Thursday, August 30, 2012

What sort of Series…

This week, Enchantment and Exiled, books 3 and 4 of my Laws of Segregation series come out. That’s the end of the series, and I’m feeling sort of sad—I’ve never actually finished a series before. What’s going to happen to my characters without me?
I love reading series—that wonderful feeling you get when you really enjoy a book and you know there are a whole load more to come. I love falling in love with characters and knowing I’m going to meet them again. And getting immersed in a world and knowing I’ll get to visit over and over and no doubt learn new little details each time.
I also love writing series. I never actually start out with the intention of writing more than one book, but somehow it often seems to happen that way. I fall in love with a secondary character and want to know their story. Or I can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to my hero and heroine—I need to know what happens to them—I want proof they are actually living their happily ever after. I also tend to see individual books as a snapshot in time, and there are things going on either side of the beginning and the end that I just have to know about—I’m nosy!
So I have to write another book—it’s a compulsion.
There are many different types of series. Some follow one character through a number of adventures, like Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series (one of my favorites). Others follow a group of characters through one big adventure like in The Lord of the Rings or Anne Bishop’s Black Jewel Trilogy (another of my favorites). Then there are the true romance books that feature the same world and the same cast of characters but each book focuses on one particular love story, for example J.R. Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood.
I like them all, depending on the mood I'm in. But I write romance, so each book within my series centers around a particular couple, and each one has a ‘happy ever after’ ending. Though my Laws of Segregation is a bit of a mix, the individual books have a different romance, but with a single underlying story running through the whole series.
So what type of series do you like the best? Or do you prefer stand-alone books? Leave a comment and let me know for a chance to win an ecopy of Chosen, book 1 in the Laws of Segregation.


Unlikely allies in a strange new world, Tallon and Shayla must work together to rediscover the bonds that once tied Witches and Warlocks as one.
"This story, to me, is what paranormal romance should be—high-stakes adventure, passion, imagination, danger and a snappy writing style that kept me busy turning pages..." ~ The Romance Reviews
Buy link

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Beginnings

This is my favorite time of year.  For is the promise of what's soon to follow.  The kiddo is back in school which gives me more free time for what I have on my to-do list, whether it's housework, family, personal, or writing.  The hint of fall is in the air as the evening and morning air begins to cool down enough for me to sit out on the porch without sweating through my clothes.  Oh, but us southern women don't sweat, we glisten. ;) 

The start of school signals a much anticipated college football season.  Go Sooners!  But even better...I break out the cool weather recipes.  It's still too hot here in Oklahoma for chili or hot soups, but last night I couldn't help myself and made the family one of their favorites, chicken and dumplings.  I admit I'm lazy and don't make the dumplings from scratch, just cut up a couple cans of jumbo butter biscuits.  But last night I loved when each one of my guys came in the house and smelled the chicken cooking.  Grins from ear-to-ear.  *sigh*  And it helps that I use the crock pot more when the weather cools down.  I can throw everything in the pot first thing in the morning and dinner is ready when the guys get home.  Which also gives us more family time together.

Things are a little different this year because I'd decided to go back to school and finish my bachelor's degree.  So homework is taking precedent over my writing time.  Grrrr.  But as I was writing a paper for a class, a storyline smacked me in the back of the head.  I opened a new file in Word and by the time I was finished I had a new series outlined.  Wow.  I'm excited with not only a new series plotting itself out in my head, but the promise of new beginnings.  My oldest man/child started college classes this fall and is working a real full-time job.  My baby is venturing out in the real world.  And we are looking at land to build a house.  We've had a few negatives hitting us hard lately, so new beginnings and positive promises for the future are very welcome.  Something I've always tried to teach my children is to brush yourself off after falling off the proverbial horse and cowboy up.  Keep searching for the positive and learn from the negative.

So how about you guys?  Any positives you can celebrate with me?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Location, Location, Location!

I can't help but need things to motivate me. It's a weakness, I think. As if success isn't enough to make me do the work.

Perhaps I'm delusional, but I like to think that if I have the perfect spot, then I will write the perfect manuscript. haha. Okay, that IS delusional. But I've been stuck in a very small [wonderful apartment] for a month and a half and I'm CRAVING a writing space. Lately, I've been fortunate enough to be able to snatch an hour or so on the deck after everyone is asleep. Unfortunately, I can't be inside with lights on after nine [yes, that's how small it is and how early my hubby goes to bed]...even the tapping of keys can be annoying to a person who is trying to get to sleep!!

As writers, I think we all imagine the perfect office, the ideal desk and chair...a window, looking out to the mountains where a stream makes it way through the large pine trees and wildflowers grow along the bank...a deer makes its way to the edge of the water and sips a few times. There goes a hiker, tall, dark... tight jeans, flannel shirt and a hat, low over his face to protect him from a long day under the sun. His dog trots along beside him, a German, it's a Labrador. They stand back to watch the deer a minute before continuing on...

*cough* Excuse me. My imagination, running from me. Still that would be nice, don't you think? No??

What's your dream window look out over? The ocean? The desert? A busy street in Manhattan?

Have a great weekend.
Find time to write.
With Love,

For Love or Duty
available at online book retailers for only $0.99!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Do you know what goes into every manuscript penned? Yes the title of this post is quite accurate. Each manuscript really demands a little tears, some sweat, and a crap load of blood in order for it to come to fruition. Paul Gallico once said, "It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader." There is truth in his words and I know from experience that blood must be sacrificed to the writing gods. When I wrote Blood and Moonlight, it was truly a labor of love from beginning to end. It went through many revisions, several beta readers, some changes were applied, edits were done. I pulled my hair, bit my nails, screamed at my computer, took a break, and came back to bleed some more. This truly was my five year manuscript. When it was all said and done, I had a story I was proud of. It was me. One hundred percent me. My characters, my story, my type of romance, my type of urban fantasy, my vision. So with that being said, I'm going to share with you a scene that truly took some blood, sweat, and tears to write. This scene gives my heroine, Kiara Morrigan O'Conaill, a chance to really embrace a part of herself she usually struggles to keep locked away.

"So, do you always drag women out to the woods?" Wow, could I let my mouth get me in any more trouble? The half-naked man behind me made it difficult for me to keep from peeking over my shoulder, but when I heard the tale-tell sound of a zipper, temptation won out. His eyes met mine and an inescapable heat burned inside me. I quickly turned and stared into trees.
He chuckled, low and masculine, making my insides flip. "No. You would be the first."
Think of something else. Anything. A beach in the middle of summer, white sand, blue ocean, Devlin’s well-toned body glistening...
Damn! It wasn’t working. Concentrate on the reason we were here. That is what I needed to do.
"You think this will get me in touch with my inner wolf." Right, that would be the day.
So what was I doing? Pack lands were the last place I should’ve been and yet I stood there, with a naked man just feet behind me. Every nerve fired from my toes all the way up my body.  The desire to have a weapon in my hand as I scanned the trees overwhelmed me. Having a sense of security quickly became a thing of the past and letting that control go didn't sit well.
The push of magic at my back, followed by a soft caress over my skin, and a spike in my own power as it recognized something familiar. Curiosity enticed me to turn around and look, but fear of what I would see kept me firmly in place with my eyes tightly shut. What if he reminded me of one of the shifters responsible for my mother’s death? Would I still trust him? Could I handle it? Doubt flooded through me, but eventually I swallowed my fears and turned around.
Time slowed down, each heartbeat hesitant. The usual flash of light I was used to seeing when in the presence of a changing shifter was merely a soft glow. My chest tightened at the sight of his body, rigid with tension. His hard gaze focused on me, and his expression was that of a man determined to be mentally stronger than the pain gripping him. Every muscle in his body shook and perspiration beaded on his skin.
Devlin’s body began to change. Power surged around me. His bones popped, and black fur rippled along his skin. There was something oddly appealing in watching what his body could do. Perhaps I was able to appreciate it because he wasn’t snarling at me, giving chase, or trying to rip my heart out. As painful as the process looked, envy still managed to take hold of me and I wondered what my wolf would look like if I could endure the change.
When it was complete, Devlin stood on four legs; as I'd imagined, his fur was as thick and black as his human hair and his eyes the same ice blue. He was a bit larger than a than a regular wolf. The musky scent I’d come to associate with Devlin still remained. A thrill of terror mixed with excitement as he slowly approached me. He stopped just far enough away that I could reach out and touch him if I wanted, but clearly the decision to close the distance was my decision to make. I swallowed.
"Don’t move, okay?" The timid and meek sound of my voice bothered me.
The wolf within me began to stir. Please, I begged, he is not a threat. Devlin sat there so still, staring at me with eyes that gleamed with humor.
"Glad you are enjoying this." Slowly, I reached out, but stopped short. He butted his head against my extended palm. "Ever the impatient one, aren’t we?"
He nodded and sat on his haunches. I moved closer, crouched beside him, and ran my fingers through the fur at his neck. "You’re soft."
A low growl sounded and I laughed. "I know, I know. After you."
He butted the crown of his head against my leg.
"No need to be pushy."
I walked over to where Devlin left his clothes so neatly folded and kicked off my shoes. Running barefoot always seemed more comfortable to me, even on uneven terrain. I stretched, which wasn’t really a necessity for me, but I was stalling. The threatening growl from Devlin told me he knew it too. "Oh, go find a rabbit to chase. I’m going."
I took off and he trotted next to me. The need to go faster built, as did my wolf’s desire to be free and relish the sensation of the air passing over us as we ran. I held back, afraid of what it would mean to relinquish control of that part of me. Devlin finally acquiesced to his need for speed and blew past me in a blur.
"When in Rome…" I said to myself and picked up my pace.
Run, that’s all I wanted to do. To simply connect with the earth in a way I never allowed myself to before. A primordial urge overtook me and I lunged through the trees, moving at speeds I didn’t know I was capable of. My bare feet pounding the earth, the smell of the forest, and the sensation of giving myself over to a power I could not control were all that mattered. Branches threatened to slow me down, but I ducked under them with ease. Fallen foliage cracked beneath me. A wolf ran parallel to me and matched my pace. I knew without a doubt, it was Devlin. Then noise opposite me drew my attention. A salt and pepper-colored wolf ran beside me, and judging by the aura surrounding him, I was guessing it was Alasdair. A small rich caramel color wolf stayed by my side and I knew based on size and color, it was Bran. He nipped at my heels in a playful gesture and sped up. I pushed myself harder than I ever have before. Acceptance. The excitement of the wolf inside me was euphoric and relief washed over me when I allowed myself to just be.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from Blood and Moonlight, available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Throw away your crutches!

Let's face it, we all have those little words we toss around our manuscripts like confetti. But (yup, that's one of mine) more often than not, those words do nothing to enhance the story, do nothing to tighten your prose and you MUST weed them out! In most cases, you don't need them at all and should be banished from the page.

If you're like me though, those words are your "crutch" words, they're words that fly effortlessly from your fingertips (and probably filter into your every day speech too) without you even thinking about them - and worse, they're invisible to your eye. Just (another of mine) like the reader doesn't register the dialogue tag "said" - as a writer, you probably don't see your crutch word either.

Even if you don't see those words, trust me, the reader will.

Of course, the only way to get rid of those pesky creatures is to be aware of them. No easy task. This is where a good critique partner comes in, a fresh pair of eyes that will notice your crutch words when they leap off the page for the fourth time on page one - and they'll call you on it by highlighting it every single time you use it! Wow, talk about an eye-opener...all those colorful splotches can definitely make a girl slap her forehead.

Don't have a critique partner or want to give that MS another round of impartial eyes to find those pesky offenders? Give this free program a try:

The important thing is to catch those words before you send it off to an agent, an editor or it gets self-published. We all want our readers to fall in love with our stories, not be counting how many times you used a particular word in the first three pages.

Some of the most common crutch words are:


Another crutch word is a word that is unique. A word that the author for whatever reason latches onto in a manuscript and uses it repeatedly.  It's that word that was intriguing the first time we see it on the page, but by the fifth time it's used, we're now counting and wondering when the author is going to find a different word. Yeah, we've all seen that and wondered why no editor flagged it.

Do you KNOW your crutch word? What's your technique for getting rid of them? Inquiring minds here at Passionate Critters want to know!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Post Olympic Reflections

The 2012 London Olympics are over -- and it's been a hell of a ride.
As someone who lives barely 10 miles outside London, it was all very up close and personal, although I didn't have any tickets.
In a way, it was even more personal for me than it was for many who did get to see the events. The main reason -- I was an "Olympic Widow".
My significant other, Paul, was well and truly in the thick of it for the past four weeks. I only got him back today.
There. That's Paul, in action. That man in the tracksuit? It's Ben Ainslie. Winner of the 2012 Gold Medal in the Finn class (Sailing).
Yep, Paul spent nearly four weeks in Weymouth, covering the Olympic sailing. (And causing havoc with a mobility scooter...allegedly.)
He brought back some images you didn't really see much on TV. (If at all) Like this: 


It's the cauldron in Weymouth -- and I've never once seen it on TV. If he hadn't taken a photograph (or three) of it, I wouldn't have known it was there.
Yes, that's the Olympic Flame -- right there.

Or the Olympic rings, out in the water.

Or how about the flags, lining the beach?

Then there are shots of his "Work Environment"
And of course... the sailing itself.

Those are just a few images I've seen, but I thought I'd share a few of them with you.

The Olympics were simply awe inspiring.
Not just because of all the medals won, the world records smashed to smithereens. Not just because of spectacular festivities and venues.
But because of the sheer number of people who came out to watch, support and cheer on every single athlete, regardless of nationality.
I've seen and heard people cheer for cyclists they'd never heard of. They waved at the leader as much as the last trailing rider. It didn't matter where they were from, or if they stood a chance to get anywhere near a medal. They took part -- and therefore the people got behind them and screamed encouragement as they pushed themselves to their absolute limit.
They braved everything from thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain and gale force winds -- just to be there, to cheer as loud as they could, wave flags and give their unfailing support to any athlete taking part. Especially in those conditions. Together they created an atmosphere many, many of those athletes later commented on with a sense of utter awe--and gratitude. 
When asked what they'll remember most, the first words out of almost every athlete's mouth were "The roar of the crowd as I went past. It felt amazing."
If you've watched the women's road cycling race -- you'll know what I'm talking about.
The weather was atrocious that day, and from one who braved the weather...let me tell you...if you set foot outside the door, it felt like standing in a cold shower cranked up full blast. You were soaked to the bone in seconds and there was no hope of getting dry. We had hail that day, and still the crowds lined over 100 miles of road, armed with rain coats, flasks of tea, soggy sandwiches, umbrellas -- and in fine spirits and even finer voice. They stood there for hours and yelled those cyclists along as they passed in mere seconds.
For me, it was an experience I'll never forget. To see a country go from utter apprehension (trust me, we weren't keen on all the disruption), apathy even, to a place gripped with Olympic was truly amazing.
Lord Coe said "London 2012 is the Olympics for the people." during his opening ceremony speech.
In the closing ceremony, he amended his statement. "London 2012 were the Olympics BY the people."
He's right.
There were smiles everywhere. Cheers and tears for winners and non-winners. (I refuse to call them losers, because they are not. Everyone gave their absolute best. Except those idiots who didn't try.)
When the Brazilians, who'd taken over Somerset House in London, were asked what they thought they'd have a hard time beating in Rio in 2016, they unanimously said "The atmosphere. The enthusiasm and boundless energy of the British people who came out in droves to support not just their own teams, but everyone's teams."
It was worth being cut off from my horse for 4 days because all the roads were closed. I moaned about it. I really wasn't happy that (had anything happened) they wouldn't let a vet through if needed.
They still need to address such things, but now that it's over, I don't mind so much.

I think when that cauldron was extinguished on Sunday night, there wasn't a single person who didn't have a lump in their throat. All of a sudden it was over. Just as we got really into the swing of things.
After all this time, after all the hassle to get to the point of it all being ready, after battling for tickets and missing out, after putting up with Olympic lanes and traffic disruption and nothing on the telly except sport -- I think we wouldn't have minded if the Olympics lasted four weeks instead of two.
I heard stories about what happened after those medals were won -- but I won't tell. ;)
If you saw an abruptly ended interview with one of the sailors...I know the reason why they couldn't continue. (And I'm still giggling...)

Let the Paralympics roll on. I guarantee it'll be cheered on as much as the games just past.
I'll be watching. I'll be cheering.

So, after all that...what did I get out of it?

The biggest fridge magnet you've EVER seen!
(Yes, that is really a magnet, and it won't fit on there sideways. LOL.)

I hope you enjoyed the Olympics as much as I did, and that you'll help us Brits (and almost Brits) cheer on the athletes taking part in the 2012 Paralympic Games on the 29th August. :)