Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Romance Weekly


Welcome to my little slice of this wonderful weekly blog circle. Here are this week's jackpot questions:

How do you respond to someone calling your writing smut or demeaning your work in some other way?

Well, it depends. My books can get pretty dark in spots and it's not everybody's cup of tea. I don't try to hide the fact (far from it), but, even so, a few have found it not to their taste. All criticism hurts. If it's mean-spirited, it makes me angry.  I've only had one one-star review and, while it bothered me, I knew it was an act of sabotage by another author who was jealous of all my good reviews. I know who was behind it and that she's done it to others. I believe karma and the spell I cast will return her bad actions to her in time, probably magnified. I used one of the spells in the book her hired troll attacked. Poetic justice, IMHO. I don't confront. It's not my style. I work quietly behind the scenes in my own way to bring justice about. I don't expect everybody to like or "get" my work, but, in my book (grimoire?), an honest review by someone who didn't find the book to their taste is not the same thing as a deliberate attack by a mean-spirited person who probably didn't even read it.

When critiquing or beta reading, do you ever find the voice of the other author creeping into your writing?

No. Sometimes I wish I could improve by osmosis, but it doesn't seem to work for me. I have to work very hard and very deliberately to develop my voice and hone my skills as an author.

What’s one quirky thing you do or must have around you while writing?

I've been asked this before and have no good answer. Quirky? Can't think of anything. I keep my library of books on the tarot, astrology, and other forms of magic within arm's reach, but there's nothing very quirky about that given my subject matter. I also keep my Edward Cullen action figure on the shelf of my secretary and the tarot cards relating to the book I'm working on displayed sometimes. Right now, for instance, I have the Knight of Pentacles in front of me because I'm plotting that book in my series and want him to speak to me in some way. I suppose that's a bit odd, but it's not like I have a rabbit's foot or anything. 

Thanks for visiting. Time to move on and see what the lovely and talented Jeana E. Mann has to say in response to these questions. http://jeanaemann.net

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Romance Weekly


Oh, my goodness. Is it Tuesday already? Golly, how time flies when your head's in your next book. Speaking of writing, here are my answers to this week's questions about my craft and process:

When writing your novel, do you know how it’s going to end before you write, or do you write from start to finish?

I typically outline before I start writing, so I have a sense of where things are supposed to go. More often than not, the story deviates widely from the path once I start writing it. Even so, I do my best to rein it back to the ending I envisioned. If it veers off in a direction I deem better than the original, I'll follow along and re-plot as I go.  In romances, there has to be a happy ending for the couple in the story, so it's really a question of the degree of resolution and how they get there.

How do the people you know impact your writing? Are you influenced by friends and family for your characters?

Friends and family, no. Bullies and bad actors I've encountered in real life and on social media sites, maybe. Mostly, however, my characters are drawn from research, the needs of the story, and facets of myself. One of the villains in my forthcoming political thriller is based on Rupert Murdoch. The other was drawn from research into sociopaths and serial killers. Who needs to invent monsters when their are so many real-life examples to draw from?

Describe the hero in your current WIP in three words.

Haunted, passionate, resourceful.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please move on to the next writer in the circle, the lovely and talented Susan Peterson Wisnewski: http://spwwrites.com/blog

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lucky Seven

Fellow authors Nikki Thomas and Sarah Hegger tagged me to play Lucky Seven. Here are the rules:

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP, then go to line 7. Post on your blog the next 7 sentences or lines--as they are! Afterward, tag 7 more authors to do the same.

Funnily, both the appointed sections from my WIP, The Knight of Cups, book two in the Knights of Avalon series, are a wee bit naughty, so I decided to post them both. 

Here are the seven lines from Page 7:

A hand brushed his thigh.
Startled, he swallowed hard.
“What are you doing there, lass?”
Appraising? What did he look like, a cut of meat in the butcher’s window?
Boldly, she took his measure.

And here are the lines from Page 77:

“I’m not big on surprises,” he said. “Tell me what you’re looking for and, if I have it, I’ll tell you where to find it.”
“What if you don’t want to wear what I’m looking for?”
“If I have it, I’ll wear it.”
She turned to find him still sitting on the chaise, looking so hot it was a miracle she didn’t melt where she stood.
“I’m looking for a tail so you can be my pony.”
His mouth cocked into a devilish grin that activated a warm discharge of moisture. “Did you dream of having a pony to ride when you were a wee lassie?”

Now, who shall I tag?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blog Tour: Promised to the Highlander by Kate Robbins

Today, it is my pleasure to feature PROMISED TO THE HIGHLANDER by the lovely and talented Kate Robbins. Published by Tirgearr, PROMISED is book two in Kate's wonderful Highland Chiefs series.

Here's the blurb:

Nessia Stephenson's world was safe until a threat from a neighbouring clan forces her to accept a betrothal to a man whose family can offer her the protection she needs. The real threat lies in her intense attraction to the man who arranged the match—the clan's chief and her intended’s brother, Fergus MacKay.
When powerful warlord Fergus MacKay arranges a marriage for his younger brother, William, he has no idea the price will be his own heart. Fergus is captivated by the wildly beautiful Nessia, a woman he can never have.
When the feud between the MacKay and Sutherland clans escalates, Nessia, William, and Fergus all must make sacrifices for their future. Longing and loss, honour and duty. How can love triumph under such desperate circumstances?

Here's an excerpt:

William paced while Fergus leaned back in his chair with his long legs stretched out and his arms crossed over his chest. Stephenson was late, not by much, but enough to make William fidget and Fergus take notice. Their three younger siblings, Freya who was in her sixteenth year, John who was fourteen, and eleven-year-old Stephen, waited as well, all in various states of impatience.
The great hall was large and welcoming with dark wooden beams framing the ceiling and walls. Fergus had counted the eighteen beams along the length of the room about a hundred times. William had worn a permanent path on the wide plank floor in front of the red sandstone hearth beneath the many MacKay hunting trophies. Young John sighed again.
“You know, for a man who isn’t eager to meet his future wife, you’ve got quite a set of nerves there lad,” Fergus said to William.
William straightened his linen shirt and smoothed his tunic as he glared at Fergus. Yet, the comment was absorbed and William ceased his pacing to sit on a chair near the fire. Fergus watched his brother adjust his belt again. The young man wore his usual dress, but had taken greater pains today to perfect his appearance. Fergus glanced down at his linen shirt and leather sleeveless tunic. William’s long hair was tied at his nape while Fergus’s was left hanging loose. Fergus recalled having to take extra pains upon his betrothal. Thankfully, those days had passed and he needn’t overly worry anymore. A young lass would surely find William’s neat, respectable appearance appealing. He hoped so, but before he could dwell on it further a servant entered, announcing the arrival of Thomas Stephenson, his daughter Nessia and several of their clansmen.
William sprang to his feet and crossed the floor in a few quick strides to greet them. He continued to fidget as Fergus sauntered up from behind.
“Thomas! Welcome. We thought we’d have to send out a search party soon.” Fergus led the stout man into the great hall.
“Aye, the road was a bit rough with a wagon in tow.”The man’s brow was streaked with sweat and he looked weary from his travels.
“We’ve had a lot of rains this harvest, there’s no doubting that.” In truth he would have gone searching himself had another hour passed. Earlier that day he’d heard more rumours about Ronan Sutherland. Apparently, the lad had agreed to his father’s suggestion and would commence his campaign in the coming days.
Fergus sensed William stiffen beside him as Thomas began the introductions.
“Fergus, William, this is my brother Neville and these three are my sons, Colin, Robert, and Camden my youngest. And this is my daughter, Nessia.”
Fergus acknowledged each man in turn. When the introduction came to the girl and his gaze fell on her, his breath caught in his throat. With black hair and bright blue eyes, she stood proudly before him with her chin lifted and all the regal confidence of a noblewoman. She displayed no fear or reservation at all, something which was unusual in most men he met, but was more so in a woman. The gentler sex usually cowered before him—not this lass.
Fergus stared at her, his heart drumming hard inside his chest. His guts clenched as if he’d been punched. He had to force himself from moving toward her to touch her hair, which looked like spun silk, for surely it could not be real.
Fergus remembered his brother then, and tore his gaze from her to find William’s eyes wide and his jaw slacked. An unexpected pang ran through him. When he
turned back it was to find her still staring at him, seemingly unabashed for staring openly at a man. A bold one, then. Fergus drew his brows together. What did she want?

Here's my five-star review of the book:
It’s the rare book that sets its hooks so deeply I find it hard to put down and, even when I must, can’t get it out of my mind. Promised to the Highlander was such a book. Author Kate Robbins hooked me at the start and kept reeling me in page after page. I stayed up past my bedtime to find out what happened next and couldn’t wait to get back to it at the end of the day.

Promised to the Highlander tells the story of the frustrated love between Fergus MacKay and Nessia Stephenson, the bonny lass he’s arrange for his younger brother to wed. The instant they set eyes on one another, the chemistry is scorching. MacKay’s brother, William, is a good man neither would dream of betraying. Both do their duty, but the magnetism between them only grows. Shades of Tristan and Isolde, yes, but with a far more satisfying ending. (Not to mention, a nail-biting plot and deliciously detailed love scenes.)

Promised to the Highlander is Book Two in the Highland Chiefs series. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Book One, Bound to the Highlander, I found the sequel even more compelling. Well done, Kate Robbins!

Ebook available at these links.

Here's Kate's Bio:
Kate Robbins, author
Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance.
Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to blend authentic historical fact into her stories. She has travelled to Scotland twice and visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.
Her Highland Chiefs series is set in the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.
Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada with her man-beast and two man-cubs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Romance Weekly

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn't you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all... About our writing of course! Every week we'll answer questions and after you've enjoyed the blog on this site we'll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask questions in the comment box."

Welcome to my tiny slice of Romance Weekly. Here are my responses to this week's jackpot questions:

What’s your ideal: alpha or beta and why?

Beta, but not wimpy. Why? Because I like men who are thoughtful, intelligent, and sensitive, as well as strong. My heroes might resist the relationship for their own misguided (albeit noble) reasons, but once they relent, they are equal partners with the heroine. I can't stand domineering, controlling men. I could never fall in love with one or expect any heroine of mine to do the same. He might be a diamond in the rough who needs a bit of sprucing up or a wild shade who needs taming or a tortured soul in need of saving, but the only bullies in my books are the villains..

Do you have a male buddy or mate you use for confirmation or inspiration when crafting your heroes?

I have a husband, but he doesn't take an active role in character development or serve as a model for my heroes.   I tend to use tarot cards, astrological signs, and the enneagram to craft my characters. Linda Goodman's Sun Signs describes the attributes of the men of each sign in a good bit of detail. In the case of my Knights of Avalon series (to be launched in 2015 by Lyrical/Kensington), I'm using the four knights of the tarot as the basis for the namesake hero. The Knight of Wands is a fiery Leo; the Knight of Cups is an emotional water sign; the Knight of Pentacles is a stubborn Taurus whose entrenched in more ways than one; the Knight of Swords will be an air sign who uses brains rather than brawn to win the day. Knowing the corresponding zodiacal signs of each card, I read Linda Goodman's descriptions until I find the one that resonates with the hero and story I have in mind. I then might use the enneagram to discover his deeper drivers.

What does any hero have to do to win your heart?

Be noble in his intentions, however misguided they may be, and care about more than himself and his personal agenda. I try to give my characters a world view and values I admire. I try to broaden the horizons of readers a little while telling them a story. Stories were invented to teach us things. I strive to keep that allegorical element operating in mine, but as invisibly as possible. I try not to preach, but there's definitely underlying perspective and themes if readers bother to look for them.

Thanks for stopping by. Your next stop in the circle is the blog of the lovely and talented Sarah Hegger, whose fabulous debut novel, The Bride Gift, is reviewed below. Take a moment to read the review if you would before popping over to Sarah's blog: http://sarahhegger.wordpress.com

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger: A Must-Read Historical Romance

The Bride GiftThe Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's the rare book that keeps me up until three o'clock in the morning, but this was one of them. I simply could not stop reading. Sarah Hegger hooked me from page one and kept the line taut and pulling until the very last page. Her storytelling is flawless, her characters compelling, her historical research impeccable, her back story perfect, and her writing masterful. A gorgeous tapestry, all in all.

Her hero, Sir Guy, is the strong, silent type. A take-charge man's man who says little, oozes courage, stands by his principles, and mitigates his innate passions with good sense. (A stubborn-yet-passionate Taurus, I'm guessing.) He is a born warrior--just the type, our heroine wants nothing to do with. She is Helena, willful, easily stirred up, and used to having her own way. She doesn't know what to think of, let alone do with, a man like Sir Guy, especially when he is sprung on her in the middle of the night as her new husband, despite her long betrothal to a very different sort of man. (She might be an Aries or perhaps a Scorpio?)

I will not give any more away. Suffice it to say, this is a captivating book by a debut author well worth watching. Bravo, Sarah Hegger. I, for one, can't wait for your next masterpiece.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Romance Weekly

If' you've just come from Susan Peterson Wiseniski's blog, welcome to my little slice of the Romance Weekly pie!

Have you always written romance?

No.  And even when I do write romance, it doesn't follow the rules of the genre, probably because I mostly read literary fiction, not genre fiction. I know I shouldn't admit this, but I only started reading genre romance after I started writing what seemed to be romance. My next book, releasing the end of August, is a political thriller. There's a romantic subplot, but it's definitely not a romance. The books I'm working on for my Knights of Avalon series are a mixture of erotic paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and high fantasy.

How do you deal with critiques about the romance genre?

I'm not sure to answer that, since I struggle with my own self-criticisms about writing romance. It helped to go to the national RWA conference last year. I met so many brilliant women there who were writing romance it made me feel proud to be in their company.

What’s the one thing about our genre you’d like people to know?

If you think writing a book, romance or otherwise, is easy, think again. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done and I was a pretty good writer when I started.

Thanks for dropping by. Next stop, the blog of Victoria Barbour, the creator of this week's questions: http://victoriabarbour.com/blog