mile stone for me. It’s been one year since I started writing. Last summer I took ill and was house bound for six months. After two months I started going nuts, I’d read everything I owned twice and couldn’t afford to buy anything new. My wonderful co-workers knew about my obsession with reading and pooled together their books for me. A whole box of romance novels.

I’d never read a romance before. Before I knew it I was hooked. It took me a month to devour everything and find myself once more without reading material. This is when inspiration took place in the form of an old note pad and pen. With Bollywood music playing in the background the first chapter of my book Bait came to be. I sold it this summer to Liquid Silver books.
Fifty-two weeks ago I started on an unknown journey and discovered so much. Critique groups, internet friends, forums, websites, blogs just to start with. I’d never heard of an ebook until I met Rebecca. LOL. The power of paper and pen has changed my life. I can’t imagine not writing now.

I wonder where the next year will bring me?

What are your stories? How did you get started?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome Liena Ferror and Special Guest,

Keara McCabe.

JHS – Please give a huge PR welcome to Liena Ferror. Liena’s the author of Queen of the Ghost Drakon, the first story in The Risen series. Liena's visited with us before and we had the pleasure of meeting Gannon Langon. I’d like to welcome you both to Paranormal Romantics and thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Can you tell us a little about who you have with you?

LF - This is Keara McCabe-Langon. She is mated to Gannon, whom you’ve met earlier. Go ahead and introduce yourself Keara.

KM - Thanks, Liena. As you can tell, I am of American-Asian ancestry. I got the taller height from my Dad. Anyway, you are more interested in what I am. I am a ghost drakon and fae hybrid. Both bring me unique abilities such as disappearing from sight, the ability to use lightning blasts, and the ability to do things like create clothes from mid-air. In my drakon form I’m covered in blue-gray colored scales that look much like the Hope Diamond in shade. My eyes are cat-like. I have large bat like wings and claws that are sharper than hell. Other than that, I’m normal.

JHS – Liena’s laughing and I have to smile myself at that. It all sounds normal. Liena, can you tell us a little about yourself?

LF - I’m from South Central Pennsylvania. I live with my wonderful husband and my beautiful daughter. I have a son who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy. I grew up amongst a family of readers. My mother and father instilled a love of reading and all things written into my brother and me. In my adult years, I found myself working as a data analyst and once again discovered my love of reading. I began to frequent the library more than once a week. My husband went to so far as to hang a hammock in the spare bedroom so I could have a comfortable place to read. My husband suggested I try my hand at writing since I read so much. I tried and fell in love. I still like to read but writing has become a big part of my life.

My heroes are vampires and lycans. My heroines are fae, vampire and drakon. A world I created through my erotic paranormal writing. I am planning a contemporary or suspense series in the future.

JHS - How long have you been writing?

LF - I have been seriously writing for about two years now. Prior to that, my nose was always buried in a book. One day my husband commented that as much as I read, I should try to write a book. The rest is history as they say. My first release is due out November 20, 2009 and the second in the series on April 16, 2010. Both from Eirelander Publishing.

JHS - Can you tell us a little about your favorite character? Is there one you prefer/like better than the others?

LF - I love all the characters that I’ve created in the world of The Risen. The Risen are females of drakon, fae, lycan, vampire, or demon parentage. The males are lycans and vampires and hard-headed as hell at times and sexy all the time.

KM - I’ll second that, Liena.

LF - I thought you would, Keara.

JHS - Who inspired or inspires your writing most?

LF - My bookshelves consist of books by Nora Roberts, JD Robb and Clive Cussler just to name a few.

KM - Her bookshelves are packed with many different authors, Ms. Steele. She’s even got books from the early turn last century.

LF - Keara’s right. I love books and have been inspired by many authors.

JHS - When you’re not writing, what are some of your favorite things to do? Do you and Keara ever hang out together?

KM - No, Liena doesn’t hang out with us. Even though she is welcome at the Mansion at any time.

LF - Thanks, Keara. Gannon made the same offer. When I’m not writing, I’m reading or making jewelry. I’m a huge sports fan so I watch a lot of sports on TV. I’m pretty much a home body.

JHS - Are you working on anything new?

LF - I just finished up the second in The Risen Series, Frost at Dusk which will be release on April 16, 2010. The story is about an ice drakon or dragon and vampire hybrid heroine named Lena Erickson who uses her unique and deadly blood as a weapon to avenge the death of a family member. She is the mate of the Master Vampire of the Northeast Region, Andres Kaden. Together, they learn to deal with Lena, her unique abilities, and the changes she’ll inevitably go through.

JHS - Do you have any advice for new writers?

LF - First and foremost is to have fun doing what you do. Writing should never feel like a chore. It should be something you love to do. Second, find a good critique partner or group who can be honest with you and about your work. Someone to tell you when you are on track and when you’ve left the tracks. My critique partner has been invaluable to me.

JHS - How can readers get your book?

LF - I can be found at the following sites:,,

JHS - Heres an Excerpt from Liena’s book and I have to tell you, this book has some exciting battle scenes. And you’ll need to turn up the a/c when you read it because it gets pretty damn steamy.

“Did you see the tall guy with the long black hair?”
Keara heard her best friend Donna ask. The two women had just left Maelstroms, the local nightclub, and enjoyed the walk to Donna‘s car. The streets were nearly deserted, as it was three in the morning. Her rich and husky laughter filled the night air. “You mean the one with all the bulging muscles?”
Donna nodded. “That wasn’t the only thing bulging.” She winked as they reached the alley where she had parked.
“You would notice.” Keara frowned when she saw Donna pull out a pack of cigarettes and leaned against her car. “Such a nasty habit,” she scolded.
Donna frowned. “This is the first one I’ve had since we went into Maelstroms.” She pulled out a smoke and lit it. She inhaled, obviously savoring the nicotine that flooded her lungs. “I’m down to less than half a pack a day. Give me a break.”
Keara leaned against the car. Why would anyone pollute their systems with such obnoxious smelling toxins? She tried one cigarette in her life and didn’t like the feeling she was going to pass out or vomit. She never smoked again and wasn’t a heavy drinker, even on her nights out with Donna. Only two drinks in case she needed to drive. Coffee was her poison of choice.
“Anyway, what did you think of the guy? He had to be at least six-foot tall,” Donna said as she took a drag from her cigarette.
Keara had to laugh, again. Donna stood at five foot three if she was lucky. Keara had a good seven inches on her. Donna was forever attracted to men who were much taller than she was. “Why is it you go for the men who’ll give you a crick in your neck?”
Donna chuckled as she exhaled. “I just like my men tall, dark and absolutely gorgeous, which he was by the way.”
“I have eyes, I saw him.” Gorgeous but not my cup of tea. She preferred her men taller with athletic builds and shorter hair. She was partial to men dressed in jeans and a t-shirt over a man in dress clothes. She liked them more ruggedly handsome than drop-dead gorgeous. “Have you ever seen him there before?”
“No, come to think of it. I wonder if he’s going to become a regular,” she said, and a wistful note entered her voice.
Keara shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe he’s new to the area.” A small sound had her turning her head to the opening of the alley. An involuntary shiver overtook her. A single harsh light outlined a tall figure walking into the entrance of the alley. “Uh oh, we got company, Donna.” She reached to open the passenger side door. Damn, it was locked. Her eyes turned to her friend. Unease
filled her with dread. “Unlock the car, Donna.” Urgency made her voice tremble and her pulse pound.
“Relax, Keara. It’s Mr. Tall, Dark and Absolutely Gorgeous.” Donna said, waving away Keara’s concern.
Keara relaxed marginally as she, too, noticed who it was. She still wasn’t fond of the idea of being pinned in a dimly lit alley as a hulk of a stranger approached them.
Donna smiled. “Are you lost? Do you need directions?”
The man smiled in return, which showed perfect white teeth glowing in the harsh light of the alley. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am. I noticed you two were talking and was hoping you could give me directions.”
The man was indeed gorgeous, Keara thought. Almost too gorgeous. His face was heavenly, like a dark angel. His eyes were an amazing shade of blue. His thick hair fell around his face and reached his shoulders. Still, something about him wasn’t quite right. She couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Sure. Where are you heading to?” Donna asked, totally at ease with the stranger.
“While I was in Maelstroms, I overheard a couple talk about a diner close to here. I didn’t catch the name of it.” He walked to no more than three inches away from Donna.
Warning bells rang in Keara’s head. Trepidation crept into her voice. “Come on, Donna. Let’s get out of here.” She tried the door handles again.
The stranger laughed as he gazed deeply into Donna’s eyes. “Your friend appears to be afraid of me.”
Keara felt her eyes widen and gasped. He had fangs. People don’t have fangs. Panic gripped her. The other possibility was absurd. Maybe not. The stranger ran a finger down Donna’s face and tilted her head to the side slowly as if he were about to caress the skin of a lover.
He looked directly into Keara’s eyes. “You will stand where you are and not move. You will not make a sound,” the stranger said. His voice dropped an octave and wrapped around Keara’s mind, first like wisps of mist then like fog rolling off the ocean, thick and dense.
She couldn’t move. The stranger entranced her. She watched helplessly as the stranger leaned down toward Donna’s exposed neck. The stranger licked his lips in anticipation. He swirled his tongue gently over Donna’s skin. Once. Twice. Keara’s mind screamed when the stranger sank his fangs into Donna’s jugular vein. Donna moaned in what sounded like bliss as the stranger drank in long pulls from her neck.
Holy Shit. A real live vampire drinking from her best friend. She tried to move but was unable to. She struggled with the hold the stranger had put on her body and mind, but it was useless.
The vampire continued to drink from her friend. After what seemed like an eternity, he lifted his head. He licked his blood-coated lips until he’d gathered the final drop on his tongue.
She watched in horror as the vampire lifted his hand, and one of his fingernails lengthened into a razor sharp point. Her mind screamed again as the vampire drew the fingernail over Donna’s throat, cutting her from one ear to the other, effectively covering the signs of his bite.
“What is your name, human?” he asked.
Keara felt the fog in her mind lift enough to answer his question. “Keara McCabe.”
The vampire smiled sinfully as he gazed into Keara’s eyes. “Asian American,” he commented as he walked around the car.
She tried desperately to turn and run, but her body was like lead. She wanted to vomit when he used the same razor sharp fingertip to turn her neck to the side. The tip of his talon nicked her skin.
“You are indeed a beautiful woman. It’s a shame I’m as hungry as I am or I might spare you, make you my pleasure slave,” Evil laughter erupted into the night as he lowered his mouth to her neck. The tip of his tongue gently followed the trail of blood that trickled from the wound. His tongue swept back up to her jugular.
A moan broke from her throat when she felt his fangs puncture her skin. After the initial shock and pleasure, bile rose into her throat. I need to run. The trance had her rooted in place. She stood and waited for her life to be drained out of her. To her utter surprise, the vampire lifted his head and his eyes widened.
“What are you?” His body started to convulse wildly as he dropped to the ground like a felled tree. “Oh, fuck,” he wailed. His body thrashed as spasms wracked his body.
Keara felt the enthrallment of her mind weaken and finally she was released. Running out of the alley and literally running for her life, she panted hard against the residual fog still weighing down her legs. Her heart pounded wildly in her chest as she ran away from the pure evil she had encountered, a creature that only inhabited legends, novels and movies. She could barely think it. Vampire

JHS - Readers love to find out new things about their favorite authors, before you leave, can you tell us one thing about you that no one knows?

LF - I’m addicted to computer solitaire. I can play it for hours at a time and never get bored. I also love to play Mahjong Titans.

JHS – Liena, thanks for stopping by and for bringing Keara along. Trust me, you guys want to pick up a copy of Queen of the Ghost Drakon, the first in The Risen series, as soon as it hits the shelves at Eirelander Publishing.

And don’t forget to stop by next Friday. I’ll see who I can wrangle into the hot seat. In the meantime - Growl and roar-it’s okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Should be Watching - Legend of the Seeker

This week's blog post is brought to you by Rae's subconscious. Rae is currently detained as she is reading the newest Outlander book (number 7 - Echo in the Bone - go out and buy it now!) and will return shortly after she's reached The End. :-)

In honor of this week's repost from Rae's June 19, 2009 blog, we'd like to extend a BIG congrats to Legend of the Seeker composer Joseph LoDuca for his Emmy nomination and win! Congrats and kudos for making an awesome score!

On to the post!

I forget where I had first heard of this show somewhere they mentioned the creators of Xena Warrior Princess had a new show. I'm a huge Xena fan and was so jazzed to see Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert returning to their fantasy roots.

I taped the show here and there but kept missing episodes in between. From what I saw it was pretty good but I can tell it was a show to see one right after the other. After I finally caught all episodes, I was hooked and I can say I flippin' LOVE this show!!! The first season plays like a long epic fantasy movie with a great satisfying ending. I'm not a big fan of shows that leave you with a teeth grinding cliffhanger at the end of the season (exception is Being Human cause I'm itching to see the rest of that show) so I was so glad when there was a conclusion here. I'm going to be watching and re-watching this series for years to come.

A few weeks ago I talked about the lack of strong females in movies but the growth of them on the small screen. Legend of the Seeker is no exception.

The story is one of good and evil. Evil ruler Darken Rahl wishes to enslave the midlands but every time there is a threat, a seeker arises to stop the threat of evil. Said hero is one Richard Cypher, a small farm boy who evaded the massacre of all first born infants based on the seeker prophecy.

Now I know there's a ton of Star Wars and Bible references running through your head, but the show makes good use of the hero's journey. I thought of Star Wars a bit while watching this in the beginning but the show cements it's own lore. On Richard's journey is a wizard with secret ties to him and a young woman named Kahlen Amnell, a confessor who wields her own power (and kicks some major butt!) to assist Richard on his quest.

For fantasy buffs, this show is a smorgasboard of goodies in the genre. Tons of magic, a gorgeous production value that looks like a movie in each episode, some humor and fantastic performers along with a budding star crossed romance make this one of my new favorite shows. Each story ties into the other while showcasing mini stories in each episode. The show is loosely based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth fantasy series and I'm definitely going to pick them up lean the origins of the show.

I mentioned a strong heroine and Kahlen fits the role to a tee. She's a mixture of strength, sensitivity and smarts. The kind of heroine that's been making appearances on a good amount of shows in this day and age and finally we have one in the speculative genre. Bridget Regan is gorgeous and great as Kahlen and I love seeing her kick butt with her two daggers and especially when she "confesses" her enemies, putting them under her control. She joins my favorite she-ros of Princess Leia, Xena, Storm, Rogue and a few other classics. Not to mention I love her outfits.

Craig Horner as Richard plays him as noble, a young go-getter and a good rising hero. I remembered Bruce Spence who played wizard Zed from the Matrix (he played the Train Man in Revolutions). When I saw villain Darken Rahl, I noticed he looked a lot like Haldir, the blond elf who met up with the fellowship at Galadriel's home and lo and behold, it was him with dark hair this time. If I had to vote for a best tv series villain this year, I would so vote Craig Parker as Rahl. Manipulative, evil, heartless, maniacal and cruel, Rahl is one those villains that you love to hate or maybe just hate to hate. ;-)

The writing on the show is awesome as it creates a great world with it's own rules of magic and it's shortcomings, humanity and it's delicate line between right and wrong, characters with threads of history and fighting for what's good in the world. While not quite a fantasy romance, there is a romance in the backdrop between Kahlen and Richard and the chemistry the two share is addictive. If I had dove head first into fandom, I would surely be a Kahlen/Richard shipper, portmanteau not included.

Joseph LoDuca is the same composer as for Xena and the soundtrack/score has a very epic fantasy feel to it. I love the theme and am sad it isn't played enough in the beginning but the longer version is during the end credits. I think I heard there will be a soundtrack released in the coming months and I'll be on board to buy myself a copy.

It may seem a bit too cut and dry to people, maybe a little bit predictable but with all the "hard and gritty" shows that try to be cheeky and complex out there, 'Seeker' is a good antidote for those looking for something that harkens back to the classics of the fight against good and evil against a gorgeous setting.

Legend of the Seeker has gone into syndication due to it's popularity and is to return for a second season this October November 7th.

Click the pic to watch an extended preview of the first ep

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview with Wendy Eli!

Please help me welcome fellow Lyrical Press author Wendy Ely to the Paranormal Romantics blog.

SS: Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

WE: I’ve been writing since I’ve been able to hold a pencil but started to take my self seriously as a writer last year. I treated writing as a hobby before then.

SS: What genre do you like to write best in?

WE: Romance for sure but romantic suspense is what I’m going towards now. It’s interesting to write and keeps me on my toes. I do have some contemporary romance book ideas ready to go for when the mood strikes.

SS: How do you find ideas for your books?

WE: Every where! If I see an interesting person while out in public, I’ll jot it down in the my idea notebook. News stories, conversations I overhear, a picture, a feeling… I never know when an idea will strike. I have notebooks full of them.

SS: How difficult is it for you to get into “writer’s mode”?

WE: I’ve trained myself to write every day so unless something is really bothering me, I tend to go into writer mode quickly. I’m super busy with my day job and full time college so I have to grab moments to write when I can.

SS: Speaking of day jobs, how do you balance both “worlds”?

WE: I run a small childcare. During the day, I get two hours usually of uninterrupted writing while the kids nap. I also work in the evenings but since I’m a single mom, this is hard sometimes.

SS: Do you have a specific place where you write?

WE: Usually on my couch with a laptop. Sometimes I’ll go to Starbucks to write but it’s rare.

SS: You’ve just had a book release. Tell me about it.

WE: Here’s the blurb for Jesse’s Brother : One woman, two men: a single summer to choose between them.

Sacrificing a summer to fix her relationship with her mother and find out what’s troubling her father isn’t so bad...right? Wrong. Or so Samantha learns upon her return to Portland.

As if family drama wasn’t bad enough, first comes Noah. Then comes Jesse. Samantha is torn between the way her heart skips a beat each time Noah looks at her, and the way Jesse’s touch make her yearn for more.

SS: Nice! How did the inspiration for this work come to you?

WE: I was dating two guys at the time. While having dinner with one of them, the other had called while my date was in the bathroom. I answered but kept the call short. Once off the phone, I started thinking how bad it could get with the two guys… and now we have Jesse’s Brother.

SS: Do you identify with the characters you write about?

WE: I guess I could identify with some of them. In Jesse’s Brother, Samantha sort of feels lost since she doesn’t know what to do. I’ve experienced those feelings before.

SS: You’ve recently signed with a new publisher. Can you give me some details?

WE: I’m new with Lyrical Press Inc. but have some other work under consideration with some other publishers. I really like Lyrical though. They do an amazing job with the books and are always there for their authors. With Lyrical Press, I have Jesse’s Brother, Confessions, and the rest of the Confession series once it’s finished. I plan to submit more to them in the future.

SS: You have several books in print/e-print. Do you have a favorite?

WE: I love Jesse’s Brother but Confessions would be my favorite. I could see how I’d changed as a writer in the past few years since writing Jesse’s Brother.

SS: Sounds like you're busy. What is your next project?

WE: I have a lot going on. I’m revising New Year’s Resolution to resubmit to two publishers, am writing a new story for a contest, and working on the series to send to Lyrical Press.

SS: Just for fun, what’s the most quirky name you’ve given a character and why?

WE: The hero in Dangerous Flames is named Mikolas Russo.

SS: Thanks so much for joining me today.

Still interested in learning more about Wendy? Visit her website at or drop her an email at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pinch-hitting for Rebecca Royce...her macabre cousin, Dan.

Twist and Pull

by Dan Garavuso

You stand in front of the mirror examining yourself and something is not right. There is a strand of hair that is bent in half and you will not tolerate it. You twist the strand between your thumb and forefinger, watching how it coils under pressure, and pull it out. There is a flake of white at the base of the strand you assume to be dandruff, though you cannot see any other white flakes on the rest of your hair. You wonder how this strand came to be bent and decide that you will sleep on your other side tonight.

Great-Grandpa Sam lives with you. He took your room after Great-Grandma Ida was put in a nursing home for taking a bottle of pills with her breakfast. He spends a half-hour every night coughing up phlegm in the upstairs bathroom sink. You watched him once when he left the door open; the thick globs of yellow and brown made you nauseous. When the immigrant from Russia, who escaped during the Cossack Revolution that killed most of his Jewish family, is finished with his phlegm, you will take a shower and watch your hairs rush down the drain. You learned that humans lose one hundred hairs a day in the shower and this frightens you.

You stand in front of the mirror after drying your hair and examine the damage. You find three bent hairs that must be twisted, coiled, and pulled. The snapping pain you feel when the hair separates from the scalp makes you jump up and down. You rub the spot where the damaged hair was removed as the pain spreads down your face and your eyes tear. You notice that the pain changes to something different after the next two hairs are removed; there is a cooling, a soothing sensation that follows the pain each time. You feel better. Your hair is perfect and you will sleep on your back this time because you are certain that sleeping on either of your sides causes the damage.

Grandpa Don lives with you also. Or he did, before he disappeared for a week. He stopped taking Lithium and drove his 1976 Cutlass Supreme to Long Branch, New Jersey, where he spent six thousand dollars on a new wardrobe and got engaged to an alcoholic woman he met in the hotel bar. The front desk manager of the hotel called the police when he trashed his room; the police found him lying on the bathroom floor incoherent and took him to a psychiatric hospital. After his mania was regulated with Lithium he wanted to come home.

Your father takes you to pick him up; your mother says that she cannot deal with his nonsense right now. She looks upset and you feel bad for her, but you would rather do anything than to have to ride with your father. You bring a book to read because you know that once he is done talking about Vietnam or driving a truck full of chickens for his Uncle Mike, there will be a deadly silence in the car, the one that always makes you uncomfortable to be with him.
This ride is no different. After he spends five minutes attacking ‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda, you attempt to steer the conversation towards the Yankees. These Yankees are not his Yankees: Mantle, Ford, Rizutto, Berra, Maris. - Mantle was better than Mattingly any day, he says. You cannot argue with him. You have read the books about the Yankee glory days and besides, Mattingly has only played for two years so it is not a fair comparison.

You brought The Hobbit with you. You can read three pages at a time before you get nauseous and have to take a break. You stare at the clouds and think about God. You do not believe but you are willing to give him a chance if he can deliver the Colecovision video game system, the one with ‘Donkey Kong Jr.,’ the one all of your friends have. You see Gollum in the clouds, arguing with Bilbo. You know that Bilbo is supposed to be the hero but you feel bad for Gollum. The riddle: ‘What is in my pocket?’ That’s not a riddle. It is a trick and it is not fair. And Tolkien…what kind of name is Tolkien, anyway?

Long Branch is about one hour from Staten Island. Your father drives very fast and you arrive in forty minutes. Grandpa looks like he has gained twenty pounds in the week and is wearing a black leather trench coat that makes him look like a miscast mobster: The Last Jewish Don. There are heated discussions in the car, threats about nursing homes, general cursing because they hate each other, and promises of regular intake of medication. Grandpa also has to turn over the keys to the Cutlass when the tow-truck brings the car back.

Grandpa leans against the back door of the wagon, his face pressed against the window, his long hooked nose leaving greasy streaks. You wonder if he is looking at the clouds. You try to imagine him with anyone but your grandmother but you can't form a picture. It has only been two months since the funeral and you think that this is the funniest thing to happen to anyone in your house since then but when you see him crying you also think that this is the worst.

You wake up late for school and your routine is royally screwed up. You barely have enough time to grab a Pop-Tart before racing to catch the bus. (You know what needs to be done, but you don’t have the time.) You are on time. You find a seat at the back, by yourself, and search for your reflection in the window. You can see the faint outline of your hair so you move your hand in a circle at the top of your head, feeling for strays. You find one, sink down in your booth-sized, green vinyl seat, and pull it out, examining the bent, busted hair before dropping it to the floor. You want to continue the search, but the bus stops and fills with more students. One sits next to you, ruining the rest of the ride. Adam is your friend, however. He taught you how to curse and how to play Dungeons and Dragons during lunch periods. He talks to you about the Yankees and yes, Mattingly could win the batting title, but Boggs is still ahead of him. You don’t want to talk to him, though: You want to be alone with a mirror.

The bus arrives at P.S. 54 just before homeroom. You have three girlfriends in class. They surround your table and tell you how cute you look in the class picture. They ask for the picture that you promised each of them and you apologize for forgetting it again. They scatter soon after and you wonder if they noticed your hair today. Did they like it? If so, what about it did they like best? If not, why do you suck so badly? Why can’t you get your hair to stay in one place? Why won’t the bell ring so you can go to first period, English, get a pass to the bathroom, and see for yourself what you know to be true: There have to be more hairs that are broken. And you keep changing your sleeping position but what if that’s making it worse?

You make it to English and are distracted by Adam, who talks about his level three, fighter/mage. He explains that dual-class characters need to earn more experience points than single class characters to advance. While he is talking, one of your girlfriends, Helen, gets a hall pass. Class begins and you are flushed and your hands are sweating. You will not do this in class! Instead, you fold your fingers, one over the other, from the pinky in. You try to see how long you can hold your fingers in position until Helen comes back, at which time you request and are granted the hall pass.

Adam is sitting on the sink when you walk in the bathroom. Dammit! He says hello and you wave while walking to the stall. You hide for minutes but when you get out he is still there. He tells you that his oldest brother got arrested for smoking pot. You have no idea what he means, and you couldn’t care less. You ask him why he is still in the bathroom. He says that he is failing out and will be home-tutored starting next week. You do not understand what he must have done to fail. Class is easy. The hardest thing to do is to stay calm and try not to answer too many questions. You always get ‘A’s for the subject, but Unsatisfactory for conduct because you just cannot sit still.
Adam is not going to leave anytime soon and you know that you have been gone for a while. Too long. People will think that you had to take a shit. You want to go home. You go back to class and return the hall pass, avoiding eye contact with everyone. You stare at the floor until you return to your seat in the back row. You cannot stand to have anything behind you but the wall. If anyone wants to stare at you they could get in trouble because they would have to turn around and Mrs. Biren would catch them.
The class is quietly engaged in a writing assignment that you now find on your desk. You define some words and write sentences for them while Mrs. Biren walks up and down the aisles. She stops at your desk.
- Randy, she whispers, - Can I speak to you after class?
You agree to stay after the bell rings by nodding your head. You are certain that she was looking at your hair because you saw her face twist slightly when she took your assignment.
The bell rings and the class leaves except for you. Slowly, you make your way to Mrs. Biren’s desk and she tells you to sit down.
- Randy, I want to know why you have a bald spot.
You are confused. - I have a cowlick, that’s what my barber said.
- No, you have a bald spot that you didn’t have earlier this year.
- Umm…the men in my family go bald early?
- Randy, you’re nine years old.
You can not move your mouth. You begin to cry and she hugs you while you tell her everything through a mucous-blown cloud. She calls your mother and asks her to pick you up from school. Your mother arrives and talks to Mrs. Biren while you sit in the back of the room. You hear your mother say that she never noticed; that she’s been preoccupied with her mother dying and her manic/depressive father. Your mother starts to cry and Mrs. Biren hugs her also. Your mother tells Mrs. Biren that she will take you to see somebody but that she doesn’t want to put you on medication because you are so young. Lithium?

The ride home from school is silent except for sudden sobs from your mother. You stare out the window, up at the clouds. God still hasn't gotten you the Colecovesion, and you think that he probably does not answer requests for toys, even if someone you love dies. You think about what it would be like if your mother dies, or if you had a wife and she dies. You miss your grandmother now. You join your mother in crying.


Happy Manic Monday! The weekend is over with a new week to look forward to. As promised weeks ago, I've written a FREE READ that you voted for. A steamie paranormal romance between a male werewolf and a female mermaid.


Sylvie is hiding a dark, hungry secret. She’s developed enough skill to control her inner beast but every once in awhile she finds someone irresistible. Caste out of the ocean by her people for fear of what she’d grown into. She rebels against mermaid beliefs and races to something they disapproved of.

Consorting with Weres of any kind.

Rust fit all the characteristics she wanted. As a younger Werewolf, he made a living as a porn star. Enough said.

Everyone knows Mermaids don’t consider themselves to be true Weres so when Sylvie crashed his party Rust couldn’t resist the challenge of seducing her. Who would have guessed she’d turn out to be the only female that ever fulfilled his every need.

She wanted a one-night-stand but finds herself the prey of a mating hunt. If only he understood the danger, her beast craved his taste and she’d almost lost control on their night together. If it happened again he may not survive.

The story took a life of its own. My short story will actually become a novella. Second chapter should be up by the end of October.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Dancing into the night...

with Patrick Swayze. I just took a deep sigh. Of course I loved Columbia's Dirty Dancing and I still watch it now and then when it comes on. Do you remember "Nobody puts Baby in a corner?"
When I first saw this movie, I wanted to dance with him.

I follow Dancing With The Stars because of the fantastic ballroom dancing and the fabulous real dancers. Patrick appeared the first year and helped John O'Hurley learn a few steps. He was there to cheer him on in the finals. It's been said the show will pay tribute to Patrick Swayze, who died on Monday at the age of 57. The ABC reality program plans to honor the Dirty Dancing star during its first live ninth-season results show on September 23rd - so now I definitely know where I'll be that night.

Things I didn't know about him:

- He trained at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey ballet schools.
- Didn't know until now that he was the son of a dance teacher.


Who doesn't remember this scene from Paramount Picture's Ghost. The music, the sensuality - the beauty of it. After watching this, I wanted to go out and find a pottery class. I was going to make something! Never did, but I wanted to.

Then there's my all-time favorite: Roadhouse. If I see it in a channel lineup, I'm there. Something about this movie from United Artists just gets me every time. He's the ultimate alpha male in this story. He handles the bad guys and gets the girl. Who could ask for more - it's the 'feel good movie of a lifetime for me. No matter how down I am, I watch this movie and I'm up.


I've just recently signed a contract with Ellora's Cave for my story, Rhythm of Love, for their Dance of Desire theme for February 2010, where my hero and heroine are amateur ballroom dancers. The first book in my Angels in Love series, Hope in Love, the hero and heroine share a sensuous dance. Seem to be a theme with me? Yes. I've always admired dancers, wished I could have been one. I didn't follow that dream - so I settle for writing about them.


Patrick Swayze followed his dream, and in my humble opinion, he did it well. He'll be missed. He is truly "Dancing Among The Stars."


If you've ever wanted to do something really bad in your life - do it now. We are only here for a short time. Don't waste it on I wish I had, or I should or might - DO IT!

Until you do: Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-J. Hali Steele
Photos: Reuters, United Artists, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stop the World! I want to get off!

Or. In our current generation's lingo. Stop this Train, I want to get off and go home again.

Do you ever feel like so much is coming at you? In this 20 second consumer culture, sometimes I just want to go to an island with my books. Sit on the beach shore and read. No thinking about all the things I have to do. Or how much time I have to read before the next thing on my list pops up. Just let each day go by. Man, wouldn't that be nice.

So I'm going to attempt to do it for the next few days. I'm not sure if I can put a vacation response since I have so many subscriptions on my main email (grr. Does anyone know a way around this? lol) but I will be a bit slow to response.

Anywho, please forgive my lack of posting because my brain just quit on me. Ack. I will say that by the next time I come back, I will have taken my required amount needed to start and finish the latest Outlander book.

Yes, readers. Next Tuesday is the latest (and I think second to last??) installment in the Outlander series Echo in the Bone. Finally!! I got hooked on this series not too long ago and believe me I would have thrown the second book if I had to wait 3 years to find out how it continued after that cliffhanger. Of course, I would have grabbed it and dusted it off and promptly apologize but that's just torture right there. I don't know how Echo finishes off but I hear word that you have to read it from beginning to end. No peekies now!

There's going to be a lot revealed as well from what I hear but I have kept clear of any spoilers!

So, mark your calendars and count the days.

Woo hoo Jamie is back. Yum yum. And I hear we finally return to Scotland. Can't wait!

If you haven't checked out this series, do so now!

So if you don't hear from me a little after Tuesday, I'm still around (kinda) and I'll respond eventually. ;-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Now's the perfect time to panic!

I have a confession. As a writer, as a woman, as a human being, I, Sandra Sookoo, am a first-class over-reactor.

Instead of letting something sink in, I immediately fly off the handle and get launched into the stratosphere, yammering reasons and excuses—and then I fall back to earth, embarrassed but ready to listen.

Such is life. This is me. I won’t—possibly can’t—change that. Sorry if you were secretly hoping otherwise LOL Please don’t be insulted if I’ve done it to you. It’s not intentional. It’s just being Sandi. Normal to frantic in six seconds. I’m afraid of camels, clowns and spiders. You might say damn she’s crazy, but at you said damn—and you won’t forget me. LOL

Why is this blog-worthy? Because I wear my heart on my sleeve, I feel things maybe more than I should, I think it gives me greater depth into my writing and it certainly brings attitude and humor to whatever stories I tell. And it’s become a darn good voice in my books.

The problem? I don’t think things through all the way like perhaps I should. I make snap decisions, judgments and begin writing projects without a flipping clue where the outcome should be.

Or do I?

Yes, I’m high strung, not high maintenance. There’s a difference. Some of my heroines are based on me. If you’ve ever wondered where I get some of my material, I go within. I laugh at myself and luckily, I’m not done doing stupid things so I’ll always have new material. LOL I may not be confident in other aspects of my life, but I believe in my writing. It can take a beating, I may threaten to call it quits, but at the end of the day, it’s strong and it’s true, and it’s mine.

The drawback to being me is when constructive criticism comes my way, I tend to jump into defensive mode like some sort of radioactive armadillo being poked with a stick. I’m trying to work on it, but I doubt it will change, either. Writing makes me happy and it’s stressful to have it out there for true industry professionals to look at.

But, I’m ecstatic to say, after the first hysterical reaction, I listen. I learn. I soak up the suggestions and lessons and advice because I want to do better. Be better. Write better.

This week has been slow for me writing-wise. I’ve put some newly learned lessons into action and I’ll be darned if the story didn’t flow better with a bit of a re-write. New snippets came my way yesterday and I’m anxious to use them, experiment with this new knowledge. Find out where I can go from here.

I’ve come a long way in the last two years of “getting serious” about my writing. I have a longer way to go until I’m a success, but luckily, people believe enough in me and my writing that I’ll get there.

The good news is that yes, I have an attitude, and yes, I may seem a highly emotional girl, but I’m still humble enough to know I don’t know everything and I can’t wait to see where else I can go.

See you at the top someday. Until then, keep writing. Thanks for reading the ramble.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writing and Maintaining a Series

Right now, I am the proud writer of three different Paranormal Series. The first one, I'm sure you've heard me talk about before. It is the Westervelt Wolves series and I'm prouder than I can say to have published the first book Her Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book 1 with Liquid Silver Books.

I bet you've even, at this point, heard me talk about the second book Summer's Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book 2 which is releasing September 28th, 2009 from Liquid Silver Books. (Anyone interested in participating in a contest to win a Summer's Wolf t-shirt should go here.) But this is actually not a blog for self promotion today, all evidence to the contrary. Instead, what I'd like to talk about is writing a series and why I can't let my characters go, my interest in reading really well written series, and my frustration when I do devote myself to a series and I am hugely let down by the last book in the series.

In other words, I suppose, I have a lot to write about today.

All of this kind of goes back to how I found Paranormal Romance and what got me writing it in the first place. Ultimately, it came down to the amazingly talented Christine Feehan. Reading her books is like swimming in comfort food for me. I know that is not an actual metaphor. One cannot swim in comfort food. You eat it. Except you can't really eat Christine Feehan's book. They're too disturbing. Truly. But you can, if you let yourself, swim around in them for a long time.

We were on vacation in the caribbean. When I travel, before I had my Kindle, we always had to pack half a suitcase just to maintain my need to read, especially if we were mostly sitting on the beach. I would literally read 1-2 books a day before I had children. That's a whole other story...

So I'd finished all of my reading material and I was perusing the gift shop of our resort to see what they sold that I might want to read. They had a book sitting there by Christine Feehan. It said she was NY TImes Bestselling author and that this was a Carpathain novel. I had no idea what that meant but decided I didn't want to start reading her in the middle of a series. So when I got home from vacation, I looked her up, got the list of her novels and started reading the Dark series in order. The first one was Dark Prince.

I was hooked.

By the time I got to Gregori's book I was so in love with these characters they practically existed in my mind. (I obsessed with Gregori, hurt for him.) Boy did she write some dark themes. Book 1 was seriel killers, Book 2 was mental illness, Book 3 had a child getting kidnapped. She's not stopped. In the years since, she has filled my mind with unapologetic heroines who have suffered child abuse, rape, death, and illness. In a recent book, not the most recent, but a recent one, the heroine even attempts suicide during the book.

I thought wow. Look what she has managed to do because she is writing a series. The main characters change book by book but wow by maintaining the characters she can really say something. If she let each book just be a simple story of the characters in the story, she could never do that.

My critique partner is an amazing writer. I never would have sold a single book without her. And I drive her crazy. She thinks I am incapable of writing a stand alone story. In some ways she's right. I am incapable of writing a stand alone novel. Short stories are a different matter all together.

But when I'm reading Feehan or Nalini Singh or Laurell K. Hamilton or JR Ward or Sherrilyn Kenyon or Gena Showalter or Lora Leigh or TJ Killian or Patricia Briggs or most recently Pamela Palmer what they give you by exploring the same characters over and over is the opportunity to change and grow with them even if where they take you is sometimes very disturbing.

So back to my own recent journey into series writing. I wrote the first two books of Westervelt with very little difficulty. Her Wolf flowed into Summer's Wolf. Someone commented that I changed the perspective on Tristan from book 1 to book 2. Made sense to me, Book 1 we see Tristan from Ashlee's perspective. Book 2 is from her sister's. I would argue that anyone with a sibling knows we frequently see things very differently from them.

Then I got to book 3. It was Theo Kane's. I'd known that the second I wrote book 2, Theo had to have the next story. But Faith was not related to Ashlee and Summer and everything felt darker. It made me nervous. Was it okay to go this direction? I knew it was. Was I strong enough to do it? Wolf Reborn made me work hard. It tested me and challenged me. I hope I succeeded.

But what I've discovered is that every series has its own problems. Writing the second book in the Love Beyond Series has been hard. The main characters are not as in tune with each other as the ones in the first book had been. Like Wolf Reborn, it is making me push the series, challenge it, decide what it is I want it to say by the time I reach the end. What do I ultimately want to have happen at the end of the series?

I've only written the first book in my third series, First Dimension. I had never intended to write these books. It flowed out of me like it had a life of its own and when it was over, I could barely write anything else for a month.

As I become more and more pregnant, writing is becoming harder for me. I'm tired, its hard to get comfortable. I have strange pains. This is my third baby. I knew it was coming. So I downloaded a lot of old 'favorites' onto my Kindle and when I can do nothing else, I reread them. I don't have to think about plot, I know what is going to happen in these books. The entire Dark series resides on my Kindle right now.

Thats another thing about a series. You can always go back and journey with them again. They give you more than one book to do that with.

Best to all of you in your own love of reading and writing, if that's what you do. Do you have a favorite Paranormal Series? I'll always take the recommendations.

Also, next week, in anticipation of either having the baby or being really really really tired I have asked my cousin to blog for me. Stop by and say hello to him so we don't put him off blogging forever.

All the best

Monday, September 14, 2009


Happy Manic Monday everyone, last week’s chaos has settled and I’m watching the dust settle. Coffee is on the counter again and I can ponder once more.

Our world is growing smaller. Not in a literal sense but in a subjective manner. The international borders are crumbling via the world wide web.

I participate, almost every day recently, in a chat group at Romance Divas. We do writing challenges and chat about everything under the sun. This week I woke early, before the kids, and wiped the cobwebs off my creativity to begin a new journey with a full length novel. I logged on to chat and started writing with fellow early birds. Or at least that’s what I thought, until one mentioned she needed to leave to pick up her children from school.

*dong* Different time zone chimed in. Here I was writing and chatting with someone probably six hours ahead of me. How surreal. This happened to me during the summer last year. I was helping a new member of my crit group to brainstorm her story. We spoke through yahoo group for at least an hour until I said stated I needed to go to bed. Only then did we both realize that we lived on the opposite sides of the world, her in Australia and me in Vermont.

Since joining internet writing groups my world has shrunk and I am the richer for it. With friends in South Africa, Australia, India, British Isles, Mexico, Japan…and the list goes on. I have to wonder, with the ebook industry growing will someone in a remote village in Europe download my book one day? Why shouldn’t there be an electronic bookstore to serve the world?

It’s possible, I think that’s the future and I can’t wait.

Even here on our blog I bet there are those from away places. We come together and chat about what we love and have in common, no matter what our borders.

Let’s hold hands and see how far we reach around the globe.

Tell me where you are in the world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Friday!

And damn, I overslept. Woke up and proceeded to do some editing. Lo and Behold, I remembered I should be blogging!

Once again, I have nothing to say. Funny how I always have so many words to write (or type) for storylines, but when it comes to the blog...I'm out of words.
And today there is another thought on my mind - falling leaves.

It's been dreary weatherwise where I live in Pennsylvania. Rain, rain and more rain. I DO NOT like fall. I know the colors of the trees as they turn are amazing to some. And there is always a riot of mums to rival a rainbow, they pop up all over the place. (I'm going to steal my neighbors and trash them!) Not my favorite flower.
I'm a spring baby and don't even care for those months because of the chill in the air - but I love spring flowers. Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. They come in every color too.

Summer is gone and I need to accept that. Pull out the sweatshirts and sweaters. Turn the heat on. I hope there are a few more warm days left. Indian Summer would be nice right about now. Anyway until then, pictures are like a thousand words, so here are some that I thought were appropriate - if you like the time of year that signifies things are dying.
It's always struck me as kind of wierd that trees could be so beautiful before they turn brown and their leaves flutter lifelessly to the ground beneath their limbs. Perhaps it's their last burst of glory for the year that makes them so bright and cheerful looking. For me it says COLD is coming! Nothing more.

Just threw this one in because this is where I'd like to be. Now that's HOT.

And are you ready for this?
Somehow, I do not think it is fitting to growl and roar today, so until next Friday...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Entering New Realms: Young Adult Literature

Ruts suck. Not only for writers but for readers also. I ran into a reading rut recently (yay alliteration!) and I decided to leave behind the paranormal realm for a little bit. Shocking, I know. I love paranormal and have ever since I was a teen. But reading some of the latest series one after the other has lead to a bit of a meltdown as they began to run one after another in each other.

Recently, I saw some opportunities open in YA. I've always wanted to write it and I even have a few stories ideas in it and considering I want some work to share with some of my family members who aren't romance fans (or are too young for it), I thought it'd be fun to take up a recent call to write a YA story inspired by a folktale.

I've also been gathering up some good YA books in my reading shelf. Although I may be dipping back into paranormal (it always manages to rope me back in!), I'm excited to see my fave genres of science fiction and fantasy written for the youngsters. Hopefully I can add a few myself into the pile.

Some current titles that have caught my eye recently are:

Faerie Blood by Angela Korra’ti

Blurb: Kendis Thompson is an average, ordinary software tester in Seattle. She has great friends, great housemates, a cat she loves, and her beloved violin. The aunt who raised her lives nearby and is always ready to share her love and comfort.

Then one day, Kendis goes biking and is attacked by a troll. In Seattle. A Real. Live. Troll. She fights back, but she's no match for a creature made mostly of stone. When she screams for help, it arrives in the form of Christopher MacSimidh, who gives the troll what for—until the troll gets the upper hand.

And then everything starts going wrong.

There are faerie in Seattle, and Kendis is a target. Her mother was a faerie princess and her father was human. She didn't know, since both died when she was a young child, but now her magic is starting to show up and both courts are determined to get something out of her. But what? and why?

With the help of her best friend, Jude; the Warder of Seattle, an old woman named Milly; her Aunt Aggie; and her new friend Christopher, Kendis is going to hold her own against both courts and all the trolls, sprites and assorted other creatures they can bring against her. Probably.

Though she didn't count on the fairy biker gang, or the elven Elvis impersonator.

Rae's Thoughts: I'm reading this now and really enjoying it. The heroine is a geek, has a multicultural background (both human and otherworldly) and may hook up with the handsome Scottish hero who jumped in to help defend her from the trolls. I can't wait to see how all the other elements are added in. I'd recommend this if you're looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary butt kicking urban fantasy heroine that's prevalent today. I'm not sure if it's completely YA as Kendis is a young woman more so than a teenager but her roomies keep calling her "kid". I recommend this one.

The Journey by J. Adams

Blurb: The war between good and evil is as old as time itself so is the absolute truth that each choice is accompanied by a consequence.

Ciran is about to be faced with both.

Two roads lie ahead. Only one leads home.

Which will she choose?

Rae's Thoughts: This is actually a free read from an upcoming author to watch. I'm currently reading the author's contemporary work and am really enjoying it (fans of sweet romance should pick it up, it's called Against the Odds by Jewel Adams). The Journey is the first of two YA fantasies from the author and from the reviews I've read, it sounds like a great read for both teens and adults alike. Can't wait to dive into this one.

Libyrinth by Pearl North

Blurb: In her debut novel, Pearl North takes readers centuries into the future, to a forgotten colony of Earth where technology masquerades as magic and wars are fought over books.

Haly is a Libyrarian, one of a group of people dedicated to preserving and protecting the knowledge passed down from the Ancients and stored in the endless maze of books known as the Libyrinth. But Haly has a secret: The books speak to her.

When the threat of the rival Eradicants drives her from her home, Haly learns that things are not all she thinks they are. Taken prisoner by the Eradicants, who believe the written word to be evil, she sees the world through their eyes and comes to understand that they are not the book-burning monsters that she has known her entire life.

The words of a young girl hiding in an attic—written hundreds of years before Haly’s birth—will spark the interest of her captors and begin the change necessary to end the conflict between the Eradicants and Libyrarians. With the help of her loyal companion Nod, a creature of the Libyrinth, Haly must mend the rift between the two groups before their war for knowledge destroys them all. Haly’s life—and the lives of everyone she knows—will never be the same.

A powerful adventure that unites the present and future, Libyrinth is a fresh, magical novel that will draw in young readers of all genres.

Rae's Thoughts: That cover is gorgeous and it's part of the reason I want this hardcover on my shelf (I love a good cover). This is another YA fantasy that sparked my interest not only for what's on the cover but also inside sounds pretty awesome. Added this to my to read shelf and I can't wait to get myself a copy.

Asleep by Wendy Raven McNair

Blurb: Adisa Summers doesn't know her boyfriend, Micah Alexander, can fly. Micah's odd emotionless behavior, rigid posture, and vacant eyes are a mystery sending mixed messages to Adisa. When a flash of lightning sends a tree crashing down on her, Adisa is shocked to see Micah actually flying to her rescue! In an instant, Adisa is in his arms, looking up at the sky over his shoulder as they fly parallel to the ground. Micah shifts, shielding her completely with his body. As the tree explodes against Micah's back, Adisa feels him shudder with the impact and the air fills with wood chips and sawdust. Miraculously, they aren't smashed into the ground. They safely continue flying. Micah finally begins to open up to Adisa about his secret life as a superbeing and she discovers another shocking secret. Micah burns for her--literally as well as figuratively. ASLEEP is a superhero teen love story set in modern day Atlanta that's filled with thrills, romance, and suspense.

Rae's Thoughts: Superheroes? Love story? Fantasy? Yes please! This book, which is the start of a trilogy, I believe sounds like a mixture of all my fave goodies in stories I'd like to see. Added this one to the pile too and can't wait to dive in and read it. :-D

There are a few more on my list but these are ones that I really want to get my hands on soon.

For those Harlequin enthusiasts, you may notice they opened their teen line recently with their lead titles by Gena Showalter, Rachel Vincent and P.C. Cast. They're all paranormals, of course, but I'm hoping that more genres will be added in this market as most of the other publishers are already covering YA fantasy and paranormals.

If you want a taste of the line and/or from Rachel Vincent's new series, there's a free download of her prequel novella on the Harlequin Teen site. I'm personally waiting for Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series debut (you know me and faeries ;-)) and Maria V. Snyder's futuristic Inside Out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Learning Curves

As much as I would love to say this blog is all about writing a contemporary romance between a curvy gal and her hero, it’s not. Far from it. Although…no! Focus.

Do you remember when you were in school and you encountered a tough subject you just knew you’d never be able to grasp? Maybe you didn’t understand it so therefore it remained a mystery. Maybe you just needed a nudge in the right direction. Maybe you needed someone to tell you straight up what you were doing wrong and how to fix it. Regardless, I’ll bet you learned the subject and then went on to excel at it. (Just FYI, Algebra was my Achilles’ heel and I never did master it. That was because of a lack of a dedicated teacher. To this day I don’t “get” it.)

Writing is no different.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gone through my life with a pen in hand, scribbling like mad on a notebook that’s always with me. I still carry a notebook, but most of my ramblings go directly to the laptop these days. The drive to create something that was both a part of me, but outside of myself at the same time burns bright. All through the years, creative writing teachers said I had talent. I could make a career as a novelist if I wanted. I entertained my fellow students with my stories. Impressed my teachers. Life was good.

Then real life did a drive-by on me and it would be another fifteen years or so before I attempted to Get Serious and Do Something about my scribbling.

I won’t go into the trials and tribulations about my road to being published. I’ve talked often on the subject and have an upcoming guest spot somewhere about that first time. I’m attempting to get to the point of this blog entry before my mind interjects “too wordy” or “sentence structure off. Please revise.”

Writing’s a whole big mesh of talent, turn of phrase, a bunch of rules you can or cannot break, skill and finesse. And through it all, you need to learn.

If you’re not learning, you’re fermenting, and eventually your writing will wither and die.

Enter a new editor. Good or bad tidings? (And no, ominous music is NOT playing) And just like that I entered the next phase of my writing life.

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting a handful of editors over the course of the last year, and only a couple rise head and shoulders above the rest. These individuals take me outside my comfort zone, make me think about my writing, how the characters got to where they are, and why I wrote what I did.

In short, a good editor is worth their weight in gold. And these people are more valuable to me and my writing career than anything I can pull from a self-help book.

Why? They don’t take excuses, so I might as well not even try. And because I want to learn. I want to soak up the knowledge like a sponge to improve my writing and turn it from good to something fantastic. Remember when I said if you’re not learning, you’re dying? Insert that advice here in a really loud, booming voice. Don’t assume that something you wrote years ago is still as good today or that if you feel like turning in lazy, sloppily written work it'll be accepted. It can’t be. Everyone’s style evolves. It has to or the writer grows stagnant. So, don’t close your mind to a learning opportunity. Learn. Evolve. Excel.

Oh sure, upon meeting a tough editor, you might rant and cry, go into deep denial that someone could have the audacity to mark up your work, shuffle around in depression a bit, but let me tell you, you’re going to be fine. You’re going to pull yourself out of the muck and you’re going to take a good, hard look at those suggestions in the margins. You’re going to think and think some more. And thank God one crossed my path.

So, if you’re serious about succeeding at being an author, check your ego at the door. Then you’re going to learn and start again, this time making your story into something great.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My conversation with Sandra Sookoo and the art of the Short Story

Hi everyone. Rebecca here. Today I thought I might do something a little different and have a conversation with my fellow Paranormal Romantics blogger author Sandra Sookoo. Sandi, as I call her, is going to teach me a little bit about something that I struggle with, which is writing a short story.

But before we get started, let me ask you about your writing Sandi. Tell me what you have available for purchase, what the next book coming out is, and what you’re working on now.

Thanks for taking time of your jam-packed schedule to give me this opportunity, Rebecca!

What’s for purchase? Out right now is my debut full-length historical novel WINNER TAKES ALL. Also out is my first short FOODIE’S GUIDE TO KITCHEN MAGIC. Both of these books have received numerous fantastic reviews so you can’t go wrong with either!

Next book coming out? THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA PRITCHART will release September 30 with The Wild Rose Press. Very excited about this one! Next will be the first short in my Holiday Magic Series entitled EXILES FROM CHRISTMAS. It’s release is November 16th so be on the lookout of that!

What am I working on? I have a contemporary WIP that’s 5 chapters in, but I’m being beat over the head by an idea for a Halloween novella so I might switch gears and work on that.

So now let’s talk about the short story. What was the first short story that you wrote? How many words was it and did you intend for it to be a short when you first started writing it?

My first short story? That would be THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA PRITCHART. I was taken with an idea of writing a story about a ghost, and yes, it was intended to be a short from conception. At the time, I had zero publishing credits behind my name and I thought the easiest way to remedy that was to write a short, which is funny, because there’s nothing easy about it! I think it comes just under 15,000 words.

Do you think it’s harder to sell a short?

It’s not necessarily harder. You do the same amount of work with both long and short pieces. You invent the story line, plot the thing, write it, wrestle with it, edit and finally submit. However, I have heard a few publishers say it’s more difficult for them to sell a shorter work. Of course, other pubs say they like them because people want to read shorter pieces.

My short answer (pun intended) is to write it if you believe in it. If it’s a great piece, you’ll find a home for it.

How do you go about setting yourself up for a short write? This is where I fall into trouble. You have two characters, your hero and your heroine, and through the course of the story they need to fall in love and over come some sort of conflict. This is true regardless of the length of the work. Tell me how you choose your conflicts for a short versus a full-length novel?

For me, it’s all in the story that needs to be told. Shorts are no different that full-length pieces in that you have a beginning, a middle and an end. When writing a short piece, try to limit the external conflict and keep the issues to things between your H/H. Pretend like you’re stuck in an elevator with someone. You’re gonna like some things about the other person and some things you’re not. You need to find a way out of the elevator and also relate to that person. Bang, you have a story. The difference is, in the short, you’ll become untrapped and kiss the guy at the end. In a full-length, you’ll have added conflict. You’ll get out of the elevator, but then the building might be on fire. Someone else needs rescued. The hero does something stupid, etc. More conflict equals more word length.

What about the characters? Are they different in a short versus a full length?

There is no difference. You have a hero and a heroine. They have issues. They solve issues and relate to each other. The end.

Of course, if you’re like me and you want to keep your brain challenged, you add a dual plot line to the short, or an extra character that throws a wrench in the works.

In my Holiday Magic series, the central couple is my focus, but I’ll pull in secondary characters, blend them into the storyline without taking over the central plot.

I know you call yourself a ‘plotter’ meaning before you start out writing, you have outlined a great deal of the book whereas I am a ‘pantser’ meaning that most of the time I have no idea what’s going to happen when I write and I write by the seat of my pants, so to speak. Tell me about plotting a short story. Give me an example of how you’d do it.

I used to be like you—until my workload started getting busy. The final straw was when I got stuck in the middle of a book with nowhere to go. I sat down and plotted the thing out, rewrote a big chunk of the book and got to the end.

So, how to plot. What I like to do is write down the basis of a story. As much as I know at that time. Then, I go back in and plot/outline each chapter. Sometimes, if I’m on fire with a book, this can be accomplished all at once. Sometimes, I only know enough information to plot out several chapters each time. Regardless of how you do it, I think it’s important to get those facts and ideas on paper so you don’t forget and they’re always staring you in the face. That way, you’ll be more likely to dwell on the plot line.

Tell me something I’m not asking you, something I haven’t thought of that I have to know to write a good short story.

You have to have a good idea. The key I’ve found is to make the shorts unique. Give them an obscure twist so that people will be more likely to buy the shorts over someone else’s novel. Shorts are a great option if you don’t have a lot of time or you don’t have a huge plotline. Above all, make it fun. Don’t sweat that it’s a short. Once you get the formula down, it’s a snap.

But, trust me when I say, I’m not an expert at this stuff. Some of my work comes back marked up in red so that it resembles a victim of a horror flick. The only way you’re going to learn the art of the short is to get your hands dirty and practice.

Thank you Sandi, before I let you go, I would be remiss in not asking you how your muse is doing since you got back from Disney World and next time can I hide in your suitcase?

My muse rocks! The vacation was just what I needed—even if I did go kicking and screaming into relaxation. I’m ready to work again. And sure, stowaways are welcome!

Best to you


PS—Be sure to look out for Sandi on here tomorrow when it’s her turn to blog!!