Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiday Snapshots - week five

Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments about my Holiday Snapshots series.
It's been a lot of fun.
Here's a few from Christmas this year.
My son loved decorating his gingerbread train.
And yes, he licked the whole thing.

A new and upcoming photographer.
The camera actually takes digital photos.

Enjoying Christmas morning breakfast and talking to Granny on the phone.

Our little living room after all the present opening was done.
Happy Holidays!
Bring on 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Writing Goals

I didn't do nearly as much writing as I wanted to this year, but I learned a lot about the craft, networking, and critiquing. Learning how to tear apart someone else's story makes me a better writer in the end when I do the same for myself. Connecting with other writers has also helped encourage me and taught me so much. You guys are the greatest!

Goal #1: I want to get back to writing one short story a month and submitting it. I did this for a few years before my son was born, but I lost a lot of momentum when I had a newborn to care for. This will also mean I will have one new short story to present to my CPs and writers' group every month. My lessons in critiquing will continue.

Goal #2: Try to get one short story polished to such a degree that it is published in a SFWA approved publication. This is a very difficult thing to do. I want it, though. I want it so much. It will take work, work, and more work, and whole load of originality and great storytelling.

Goal #3: Revise and submit three of my paranormal romances: Witch's First Rule (mainstream adult paranormal romance), A Lion's Heart (erotic paranormal romance), and Sorrow Phage (urban fantasy with a romantic subplot). It's going to take a lot of time. Revising is one of my least favorite things to do. Yet marketing it properly when I submit a novel is something I like even less. I will take my lessons learn and apply them, and hopefully *knock on wood* I'll have a novel with a wonderful press next year.

Goal #4: Complete the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April. I'm very excited about this challenge. I think I might do a story that covers all 26 days. The tricky part will be making it apply to each letter. I also realized that April will be a hectic month for me. My son's and husband's birthdays, and we'll be visiting my family in Canada for a week. I'll have to make sure my blog posts are written beforehand.

Goal #5: Complete the NaNoWriMo challenge in November. It might be my only chance next year to write a new novel.

Whew. That sounds like a lot, but I have the whole year. I can do it... right?

What are your writing goals for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Great Comments Award and Nicole Zoltack's Generosity

Thank you to The Golden Eagle for this awesome award:
I try my best to make time to comment on all the blogs I follow.
I'm also very thankful to all of you who follow my blog and comment.
You make the whole blogging experience worthwhile.

I am happy to pass on this award to my 20 most recent commenters:

The generous Nicole Zoltack has put out the offer of critiques. All you have to do is follow her blog!
You can choose a query, synopsis or first page critique.
Just email her one of the above. First come, first serve!
Thank you, Nicole!

Wicked Wednesday on Thursday - virgin heroines

With paranormal romance, we come across the strong and independent heroine. She knows what she wants and how to get it. Well, in some things.

It's not typical in adult paranormal romances, but sometimes we do come across the virgin heroine. She might be successful at everything else in her life, but love has always eluded her and she's not one to just sleep around. It allows an innocence and newness to the romance, drawing the reader along as she meets a mysterious and gorgeous individual whom she can't stop hungering for.

I prefer an experienced heroine, but I don't mind a virgin as long as she is well written. No one knows exactly what to do the first time around. No one has multiple orgasms the first time, nor after a minute or two in bed with her lover. Be realistic. The loss of her virginity would be a big emotional scene, a turning point in her identity. Not only in how she sees herself, but how others see her. The hero's realization that she's a virgin can also be a pivotal point. And the villain's if it is important to their evil plot!

I've heard the argument that an inexperienced heroine and a very experienced hero creates inequality in romance novels. Sometimes women do fantasize about being taken by a lover who knows exactly what to do. It's about surrendering, giving yourself, and all the emotions that go with it. It's becoming less common to find a virgin heroine and a promiscuous hero falling for one another, but the fantasy still attracts readers. Also, there is a rise in promiscuous heroines who are more experienced than the men. A few times, more so in YA than in adult books, the heroine and hero will both be virgins.

Do you like to read romances with virgin heroines? Do you think an inexperienced heroine and a promiscuous hero creates inequality in romance novels?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Interview with James Dorr

Please join me in welcoming short story writer and poet, James Dorr to my blog. He contacted me after we both got a short horror story accepted into the Indiana Horror Anthology 2011 and extended an invitation to me to join his writers' group, S.C.I.F.I. - South Central Indiana Fiction Interface. He's tough with his critiques, but I prefer it that way. I've learned a lot from him in the group.

Christine: I understand you've just published a book of poetry about vampires. Vampires seem to hold a lot of fascination for other people too. What do you think the fascination is based on?

James: Yes, Vamps (A Retrospective) was published by Sam’s Dot Publishing ( this August. The fascination with vampires seems to be universal, stories go back to at least ancient Rome, and most cultures seem to have some variation on the myth. But why shouldn’t it be? Vampires represent the nexus between sex and death, birth and rebirth, or in Freudian terms eros and thanatos. And who of us can say that these aren’t our favorite subjects, at least at times?

Last year you had a Christmas story, "The Christmas Vulture," in the ezine Untied Shoelaces of the Mind (reprinted this September in their 2011 Anthology). Do you write a holiday story every Christmas and, if so, what can we expect this year?

Another favorite subject, at least in Western societies, though Christmas is celebrated these days to some degree the world over. This also makes for powerful icons, ones begging (to a horror writer) to be cast down, or at least messed with some. My first, simply called "A Christmas Story," appeared in the Winter 1991-92 issue of Cemetery Dance and I’ve written one or sometimes more nearly every year since. That one was about a boy who poisons Santa’s snack in retaliation for crummy presents the year before (Santa’s snack is always a good subject) while two stories just out this year, "Naughty or Nice" in Daily Science Fiction (archived on as of Dec. 28) and I’m Dreaming Of A. . . as a short story e-book by Untreed Reads Publishing (, are about, respectively, a Parisian vampiress’s letter to St. Nick and snow that eats meat. "The Christmas Vulture," incidentally, is still available in issue 3 of Untied Shoelaces at

You write poetry too. Do you think that has an effect on your fiction writing?

Absolutely, and in several ways, if only because writing poetry helps instill a love of words –- and the way they sound -- as well as practicing compact expression within set rules (even free verse has rules, though you may have to figure them out for yourself –- for this reason I recommend burgeoning poets start out writing formal verse, learning those rules before attempting to modify them). Poetry also allows expression of ideas that might not be amenable to treatment in story form (pure image, for instance, without plot or characters), though occasionally a poem will become itself an idea for a story. As an example, "Naughty or Nice," above, came out of a poem I’d written a few years before called "The List." "The List," I should add, is one of the poems in Vamps (A Retrospective).

Are there any writers you'd like to cite as especially influencing your work?

This one’s easy, though the answer can vary from time to time, depending perhaps on what I’m working on at a given moment. Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Allen Ginsberg (less so now, perhaps, but especially in my longer poetry), Bertolt Brecht (social motivations and intentional distancing -– his notion of "epic theatre" –- in certain stories).

Going back to the first question, what is your fascination with
vampires? Is there anything else you bring to the subject?

Two things perhaps, one being music. Somehow vampires seem to me to go well with jazz and jazz themes (this may be from the Ginsbergian influence cited above, though in this case affecting shorter poems too. You’ll see it in Vamps.) Then the other, for want of a better term, might be domesticity. Vampires are great as distant, mysterious, and, yes, sexy figures, but what if you dated or married one. Do you take turns washing the blood-stained coffee cups piling up in the sink?

What has been the toughest criticism you've received? Your biggest compliment?

Not naming names, I just remembered what might be the toughest. In graduate school, I wrote a weekly column for an alternate student newspaper as well as doing utility writing as needed, film and theatre reviews, etc. One year one professor marked my first paper for him with words to the effect that "you need to learn how to write a good, clear English sentence," to which my first thought was "Wow, I hope my editor hasn’t noticed!" (Not to worry, much of my column work was done under pen names, in part not to let it interfere with academics, but also, in fairness, there are certain stories I deliberately write in a florid style that have evoked occasional comments about "convoluted sentences." When an editor complains about one, I usually just break it up into two parts.)

As for the best, I’m still amazed that editors actually buy my work and pay money for it, so in a way almost any sale is a compliment. Two that stand out, though, were a phone call received from Charles Grant accepting the story "Victorians" for the anthology Gothic Ghosts (Tor Books, 1997 –- also reprinted in my collection Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and, more recently, in Innsmouth Free Press’s Candle in the Attic Window) to the effect that this was the only story both he and his co-editor Wendy Webb gave an immediate "yes" to, and a similarly effusive phone acceptance from Forrest J. Ackerman for a story, "Flute and Harp" (originally in the anthology Whispers and Shadows, Prime Books, 2001), for his planned but unfortunately never published Sci-Fi Lesbianthology.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Persevere, persevere, persevere. And learn from your failures. Writing is hard and I wonder sometimes, if I had known how hard, I would have kept it up, but in retrospect it’s been more than worth it –- at least to me.

Do you find yourself drawn to poetry or fiction writing the most? And what drew you to feeling a need to express yourself in a poetic manner?

I’ve put these together because the answer to both is the same: I really don’t know. I know that I’d want to have some kind of creative outlet, but I also play music and I used to draw (I still do very crude cartoons sometimes). Perhaps I could say that poetry (as well as creative prose) should evoke images much like visual art and I’ve already mentioned that poetry (add to that prose, too) also involves sound, so maybe I’m getting the best of all worlds. As to which I’m drawn to the most, it depends on the project. Short poetry is faster, at least in first draft, if only because it’s short, often requiring only the germ of an idea to bring out, though as for longer poems they require as much pre-planning –- for structure, for instance, as much as a story relies on plot; for mood perhaps as a replacement for characters –- as a piece of fiction.

Your writing's quirky and always manages to surprise me which is a difficult thing to do. Where do you get your inspiration? How do you stay original?

First off, I’m flattered by your question, not the least because I consider lack of imagination one of my greatest flaws. I have to go out and wrestle with the muse –- no sitting around for me waiting for "creative juices" to flow (I keep seeing that phrase in writers’ magazines and it’s always seemed vaguely obscene to me. Perhaps that could be an idea for a story). I like themed anthologies because they give a hint from the start about what to write about, the game then being finding some other idea or ideas to graft to it. And that, I think, is the answer to inspiration, that it involves the creative combining of ideas. A vampire and a saint combined with a childlike writing letters to Santa. Me and others combing the shelves of the CVS store the day after Christmas searching for marked-down candy combined with my sudden thought that we were like vultures. I usually carry a pen and some paper, so that got jotted down. As for the other part, staying original, maybe it’s just that I steal with grace, because I do steal too –- I don’t mind saying it. Much of my work is based on such things as fairytales and myth, not to mention an entire book on the notion of vampires. But the art comes in thinking of multiple things, as unlike as possible, that can be juxtaposed with the first idea.

To wrap things up, do you have other books that you haven’t mentioned, and what new projects are you working on now? Where can one look to find more about you?

We’ve mentioned Vamps and the Untreed Reads e-book I’m Dreaming of A. . ., as well as, in passing, my first general collection Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance. Strange Mistresses was published in 2001 by Dark Regions Press ( and has a companion volume, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, that came out in 2007. Both these books are primarily prose, but with a short section of poems at the end. Then I have one short story chapbook, The Garden, in both print and e-book form from Damnation Books ( which has gotten good reviews but poor sales (and isn’t that the story for us all?) and another e-book from Untreed Reads, Vanitas, which originally appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and is also in print in Strange Mistresses (and has also gotten good reviews, but hasn’t been out as an e-book long enough for me to have a royalty statement yet). As for the future, I’ve been working on a series of far-future, dying Earth stories set in and around a vast necropolis called "The Tombs," just over a dozen of which have been published in various places (including one that appears in Strange Mistresses and three in Darker Loves). "Flute and Harp," mentioned above, is one of these and, if all goes well, I’ve been talking off and on with a publisher about a novel composed of Tombs stories linked by a common theme, tentatively under the rubric Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. In the shorter term, I’ve been writing a number of flash fiction pieces -- which in some respects may serve as the fiction equivalent of short poems, as described above -- in part to follow electronic markets which often run to shorter stories, but I’ve also been making a concerted effort to get earlier stories back into print, such as "Victorians" mentioned above. And then I’m also looking at electronic publishers, Untreed Reads right now in particular, as possible ongoing markets for reprints that haven’t appeared in electronic form before. 

For more information about these and other projects, including a handy "click the picture of the cover" display to get to publishers’ sites for my books, I invite readers to check out my blog,, which also includes occasional sample poems and stories or links to get to them, up-to-date bibliographies of fiction and poetry, reviews now and then of DVDs I’ve watched, and a link to my cat Wednesday’s personal web page. And should the spirit move, don’t be shy about leaving comments.

James Dorr is a short story writer and poet with two collections, STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE and DARKER LOVES: TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, published by Dark Regions Press and an illustrated all-poetry collection, VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), from Sam's Dot Publishing. He also has a novella, THE GARDEN, available in electronic and print chapbook form from Damnation Books; electronic chapbooks VANITAS and I'M DREAMING OF A . . . from Untreed Reads Publishing; and nearly four hundred individual appearances in magazines and anthologies in the US, Canada, Britain, France, Australia, Holland, and Brazil, ranging from ABORIGINAL SCIENCE FICTION and ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE to XENOPHILIA and THE YELLOW BAT REVIEW. Dorr has worked a number of jobs including technical writer, city editor on a regional magazine, full time non-fiction freelancer, and semi-professional musician, and now resides in southern Indiana with current cat, Wednesday, named for Wednesday Addams in the original TV series THE ADDAMS FAMILY.

Thank you for the interview, James! I hope to have a new short story ready for you to critique next month.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A nice quiet Christmas

It was a quiet Christmas for us this year, but very nice. Our son opened two presents, grew bored, and demanded we clean up. He loves the easel we bought him and the LeapPad from his Gramma. He's such a gadget freak like his father!

It was such a mild day, we spent the afternoon at one of the local parks. We had so much fun, we didn't leave until the sun had set. Surprisingly, the park was pretty busy. Lots of people enjoying the day out with their families.

Today we ran a bunch of errands and picked out glasses for our son. He looks adorable!
We have some snow now. Maybe we can take the sled out to the backyard and go down the little hill.

I hope everyone had a great holiday. Don't forget to stop by tomorrow when I interview short story writer and poet, James Dorr.

Teaser Tuesday with Succubus Blues

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I love Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series. Succubus Blues is the first book in the Georgina Kincaid series, adult paranormal romance. The first page made me laugh. Great start. You have to love a reluctant succubus!
Here's your teaser:
Sleep with Seth Mortensen? Good grief. It was the most preposterous thing I'd ever heard. It was appalling. If I absorbed his life force, there was no telling how long it'd be until his next book came out. (page 25)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas

Whatever you're celebrating, I hope you have a fantastic holiday season and a wonderful new year.
Happy Christmas!

(Side note: when searching for a photo to put up for Christmas on your blog with a paranormal romance or vintage theme, make sure to have the safe search on.
Oh, what holiday "gifts" I have seen!)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Snapshots - week four

Happy Christmas Eve! Here's another edition of Holiday Snapshots for your viewing pleasure.

My brother, my cousins on my mom's side, and I on Christmas.
We always had Christmas day dinner at my grandparents' house.
I miss it.

My son sat on Santa's lap this year, but he wasn't exactly happy about it.
He didn't think too much of the candy cane either.
Yet when he see the photo on the cabinet, he says: "Santa. Lap. Sit. Candy."

Please join me next Wednesday when I interview short story writer and poet, James Dorr.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A little Christmas story

This is my entry for Heather's holiday story contest. Here's the details:
It's very simple.  I want to read your most original, scary or uplifting holiday story (I like both, so since this is my contest - I figure I'll make you write what I like to read!).  Now, notice I didn't say "Christmas"; it can be ANY holiday you celebrate!  It does NOT have to be a holiday that occurs in winter months.  The entry can be no more than 500 words.

I do not know how to do the wonderful "Linky Lists" like Rachel Harrie over at Rach Writes did during the Campaigner Challenge, so here are the requirements:

1. Post your story on your blog
2. Mention my blog and this contest within that post
3. Comment here that you have posted and link back to the SPECIFIC post
4. "Follow" my blog! :)

That's it!  What you can win is some pretty cool stuff.

First place: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
Second place: A beautiful E-Reader cozy (that I will purchase from the fantabulous ZiziRho Designs, your choice!)
Third place: A leather writing journal

All entries MUST be posted by Saturday, December 31, 2011.  I will have the three winners posted on my blog by Thursday, January 5, 2011.

I decided to go with something sweet. I hope you enjoy it!


“I think I'm going to cry.”

“What?” Barb shot me a glance. “Shush and stop being so melodramatic.” She returned her attention to the CEO as he finished his Christmas toast. Everyone raised their glasses and shouted, “Cheers!”

I didn't pick up my glass. There was nothing for me to toast. Victor didn't show for our first date. My stomach was hard and heavy, and there wasn't a sympathetic shoulder to lean on.

Barb downed her drink and let out a whoop.

“Bring in Santa!” Her exclamation was met with several hoots and cheers.

“I can't believe they're still doing this stupid Santa thing.” I grumped, flopping into the nearest empty chair.

A chant of “Santa, Santa, Santa” pounded into my head. Bells jingled and someone flipped on Christmas music. A man in a red suit and horribly fake beard strode into the room, playing up to the crowd. He danced with the girls and gave high fives to the guys.

I couldn't take any more of this ridiculous merriment. I thought Victor was different. I thought he could have been the one.

“I'm going home.” I stood up and was nabbed by Barb before I could walk two feet.

“Oh come on, hon. So what? Some jerk stood you up. I'm single and you don't see me getting all depressed.” She hooked her arm through mine and yanked me forward. “It's two days until Christmas. It's an open bar. And have you seen how good you look tonight? Santa's going to drool into your cleavage.”

“That's exactly what I want for Christmas.” I rolled my eyes, but I let her drag me into the line. I knew Barb was right, but it was still hard to feel festive when all I could imagine was Victor's gorgeous smile and the sparkle in his eyes.

Lost to my own dreary thoughts, I hadn't realized we were at the front of the line until Barb shoved me forward. I stumbled, half-sitting on Santa's leg and using the arm of the chair to balance myself. I felt silly sitting on his lap, but it was a company tradition.

“And what do you want for Christmas, pretty girl?”

I didn't look up at him. I could feel his eyes on me. I bet the perverts lined up for this gig.


“There has to be something you want.” His voice softened and he patted my knee.

That was it. I wasn't going to pretend to put up with this crap any more.

I raised my head, looking into his eyes, ready to sock him in his padded gut. His dreamy eyes.

He smiled. The same smile that always made my knees weak.

“I think Santa brought me exactly what I need.” I kissed him on the cheek.

“Later.” Victor winked at me.

“Later.” I agreed and rose from his lap with my Christmas spirit renewed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Sound asleep. The sweet little guy. He's so adorable. Then when he was awake today, EWWWWWW! My son has a rotavirus. I won't describe it. You can click on the link and that will be enough said. I'm happy we got a carpet steam cleaner as an early Christmas present.

Aside from all my cleaning and comforting today, I managed to get a nice chunk of writing done. I'm that much closer to the big climax of my current novel. I won't get it done before Christmas like I hoped, but maybe the end of December. *knocks on wood*

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - write spooky

There are paranormal romances that are light-hearted and silly. They don't have a dark atmosphere, but most of the books in this genre try to create a spooky feeling at some point in the story. It's a tough thing to do. There's only one Stephen King. As for the rest of us, we have to use all the tricks at our disposal.

When I think creepy atmosphere, I think setting. Graveyards, haunted houses, empty streets. Just placing your characters in an ill-lit room will help immensely. Yet it doesn't have to be a horror stereotype. If you're good, you can make any setting spooky. The reader is going to expect something out of the ordinary even if you place the scene in the ladies' restroom or a wig shop.

It's in the details. Don't over do it with lavish descriptions of dusty cobwebs, the wind blowing the drapes, and something lurking in the shadows. Drop a chilly detail here and there. Something that might be normal but isn't quite. Something that will make the reader wonder. A writer's best tool in creating a spooky scene is the reader's imagination. The reader will always imagine something horrible and help to give themselves goosebumps.

Part of the creepiness of a story is in creating suspense and tension. You want the reader on the edge of their seat. An effective way of doing this is through the characters' reactions. Don't let your text be filled with too much thinking. Describe what they're seeing, hearing, smelling. Use all the senses. Write their physical reactions. Spooky stories are about showing rather than telling.

Even with paranormal romance where things are out of the ordinary, try to keep things as realistic as possible. What scares people the most is if they start thinking something like that is possible. Hit on the things that frighten people the most and use them to help build up the tension. Vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures can fear the same things as humans do.

What tricks do you use for creating a spooky atmosphere in your stories?

Side note: Wicked Wednesday will be on Thursday next week as I'm having a special guest interview on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with CassaStar

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaStar is a great break from the books I usually read. It's space opera that reminds me of Battlestar Galactica in a way. I hear drums when the battles start. I usually watch more sci-fi than read it, but sometimes the written word can be as vivid as a film and Alex manages to do it. I'm halfway through and it's getting even better. Though, I don't dare have my Nook out when little toddler hands can grab it!

Here's your teaser:
He caught his breath, a moment of doubt grasping at his throat. They were about to shoot down real people. (page 172)

Update: Alex is having a giveaway! Win a free copy of CassaStar as a great gift to yourself.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winners of the David Salnave Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who commented and entered in the giveaway.
And thank you, David, for doing the interview and giveaway. You were great!

David is excited to give away some holiday prizes., please give us the lucky numbers!
The winner of the signed copy of To Kids From One to Ninety Two is:

The winner of an e-copy of To Kids From One to Ninety Two is:
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse

The winners of the video Christmas cards are:

Congratulations to all the winners!
David will be in contact with you shortly.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I am Neo

I've always been able to remember my dreams. And, oh, what dreams I have! Lots of monsters, haunted houses, flying, and walking out of the house without pants. My dreams inspire me to write a lot of stories.

I've a lot of control over my dreams too. I know I'm dreaming, and if I'm unhappy with the way a dream is going, I can change it or wake up. I am Neo of the dream world.

I had a fun one the other night. I woke up at six to pee, and knowing that I only had another hour or so of sleep ahead of me, I went back to bed. In the dream, I had to save a mermaid girl from two evil brothers. (They were like the evil versions of the Kratts Brothers.) The mermaid was the key to ridding the world of pollution and saving life on the planet itself. I got held up in a house with friends. We were surrounded by the Brothers' goons. I knew I only had a few more minutes of sleep ahead of me. I needed the action to go quicker. I walked outside and giant mutant dogs lunged at me. I held up a hand and said, "Sit." They sat. The goons aimed guns at me. I said, "No bullets." The guns were all empty. I ran down the road. I had to get to the beach, but it was across town. Nope, not acceptable. I created a road right there that lead to the beach. There was a huge line of people waiting to get in through the military checkpoint-like entrance. I jumped up to the top of a cliff and ran off, flying out over the water. The Atlantic Ocean. How was I going to find the mermaid? Well, I sent the Pez Army to track the Brothers. It was easy to spot the Pez Army since it was so large. Yes, I said Pez Army. Those little sugar candies are powerful as they are yummy. I flew out and was about to rescue the mermaid when my alarm went off. Maybe the brothers planned that too. Hmm.

Today is the last day to enter the David Salnave holiday book giveaway! Give yourself the warm Christmas fuzzies with For Kids From One to Ninety Two.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Snapshots - week three

This is the continuation of my Holiday Snapshots series. Every Saturday this month, I'm posting holiday themed photos. My cards are out and my shopping's done. Up with the tree today and a holiday party later this evening!

That's me in the middle on the top row.
These are the kids I grew up with: The Kingham Kids.
We loved Christmas Eve because we'd get to stay up late playing while all our folks sat around drinking.

My son wasn't interested in opening presents last year.
Eating the tissue paper, well, that's a whole other matter!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Giveaways, contests, and more giveaways

You still have a few days to enter the David Salnave holiday book giveaway on my blog. He'll make you laugh and he'll make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Perfect holiday gift.

We all love giveaways. Free stuff! It's even better during the holidays when we're spending too much money as it is. Here's a list of fantastic contests and giveaways. Click, enter and be merry!

Cherie Reich is giving away six critiques on her writing blog and three books she's reviewed on her book review blog. She's an editor and an awesome critique partner. A critique by her is a fabulous gift to yourself. Plus, books. Need I say more?

Heather at My Demon Spirits is having a holiday short story contest. Stories can be funny, uplifting or scary, and must be no longer than 500 words. First place winner gets a $25 Amazon gift card. Second place wins an e-reader cozy and third place a leather writing journal. Great prizes!

It's Melissa Bradley's birthday at Melissa's Imaginarium. Leave a comment on her birthday post to win a copy of any of her stories. I'm in the mood for cake right now.

inkPageant is giving away a ten page critique by Eschler Editing. Again, what better gift could you give yourself than helping to improve your craft.

All Things Urban Fantasy is giving away a free eARC of Thea Harrison's True Colors. Awesome paranormal romance.

The magnificent and hilarious author Gini Koch is having a contest with several gift packs. Just tell her which ones you'd like, your favorite holiday tradition, and how she's the bestest author out there!

J.C. Martin is giving away a copy of Kathleen S. Allen's Witch Hunter. More wonderful paranormal fun!

Paranormal romance author Yasmine Galenorn is giving away an ARC copy of Shaded Vision, the next book in her Otherworld series. Excellent series.

Win a Kindle Fire or a $200 Amazon gift card HERE!

Allison Pang offers you a chance to win a Nook as part of the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop Part 2. All you have to do is write a hedgehog haiku. Here's the link to all the contests in the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop.

If there's any you want to include, please leave a link in the comments section. I'll appreciate it as much as everyone else. Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Bah Humbug Blahg Fest

This made me laugh. I couldn't resist participating in Grumpy Bulldog's Blahg Fest. I've been known to be a bit of a humbug now and then. Less so now that I have a child, but the humbug still creeps out on those dark December nights.

The rules are simple. Answer this question:
What are the 12 things I hate most about the holiday season?

1. Fruitcake. It's one of those things that make me inwardly cringe. It looks like... Well, I won't say. I don't want anyone else experiencing nausea when looking at those things. Blech.
2. The commercialism. Yes, I know we all hate it. It should go unsaid, but, well, I'm saying it anyway.
3. Family guilt trips. My family lives in Canada. My husband's parents are divorced. We have to decide between three different places to spend Christmas. Those we aren't with at Christmas give guilt trips. This year, we're staying home and not traveling. The guilt trips are coming in like a blinding blizzard.
4. Mothers should not buy their adult daughters Christmas panties. Every year it happens. Socks, please. Socks are a much better option. I never want my mom thinking about something only my husband and I will ever see.
5. The awkward moment when someone unexpected gives you a gift and you haven't bought anything for them. You try to be gracious and apologetic. But they know there's nothing you can say to make up for the fact they got you something and you didn't get them a thing. I've seen the Facebook updates. I know what they say after the fact.
6. Mistletoe. The perfect excuse for a drunken neighbor or a creepy uncle to let his lips linger too long.
7. The Elf on the Shelf. My brother and his wife gave us one last year. My son loves it. The thing gives me the willies.
8. Shopping. I don't like shopping to begin with. I tried to do all my shopping online this year. I didn't succeed. People are so much ruder and aggressive this time of year at the stores. My sympathy to those of you who work retail.
9. Christmas cards. I like to send out cards and I like to receive them. I make sure they're all addressed and ready to go before December. I send out about 60 of them. On average, I get about 15 back. It makes me pout.
10. Advent Calendars. Only one chocolate a day? Oh no, I don't think so. At least a dozen would make it more worthwhile.
11. Early Christmas hype. At least wait until after Halloween!
12. The idea that Christmas is just for children. The rest of us want to enjoy it too!

Don't forget to enter David Salnave's holiday giveaway! No humbugging from him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - the nice guy

Almost every woman says she wants a nice, funny guy. No matter what the media tells you, it's true. Real stories of women seeking out the bad boys are exaggerated. Nice guys don't finish last.

We don't see that many nice guys in romance novels, though. Why is that? Women want to read about the bad boy with the hidden heart of gold. Women of every social class, of every age. Again, you ask why? For the fantasy of it, for an escape from reality. If you ask the same women if they want a man in real life like the arrogant and possessive heroes in the books, they'll say no. They want the nice guys.

Nice guys are almost impossible to find in paranormal romance. The dark supernatural worlds with all those monsters to fight tend to produce hardened men. Or the men that the heroines fall for are the monsters. I love all the layers this adds to the romance aspect of the story. Ah, the complexities of being a vampire's life-mate or falling for a gorgeous ghost that you can't even touch.

Not that paranormal romance is void of nice guys. Usually they're family or friends. Not the love interest.

I find nice guys are more common in YA than adult. I'm glad for that. The most popular example I can think of is the Harry Potter series. I love that Harry and Ron were nice guys. They prove you can have a fantastic story with nice guys. They each got the girl at the end too.

My heroes are usually the sarcastic, arrogant type. They're just so much fun to write. Of course, they can be highly moral and have good hearts, but they have flaws that would make them highly annoying in real life. I should take up the challenge and write a story with a nice guy as the hero.
Do you prefer reading romances with the bad boy or the nice guy? Can you name any paranormal romances with a nice guy as the love interest?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with Thirteen Reasons Why

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I would have never picked up this book on my own. I browse the YA section more often these days, but a book about suicide wouldn't draw me in. I've heard a lot of great things about Jay Asher's book and they're all true. I'm blown away. I won't say it's the best thing I've ever read, but the teen inside of me reacted to it. The little things do affect all of us.
Here's your teaser:
For Jessica, it was easier to think of me as Bad Hannah than as the Hannah she got to know at Monet's. It was easier to accept. Easier to understand. (page 66)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Interview and Giveaway with David Salnave

The fire is crackling merrily and the smell of freshly baked cookies fills the house. The room is large but cozy, and filled with happy friends and family. Everyone is smiling and a few people have eggnog mustaches. There's a big tree in the corner with presents piled high underneath. I think the elf on the shelf just winked at you.

Come on in and take a seat by the fire. I want to introduce you to an old friend of mine. Someone who would always make me laugh in the mornings so I could get through the cold winter days. Please welcome David Salnave, comedian and author of To Kids From One to Ninety Two.

Put on your favorite Christmas album and grab a cup of hot cocoa, To Kids From One to Ninety Two is just what you need to get into the spirit of the season. A collection of Christmas cheer with just the right amount of cheese, these stories are a reminder to ADULTS of all ages that we should never get too old, or busy, or cool to enjoy the holidays with childlike wonder. 

Christine: I'm excited to have you here. I'm even more excited that you've published a wonderful book that makes me giggle, and feel warm and fuzzy too. What inspired you to write this book?

David: There were many inspirations behind this book. From my family and friends, to the fond Christmas memories and great Christmas stories I grew up on. I have a lot of Christmas Spirit that has been passed on to me, and I have always been eager to share it with others.

C: Publishing the book was a great way to share your cheer with others. What's your favorite thing about the holidays?

D: My favorite thing about the holidays is that it gives people an excuse to set everything else aside and enjoy the things that matter most to them. Family, friends, charity, taking a break from the grind. Sometimes we lose sight of what we need most in life.

C: That's so true. I've heard a lot of stories about your family. What do they think about the book?

D: Well, once they figured out that it wasn't a joke, they were very happy for me. That reminds me, I need to give out some guilt trips to those who have not yet bought their copy!

C: I've already bought mine!  What's your favorite part of the book?

D: I think I had the most fun writing the introduction. That is where I really spoke person to person with the reader the most. The intro really gives the reader a clear picture of what the thought process behind this book was. 

C: What affected your decision to self publish? And do you have any advice for writers wanting to do so?

D: I think time and inexperience were the biggest factors. I do not regret self publishing, but there is a lot that you have to be careful of. As for advice, check and recheck your work. Trust me, there will be something you missed. Better you catch it then someone else.

C: And there always seems like something we miss. Do you have any projects in the works?

D: I will be writing a new Christmas story for next year called the Christmas Consultant. Its about a man who makes a living making Christmas dreams come true for others, but never really took the time to focus on his own happiness. It's sort of like Hitch meets White Christmas.

C: Awesome! I can't wait to read it. Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to mingle and help yourself to the cookies.

David has some fantastic gifts for all of you. He's giving away a signed paperback copy of his book, an e-copy of his book, and three video Christmas cards. To enter, leave a comment below along with your email address. In one week, the winners will be chosen by

Bio: David Salnave is a born and bred New Yorker who has been writing and doing standup comedy for the past four years. He prides himself on being a pretty tough guy, but has always had a big soft spot in his heart for the Christmas season. It's the only time of year when he allows himself to be as sappy and childlike as he can be. He's a firm believer that we all need to make time in our lives to just focus on being happy, and that Christmas provides us with the perfect opportunity to do so. David hopes his writing helps people to remember this, and to maintain perspective on what is most important in life.

Check out David's spotlight here!

You can buy a copy of To Kids From One To Ninety Two on Lulu.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

151 Followers and Holiday Giveaway

I'm watching Snowmageddon on Syfy as I type this. Oh, how I love to laugh at these wonderfully horrible movies. The fun of cursed snow globes. Is it a rule of Syfy movies that no one is allowed to use common sense?

I have 151 followers. Yay! Welcome to my little corner of Blogger. It's wonderful to meet you all. When I hit 200, I'll have another giveaway.

Yet wait! I'll be having a holiday giveaway this week. Jingle your bells and do happy Snoopy dance. I have a special guest coming to visit and he's feeling the Christmas spirit. Don't miss your chance to win some cool prizes.

In writing news, well, there is none. I've still not been feeling the greatest. Instead of writing when my son has been napping, I've been napping too. I've lost a lot of writing and blogging time. Back to the doctor's on Wednesday. Hopefully my body will experience some holiday magic and be reinvigorated.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Snapshots - week two

If you didn't see last week, I'm doing a series of holiday photos every Saturday this month. I thought about decorating my blog, but I still haven't gotten to decorating my house. The cards have to go out first and then I need to get my shopping done. It's that time of year!

In grade three, I was Suzy Snowflake for our school's Christmas festival play.
I really, really hated it.
I was a tomboy and I never wore pink. I think the music teacher choose me to punish me for some reason!

My two favorite people in the world on Christmas morning 2010.
I love this picture.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cherie Reich's holiday giveaways

My generous friend and critique partner, Cherie Reich is having two holiday giveaways.
She's giving away SIX critiques on her author blog!
Yes, you read correctly. SIX critiques!
1 - 25 page, 2 - 10 page, 3 - 1 page
She's also giving away books on her review site.
Any book from those she reviewed.

I'll be having a special guest and a holiday giveaway here very soon.
(Hopefully we'll have things sorted out and ready by Monday! *knocks on wood*)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - Witch's First Rule

I've talked about a lot about the different aspects of how to market paranormal romances. I've been asked a few times to use examples from my own work. Here we go. It's time to put all those tips and research to work.

I'm going to use a novel that has gotten a lot of attention from agents and publishers, but somehow, I never make the sale. Why? I've been marketing it all wrong.

It's taken me a long time to realize why I couldn't sell it. I was too close to the story. I took a break from it to work on a few other manuscripts and now I see it with fresh eyes. It surprises me how much I've changed and how I've grown as a writer. How could I have thought what I was doing was the right way? I have a particular love-hate relationship with the protagonist, Magena Silver. She's been with me for a number of years. We know each other well. Perhaps too well. She likes to get her way and knows how to manipulate me, but her way isn't always the right way.

The first issue: the title. The book was originally called Alchemy. I was very attached to the title, but it doesn't speak to a paranormal romance audience. It's plain. It doesn't have any character. It could be a "How To" book for what anyone could guess from the title alone.

The new title: Witch's First Rule. This says a lot more. Saying "witch" allows the potential reader to know what they're dealing with. It's a paranormal. It has something to do with rules. The twist is it's not rules of magic, but Magena's rules of dating. It'll make the potential reader curious to find out what this first rule is. It's also a play on the title of a famous fantasy novel by Terry Goodkind.

I sent a query letter out to several agents and publishers. One in seven responded with interest and asked to see the full manuscript. Each time it was rejected. It wasn't what they were looking for. So what did they see in my query letter - particularly the blurb - that led them to believe it was something else?

Here's the old blurb: Magena Silver is a professional celebrity and a witch. She's the most successful marriage therapist in America because she secretly slips love potions to her clients. In Alchemy, she helps one couple and it turns out to be a grave mistake.  The father of the wife is a powerful witch – a Master - and he wants Magena to make an antidote or else he will kill her.  Magena fails to make one and must discover another way to defeat the Master with the help of her companions.  She is caught up in an ancient battle between two powerful families and must deal with a lovesick gypsy as well as her attraction to the handsome empath the Master has sent to watch her.

Not hot. Not quirky. None of Magena's personality in it. It attracted attention, though. Were they hoping for a lot of magic? Witch fights? Alchemist details? There isn't a lot of magic. There's fighting, but it's not the focus of the story. There's very little details about alchemy. It's about people and relationships. It's a paranormal, but the romance drama trumps it all.

It has the main character and the conflict, but not in a way that best markets them. It has a hook, but it's not as powerful as it could be. It needs to show just how unique this book is compared to other paranormal romances. It's fast-paced and hot, but the blurb definitely doesn't mirror this. There's mounting tension, but even I'm not drawn in by that part and I love the story.

I'm trying to compose a new blurb, but I can't get it right.

The new hook: Magena Silver's first rule of dating: don't get emotionally attached.
OR  The first rule of dating Magena Silver: don't get emotionally attached.

Yes, she breaks her rules. I think this hook works more efficiently than the previous one. Yet I'd still like to say she's a professional celebrity and a witch. I need to set up the paranormal feel and the conflict. This is tricky.

Slipping her clients potent love potions has brought Magena great success as a celebrity therapist and a witch until now.

Hm, that needs work. Yet it has what I want in it. Should I go the romance route first?

As a celebrity therapist and a witch, Magena's career comes first until Nathan Linwood saunters into her office.

Mmm, I do like imagining that man do anything.

What do you think? Paranormal conflict first or the romantic conflict?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with Vamparazzi

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
During the holidays when things get busy and sometimes things get stressful, I need a funny and light read. Laura Resnick definitely provides it with Vamparazzi. It's a novel in her Esther Diamond series. A hilarious supernatural read. It's a little silly and a little naughty, and great for bringing on holiday visits when you need a few minutes to get away from things.
Here's your teaser:
I frowned in confusion. "But you just said..."
"She was exsanguinated, Esther," he said. "Not bitten by an immortal creature of the night." (page 102)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Moments

I still haven't gotten back to writing. This isn't good! Today was just so busy. Hopefully tomorrow I'll enjoy a quiet nap time and get back to my story.

I have my writers' group this coming Saturday. I submitted the blurb for Sorrow Phage to be critiqued. My CP, Cherie Reich, helped me already with it. I still need to think of a new title for the novel. Why did Vampires in a Mortuary suddenly pop into my head? Darn Snakes on a Plane. I can have my protagonist screaming, "Enough is enough! I've had it with these demon killing vampires in this brother-father mortuary!"

My Christmas shopping is done. I mailed out the packages to my family in Canada today. I also received packages from my mom today. She told me to open one gift early. A new digital camera! She just wants her daily photo of my son.

My doctor's appointment went well today. All my tests came back clean. Surprisingly, with all the treats I've had lately, my blood sugar was excellent. I have one more test next week just to clear out the final possibility. I'm starting a new medication, but everything is good. High blood pressure is nothing to ignore or mess around with.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Snapshots - week one

It's been a little while since I participated in Saturday Snapshot, and I don't want to officially do it since I don't know if I'll have the time to look at other people's pictures this weekend. So much to do! I'm scared to go shopping. Very scared.

I'm going to post holiday photos every Saturday this month. My bit of holiday fun here. Hopefully they'll make you go "awww!" or laugh hysterically.

My brother and I way back in 1980.
Yes, disco was dead, but I didn't know it!

My son's first photo with Santa last year.
He didn't know what to make of Santa, but he loved the cute elves!
(He's always been a ladies' man.)
Strangely, this year, my son calls him "Claus." No Santa.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Under the Stairs now available

A collection of frightening stories that will have you hiding under the covers. They will have you shaking and wondering what lurks under the stairs!

My good friend and critique partner, Cherie Reich and I have short stories in this anthology. It's always great to get published, but so much more fun when you have a friend in the anthology with you.

It's a great gift for horror fans. You can buy your copy at Pill Hill Press Book Shoppe, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Health update: No word from the lab yet, but I've been feeling better the past few days. Hopefully the medication they have me on is doing the trick. I've got lots to do this weekend, so I won't get much relaxing done. I need some energy to brave the stores!