Monthly Archives: September 2011

Best Laid Plans

Last week, a request came in via email for a novella on spec. It had a pretty aggressive deadline, but that was fine. I’d been working on a story that would fit the bill perfectly. A few tweaks and I’d have it ready to go. The hubby had appointments all day Saturday and had to leave at o’dark thirty to make his first early morning appointment. Tough on him, but it promised to leave me with plenty of time and quiet for writing.

The best laid plans, right? Two problems presented themselves immediately.

This is the guy - getting better fast

1. On Friday night, the guy on the left here began bleeding. We realized he’d had an abscess on his tail and that it had burst. That left me to call the vet clinic at 8am to see if I could have the cat seen. And I didn’t have a car. My mother came out, picked us up and carted us to the local emergency vet clinic where we discovered the burst abscess was a big, hairy deal that required surgery, drains, stitches, antibiotics and moster pain medications. For the cat. Not, sadly, for me. I had to leave him at the clinic and go home to pretend I might get something done while worrying about my boy. Long story short, he’s home. He’s recovering. Saturday, however, was a complete wash. No writing of any kind happened. The writing that happened thereafter occurred in between holding the trembling, drugged cat with the oozing wounds and keeping the rest of the family from imploding.

2. The story had a problem and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was. I’d been working on this novella for months. In the middle of the story, everything came to a crashing halt. Couldn’t make headway. I knew how the story ended, heck, I’d written the ending. I knew what needed to happen in the scenes I had yet to write. I even had them mapped out, but for the life of me, I couldn’t seem to get them down. Now, with a deadline staring me in the face, I had to. Didn’t I?

Wasn’t working. I plodded along putting one word after another, but it all felt dead. Lifeless. And I procrastinated by doing an internet search on motivation for writers. It was there, quite by accident, that I stumbled across the answer. I’d been resisting writing those scenes all this time because they didn’t serve this story. Oh, the epiphany wasn’t that simple. I read through a bunch of stuff out there on the internet about how to motivate myself to write (rather than actually writing). It wasn’t until some time in the wee hours, when my husband got up to take over feline nursing duty, that the light bulb went on in my head. Naturally, said epiphany (delete the scenes you’re having trouble with, dummy!) hit at the same moment my head touched the pillow – guaranteeing that regardless of my sleep deprived state – there’d be no rest for me until I’d gotten up and dealt with ripping the problem scenes out of the story.

Presto. All the fun and animation of the story came back. Finished the draft with time to spare for critique and rewrites. All of which goes to prove that writer’s block usually isn’t a block at all – it’s a warning that somewhere you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.

After the fact, it’s occurred to me. I had to do surgery on that story similar to the surgery done on my cat. The infection had to be located, opened and drained before it could heal. That said, I still think veterinary clinics should be licenced to dispense drugs to owners bringing their animals into the hospital. I maintain it would have made handling the cat’s surgery and the gutting of my story easier to handle if I’d been offered valium.

Rain is Sexy

October is around the corner, and it’s finally getting rainy, dark, and mysterious where I live in the Pacific Northwest.  In fact, it rained all day yesterday and I absolutely jumped into my current work in progress.  I’m with Cynthia Eden – it’s so much fun to write in the month of goblins and monsters.

Plus, well, there’s something sexy about a good rain storm.  The tension in the air, the edge of danger from Mother Nature, the idea of safety inside by a warm fire.

Rain falls quite a bit in my books, I noticed.  Speaking of which (yeah, smooth transition, right?), the second book of the Dark Protectors series is available for pre-order now.  CLAIMED features Dage, the king of the vampires, and Emma, a brilliant geneticist. 

Here’s an excerpt:

Emma sighed.  “Do you think the Kurjans are near?”

Dage shook his head without opening his eyes.  “No.  I don’t sense evil anywhere near us.  We’re probably safe for a couple of hours, then we should move again.”

A couple of hours?  Damn.  She needed him in fighting shape.  “Will drinking my blood help heal you?”

His lids flipped open, revealing those silver eyes that had haunted her dreams for fifteen years.  Hunger, raw and pure filled them.  “Yes.”

Emma gulped in air. The husky timber of his voice caressed nerves she didn’t want to own. “I won’t become a vampire?”

His dimples winked at her.  “No.  Vampires are born, not made.”

Fear and her damn curiosity blended until she could only whisper.  “Okay.”  She held out her wrist and shut her eyes.  And waited.  The breeze picked up outside the cave, rustling pine needles and leaves inside the small entrance, and she shivered.  Finally, she opened her eyes in exasperation.  “What?”

Reaching out with his good arm, he lifted her chin with one knuckle, waiting until her gaze met his.  “I want your neck.” 

Low and rough, his voice skittered need through her midriff.  Talk about direct.  “Um, well, why?”  Her mind reeled and she fought the urge to drop her gaze to his mouth.  She lost the fight.  He ran a tongue along those full lips and need rippled through her.  How did he do that?

He waited again until she focused on him, her eyes widening on the pure confidence shining in his.  “I’ve been waiting to taste you for centuries—I don’t want you extending your wrist to me and looking the other way.”

“What do you want?”  She shouldn’t have asked that.  God.

For answer, he reached out with his healthy arm and lifted her until she straddled his lap.  She should’ve protested, but the easy strength and warm hand on her hip caught the breath in her throat.  Fascinating.  Such true, raw power.  She pressed both hands against the undamaged muscles of his chest, balancing herself.  His erection lay thick and hard beneath her, and she fought the urge to clench her thighs against his legs. 

He stared at her through half lidded eyes, his hands going to the buttons of her cotton shirt.

“What are you doing?”  she breathed.

“I don’t want to get blood on your shirt.”  His gaze dropped to the swell of her breasts over the plain white bra.  Fire flared within those silver depths and she fought a moan.

“That’s enough.”  She covered his hands with hers.

With a nod, he gently placed her hands on his thighs before clasping the shirt and drawing it down both arms.  The lower buttons remained engaged, and the material trapped her arms at her sides.

He pinned her with a gaze so full of hunger she couldn’t speak.  “You’ll give your blood?”

Emma nodded, her focus narrowing to the man before her.

Sharp fangs emerged from his canines and he growled, reaching one arm around to cup her head and pull to the side.  Her neck stretched and vulnerability battled with arousal down her length.  Every muscle in her body tensed to flee.  His other hand gasped her hip, flexed, then slid up to her now bare shoulder, entrapping her.

 There was no escaping him.

So…I love Fall.  How about you?  Are you ready for the weather to change (if it does where you live) or could you use some more sunshine?

There’s a Chill In The Air

Sure, it might not be much of a chill (yet) down here in Alabama, but Fall is on its way–and I LOVE this time of the year.

My Halloween decorations are out (yes, already!). I’m in the mood for corn mazes, hay rides, and some scary shows.

I want to host my annual Halloween party–okay, technically, it’s a party for my son and his friends. But, hey, I have fun apple bobbing, too!

I want to read books about sexy paranormal heroes–vampires, werewolves, angels, and demons.

I want the thrills and chills of Fall!

Right now, I’m deep into my current WIP. I always feel an extra kick when I’m writing a paranormal story around Halloween. It just really pushes me into the spirit of things.  What can I say?  I’m a horror-lover at heart. I love all things supernatural.  So for me, this *is* my favorite time of the year.

What do you like best about the Fall? I’d love to hear your favorite activity!

Picking A Brain

There’s a delicate balance between picking someone’s brain and razing it. I still haven’t figured that one out, just sayin’.

The reason I mention this is because over the weekend, I tied my poor mother to a chair and crushed picked her brain because I needed help with a plot idea I’ve been mulling over for several weeks. I knew how I wanted my new mythological characters to be now, what kind of powers I wanted them to have, and even how they hook up. That was the easy part.

What I needed was a history. I hold a degree in History; nothing fancy, just a B.A. and you’d think it would be easy. Sure, I totally have an idea of twisting human history to suit my purposes, but I needed a whole background story on these beings so I could figure out what they were fighting for. That’s where Mom came in. She’s pretty twisted, did I mention that? I know she’s the reason I write weird stuff.

Anyway, I picked at her for two hours, shooting questions at her like arrows while I pinned a bright light on her. “Vere do zees people come from? Vat do they do? Vhy do they do it?” You get the idea. However painful as it sounds (and yes, I wouldn’t even let her go to the bathroom until I was finished with her), she enjoyed herself. I think.

Will I use everything she came up with? Most likely not, but her wild thoughts and ideas helped spark my own, leaving me with a burning need to get. This. Story. Down. Will October be the month I write another full-length novel? Possibly. Will I tie her down and demand more thoughts? Maybe. Will others feel the sharp edge of my inquisitive mind tearing at them like a dozen claws? I refuse to answer that question…*rubs her hands together*

It kind of makes me feel like the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal. Hey! I know! Would you like a seat in front of this pretty crystal I found? Bwahaha!

Kristin’s Law

Kristin’s Law: Anything that can go wrong during your “introspective week of editing” can and will.

Guaranteed.

I just received edits on Vamped Up, the second book in the Vampires of Crimson Bay Series and let me tell you, I’ve got my work cut out for me. They’re extensive, and not in the “go through deleting erroneous adverbs” or “change every double space after end punctuation to single” kind of way. They’re more like “slow a certain character’s inner transformation” or “change everything having to do with that character”. (Okay, so it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the point.)

I knew the edits were coming. I was forewarned. I planned ahead and caught up on laundry, stocked up the fridge and deep cleaned the closets. (Oh yes I did!) I bought new coloring books for my munchkins and downloaded new music.

But I could never have expected Husband to come home and say the words every woman dreams of hearing…

Honey, I think we should remodel our kitchen. What do you think?

I choked on my ramen. You mean, after six years of walking on 1970’s brown and gold linoleum, I could finally be…free? (I sound bitter, yes, but the kitchen’s been great. We got an unbelievable deal on the house, so if I had to accept the outdated kitchen, I would. And I did.)

Husband’s words changed everything.

Of course I wanted a new kitchen. But now? When I’m chair-bound and tied to the manuscript?

Not wanting to dismiss the opportunity (for fear it would never return—you know, like Halley’s comet or something—see it once and you’ll probably never get your shot again…unless you live to be really old, in which case you probably won’t see it anyway), I screamed YES!

I was absolutely insane.

Kristin’s law took hold. I cleaned out my kitchen top to bottom to “get ready” for the demolition. My living room has been swallowed by red and blue tubs filled with pots and pans and dishes. I can’t find shit. I’m tripping over things left and right. I stepped on shards of sheetrock all afternoon. The demo crew took sledgehammers to my tile yesterday…while I cringed and made faces and convinced one of my characters to lighten up and not be such a possessive A-hole.

And then my dog (who’s been rolling around in mud all afternoon) sneaked into the house and splayed himself over my new couches. Instead of delving deeper into my manuscript I scrubbed dirt stains and lost my mind a bit.

Ah yes, Kristin’s law. No matter how prepared you are to sit and edit, things creep up.

I found out last night that if I want the remodel to continue on schedule, I have to pick my lights, like, yesterday. I’m not a decisive person. At all. It takes me ten minutes to pick what I want for lunch. Permanent lights for my kitchen ordered by tomorrow morning? Not happening. (He’s basically holding my microwave and stove hostage—albeit in my own garage—until I decide, but whatever. Who needs to cook, right?) Tomorrow I’ll be perusing through catalogs and shopping downtown instead of fixing that major issue in Chapter 13.

All that work I did to prepare for my edits was for nothing, really. It didn’t matter. Because something always comes up. And it did. That something has been a larger project than I could’ve ever imagined. I’ll be thrilled with the final outcome—on both counts—but dammit, I can’t wait to get there.

Kristin’s law kicked my ass this week.

I could go on…and on, but I won’t. I’ll leave you with a few pictures, befores and afters, and if y’all are interested, I’ll post about the progress when I blog again week after next. Edits will be due shortly thereafter and the kitchen should be just about finished.

Back to edits I, uh, go!

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Hi there!

Erin Kellison here, waving hello from Arizona, where it’s still above 105. All my blinds are drawn and my house feels like a cave. I don’t write vampires, but my husband calls me one. It’s not too far off, actually (minus the blood sucking and immortality), because I’ve about had it with the relentless sun. I like things dark… darker… darkest, which is why I’m thrilled to be among the authors at Darker Temptations.

I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life. I asked for a typewriter for Christmas in the fourth grade and I started my first novel in the sixth—never completed, but I still get a kick out of those pages. I got an English Lit degree and went on for a masters focusing on oral story-telling, thinking I could teach what I loved. I even tried the publishing route, with an internship at a publishing company. But what I really wanted to do was tell my own. I find it surreal that the third book in my Shadow series, Shadowman, hit stores this month.

Ghosts

They haunt the halls of the Segue Institute, terrifying the living, refusing to cross over. But one soul is driven by a very different force.

Love

It survives even death. And Kathleen O’Brien swore she would return to those she was forced to leave too soon.

Shadowman

He broke every rule to have her in life; now he will defy the angels to find her in death.

The Gate

Forging it is his single hope of being reunited with his beloved, but through it an abomination enters the world. Leaving a trail of blood and violence, the devil hunts her too. Pursued through realms of bright fantasy and dark reality, Kathleen is about to be taken…

Thanks to everyone for stopping by, I am really excited to get to know everyone here.

Now back to my cave…

Defend Yourself

Currently I’m working on the third book in my Moon Shifter series (1st book out in February 2012!) and the heroine in this story is trying to overcome some pretty traumatic stuff that happened to her. In doing so, she’s training to defend herself and be able to seriously incapacitate or kill someone. I usually go to my husband for help when writing fight scenes (as a former Marine, he’s very handy to have around) but a couple weeks ago at my local RWA chapter meeting we had a really cool speaker. Her topic was self-defense and I’ve been able to utilize a lot of the knowledge she imparted on us into my current book (which is always cool). But, her tips are helpful for all women, not just my fictional heroine, so I thought I’d share:

Tips

  • When someone is attacking you, you have approximately four seconds to decide what you want to do: fight or flight. Think about what you would do with that precious time.
  • If someone was watching you, would they be able to pinpoint exactly when you would be out of the house because of your routine? If your answer is yes, try to mix up your schedule.
  • Have an escape plan at your house. If you’re home and hear someone breaking in, you need to know what to do.
  • If someone is mugging you, throw your purse and/or car keys away from you. Don’t just hand them to your attacker. Throw your stuff then use that time they’re getting it, to run. Your life isn’t worth your purse or car.
  • If someone tries to get you into their vehicle, do everything you can, not to – if you get in, you have a 10% chance of getting out unharmed. I don’t like those odds!
  • Make eye contact with people – attackers are looking for victims, not people with confidence
  • If you go jogging or walking (which I do, every day!) and listen to your iPod (ahem, which I also do) make sure you take out one ear bud so you’re more aware of your surroundings.

Now on to the physical stuff!

What to do if someone is choking you from the front:

  • Use one finger to attack their eye as opposed to using two to try to jab both eyes (your pointer and middle finger). It’s harder for their eyes to follow where one is going that close up.
  • Using the palm of your hand, drive up into their chin or their nose. If you hit them hard enough you can knock them out (chin hit) or break their nose
  • Palm heel hit them on both sides of the head, cupping their ears. You can possibly rupture their eardrums this way.

I’m going to break this post up into two parts so it’s not all an information dump. Two weeks from now, I’ll be posting on a lot more physical stuff and some life & death techniques as well as some more tips and fun facts! Thanks so much for stopping by.

Katie Reus

Cowboys vs. Demons

Hello all! Today I want to give you all a look at my brain. No, not literally, though that might be less scary! The last few months I’ve been “working” on a romantic suspense novel that falls into the cowboy/western realm. I love writing about cowboys. But for some reason this series of demons I had planned to write about have been pounding my brain and kicking me in the temples. They’re nasty little creatures who I will be more than glad to kill off in a book or two.

So, while I’ve been battling the little brats my mind has wandered away from my cowboy. Which I should mention was in the middle of a very hot, steamy, about to be a very happy man scene. He’s been stuck for about a week now and well, I don’t see him getting unstuck anytime soon.

For one, Halloween is coming, so of course my demons are really going into overdrive. They really want their stories written. Me, I just want to decorate my yard, gate, house, trucks, basically anything that stays still long enough for me to decorate. My hubs came home yesterday, walked around the yard and just shook his head. He asked if I had enough Halloween stuff out and of course I said, “Nope.”

But I won’t lie, I am the biggest chicken you’ll ever meet. While I am trying to push the little evil creatures back in their closet in my mind, I’ve been planning all these Halloween events I want to attend. Now, forty-five miles away I can hear Cynthia Eden’s eye roll and laughter. She knows I will plan these things and then back out hours before they are set to start. I’m such a chicken!!

Yet, Halloween is the right time to break out movies like The Goonies, Hocus Pocus, and Practical Magic. These movies really get my imagination going. My mind takes the stories on screen and the untold ones and really runs with it.

I mean, Nicole Kidmans character was just left to be alone with her Aunts in Practical Magic, what happened next?? And what about the Aunts? Who were their loves? What happened to them? I so want to know more.

And Hocus Pocus is one of my favorites because of Zachary Binks. Oh poor guy trapped in a cat’s body for 300 years! Poor thing. What would happen if a witch came along and changed him back to human form for one night, Halloween night? Oh the possibilities are endless!!

See, my paranormal stories are killing off my cowboys as I type this post! But you know what, my cowboys are fighting back. Now I must go and referee them. Oh the life of a writer, my poor kids and husband! You just get a glimpse of what they have to deal with 🙂

And inspired by the goodwill of the authors of Entangled, I would like to remind everyone that if we all can do just one good deed a day we can make a difference in someones life. For me, I try to donate a book to my children’s library, take can foods to the food bank, or donate a dollar to a local charity. Even a kind smile to a stranger can make more of a difference than you will ever know.

Space is Dark. Right?

Someone forgot to check my references. It’s my only excuse for how a science fiction romance writer ended up keeping such excellent company as the authors you’re meeting here on Darker Temptations. I’m Marcella Burnard. I do write SFR for Berkley Sensation. I’m told it’s grim scifi, which perplexes me. Sure there’s blood and violence and sex (not all in the same scene – truly). I thought it was all in good fun. Rollicking adventure. Apparently, I should increase my medication dosages. Kidding.

The thing is – I don’t like pulling my punches. I love strong, capable heroines with brains and courage. I want them to have heroes who can give them a run for their money. The problem is that such a stellar pairing requires some pretty horrific odds to overcome if the couple is going to earn a happily ever after. How many of us, in real life, willingly change unless the pain of NOT changing overcomes our resistence? Right. In fiction, I just get to make that ‘pain’ = bloodthirsty aliens with a sinister agenda.

In my real life, I live aboard a sailboat with my husband and our felines. At the moment, I’m sitting aboard someone else’s boat while mine awaits a trip to dry land so I can spend a week scraping the marine life off the bottom. Yeah. That’s right. I live with a man and four cats in about 300 square feet. One the water. Except when that 300 square feet of living space isn’t in the water – it’s blocked up on dry land. No wonder I write about space ships, hostile environments and alien life forms. No wonder my editor says it’s all a little dark. She’s never had to sand barnacles off of fiberglass before.

Don’t think that won’t show up in a future book somewhere. Something must grow on spaceship hulls.

My Secret Life…

Everyone has done a great job of introducing themselves so far—and Danica was kind enough to remind us that there’s no frontal nudity.  (No, I didn’t not have to go and
change my profile picture when I found that out.). 🙂

My name is Rebecca and I live up in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.  Okay, maybe not so wild where I live.  But we have lakes, mountains, rivers, bears and wolves…so it isn’t NYC.  Of course, they have wolves there, too.

I’m a lawyer turned college professor who moonlights at night as a writer.  Sometimes when I’m teaching, I feel a bit like Clark Kent.  All buttoned down, proper and dignified. 
Sure, I have fun…and I think I’m kind of funny.   But when I go home, I break out the comfy socks and write about sexy Alpha males and vampires.  Often with quite a bit of spice.  If my students only knew!

The second book in my Dark Protector Series is coming out soon—it’s called CLAIMED and features the king of the vampires and his mate, a brilliant scientist.  Here’s the back
cover blurb:

A DARING RESCUE

Emma Paulsen is a geneticist driven by science.  But she’s also a psychic, so when a dark, good-hearted vampire frees her from the clutches of the evil Kurjans, she realizes he must be the man who’s been haunting her dreams.  But with a virus threatening vampire mates, Emma may discover a whole new meaning of “lovesick”…

A DEADLY DECISION

As King of the Realm, Dage Kayrs has learned to practice diplomacy.  Still, it’s taken three hundred years to find his mate,                                              so he’ll stop at nothing to protect her–even if it means turning                                                     his back on his own kind…

Thanks for dropping by today.  This is going to be a wonderful group blog – so many great stories to share.  While I feel like Clark Kent during the day…I’d rather be Wonderwoman.  🙂  If you were a superhero, which one would you be?

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