Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Milestones and Things to Come

This month’s post from me is short and sweet. Why? Because I’m neck deep in finishing the first draft of the third book in my Prophecy series, Collision. This, by the way, is the perfect way for me celebrate a certain milestone I reached two years ago on January 12th. That was the day I achieved my life-long dream of becoming a published author with the release of my first novel, Prophecy, Book One of the Prophecy Series

It took over thirty years to write the darn thing. No joke. The premise of the story came to me in high school while day-dreaming during a class when I probably shouldn’t have been. (Okay, I know I shouldn’t have been.) I didn’t know back then that this would be the story that would launch my career. I was too lost in the little world budding in my head. All I wanted to do was find out what would happen to Alexis Bock, her brother Jason, and the blue-skinned alien captain whose original name I can’t remember.

Eventually, I put the story aside only to pick it up again nearly thirty years later after a fevered dream (my muse) told me that I must. (My muse likes to speak to me through dreams.) I searched high and low for my original hand-written notebooks containing the manuscript, but they seemed to have vanished. So, I started over, rebuilding this amazing world scene by scene. Ultimately, Alexis became Alexandra, Jason became Nick (Nicholaus. Yes, it’s spelled correctly for this story), and the alien captain became Gryf Helyg.

If you haven’t read Prophecy yet—or book two, Salvation (Nick’s story)—now would be a good time to start. The first draft of book three will be going to my editor by the end of February. So, it won’t be much longer until it’s also available!

Here’s more about Prophecy:

A nightmare of galactic proportions...
One normal day turns into horror when Earth is attacked. Now ER nurse Alexandra Bock is imprisoned aboard an alien slave ship with no way out. She deems all aliens untrustworthy, including the handsome blue-skinned Matiran captain who shares her cell.

A betrayal from within…

One night of treachery leaves Senior Captain Gryf Helyg a prisoner of his enemies. Because of him, Earth’s inhabitants face extinction and his home world is threatened. But his plans for escape are complicated by his inexplicable draw to the Earth woman imprisoned with him.

A chance to save both their peoples…
One ancient prophecy holds the key to free Alexandra and Gryf’s war-ravaged worlds. Can two wounded souls who have lost everything learn to trust and forgive in order to fulfill the prophecy, and find a love that will last for eternity?

Available on:

Reminder: Only one more day to subscribe to my monthly newsletter and claim a FREE copy of my short story, All of MeThis offer expires at 11:59 p.m. PST January 31, 2018.

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her science fiction romance. She's currently working on book three of her popular SFR Prophecy series. She lives in California with her wonderful hubby, their five kids (aka, the nerd herd), and her "baby", an adorable Dobie mix.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pet Phrases, Shifters and Writing with @meganslayer #gayromance #iamwriting

I'm working on a new Sanctuary book and have been doing edits for other stories. My focus has been all over the place because I've had some family things happening, plus some issues with my dog. She's getting older, slowing down a little and has developed a few issues. It's been tough-ish going.
As I read through this last edit, I realized I have certain unintended pet phrases I use. My characters sigh a lot. They chuckle often and have lots of long stares. That's not bad, but when you've plowed through four edits in one week and smoothed out two submissions, you start to notice the repetitions. I know writers have those pet phrases. Anyone who says they don't...well, I don't agree with them. 
Another thing I noticed is the characters eat pretty much the same things. Okay, not exactly the same thing, but there's been a lot of pasta and steak in my books. I wish I could say I'm indulging in a lot of steak - hey, it's good and I like it - but I'm not. As for the pasta, I'm making a lot since tot needs the carbs for running. I never realized how much it's bled into my work until I did these edits. I'm chalking the steak thing up to writing more Sanctuary books and those meat-eater boys are hungry. Grin.
I do have to add this note, the pasta thing has been over the course of the last year and before. The edits aren't for brand new books, but for re-issues. Still, that's a lot of spaghetti and linguine. Oh well. 
I'm finally getting a chance to work on new material and have some subs in at various places. I've got the newest Sanctuary book started on my laptop. Maybe they'll have steak. I don't see the shifters as pasta eaters. 
What about you? Do you have pet phrases you use? Even in everyday speech? I'd love to know I'm not alone. Grin. 

Speaking of the Sanctuary, Book 10 has just been released!! Restoring His Howl. Check it out!!

Restoring His Howl (Sanctuary Book 10)  

by Megan Slayer (Author)
M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Contemporary Paranormal Erotic Romance
From Resplendence Publishing

Opposites can attract, but can they make the love last?
Dillon came to the Sanctuary to hide, but also to heal. He’d been abused and needed a safe place to come into his own. He never expected to find a partner, but love came looking for him. Can he accept what he deserves or will he push away a chance at forever because he feels unlovable?
Cinders knows from the moment he sees Dillon that he wants the wolf shifter for his own. But can a jaguar shifter and a wolf shifter really pair up? He doesn’t know, but he’s banking on the attraction to pay off. What he doesn’t expect is how deep Dillon’s scars run. Is he strong enough to see beyond what’s happened to Dillon and help create a future for them together?
Anything’s possible when the jaguar shifter, a former stripper, and the wolf shifter figure out how to restore his howl.

EXCERPT:  ©Megan Slayer, 2018 – All Rights Reserved

“You can talk. Well, fuck me. That’s amazing. I thought you could, but since you don’t, I wondered. You’ve got a nice voice,” Cinders said. He grinned, his bright teeth standing out against his mocha skin. “You’re cute, too.”
Dillon longed to taste Cinders’ mouth and kiss him. Would it feel like heaven?
“So we’re supposed to be at a party tomorrow. I’ve got some costumes. Most of it is tear-away stuff, but it’ll work for one night. You’re welcome to try on anything I’ve got and find something that fits. I’ve got dibs on the naughty cop, though.” He laughed. The throaty sound echoed in the room. “Want to?”
Dillon almost asked what Cinders meant but nodded instead.
“What? I got one word out of you, and now, you won’t talk to me?” Cinders frowned. “If you’re going to use my clothes, you’ve got to speak to me.”
The wolf stood up within Dillon and watched Cinders. The animal tensed.
For a split-second, Dillon had thought Cinders meant he’d make Dillon fuck him for the clothes. He fought the urge to shake his head. Fucking to get things was part of his old life. He had a new one here at the Sanctuary.
Cinders smiled, and his shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry.”
“Why?” Dillon managed. Despite his best attempts, he couldn’t get out any other words. He spent most of his time tongue-tied, but around Cinders, something different happened. His wolf took notice, which was unusual. The wolf distrusted more individuals than his human side did. If the wolf cared to pay Cinders attention, then that meant something, right? He needed to keep an eye on the panther shifter.
“I’m being pushy,” Cinders said. “Ryan will tell you I’m good at pushy. Quiet? Not a chance. Look, you don’t have to talk. I can do that for both of us.” He waved to his end of the corridor. “Come over when you’re ready, and pick out a costume. The jaguar and I won’t bite. Promise.”
Dillon nodded. The first step to healing had to be getting out of his comfort zone. Going with Cinders was a leap. God help him, he really wanted to leap. 

* * * *

Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm
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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Why not Winter? by Barbara Edwards

After suffering through some wicked winter weather, it occurred to me that making winter a character in a book might be fun. I didn’t have to think about the strengths or weaknesses. 
I quickly realized winter is very popular with paranormal writers. C.L. Wilson featured The Winter King in a recent book. I loved the hero who’s heart was slowly freezing as he fought to save his world. 

I often use winter in my own writing. Late for the Wedding, a novella, takes place during a New England blizzard. Although winter isn’t a character, it does drive the plot.

Or Dixie’s Gift takes place during a snow storm. 
A sweet Christmas story to warm your heart.

I’m thinking about a character. Of course he could be cold or the other extreme of very hot.
Hmmm. That’s a thought. A hero who fights winter.

Do you have a winter character? Tell us more.

Late for the Wedding (Twelve Brides of Christmas Book 2) 
by Barbara Edwards 
Heather Green will do anything to make her twin’s wedding perfect. Despite an impending nor’easter, she sets out with the wedding dress, cake, favors and cake topper in her car. As the snow piles up, her car is wrecked and she barely misses injury in a major accident.
Nicholas Burnes would rather be ensconced with his latest cuddle than drive a tow truck, but his brother needs his help. He reluctantly agrees to help Heather find a way to the wedding locale, but when the storm closes the roads, he ends up offering her shelter in his penthouse.
Warm and rested at last, Nick and Heather explore their powerful attraction to each other, only to part when he delivers her, on time, to her sister’s wedding. But weddings breed weddings…

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003F6ZK1A

Saturday, January 27, 2018

What's in a Name? by L. A. Kelley

One of the pleasures of writing is the ability to draft a new world from scratch. You not only have god-like power to create characters, but baptize them as well. However, as every potential parent will tell you, choosing a name for their little darling isn’t as easy as it seems. Often names have cultural, religious, or ethnic significance. Many ancient societies had religious or magical naming rites. Modern Catholicism has Confirmation. A child selects a saint’s name in the belief the saint will guide moral choices. Names can also have a particular order depending on cultural conventions. In China, the surname or xing is first and usually, but not always, monosyllabic. The personal name or ming follows and is nearly always one syllable. Spanish naming customs draw from both sides of a child’s family. The given name is followed by two surnames; the first is from the father and the last from the mother.

In Native American cultures a name is often tied to nature and the actual naming ceremony may be guided by an elder or tribal shaman. Names may not be static, but change through a lifetime. In the Mohegan tribe in upper Connecticut, the first name a child receives is descriptive, but during adolescence, a new name may be given that better reflects life experiences.  It may change again in adulthood.

To some extent, the custom continues with nicknames. Spouses may call each other Honey or Sweetheart. A nickname dubbed in childhood can be shed as an adult or a new one adopted. Nicknames can be benign and used to describe physical characteristics, such as Lefty or Slim or have a darker purpose. Mobsters get nicknames, sometimes by law enforcement, but more often from each other. A mob nickname sets an individual apart and often describes an anti-social attribute. Joe Bonnano was referred to as Joe Bananas, not because he liked the fruit, but because he was crazy.  Benjamin Siegel hated the nickname, Bugsy, which referred to his less than placid nature and explosive temper. Nobody, but nobody called him Bugsy to his face unless they wanted to be fitted for concrete overshoes.

In modern America anything goes. You can dub a kid Fruit Stand if you want and no one will squawk. (I’ve heard stupider baby names from Hollywood.) If you want to break the rules though, it’s nice to know what they are first. For instance, western society dictates a diminutive boy’s name will end in ‘y’ rather than the feminine ‘i’ or ‘ie’. Nicky is masculine, Nicki or Nickie is feminine and looks weird attached to a boy. Generally, girls’ names end with an ‘a’, but boys don’t. If two characters in a story are named Will and Willa, one is obviously a girl and the other a boy. However, a different ethnic background changes the rules. In Eastern Europe, some male names such as Bela or Luca end in “a”.

A boy’s name can be given to a girl, but not the other way around without sounding wrong. Once a boy’s name is fully adopted by girls, it never goes back to being a boy’s name again. Originally, Stacy, Leslie, and Tracy were boys’ names. They have since faded from little blue baby books. Ashley Wilkes from Gone with the Wind was all man and never swapped girl talk with Scarlet O’Hara. More recently, Morgan and Taylor both started as manly men. The popularity of the names soared for girls, and consequently plummeted for boys. A few years from now, any contemporary story describing studly Morgan and his facial scruff, may bring giggles.

In historic fiction, the name needs to fit the era. Nobody, but nobody, christened their daughter Madison until the popularity of the movie Splash in 1984. Five years later there was an explosion of little Madisons enrolling in kindergarten. Find that name attached to the heroine of a novel set in 1875 Boston and the first thing that pops to mind is the writer ignored simple research. Lists of names for particular time periods are found easily on the Internet. The Social Security Administration has a fun site where you can check past name popularity. (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/ ).  Despite a novel's setting, a character’s date of birth always needs to be kept in mind. An eighty year old grandmother living in 2018 might be named Betty or Mary, but definitely not Riley, Aubrey, or Addison which are all recent addition to the trendy girls' name list.

If you still want to give your (fictional or real) pride and joy something trendy, remember it doesn’t take long to sound dated, stale, or downright silly. Minnie and Clarence were popular choices in the 1880s, but where are they today? So choose a name you can live with for the next fifty years and best of luck to you with little Fruit Stand.

Good Bones

L. A. Kelley writes fantasy and science fiction with humor, romance, and a little sass. Her mob nickname is Knuckles. Check out her books on her Amazon Author Page.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Under Pressure . . . by Nancy Gideon

Sometimes we don't realize how low our energy meter is dipping. We keep on keeping on, juggling all the "To Dos" in our daily life with blinders-on concentration, balancing work hours, writing time, appearances and promotions, family matters, and life on the run as if clocking it all on a FitBit app. Keeping up the pace because we don't dare fall behind. Because we're afraid we'd never catch up if we lose the momentum. Forgetting with that single-minded focus, that like even the best made machine, we can wear out if over-used without proper maintenance. Even now, in this New Year, we plan and plot how we’re going to best use every second to produce, but forget to include how we’re going to keep that mental and physical machine we abuse in tiptop shape.

I confess, I am a bullet train that will forget to stop in every station unless it’s programmed in. When I began as a writer, I’d take on every opportunity that came along without any clue as to how I was actually going to find the time to accomplish it. I hated to say no to anything or anyone. Finally, after years of frustrating my OCD/ADD focus, I learned to back away from outside pressures that urged me to take on more than I could handle, to weigh the value, both professionally and personally, before agreeing to take things on. Smug with that bit of control under my belt, I continued on my merry way, working, always working, while more and more was added on my non-writing plate: Two kids, a household, a full-time job, a divorce, a loss of a job, a sudden move across the state, a new job, a new household . . . but always working that same writing pace. Up at 4:30 a.m., coffee, scan social media, grab breakfast and more coffee, work on WIP, get ready for work by 8:00, use lunch hour to write blog posts or do PR, rush home to attend all those begging, hungry faces on two and four legs, back to the computer, watch one one-show, go to bed at nine. Weekends, up a 6:00 a.m. to start writing, afternoons for grocery shopping, cleaning, life maintenance, making meals, squeeze in more writing (at least six hours total) and to bed. No deviations, no outside interactions, finding excuses for doing anything social that would take me out of my overdrive hermitude (is that a word?) And start all over again on Monday. All fine and good when I was in my 30s and 40s, but diving into my 60s . . . my tread started wearing mighty thin. Finally, my boss stared at me and ask bluntly, “How can you do all this every single day and not be exhausted?”

I was exhausted. Running on caffeine and internal combustion pressure.

It wasn’t until I had knee replacement that I realized how bad things had gotten. I could not WAIT to have surgery and recover for three weeks (it was supposed to be four, but I agreed to go back to work early-what a surprise!). Three weeks of prescribed hedonism. Time to read all those books, binge all those shows, let others pick up the slack while I got to sit on the couch in my jammies with the pets and NAP! Like retirement but with PT, pain and drugs with no paycheck. I didn’t turn on my computer. I didn’t wonder what was for dinner. I didn’t think about deadlines or blog posts or legal pleadings or whether the roast was out thawing. It was my job to do one thing, recover.

Catharsis time. I needed time to recover. This from someone who never goes on vacation without a WIP. Who never takes a weekend “off.” Who works a second job (and sometimes third) while ON the first job. Who never takes a non-working vacation. I was tired. I seriously considered pulling the plug on my writing, dropping all my professional obligations to become someone who only has one 8-to-5 and no other stressors . . . for all of a weekend. Then I went back to work (a week early). I tried to stick to the same slothful routine but found myself glancing at my laptop, thinking up dialog during my morning commute. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. because I was wide awake . . . and now on Chapter 4. Because I can’t not write.

I just booked a trip to AZ in March to attend the Tucson Book Festivals. Lots of work. And I scheduled a couple of extra days for hot tubbing, swimming, walking in a botanical garden and shopping for things I can’t afford. I’m looking forward to waking up to the sun with my laptop, watching the desert oasis outside the window come alive with wildlife, just like I’ll come alive . . . and relax.

In 2018, I resolve NOT to get more work done, but to make more time for doing other things. To recover. To schedule just Me time on that To Do list (when did I stop making time to get my nails done. I really enjoyed that!). A trip to the Mall (okay, maybe that’s extreme!), drinking coffee with a sunrise instead of HP, napping with the cats on Sunday afternoon, reading a book in the daytime instead for that 5 minutes before I fall asleep. Going out to lunch with friends. Attending a workshop. Enjoying a walk. Listening to music. Things I never made time for because they didn’t seem important . . . until now. Now, I realize that they’re vital. Just for the health of it.

Here’s to a productive AND healthy New Year. If you see yourself in the above, start thinking about how to accomplish that.

Watch for MIDNIGHT ENCHANTMENT from my “Touched by Moonlight” vampire romance series, just $.99 from February 1-15!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nancy Gideon on the Web

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Faerie Doctor : Another Tall Tale by Francesca Quarto

Tis but a wee bit 'o rattle in me chest, thet's stealin' me sleep away!  Me dear new wife is haggard wit' it, she claims, an' needs ta sleep apart.  I been keepin' company wit ta cows an goats in ta barn o' nights."
Collin McFadden was sitting atop a ruggedly fashioned fence that encircled his prized herd of goats. There was a clean baker's dozen, but they served little purpose now, except for the occasional mutton dinner he supplied to the village priest during the Yule Season.  
Collin was remarking to his best mate, Peter Crenshaw,how his sole male goat was faring these days, explaining the shortage of kids to the nannies.
"Sad, but true 'tis!  Ol' Billy ain't been gettin' any more ta' comforts of a female, den I 'ave these past days, an' ta weather be settin' in chill now with ta nights."
His pal shook a full head of fiery red hair, the tight curls springing around his face like angry red snakes. 
"Tsk, tsk...ye poor sot!  'En yer Mary sech a dear soul she were.  I ken recall 'er bakin' dose luvly cakes, en sittin at er loom, weavin' them fine woolens fer ye.  She weren't no prettier then yer Billy, but sech a fine mate she were to ye."
Now all this rambling on about his first, now deceased wife, was rather off-putting to the, newly wed, Collin McFadden.  True as it was, that his Mary was as homely as the tufted Billy goat browsing in the sparse grasses of the paddock, it was still hurtful to be reminded.  
He studied the shaggy beast more closely, snuffling loudly when he remembered his Mary even had a sprinkling of wiry hairs on her chin.  Oh, she could cook, bake, sew, keep their cottage as clean as the Priest's vestments, but she was plain, stout and ugly.  
They were only married a few years when a sickness swept through the village and Mary was swept along with it.  Collin was not so bereft of her marital company in their bed, but he sorely missed the cooking, cleaning, baking and other domestic miracles she could work.
And then, he met Tessa!  Slim of limb and fair of skin, her hair a golden honey hue, her eyes, blue as the summer skies.  She stole his heart at first glance and he offered her the comforts of his sturdy cottage and the steady income he made from his holding.
He credited the new light in her eyes, to having such a fine proposal come her way, and her, only a poor potato farmers youngest daughter.  Her father had already married off three such beautiful girls and was delighted Collin McFadden had made himself available so quickly after becoming a widower.
Tessa was everything his Mary wasn't...a bad cook, a poor seamstress, a horrid baker and never took notice of the dirt and cobwebs gathering in dark corners. in short, she was lazy.
But smitten to the quick with her scintillating beauty, Collin kept any complaints to himself and went about the cottage in a constant state of lust.  
And this became something of an annoyance to the young Tessa. 
When Collin came to their marital bed of an evening, he laid his head on the pillow his Mary had stuffed with goose down, snuggled under the warm wool blankets she had woven, and taking in a deep, satisfied breath, fell to coughing until his face turned an unhealthy shade of red.
This rampaging wheeze, brought tears to his eyes, shutters to his body and a wide-eyed look of disapproval to Tessa's lovely face.
"Well, ye can't stay 'ere, ken ye?  I'll not be gettin' me sleep wit all that hawkin' en chokin' like a rabbit in a snare!  Ye need ta take yerself ta the bern.  It'll do ye, wit a blanket to trow down on ta hay."
This same routine went on for several nights and then for several weeks. Collin, exhausted from lack of sleep, stressed by his enforced separation from his beautiful wife, took it in his head to fix his problem before he died of exposure and loneliness.
He'd been aware of the neighboring hamlet's claim to a Faerie Doctor; a man claiming close ties to a Faerie clan living in woodlands nearby.  He took his old dray, hitching the plow horse to it and set off to consult with the one who knew something never mentioned aloud...Magic.
"En I tell ye sir, these bouts o cough and chokin' the breath from me body, cums only when me head is laid upon me pillow of a night.  Me wife can't bare ta hear me hacking me guts out, en banned me to sleep wit the goats en cows."
The doctor was listening very carefully to this lament and felt an unnatural state had befallen poor Collin.  He suggested he go home and after he was sure his Tessa thought him asleep in the barn, as she would be in the cottage, he needed to creep back into their bedroom.
"It seems ta me ye are sufferin' from some unnatural trickery, me lad.  Follow me advise this night."
That evening, Collin kissed his wife on the forehead since she forbade his lips, as he might carry some sickness.  He took himself off to the barn and made to settle in upon his rough hay bedding and watched for the candle to be blown out by Tessa's head. 
He moved as silently as a shadow and crept back into his cottage.  Just as he was beginning to move toward the tiny bedroom in the back, he heard an unlikely sound.  Moaning and groaning and deep sighs tickled his ears until he was nearly faint with dread.
Going forward on ghostly feet, he peered into the moonlit room and looking down on the bed spied his best mate, Peter Crenshaw, tussling about with his lovely wife. 
He listened to them as they laughed low into their pillows about how poor Collin never suspected his beautiful Tessa put a charmed black pepper into his pillow each night to bring on his racking cough and choking.
"Ta Faerie Doctor is a wit, e is!" Peter snickered at the joke played night after night to clear her husband from Tessa's bed.
Collin crept back out to the barn, picked out his favorite pitchfork and returned to the moaning couple.  They were too distracted to hear him, until he fell upon them with such a vengeance, even he was shocked at the result.
With the first light of day, Collin took his prize herd of goats to the neighboring farm and traded the lot of them for two brutish pigs; one sow and one boar. 
You may be wondering why he would divest himself of his goats for these two less noble creatures, but then, you must remember, pigs eat anything.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

10 Life Lessons for Authors

I had to really think about this one as there are several directions I could take it. In the end, I decided to make this a note to younger me before I started pursuing this dream of being an author. If I could go back and tell myself the ten most important things I’ve learned that could maybe get me through childhood, high school, and college a little easier, and help me follow this dream, what would they be? The below is what I came up with – in no particular order…
1.Live Now
The one with the red spots on the back is me.
By this I mean, life is a one-time shot. So live it. Go out and experience things. Try things you never thought you would. Talk to people from all walks of life. Look for those moments when the path less traveled presents itself. This will mean different things at different times in your life. More than that… each stage in life is a one-time shot. I’ll never be 10, or 20, or 30 again. I’ll never be in high school or college again. My kids will be the age they are only once. So try to enjoy every stage to the fullest. Now.

2.No Fear
Don’t let fear stop you from doing something you love, or make you do something you don’t want to, or keep you from trying something new that might just be amazing. And not just fear… loneliness, jealousy, what others think. Whatever your roadblock. Make your choices in life for yourself and then own those choices.

3.Family Comes First
This will mean different things to different people. But decide who is closest to you and put them first in your life. Make sure you spend quality time with them as much as possible. They’re not guaranteed to be there forever. Tell them you love them every day. Look out for them. But especially, find time for them.

4.Perfection Isn’t Worth The Stress
I’m not saying don’t try to do your best. But don’t let trying to be perfect make you so stressed that you don’t enjoy life anymore. And don’t let other’s idea of perfection push you into being someone you’re not or doing something you hate. Because that will change you into someone you don’t like.

5.You Won’t Even Remember Their Names
That clique you so want to be a part of. Those kids who don’t quite like you or put you down. Forget them. You won’t even remember their names ten years from now. They’re not worth the effort or worry. But the people who like you for you… those often become lifelong friends.

6.Smile and Enjoy
I find that my mood follows my facial expression. If I’m serious or frowning I don’t have a good time. If I smile, I start to enjoy myself. I also feel more beautiful when I smile – maybe it’s the happiness coming through. People also respond better to a smile and a kind word.

7.Internet Is Forever
I wouldn’t tell my younger self this (since internet wasn’t a thing back then), but I definitely tell my kids. You can do some permanent damage with the internet by posting stupid things that you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, or even just being goofy. Future employers, boyfriends, friends might see something you’d wish they hadn’t, and there goes that opportunity.

8.Love Who You Are Now
Know who you are, what you believe, and the kind of person you want to be – and be confident in that. And I’m not saying be perfect in that – just be confident. Don’t let others tell you who you are or should be. And don’t constantly be worried about who you could be – thinner, smarter, older, younger, nicer, stronger, whatever. Love who you are right now. And I don’t mean not to try to better yourself. But just to love yourself.

9.Give Yourself Something to Chase
I loved Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar speech. Give yourself a goal – an impossible goal – that you keep your eyes on. Don’t let yourself just go “well – this is who I’ll be forever – I guess that’s it.” Give yourself something to be chasing.

10.Don’t Depend On Others To Make You Happy
That perfect man. Your parents. Your children. Colleagues. Friends. Do not expect them to be responsible for your happiness in any way, shape, or form. Can they add to your happiness? Be a source of happiness? Absolutely. But you, and you alone, are responsible for being a happy person.

I realize that I got on a bit of a preachy pedestal there, but I wish younger me could have realized some of those things a lot sooner. I've actually enjoyed every phase of life I’ve been through so far, but I wouldn’t go back unless I took some of this knowledge with me. I’d love to hear what big life lesson you’ve had that you’d add to this list.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


21 years ago, Preditors & Editors Poll was born.  The site began as Critters, an on-line workshop/critique group for serious Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror writers, then grew into a set of workshops for every other kind of artistic endeavor and the now-famous Polls.
I have interest in three divisions of this year’s polls and would VERY much appreciate your vote if you have a minute to follow the following links:
http://critters.org/predpoll/novelr.shtml   – Her General in Gray – a Ghost & Mrs Muir type romance that is now also available in audio!!
http://critters.org/predpoll/artist.shtml – Simon – my dear son is nominated in the Artist Category.  He did this cover for an anthology published by Class Act Books.
http://critters.org/predpoll/novelsf.shtml – Gylded Wings  – Forgiven or forsaken? An angel’s quest to soar once more on golden wings…a dark fantasy.

Please take a moment to vote.  🙂 It’s quick, easy & painless.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

#Setting or World Building by Diane Burton

Setting is so important in a story that it’s often called the “other” character. We also call it world building. We create the world our characters inhabit. When we create that world, we must think logically and base that world on our own. Depending on what genre we write in, the world can be a small town, a metropolis, another planet.

When I write cozy mysteries, I base my fictional resort town on real ones. That’s easy. But what about a setting after an apocalypse? We can only imagine the devastation after, say, a nuclear war. Yet, we have some examples in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While those cities were hit by atomic bombs, not nuclear, we can use what we’ve seen in pictures and videos. Devastation from natural disasters (fires, mudslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes) can also give us vivid images.

But what if we set our stories on another planet? Now, we need to develop a lot more. Climate, geography, history, government. That sounds more like high school classes than writing. LOL However, what we learned in those classes may come in handy.

For my science fiction romances, I created planets with a central government. I could make each planet different from anything we’ve ever seen—even via Hubble or its soon-to-be-launched successor the James Webb telescope. 

But if humans are to live on the planet I create, I have to obey certain laws. The humans need a conducive atmosphere. Breathable air, water, and a temperature that isn’t too hot or too cold. What’s called a Goldilocks planet. Earth is just such a Goldilocks planet.

Our research can fill file drawers (or digital files), but while we as writers need to know all this information, and more, our readers don’t. I think of research as an iceberg. What we share with our readers is the tip of the iceberg, while what we know is that vastness below the water’s surface.

Our readers want an enjoyable story with likeable characters. And a strong plot. How my starship gets from one planet to another isn’t as important as the fact that it gets to that other planet. Sort of like my car. I don’t know how it works. But when I get in it and turn the key, I know it’s going to take me to the store or Up North (as we Michiganders call traveling up I-75 toward the Mackinac Bridge).

Enjoy the research. Find out as much as you want about your world. Then carefully, like sprinkles on Christmas cookies, scatter just enough info to make your story interesting.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Deadlines, Laundry, and Yowling Cats by Jane Kindred

That’s what my life consists of right now. Book 5 in the Sisters in Sin series, Kindling the Darkness, is due to my editor on Wednesday. I managed to finish the first draft on Christmas Eve, but since 40,000 words of it were written during NaNoWriMo, it’s requiring a LOT of work to get it submission ready. My revision process involves reading through for typos and errors and making comments on the big things that need fixing. Then I take all of the comments and put them in a to-do list. This one had 41 to-dos, ranging from “add more mentions of the weather and time of year” to “why are there no guests at this B&B, ever?” to “what is the nature of the hell beast and what is it actually doing in this town? Delete all of this and try to make sense!”

Mentions of the weather I can fix pretty quickly. The B&B is now a bookstore and café, because guests would only get in the way (which is probably why I forgot to have any). But the nature of the evil that’s hunting my heroine and being hunted by her? Probably should have figured that out on page one. Sigh.

I’ve fixed all but five of these disasters (and added three, because, sure, let’s change the damn bookstore again), but the big one is still looming. I’ve worked out the beast’s nature, but the actions it’s taken are still a problem. That’s okay. I have one last weekend and two day job workday evenings left. I can do this.

But not if this cat doesn’t shut up. Have you ever had a seventeen-year-old, half-deaf cat? This one is bored, clingy, and loud. And he does not approve of writing novels. Or blog posts. Or answering email. He pretty much only approves of being fed and sitting on my lap while I watch television. (No reading Twitter while the cat is sitting, please!)

Despite the feline disapproval, I had a good start on the revisions this morning. But it was laundry day, and with only one pair of clean underwear left, I could no longer put it off. (I seriously envy anyone who actually owns a washer and dryer. I’ve been going to Laundromats for 34 years and I am really, really tired of it. When you reach your 50s, you get tired of a lot of stupid things. Like this virtual doughnut of fat that’s collecting around my middle. But I digress. Because doughnuts. Dammit. Why did I think of doughnuts??)

So I’m back from the laundry, and I remembered another deadline: writing this blog post. How does it always manage to surprise me each and every single month? Well, lucky you, you got to read about how I ended up writing about deadlines, laundry, and yowling cats.

I would like to say that my New Year’s resolution is to write my blog posts in advance, but that would be an utter lie, so let’s just pretend my resolution is not to eat any more doughnuts.

As a bonus, my favorite line from Kindling the Darkness: “Well, actually, hell isn’t really that different. It’s just on another…” He stopped and rolled his eyes. “Oh, for f***’s sake. I’m devilsplaining. Never mind. Let’s eat, drink and be merry!”

Friday, January 5, 2018


Dang! It's cold everywhere and the tune running through my head is, "Baby, it's cold outside!"

Please, forgive my lateness. I got up, adjusted heat, fed porch kitty (who refuses to come in out of the cold), let the 2 wild fur balls out for a bit, and then I crawled back beneath the covers pulling them snuggly up around my head surrounded by my older furbabies! But, here you go with just a little about another disciple's descendant.

Simeon - Disciple's Descendants 4 is now available at Amazon.

Simeon is the invisible man of the descendants and, though he doesn't know it yet, Gage Harrow, his leader, has plans for his future!

Simeon Zeals is invisible to humans. Hell, just one disciple aside from Gage Harrow masters the ability to keep up with his movements so taking what he covets poses no problem. Until he meets someone who is out of reach. Gage and Zeb protecting her only makes Simeon want the woman more. He doesn’t give a damn she isn’t a descendant. He hasn’t even thought past bedding her for more than one night—maybe two… Or three.
Nancy Cannon unknowingly stumbles into disciples frequently at Arrogant Bastards, but when she hit a solid wall of invisible muscle, her life careens out of control. Meeting the flesh and blood version elevates her senses, has her feeling and wanting things Nancy never even dreamed of. Caught in his web of desire, she begins to spin a few of her own.
Each silken thread of passion slowly tightens around them.
Her head fell into the crook of his shoulder and she rested there until the key rattled in the door. Pulling up his pants, he lifted Nancy and she was amazed at how easily he bent with her in his arms and snatched up her shoe before entering a stall, slamming the door, and latching it behind them. “Damn, I don’t want to leave you.” He rained kisses on her face, nibbled her lips, and sucked her neck. “I’ll be sitting there watching you walk this sweet ass to the table.” He slapped her butt hard. “Hurry.”
Nancy thought she was ready to handle a disciple but she didn’t expect what happened next. Surrounded by white light, Simeon vanished. Gone. The outer door opened and she heard steps across the floor to the empty space beside her. “Jesus Christ, oh God!” she shrieked, covering her mouth but her hand was too late to smother the words.
“You okay?”
The voice on the other side of the wall jarred Nancy to her senses. “Uhhh, yeah, umm, there’s no toilet tissue in here.”
“Jeez, I thought it was a rat or something the way you screeched. Here.” A handful of wadded paper appeared beneath her stall.
I said hurry. His whisper so close to her ear shocked her.
“Go away!” she yelped, this time dropping her sandal into the toilet. “Shit.”
“Lady, do you need help?”
Opening the door, Nancy took a wobbly step to the counter and looked in the mirror as she shook her sandal and put it on. “Eww.” It was wet but thank goodness, the toilet water had been clean. Peering back in the glass, she noted swollen lips, flushed cheeks, and her pussy still tingled. The beginnings of a hickey stained her neck. “Juvenile.” She grunted at her reflection. Reaching in her bag, she grabbed a tube of lipstick and swiped it across bruised lips just as the other stall door swung open.
A petite redhead studied her and inquired again, “You okay?”
Nancy’s hand, still holding the lipstick, flew to the mirror, and started writing. ‘Juvenile wants to fuck you’ was emblazoned across the mirror in bright red.
“My goodness!” The redhead turned and ran from the bathroom without washing her hands.
She thinks you want her.
Simeon’s prank doubled Nancy over with laughter. “You’re crazy.”
Hurry before I take you again.
“Get out!” she squealed still chuckling. This time she watched the door open and shut.
Yeah, she could handle this.

It's cold outside, snuggle up with a good book!

Other books in the series include:

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Productive Power of The Pause

by Maureen L. Bonatch 
January is a magical time of renewal for many people. A time to think about the year ahead and all the fabulous tasks we aim to accomplish. Whether it's to lose weight, finish writing or reading a book, or exercising more, we jump in the year envisioning how much different, or better, our lives will be by December.

I’ve set goals and resolutions many times over the years, and usually don’t succeed at meeting all my high expectations. This year I’m doing something a little different. Some people make resolutions. Others choose a focus word for the year. I’ve never chosen a focus word, but last year, one chose me.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bad Book Reviews: 5 Good Lessons to Learn from Them

Bad Reviews—UGH. Like gremlins in the cupboards and pixies in the sugar jar, they sneak up when you least expect them. For writers, the best way to deal with bad reviews is often to ignore them. I certainly never, ever, ever, ever reply to them—no matter what. That way lies madness.

I write reviews only occasionally and very reluctantly. I don’t write bad reviews. They hurt my soul. I think most writers feel this way—we hate to get bad reviews and so we don’t give them.

Not that writing bad reviews about a book is the mark of Satan. Objective reviewers feel duty-bound to provide an honest account of their experience and that is a good thing. A number of bad reviews tends to bring problems to the attention of potential buyers. Writers can learn lessons from bad reviews as well—but only if those bad reviews deal with things within our control to alter.

I wanted to see what I could learn from bad reviews so I got a plate of cookies and a large bottle of cheap brown liquor and dug in.

I looked at some of the top 100 books in the paranormal romance genre. I wanted to see what reviewers said about books that generally got good reviews.

Here are a few items that made me shake my head (and take another slug of that brown liquor.)

  • Didn’t like the binding—Right, I bind each and every book with a needle and thread. I also use a quill pen to illuminate each manuscript before I store it in clay pots in the basement.
  • Poor paper quality—All my books are printed on paper I make myself by munching wood into pulp and drying it on a screen rack.
  • Liked the author’s other books better so I rated this one low You give and you take away
  • No dust jacket – Who the hell wants dust jackets? Seriously. Didn’t you learn to make your own out of paper sacks in grade school? On the other hand, if you pay upwards of $15 for a book, it better come with all the bells and whistles—including dust jackets. 
  • Slow shipping/shipping cost is too much—I’ll speak to my horde of book-delivering minions and get this straightened out. 

  • The book cover is not the same color as the one in the picture – The reviewer gave the book a 1-star for this with no mention of the content. I guess he/she wanted a book to match the room décor and not to read.

A self-published author has some control over the quality of the binding and paper and maybe even the shipping. I’d say even the smaller publishing houses would be receptive to such feedback. So even these seemingly non sequitur comments might yield a lesson.

More importantly, reviews that mention the following items are fodder for reflection.

1. Bad Editing/inaccurate details. This is by far the greatest complaint I saw in my highly unscientific review of reviews. Every author NEEDS an editor but many feel they can skip this vital step. Complaints about bad editing are also important to an author who has a)paid for an editor or b) used the editor provided by a publisher. Consistent and justified complaints about bad editing can mean the author isn’t getting her money’s worth.

2. Slow paced or depressing.
Since I read The Yearling in grade school, I’ve been wary of sad books. If you’ve not read it, I won’t spoil the ending except to say prepare yourself for a soul-killing experience from which you will take years to recover. Bringing a social injustice to light in fiction is a time-honored tradition and serves a useful purpose—think Charles Dickens’ many works which illuminated social injustice in 19th century Britain and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird which illustrated racism in the Deep South. But even these heavy subjects were presented with humor and humanity. Authors can use this complaint to determine if they need to insert a bit more humor. Lighter moments actually heighten the drama.

3. Unlikable protagonist. Have you ever been happily reading along and discovered the protagonist is a needy, shallow, whiny tart? Yep—me, too. Now, it is possible to take an unlikable character and use their unlikeability as a device. Readers might be drawn into the story just to see this character get their comeuppance or they might hang on hoping for the character’s redemption. But either way, readers need to see something in the character or the plot that they can root for. If you see this complaint too many times, you may need to work on character development to make the protagonist more human and more relatable.

4. Too much backstory. Huge chunks of backstory or world building will send readers running for the TV remote while your book gathers dust in a corner. If only your book came with a dust jacket. At least a 50/50 ratio between narration and dialogue seems prudent, but I prefer more dialogue with action tags. Show the characters moving through the world and let them describe  the world in dialogue. One bit of advice I use every day is “Tell (or show) the reader only what they need to know right now.” If you do that for every scene, the world builds itself.
5. Too poetic. Purple prose is still a thing. Sometimes a reviewer just doesn’t get the snazzy metaphor or allusion you slipped in there. Let them go in peace. Most of the time, purple prose comes from forgetting your novel is really a conversation with other real people. Imagine you’re telling the story of your novel to a friend. If the snazzy metaphor fits, keep it—but if it sounds pretentious, you may very well find yourself in dire need of an additional portion of your favored aperitif as you slaughter your darling word babies.

Even bad reviews have a purpose, but don’t linger in the land of bad reviews for long. After all, you can use that time better by creating artistic dust jackets and chewing up pine boards to make another ream of printer paper.

Tell me—do you review books? What do you like to comment on when you do? What would a review need to say to make you rush to buy the book?