Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Goals

Maybe I should start keeping track of my monthly goals rather than story word counts? Something to think of, though in this they're one in the same.

This month I have:
Bemoaned the fact that another month has gone from the calendar.
Wondered if we'll ever have consistent warm weather.
Battled head colds and sinus/allergy problems every frakkin' day.
Enjoyed maybe 3 days of sun, warmth, and teasing spring-like weather.
Wrote. Don't get me wrong there, definitely wrote!
Planned out a workshop for the 2011 NJRW Conference

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Review: One of Our Thursdays is Missing

If you haven't read Jasper Fforde's satirical bibliophile series, go out immediately and pick up The Eyre Affair (read my take on it here). Yes, you have to read the series in order, and yes it can be a tad confusing if you don't keep up, but it's funny, mind-bending, and well...deep.
No, seriously!

See, there's this BookWorld where characters from every book ever written live. Books that haven't been read in a while still populate the world, with their characters vying for attention in back alleys of the footnoterphone conduits. There's also time travel, cheese smuggling from The Welsh Republic, and an evil corporation bent on taking over both the real world and BookWorld.

Famous characters police the book world making sure that metaphors aren't sold from one piece of fiction to another. There's always a black market, especially since this world is based on fictional books, which are often based on the real world or the Outland.

I enjoyed this book, not as much as the first 4 (Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten) but so so much more than the last one (First Among Sequels). I even enjoyed the audios, though haven't listened to Missing...grabbed it as soon as the library received it.

Recommended for those who enjoy alternite history, humor, satire, books, Shakespeare, books, history, and yes...books.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What do you know? Quizes

Don't ask how I found these, but if you're interested in testing yourself try them out. The faster the better!'s Ultimate History Quiz's Citizenship Quiz
State Capital Quiz (I sucked at this!)
I have no idea what Lizard Point is, but their quiz site is nifty. Click the location, don't type in the box. WARNING: Some quizes are HARD!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Musings

Have tweaked the blog based on the less is more theory. I can't begin to tell you how often I've heard this, because less is always more in just about everything, but at last week's Computers in Libraries Conference, they had excellent tips on maximizing webpage retail space.

Hence some changes.

Am also working on adding search terms and relevant content.

Shorter posts? I can do that. More focused on writing? On reading? On the publishing market today? On randomness? I can do all that too!

But what drives reader to your blog? I'm okay with not commenting, I rarely comment on a post myself unless I have a point I want to make or support to offer. But what drives people to THIS blog of the millions out there?


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Excerpt

Mary Ann Weber's Civil War story, No Decorum, is this week's Saturday Excerpt over at Slip into Something Victorian.

In spite of her overwhelming passion for Randolph, Juliet can’t forget her aversion to marrying the son of another minister. This soon fades when compared with the threat of losing the love of her life. Within days, and with her father’s help, they secretly wed at the courthouse and embark on a feverish honeymoon in the parsonage and the church. Their time together is measured in hours and minutes.

While the bloody Red River Campaign rages through Arkansas and Louisiana, the Confederate and Union forces jockey in and out of position in Camden. Before the Union army can make its escape back to Little Rock, Randolph is taken prisoner by the Rebel army and marched to a notorious Confederate prison in Texas.

Separately, they endure the horrors of war. Strangers when they marry, the young couple matures apart. Will their short-lived marriage survive changes brought to them and their world by war?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Great Writing Weekend part 5

Sunday: wrap up, doing this again, and still remaining friends.

We did more plot rounds, it's fun, fast, and yet not as easy as it sounds. But it's a way to come up with new ideas in a genre you may not write. For instance, comedy: don't write comedy and yet one of our author friends does. Coming up with ideas for her was a blast! Oh, how I wish I could write funny!

Then we ate a very late lunch and reluctantly wrapped everything up. Would we all do this again? Definitely. The only problem was that it takes an entire weekend when there's always something else to do. However, it was well worth it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Writing Weekend part 4

Saturday: or why it's best to have an entire day devoted to this where no one has to travel.

Manuscript critiquing in the AM, with 1 hour per person which spilled over into lunch. We only allowed for the summary and 1 chapter read aloud. Why aloud and not hand out pages? Because you only have a few moments to catch a reader's attention. Most people read at least the first chapter, possibly the first few pages of chapter one, before deciding whether or not to buy your book.

So by reading out loud, I, as the listener, have a better chance of telling you what does and does not work. What catches my attention and what doesn't.

Then we ate (always important).

After lunch, we did two versions of fast plot rounds:

What about this plot does or doesn't work? What did we, as the reader/listener, like about the plot, can the rest of us see where this plot is going and agree with it? Are there research problems? Not just historical but other issues. Even in a contemporary world, you can't know all the ins and outs of everything.

What did you want to work on next? Then the rest of us threw out crazy, zany, or possibly workable ideas for plots based on the author's criteria. As with everything, some work and some don't. Weeding through great, funny, oh this is brilliant ideas might elicit a gem or two, but they also might not be workable beyond chapter 4. Things to think about when plotting.

All this took us well into the night, when we finally crashed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Writing Weekend part 3

Friday night was very informal. We arrived, unpacked, ate, and talked. As noted yesterday, we also had a psychic. But we also made a plan for the rest of the weekend. Sure, we had the agenda, but we talked plots and what each individual author wanted out of this weekend.

We also talked about why we had this weekend. It came about from a 2008 RWA workshop in San Francisco hosted by Susan Mallery and three of her writing friends whose names escape me now. (But they're all bestselling Harlequin authors.)

Twice a year they meet in hotel rooms around the country and devote a day each to brainstorming and plotting new ideas. Pretty cool, eh? Yeah, we all thought so, too, and created a smaller version of it.

While all of us have been friends for years, we got to know each other better, outside the writing box. No, we didn't do the speed plotting round, but relaxing hafter a long week was needed more. For next time we'll definitely add in time for idle chit chat!

Tomorrow: Saturday's progress

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Great Writing Weekend part 2

Here's the agenda we used. Note the psychic part. It was fun to add in on Friday night while we ate and chatted. One person met the psychic in the basement while the rest of us relaxed upstairs. Not for everyone, granted, but you should add in something fun and frivolous. It adds an element of playfulness to it and gives you more to talk about than just writing and reading romance.

Combine your weekend with your at home spa night-facial masks, pedicures, etc.

The Great Weekend Writing Getaway


Friday night: Dinner, gossip, and speed round for plot concepts

  • 9-1 manuscript critiquing
  • 1 lunch
  • 2-4:30 manuscript critiquing
  • 4:30-5 Tea break
  • 5-7 Plot problems
  • Dinner
  • Character profiles

  • 9-2 new plot brainstorming session.
  • We’ll take the plot concepts from the speed round and devote 30 minutes per author for developing, planning, and detailing a new idea. Each author will get 2 sessions.

What to bring:
• Laptop, USB drive, paper and writing utensils.
• The manuscript you want to work on this weekend.
• A completed synopsis for this story.
• Which characters are represented with their own points of view.
• Which publisher and line you wish to target.
• Specific problems you want to discuss with the story.
• For the brainstorming parts, have ready vague concepts for future stories, and publishers you wish to target for these stories. Sometimes it’s better to tailor the concept to the publisher than go back and rework it later.

At the end of this weekend you’ll have an idea of where this manuscript is going, how to fix or tailor it to your target publisher, and ideas for at least 2 future stories.

Tomorrow: Friday night's progress

Monday, March 21, 2011

Great Writing Weekend part 1

The first weekend of February I got together with several writing friends for an in-person weekend of food, fun, and (of course) writing. All this week I'll be blogging about how we came up with the idea, what we did, how it was organized, and most importantly, WHY we did this.

So why did we do this? Simple: it's a fun way to get outside opinions on your writing, plot ideas, and future concepts. While three of the writers were critique partners, hearing a chapter, or a part of one, read aloud is instant reaction: there's no going back looking for grammar problems or flow, you hear the chapter and you either want to hear more or you know why it's not working.

Creating a writer's weekend retreat:
Step 1: Figure out who to invite, where to hold this, and how long it's going to be. This is actually more important than you might realize. There were 6 of us (5 writing names) and 1 who couldn't make it at the last minute. It was a purposely small group; we met at a house, after work on Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.

Step 2: Make an agenda. be specific but be flexible. Writers love to talk their stories, which I'm sure you know! So while the agenda may say: 30 minutes each for chapter 1, tangents do happen. Keep an hourglass or stopwatch nearby to time it. Gently steer the conversation back onto the right path and don't be too strict with the time.

Step 3: Have food. And snacks. And a conveniently located bathroom. Also make sure the meeting area is a comfortable temperature, there's nothing worse than freezing or sweating while you're trying to work, and has comfortable chairs for everyone. Not just a nice couch to lounge on, but a straight back chair for someone with back problems, etc.

Step 4: Be prepared and make sure everyone else is, too. Bring a laptop, USB drive, paper, pens, folders, whatever you need. This isn't a workshop, this is for you to actively work on your stuff. And yes. You will forget it. Better to write it down or record it than sob over that lost brilliant idea later.

Tomorrow: How we broke our agenda down and how it really worked out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

More pictures to smile at

From a forward my mom sent. And because smiling is the least painful thing to do after a night of drinking for those who aren't even Irish and where the holiday that is way more reverent in Ireland than here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day

For those who are Irish in America and celebrate it with green beer and partying, and for those in Ireland who take a more somber approach.

Irish Blessings:

May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go,
and guide you in whatever you do--
and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

May the saint protect ye-
An' sorrow neglect ye,
An' bad luck to the one
That doesn't respect ye
t' all that belong to ye,
An long life t' yer honor-
That's the end of my song t' ye!

May your blessings outnumber
The Shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Review: Bright Star

Not at all what I envisioned when I started and didn't finish it. It was just that painful to watch. Depressing long before Keats's death, I struggled to sit through the sewing, the awkward conversations, the bad jokes, the horrible scenery.

From the DVD:From Jane Campion, Academy Award winner of The Piano, comes a sweeping love story that will carry you back through time to experience the passion and romance between acclaimed poet, John Keats and his beloved muse. London 1818: a secret love affair begins between 23 year old English poet, John Keats, and the girl next door Fanny Brawne, an outspoken student of high fashion. This unlikely pair began at odds, he thinking her a stylish minx, while she was unimpressed not only by his poetry but also by literature in general.

Unimpressive is right! A handful of lines, Keats laughing when his friend insults Fanny, Fanny taking comfort in sewing, and so little passion between the pair I wondered why the movie was billed as a romance.
I like John Keats, well, I enjoy his poetry at least, and it's very sad that such a talented young man died at such a young age. But I don't think this film did him justice in the least. It plodded along.

I'm okay with Keats's death at the end, that wasn't my issue. No, it was the romance, or lack thereof, in the first 3/4 of the movie. Cynical? I don't think so, but maybe you have a different opinion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guesting today

Today I'm over at Unusual Historicals talking about crime and punishment during World War I.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Musings

4 days

30,000 words

I'ma gonna pass out now thankyouverymuch...

But dang, do those words rock!

I reverted to my editing as I write method rather than just writing and fixing later. I'm not that kind of writer. Plus it pisses off my future self.

Going to crash now...hope everyone's writing is going rockingly!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Excerpt

Today's excerpt at Slip into Something Victorian is by Caroline Clemmons talking about her latest release:Save Your Heart for Me

Six years ago Beth Jeffers fled her abusive husband. Now, she wants nothing
more than to protect her son Davey and help her mother operate a boarding house. The women in her family have no luck with men, and she has no intention of letting any man mar her son's life. Not even Matt Petrov, no matter how much her
heart urges otherwise.

Federal Marshall Matt Petrov fell in love with Beth the first time he saw her. She was another man’s wife, so he kept his longing to himself. But when he and the lovely widow cross paths again, he
intends to seize his chance at happiness.

And stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway bonanza.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Tomorrow is the EPPIE award program where Northern Roses & Southern Belles is nominated for the best romance historical anthology. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and wondering how I'll know for sure.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guest: Jean Hart Stewart

Today Jean Hart Stewart is here talking about her book For Love is New. I read the blurb and excerpt and have added it to my ever-growing TBR list. I asked her a whole bunch of questions, what she wanted to talk about today, and she chose a favorite topic of mine: research!

I'm such a geek, but it's nice to know there are others of us out there!

Researching a book…

I’m a research junkie. Pride myself on researching each book I write, CAREFULLY, and so far I’ve had no objections from fans or reviewers. Cross my fingers on that one. What’s more, I thoroughly enjoy researching. I did more research before writing For Love is New than any of my other books. Although I don’t start any book until I’ve researched the time period, whether a true historical or not. Sometimes I jot down a few lines to suggest the opening scene but no serious writing until I get anchored in the mood of the period. Clothing, current events, etc.

Since The For Love is New (hereafter referred to as FLIN) is an historical romance, the era it’s written in influences every scene and action. The year is 1815, and the book is all about the gorgeous heroine and handsome hero trying to foil the wicked villain. And boy, is he wicked. He’s not only trying to help Napoleon escape from Elba, he’s sadistic. You’ll purely hate him.

Every nuance of the book had to be accurate. I found myself completely fascinated by the complex character of Napoleon, in fact I’m just reading a book stating that Napoleon’s hemorrhoids were responsible for the disastrous delay of the final battle of Waterloo. According to this account pain kept him from mounting his horse and so he spent hours reviewing his troops on foot in hopes he’d feel better. This gave Wellington badly needed time to join forces with his allies and possibly allowed him to win the battle. Certainly Napoleon fled the scene in a carriage, not his horse. Interesting to speculate, isn’t it, and an example of what fascinating stuff you can find when you start digging.

(Ouch! I'd never heard that and have devoured much on Napoleon. Interesting what's out there!)

Another interesting thing about Napoleon is how differently he’s viewed. I have a French friend who thinks he’s the greatest hero France ever produced, so I tred carefully around her.

My Druid and Mage books all required extensive research into mythology and history and the powers these fantastic people were alleged to possess. My characters in the Mage books are direct descendants of Merlin and Lady of the Lake and inherit their powers. In the first series the Druids are descendants of a Druid priestess, in the Mage series from Merlin. I’m just finishing book seven in the Mage series and each of those series books have been fun.

But I LOVE reading and writing historicals. I’ve definitely got one or two churning in my mind right now.

One has a little leeway in paranormal books, but in FLIN I stuck strictly to history. Easy to put my rather active imagination into the sex scenes. Trying to project myself into the mind of the villain was hard, but I think I made him convincingly bad.

Would love to know what you think….


Lord Christian Cherne, recently invalided out of the Penninsular Army, is looking forward to the pleasures of London. He has one duty to discharge before he searches for a mistress. He must offer his protection to Lady Juliet Sloan. Paul Sloan was killed in battle, leaving Christian a horrifying letter of his sadistic treatment at the hands of Roger Gullis. To his dismay, Christian finds Gullis sitting in Lady Juliet’s parlor when he comes to call. All his plans must now concentrate on keeping Juliet safe. Christian further suspects Gullis of being a traitor and his fears for Juliet increase.

Juliet is attracted, but suspicious of which man is the traitor. As attraction between Juliet and Christian grows, Gullis turns cruelly vengeful.

Will Juliet and Christian be able to thwart Gullis’ plans to help bring Napoleon back to power, even as he finds wicked retribution for his rejection by the two lovers he has come to hate?

They reached the oak almost simultaneously.

“I won,” crowed Julie. “You were close, but I won.”

“You little minx, it was a tie. Next time I won’t offer you any start if you can ride like that.”

Her face alight with laughter, Julie swiped at her arm. “These blasted black flies. Oh drat, a huge one’s settled on Torie.”

She leaned over to brush the big insect off Torie’s shoulder at the precise moment a shot rang out. Juliet felt the whoosh of air as the bullet passed over her. Right where she would have been had she not stooped over Torie.

“Julie!” Christian was off his horse in a flash and pulled her down into his arms. “Are you hit?”

He ran his hands up and down her body and then over her face. He groaned as he held her face in his hands and fastened his lips on hers in a desperate attempt to assure himself she was alive and well. Her response was immediate, even more ardent than the times he’d kissed her before. He buried his tongue in her mouth for a brief moment before shuddering and setting her aside.

“My God, Julie, you could have died before my eyes. A fine protector I am.”

Leave Jean a comment, ask Jean a question! I'll be giving away a $10 B&N gift card to one lucky commenter on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday Review

True Grit. Oh, how I wasn't going to watch you. I was determined to skip you because of the John Wayne version I was forced to watch over and over growing up. I like 2 John Wayne movies, maybe 3 and none are westerns. Still, he's a great actor and no one can compare to him.

That version was alright. It wasn't awful, it wasn't I want to scratch my eyes out like watching even a moment of The Searchers forces me to do. But it wasn't enjoyable.

For reasons I refuse to contemplate and hope I never wonder about again, the Coen Brother's version kicked ass. The girl wasn't as annoying as I recall the other girl being, and while Jeff Bridges isn't John Wayne, and not my favorite actor by a long shot, he embodied Rooster Cogburn.

Would I watch this again? Probably not, I don't write western romances though used to devour them in high school. But if you want the gritty atmosphere of the wild west, authentic dialogue, and true-to-life characters, then here you are. But no...I doubt I'll be reading the book. I watched 2 versions of the movie, what's the point? ;)

Tomorrow's guest: Jean Hart Stewart...stop on by!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guest blogging

Today I'm over at Slip into Something Victorian talking about a new Civil War movie. Nope, haven't seen it. Nope don't know whether it's worth it or not. But what do people expect from a Civil War movie? That is the question.

Thursday's guest: Jean Hart Stewart...stop on by!

Monday, March 7, 2011


Biggest cliche pet peeves:

*The Big Misunderstanding (kisses another and instead of talking hero/heroine walks out) otherwise known as TBM
*Marrying because she's pregnant by his brother/BFF/cousin/father/etc
*Evil other woman/man who are utter cardboard
*TSTL virginal heroine
*The Will Stipulation (oh how I despise that one!)
*Plain Jane who is gorgeous with a little makeup
*Making the mother/father the root of all the hero/heroine's issues
*The secret child (especially in an historical where she's pregnant by the hero, TBM occurs and she's married off to a kindly older man who never has sex with her and then conveniently dies)
*I didn't realize I had sex and thought it was a dream even though I'm a virgin (actually added this one thanks to a reivew I read last week)

Cliches I actually do enjoy:

*Marriage of convenience
*Office romances that doesn't involve the boss and assistant
*Starts off antagonistic but ends very passionately
*Evil relative if the evilness isn't cardboard

What about you? Favs? Wall bangers? Ones you can tolerate?

Thursday I'm hosting Jean Hart Stewart as she talks about her book For Love is New.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Excerpt

Today's excerpt at Slip into Something Victorian is by Susan Macatee. Vampires, Civil War, what more is there? :)

Check it out!

And stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway bonanza.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Guest: Robyn Bachar

Welome, Robyn! And congrats on the publication of Blood, Smoke and Mirrors! How does it feel?

I'm still happy dancing about getting Blood, Smoke and Mirrors published. When I received the email from my editor offering me a contract, I was at my previous day job, and it was about 5 minutes before closing time. I stared at the email in shock, and then walked over to my best friend, Diana's, cubicle. Our office had a no-talking policy, so I very quietly demanded that she hug me because I'd sold the book. We did a silent victory dance. Diana and I had already made plans to meet my husband Jeff and go out for dinner that evening, so I drove home to pick him up. Jeff was waiting for me in the parking lot, and I leaped out of the car and threw my arms around him and started babbling about how I'd been offered a contract. He had no idea what I was talking about, but he was very proud once I calmed down enough to speak clearly.

I love talking about Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, but promoting it is scary. It's hard to sum it up in a few words, and when I'm put on the spot I usually blurt something about how it's got action, romance, and vampires and it's awesome. Marketing is not my strong point. But I am learning, and I'll be attending the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together in June. I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm a signed book addict, and I've met many of my favorite authors on tour. Sherrilyn Kenyon hugged me (and I still smile at the memory, she's so cool!). I sat in the front row of a Jim Butcher book signing, and that was really fun. He's a great guy. I'd love to meet Nora Roberts, because she is my absolute favorite author. I hope to attend the RWA national conference one day and stalk, I mean meet her. Oh, and there is an epic story on my blog about how I lost my fangirl mind while meeting Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books at a conference. I also hope to meet her again, and this time try not to loom over her and babble like a romance writing Wookiee.

Haha, we've all had those moments when we meet a favorite author. It's one of those Oh, wow! moments you gotta love!


Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.

Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.

Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.

Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian—until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.

Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.

Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.


“Now, Merrideth, I just told you that this young lady is under my protection, so if you and your people don’t turn around and walk away, we’re going to have a problem.” Lex slipped his hands into his duster, reaching for whatever weapons he had concealed beneath it and sending a clear message to the crowd that he meant business.

“Maybe I should kill one, Duquesne, just to set an example,” Tybalt suggested.

“Don’t even think about it, Silverleaf. Just cut ’em off at the knees, that’s always fun.”

Apparently they took offense to that idea, and without another word they attacked, moving in a dark blur that was hard to see. As the vampires swarmed him Lex drew his weapons in a quick flash of bright metal, swinging a short sword in each hand. Guess that answered the question of why wear a long black coat in June, because swords were a tad hard to conceal without it. The guardian moved with inhuman speed as the fight boiled into the street. I couldn’t spot how he was wounding them, but I smelled the stale scent of vampire blood in the humid night air.

Tybalt’s rapier appeared in his hand and his clever human disguise vanished as he abandoned all pretense of hiding his true nature. The vampires around him hissed in surprise, and he launched himself at them, moving in a dark blue blur I couldn’t follow. I felt pretty useless inside of my safe little bubble, but there wasn’t anything I could do to help. I wasn’t trained as a fighter, and thanks to my witch upbringing I didn’t know any offensive spells. Best I could do was hurl harsh language.

A vampire fell away from the fray in the street, stumbling and then scrambling about searching for something on the ground. After a moment I realized it was looking for the rest of the severed arm that had rolled under a parked car. My stomach heaved and I swallowed hard, looking down at my feet and trying to shove that image out of my brain.

“C’mon now, that had to hurt,” Lex teased the armless vamp. “Why don’t you just take your hand and go home?”

“Only a flesh wound,” the vampire growled as it stretched to reach beneath the car.

Like the worst part of a horror film, it was morbidly fascinating, and I couldn’t help but watch. They were stronger, faster and outnumbered him, but somehow Lex held his own. While the vampires were slashed and bleeding, the guardian didn’t have a scratch on him. Yet.

“Come out and play, little Cat,” a new voice crooned. Turning my attention away from the fight, I found four strangers pacing around the edge of my shields. Necromancers, from the awful smell of them. They circled me like hungry sharks, searching for a weak spot in my shields. Yeah, good luck there. It’d take a lot more than four necromancers to get through my shields, as long as I stood still and concentrated. Unfortunately I couldn’t stand there all night, and it’d be a real long walk to my apartment with them trying to sabotage me the entire way. Not a happy thought.

“No thanks, I like it here.”

“What’s wrong? Afraid?”

Oh, please. Like that was going to tempt me into throwing a temper tantrum and let them jump me. I wasn’t falling for that lame trick. I put my hands on my hips and smiled again, more confident this time as I glanced over the speaker. Another sad fashion disaster dressed in black from head to toe, the necromancer reminded me of one of the many reasons why I hate the goth trend: it was created and nurtured by vampires. The woman wore a ridiculous getup of black lace and vinyl complete with spider-web hose and a corset top, doing her best to look dark and mysterious. She’d make a fabulous vampire stereotype when they killed her.

“I’m real scared of that outfit. Was there a sale at Hot Topic?”

Apparently I hit a nerve and she snarled at me. I opened my mouth to toss another witty insult at her, but was interrupted by a distinctly male sound of pain cutting through the tumultuous noise of the fight, too deep to be a faerie’s voice. My panic level rose as I smelled the scent of strong magical blood. Lex had fallen to one knee.

Charging into the fray, I rushed to Lex’s side. My shields bent perilously inward for a heartbeat before rebounding and hurling vampires out of the way like undead bowling pins. When I reached him my shield stretched and enveloped Lex. My brain paused for a heartbeat to wonder about that bizarre detail, because really it should’ve bounced him out of the way as well since I hadn’t had the good sense to drop them before reaching his side. Deciding to ponder that later, I focused on the set of claw marks slashed across his midsection as I hauled him to his feet.

“This qualifies as distracting me,” he growled in annoyance.

“What? You’re hurt, you need help.”

“Barely a scratch. Ol’ no thumbs there, now he needs a medic.” He nodded at a nearby vampire who was indeed missing his thumbs and most of his fingers, which were scattered around his feet like fat, pale worms.

My stomach bolted up near the back of my throat and I realized we were in trouble, because I was sure I couldn’t shield and retch at the same time. “I think we should let him set an example.” I nodded at the faerie-sized blur darting in and out of the mob.

“No, we’re not, and I was doin’ fine on my own.”

“We need a new plan.” Poking at his wound, I tried to gauge how severe the damage was, accidentally coating my fingers with his blood in the process.

“Had to call a guardian and your pixie buddy, eh witch? Not strong enough to defend yourself,” another new voice commented. I spun around to watch in morbid fascination as the limb-impaired vamp reattached his severed arm.

“And you? Needed a hand?” Lex drawled. “Now you, stay here,” he ordered as he glared at me. He lunged toward the vampire, and the two circled each other in a frenzied dance. “You tired yet? You’ll run outta blood ’fore I even break a sweat,” he taunted the vampire.

“Kitty!” Tybalt called out to me as a vamp landed with a thud at the faerie’s feet.


“Better idea. Conjure sunlight!”


“Just do it. Invoke Apollo, trust me,” the faerie ordered.

I shrugged, not sure where Tybalt was going with his request, considering sunlight doesn’t hurt vampires like it does in movies. Instead of burning them into a pile of ash it gives them severe sunburn, but hey, I didn’t have much else to do while inside my shields, so I decided to run with it. Grabbing my lighter, I held it tight in my right hand, and after sorting through the collection of symbols hung around my neck, I found my sun medallion and clutched it in my left. Holding the button down on my lighter, I turned the flame up to its highest level and held it aloft.

“Great Apollo, drive your chariot hence,
Burning bright for our defense.
Life from light, push back the night,
Chase the darkness from our sight.”

Honestly, I wasn’t quite expecting the result I got. I figured the spell would give me a little bit of sun like the one that had illuminated the room beneath the faerie mound. Instead a small supernova formed from the fire in my hand, a bright white light that blinded me for a moment with its pure intensity. I squeezed my eyes shut as piercing inhuman howls split the summer night. The awful scent of burnt flesh and toasted vinyl filled my nostrils, and I flinched at the heat building up in my grasp. My brain warned me that it would be a smart idea to drop the lighter a split second before it exploded.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Favorite unusual historical books

So what are your favorite unusual historical books? Where do they take place? Who is the author and was it just one, a series, or what the author normally writes?

Inquiring minds want to know. Please share. Besides, I'm always looking for a good book!

Unusual Historical: Russia, during the Crimean War: Kiss of Scandal

This week's Friday guest is Robyn Bachar. She'll talk about the thrill of publication & the stress of marketing. Blood, Smoke and Mirrors available from Amazon, B&N, and Samhain Publishing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Favorite different settings

Assuming England and America are typical settings, what are some of your favorite atypical settings?

*Canada during the American Civil War? (The Colonial and the Cottontail)
*India during the Regency era? (I swear I read a Jane Feather book set there, and within the last 5 years, but can't remember the name or find the title!)
*America during the War of 1812 (Bright Captivity by Eugenia Price)
*Russia (Kiss of Scandal to toot my own horn)
*The Balkans (haven't been able to find one or read one, not romance at least, but would be willing to! However, Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst was excellent.)
*Spain (Have not read one that takes place in Spain but a quick B&N search tells me there are lots of them.)

Where else would you like to see a story set, and in which time period?

This week's Friday guest is Robyn Bachar. She'll talk about the thrill of publication & the stress of marketing. Blood, Smoke and Mirrors available from Amazon, B&N, and Samhain Publishing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Different is good

All this week I'm blogging about writing differently. By that I don't mean your writing is different but that your setting, locale, and/or characters are different.

Just recently I had a conversation about The Inn of the Sixth Happiness and Curt Jurgens. (OK, I admit I mixed him up with Yul Brenner who is way sexier.) Jurgens plays a half-Chinese half-Dutch Chinese officer with whom Ingrid Bergman, as tenacious Gladys Aylward, falls in love. Hollywood historical inaccuracies aside, let's look at the different-ness of it all.

*Half-Chinese is a lot different than the normal half-American Indian normally portrayed in romances. Is it too much? Or have we, as a romance-reading people, come to accept that? We accept interracial couples, so why not this?

*China before and during the Japanese invasion of the Second Sino-Japanese War. War is always a great setting, let's face it. Not so different except for (again) the locale. How many of you know about the Second Sino-Japanese War? Or the first for that matter?

*Missionary? Other than it isn't what I write, or what I'd ever write, but putting that aside, all I see that type of book being is inspirational. Not bad if you're into that but not my cup of tea.

Whatt does all this mean? Not 100% sure, but it's all to the good. Different is better. Or at least different.

This week's Friday guest is Robyn Bachar. She'll talk about the thrill of publication & the stress of marketing. Blood, Smoke and Mirrors available from Amazon, B&N, and Samhain Publishing.

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Goddess Fish Blog Tour Partner
Goddess Fish Blog Tour Partner