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Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Pauline Baird Jones

Research can take you in some interesting directions—as can researching on the internet. For instance, did you know you can buy plans for time machines on the internet? I loved the “untested” disclaimers. I was tempted to buy a set, just to hang on my wall, but the price wasn’t right.

When I was looking up info on FTL (faster than light) drives for my science fiction romance, The Key, I ran on to a page about alien visits to Earth, complete with drawings and characteristics of said visiting aliens. There was some other (weird) stuff that made me decide my character wouldn’t know that much about FTL anyway.

I have to say, though, my research for my Steampunk novella, Tangled in Time, was the most diverse of any project I’ve ever undertaken. Part of this came about because the novella was supposed to be a short story for our writers groups’ anthology about Texas landmarks, parks and historical sites. My park was Big Bend National Park. Since my hubby is a national park fanatic, I persuaded him to do the initial research and he was most thorough. I had some great stuff, but no plot for any kind of story, short or otherwise.

Once I finally found a plot, the story took a strange turn into Steampunk and my research expanded to the 1890’s, steam engines, and even into the 1940’s. Because it was so diverse, I actually added a bibliography to my novella book page, something I’ve never done before, or needed to do before. My links page is pretty diverse, too.

Writing a historical character was a challenge, as well. I’d write some dialog and then wonder if those words were in common use during the 1890’s. I have to say, I was really surprised by what words were not only in use then, but earlier than the 1890’s. We think our words are so hip, so now, but some of them were common in the dark ages. Dictionary.com was a huge help with the words, but I also needed to know when some books were published and when the women’s liberation movement began, so Wikipedia was a great resource for that.

And then I had to try to come up with whacky names for the inventions in Olivia’s transmogrification machine (drawing here.) It’s harder than you’d think to sound seriously whacky.

All this for a novella of 28,000 words that has become Tangled in Time. I have a new respect for authors of totally historical novels.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Pauline Baird Jones

The basic problem with writing science fiction, or paranormal fiction, is making the unbelievable seem believable. Though there are times when making the actual believable is hard, too. After Out of Time released I had a correspondence with a reader who had some problems with my historical detail, specifically when I had my B-17 bomber guys empty their bladders off the runway before they boarded the plane. She pointed out, rightly, that the B-17’s had a tube for them to use while in flight. But as one member of crew told me, it was not uncommon for their flesh to freeze to that tube when they reached cruising altitude, particularly when moisture is added to the mix—hence the desire to empty their bladders prior to take off.

I pointed out to my vigilant reader that different B-17 crews had different experiences and that story telling also required me to take a certain amount of creative license, particularly in how I focused on what details helped forward my plot. But I have to admit what I found funny about the exchange: not once did she have a problem with my time travel.

I guess that shows that readers will suspend disbelief on surprising things, as long as you don’t knock them on the head with reality. An example of that would be, for me, the movie about Queen Elizabeth where they kill off Mary, Queen of Scots about 30 years before she actually died. Not only did they poison her, instead of beheading her, but that meant her son, James was never born—James who became Elizabeth’s heir. I never could understand why they did it either.

I know when I was writing Out of Time, my science fiction romances The Key and Girl Gone Nova, and the Steampunk novella, Tangled in Time, it was the historical detail that worried me the most. People know historical details, but the good news for me, they can’t know my made-up science.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Pauline Baird Jones

So, in addition to indulging in more space travel in Girl Gone Nova, I found myself taking a walk on the Steampunk side. Steampunk is a genre gaining some serious traction among readers. What is it?

Well, it’s not really punk anything, though you might see hints of punk in some of the clothes fans wear to conferences. What it is, or what it tries to be is science fiction anchored in some aspect of Victorian times. There can be anachronistic steam-based inventions, or alternate realities. Think Wild, Wild West. Back to the Future II. HG Wells. Jules Verne. But like all made-up fiction, it can go in almost any direction the author or the fan wants it to. I’ve included some links on my website to costumes, artwork and jewelry associated with Steampunk.

Some people have even adapted their current technology to appear Steampunk, such as the (working) computer to the left. For information on the creator, see here.

It has even made its way onto television. NCIS Los Angeles had an episode where team members went to a Steampunk club. Unfortunately, they didn’t do their homework and annoyed Steampunk enthusiasts.

I hope they won’t be annoyed with my Steampunk novella, Tangled in Time, since I mixed it into my science fiction romance. And because my version of steampunk will also show up in the next, to be written, novel in my Garradian/Project Universe series. There is no doubt in my mind that injecting a bit of Steampunk into my science fiction has ginned up my muse almost as much as some chocolate and Diet Dr. Pepper™.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Pauline Baird Jones

LASR listers that attend the Wednesday chats, know I love me my Diet Dr. Pepper™. I’ve read all the emails about how awful all those chemicals are for my body and my brain, but I believe—through anecdotal experience—that Diet Dr. Pepper™ is key to my writing process, particularly in proximity to chocolate consumption. If there isn’t a can of that particular soda close at hand, then my muse does not show up until it does.

I don’t know why my particular muse is so partial to Diet Dr. Pepper™. I can totally not drink it when I’m not writing, but if my screen has Word pulled up and a blank file waiting for words, it’s not getting filled without Diet Dr. Pepper™.

My muse appears to be flexible on the subject of chocolate. I rotate between Twin Bings, which I have to import, btw, because you can’t buy them where I live. I also import Idaho Spud candy bars. It’s not as easy as you’d think to get them. I can only order them when it’s cold here in Houston, which doesn’t happen that often. Nor does it always stay cold enough, from when I place the order to when I get my order, for no melting to occur. Sadly, I will eat them anyway, but I prefer them in their proper, unmelted form.

I also rotate in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls—my only non-chocolate indulgence—if we don’t count Fig Newtons, which I’m not. And then there are the holiday variations. I like anything both chocolate and coconut. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track down Limited Edition Coconut M&Ms last year.

It might be sad (okay, maybe it is sad), but I give my food dysfunction partial credit for not only finishing Girl Gone Nova, but also my Steampunk romance novella, Tangled In Time. My muse and I have no trouble sharing credit with Diet Dr. Pepper™ and chocolate—as long as they don’t want a cut of my royalties.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Pauline Baird Jones

In 2007, when my first science fiction romance, The Key, released the number one question I got from readers was, “Why science fiction?” (With release of Girl Gone Nova the question now is, are you just writing science fiction romance? The answer to that is: I don’t know, but for sure until I finish the story arc I started in The Key.)

To be honest, I didn’t realize I’d written a science fiction romance at first. In fact, I went out of my way to call it action/adventure romance. I thought I’d written a classic, Pauline Baird Jones novel, in a different setting. I mean, I’m the gal who almost flunked chemistry in high school (I was, apparently, writing fiction then, too.). And the book before The Key was a time travel to World War II (Out of Time). How does one make the mental leap from World War II to space?

My first answer is: with your eyes shut!

My second answer is that the leap isn’t as big as it first appears. Even my contemporary romantic suspense novels have been trending towards action/adventure romance and at their heart, at their core, my science fiction romance is action/adventure romance, too. But I never thought I’d launch any characters into space.

Having done it, I have to say, it’s a lot of fun. I get to sit at home and go into space. I get to vicariously fly cool space ships and shoot high tech weapons at funky alien bad guys. Forget the mile high club. This is romance in another galaxy. And since the science is made up, that hasn’t been a huge problem either. Who knew my early science fiction writing on those high school tests would serve me so well now?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

All-In for Love by Michael Bracken

Sharon met Ted at a No Limit Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament and was surprised by her immediate attraction to her handsome opponent. She admired Ted’s aggressive style of play, and after Ted knocked her out of the tournament, she stood at the rail and watched him until he lost to a full house two hours later.

As Ted rose from the table and left the room, Sharon admired his broad shoulders, trim waist, and tight rear-end even more than she admired his poker playing. She considered following him, but didn’t know what she might say.

Sharon couldn’t stop thinking about Ted after that tournament, often daydreaming about what he might be like away from the table. Her heart raced and her palms grew clammy when she found herself seated with him at another tournament three months later. Ted seemed equally pleased to see her and he smiled when she sat down at the table.

As the game progressed, Sharon realized that Ted bet differently when she was in the hand than when she wasn’t, and she used that knowledge to her advantage. She knocked him out of the tournament three hours after it began, and was herself knocked out an hour later.

Ted had been standing at the rail watching her play, and he followed her out of the room. When she realized the handsome poker player was behind her, Sharon stopped.

“You’re pretty good,” Ted said when he caught up to her.

Up close, Sharon could smell his musky aftershave and see the piercing blue eyes he hid behind sunglasses at the poker table. Sharon smiled up at him. “You’re not bad yourself.”

“You play often?”

“Friendly games, mostly,” she explained as they crossed the casino to one of the many bars. She tried to keep a poker face, not wanting to let Ted know her heart was racing because they barely knew each other. “Tournaments are new to me.”

“I play in about one a month,” he said, “but always small buy-ins like this one.”

“You win much?”

Ted shrugged. “I’ve never won,” he said, “but I usually finish in the money.”

Ted bought them drinks and they talked about their lives away from the poker table. Sharon learned that Ted taught high school math and she told him about her job as a secretary in an accounting firm. She felt comfortable with Ted, especially after learning that he was a recreational player like her and not a professional.

After a few hours, though, Sharon excused herself and headed home. She thought about Ted during the long drive and mentally kicked herself for not getting his number or giving him hers.

They met again at another tournament a month later, and wished each other luck before finding their tables. Sharon was always conscious of Ted’s progress throughout the day because they flirted with each other during the breaks. They didn’t share a table until the end of the tournament, when the competition had been narrowed to 10 players and they faced each other across the final table.

Ted played recklessly, pushing his chips all-in on multiple hands and pushing around the short stacks. Sharon played conservatively, never putting money in the pot unless she was sure of her hand. After three hours, they were the only players remaining at the final table.

Sharon knew it was time to let the game get personal. Even though her interest in Ted was genuine, Sharon used it to her advantage. She touched her hair, wet her lips with the tip of her tongue, and toyed with the top button of her blouse. She gave her handsome opponent all the signs that let him know she was interested. Soon Ted was paying more attention to her than to his cards, and she knocked him out with a pocket pair of Queens.

When she stood to accept Ted’s congratulations, Sharon wasn’t the least bit surprised that he peeled off his sunglasses and swept her into his arms. Ted kissed her in front of the dealer, the tournament director, and the audience, but Sharon was ready for it. This was the hand she’d been playing all day, and he’d understood all of her “tells.”

Sharon melted into Ted’s arms, the thrill of winning surpassed by the liquid fire racing through her body. No poker-fueled adrenalin rush had ever made her feel like Ted’s kiss did.

When the breath-stealing kiss finally ended, Sharon looked up into the poker-playing math teacher’s eyes. Ted might have lost the tournament, but he had won her heart.

About the Author: Michael Bracken is the author of 11 books, including the young adult romance Just in Time for Love. His short romantic fiction has appeared in New Love Stories, True Love, True Romance, and many other publications.

Author Interview: Megan Johns

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Megan Johns, whose debut novel Path of Innocence was released by Devine Destinies last fall.

Megan shared with me that she's always enjoyed writing, but during her earlier career her writing was mostly confined to academic work. It was only when life slowed down for her – during a time of illness--that she truly discovered her creative strength. She found it therapeutic to be able to 'escape' inside her head.

When she's working on a project, she always tries to write something every day, even if she knows that it isn't quite right. She said she can always go back when she's feeling fresher to reshape what she's written. Sticking to a routine and setting targets of a certain number of words a day helps to keep her on track.

Her characters always come to her first, then the plot tends to evolve from the way in which they develp and interact, not only with each other, but with their environment as well. Megan tries to let her characters grow, almost organically.

I put them in a setting with which I feel a strong emotional attachment so that they can respond to the culture and surroundings," she told me. "I find that a sense of place is very important for my creative juices."

She gets so involved with her characters while she's writing that she tends to experience all of their emotions herself.

"I admit to needing a plentiful supply of tissues whilst writing The Path of Innocence," she said. She also admitting to keeping a box of tissues close by when watching certain movies.

The Path of Innocence is a contemporary novel, set in the UK, in London suburbia, East Anglia and Scotland. The main characters are Fiona and Roger, two young and naive adolescents from very different backgrounds, who are travelling precariously towards adulthood along a path of self discovery, love and sexual awakening.

Fiona is strong-willed and idealistic, a firm believer in true love and family values, although her naivety leads her into compromising situations and she struggles to live up to her own standards. Roger is already disillusioned by an unhappy childhood and his encounters only serve to deepen the wounds.

The book explores the challenges they face, following their ups and downs and the pain they suffer as a result of showing too much trust in those they perceive as friends, only to be betrayed.

When they eventually meet, it takes a huge leap of faith for Roger to let Fiona into his affections , but they do fall in love and it seems that they have finally found the happiness that has, so far, eluded them both. Yet, they are unaware of the powerful struggle Debbie, Fiona's mother, has with her own conflicting desires and which threatens to bring their happiness crashing down.

Debbie's journey is an important theme and the book explores her inner turmoil as she wrestles between the contradictory emotions of wanting to care for an invalid husband, whilst also nurturing a burning sexual desire.

And the dramatic consequence of Fiona and Roger finding out her dark secret threatens to shatter their beliefs in everything.

The question of whether their love can survive a cruel twist of fate hangs in the balance right up to the end.

Megan told me, "I particularly wanted to write fiction for women who understand that life is not clear-cut and The Path of Innocence is more than just a contemporary romance. It is also a deeply emotional book about the complexity of love and its contradictions."

Even though The Path of Innocence is her first romantic book publication, it's not her very first publication. That honor is reserved for a children's book she wrote based on her own child's first year at primary school. The aim was to help mystify the world of school for young children about to start.

I asked Megan what she liked to do when she wasn't writing.

"When I am not writing, I do some tutoring work. For relaxation, I take the dog for walks in the country which always helps to heighten my senses and clear my head. I would also like to say ‘gardening’ as ours is much in need of attention, but, alas, that would not be true. We have a vegetable plot which has failed consistently, so we have yet to achieve our original dream of ‘growing our own’," she said. "Holidays in France are always great for unwinding. I love Normandy and Brittany. Off the tourist trail, some of the isolated rural areas can feel like going back a century in time."

Megan loves the countryside and told me "since moving there, I feel really at one with my surroundings. We have a paddock at the bottom of the garden with three horses (not ours) currently grazing there; such a contrast to living in London, which had long lost its appeal, although I still enjoy the occasional theatre trip."

She and her husband are now empty-nesters.

"Apart from our own adorable, but incurably mischievous Cavalier King Charles," she added. "After losing our previous dog (no prizes for guessing the breed), we went for a year with the house feeling so empty that we just had to get another. "

Finally, I asked Megan, "What is one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

"'How does it feel to have outsold J.K. Rowlings?"" she responded promptly.
You can keep up with Megan on her website, http://www.megan-johns.com

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Annie Marshall

TGIF! It has been a pleasure spending the week with you and giving you a brief glimpse into my crazy life.

So what now? What is in store for Annie Marshall?

This autumn, Her Island Destiny, the third book in my Warriors of Destiny series will be released. Then shortly after that, the first three books will be joined into the first print addition of the Warriors of Destiny!

I have a few other storylines that are in the works. More old spooky castles, ghosts, and I’ll even be sending one of my heroines to Rome. And definitely more of my tall, muscular, claymore wielding Scotsman. To read more about them you can visit my website at www.annie-marshall.com.

Next week, I’ll be attending the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention at the Hyatt Regency on North High Street downtown in the great city of Columbus, Ohio from April 28th to May 2nd and I’ll be signing at the Expo on Friday. So make sure to stop by and say hello!

Have a great weekend and once again, it was a pleasure!

Haunts, kisses, and happy reading!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Annie Marshall

It’s Thursday and the real question is why did I decide to write about romance? And the truth is…

I’m an Army wife to a modern day warrior that is in and out of my life on long deployments. This leaves me with heartache and long nights alone staring at his side of the bed hoping he’s ok. Needless to say, this was driving me nuts. A woman can only talk to herself for so long before others begin to wonder about her sanity. Now, I love this GI Joe of mine and I’m immensely proud of the job he’s doing. I would choose this life of mine a thousand times over, but I was finding myself lost within this world of Army Combat Uniforms, Cub Scouts, and PTO meetings.

On the encouragement from my dear friend Deborah, she gave me the answer. “Write about it, lass.” So when the flood gates opened, I found myself swimming for dear life. The ideas were coming at me so quick that my fingers couldn’t type fast enough. Shortly after that, I purchased my first laptop and the first Warriors of Destiny story, “Her Highland Destiny” began playing out on the screen in front of me!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Annie Marshall

Here we are in the middle of the week. Happy Hump Day everyone! So, what’s next? Oh, yes…

In the paranormal world where vampires and werewolves are king, why did I choose to write about ghosts? The answer is simple really. I have an incredible fascination with ghosts. Yes, I’m one of the crazy ones that believe ghosts do in fact exist and interact with us living folk. And in a strange twist, it is like a version of time-travel. A long dead soul searching for their soul mate…Unable to rest and find true happiness until they do…A mystery as to why they can’t cross over.

In my Crimson Dragon saga, I’ve created seven books about brothers, Rhys, Bran, Gareth, Dafydd, Gavin, Drystan, and Rhodri Hywel. These seven warriors from Wales vowed if they were to be defeated by Edward I, the king of England, they would find a way to come back and reclaim their holdings. So on the eve of the first battle, the seven men hold a secret ritual in the caves beneath Caerphilly Castle, the keep that belongs to the oldest brother Rhys, binding them together even in the afterlife.

All fought with valor to the death and now all seven of their ghosts find themselves in the world between life and death, well at least until their special women arrive. Then all heck breaks loose and one by one the brothers and their lady must work together to find a way to break the bindings of the ritual so they can rest in peace.

I’m working on kicking off this series autumn 2011 through DCL Publications.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Annie Marshall

Yesterday, I shared with you about the first romance novel I read. Today, I’d like to share with you why I love to write about time-travel.

Thanks to Jude Deveraux, I love taking my characters not only to places they’ve never been, but time periods that couldn’t be possible.

He AND She

Warriors in their own time.

Worlds away and centuries apart.

Can a mere flash of lightning,

And the pull of a whirlwind bring them together?

Or will it tear them apart?


In my Warriors of Destiny series, there are thirteen, yes thirteen tales of time-travel that will whisk my heroes and heroines back and forth between our current time and Thirteenth and Fourteenth century Scotland.

All my heroes are tall and muscle bound, claymore wielding, alpha-males that are in need of a strong woman to not only give them a wee bit of grief, but stand by their side in their fight for their lands.

The first twelve of my heroines have two things in common. All are soldiers in the United States Army and they share the same parents. Twelve daughters of the King and Queen of the Fae Guardians; all sent ahead in time to learn how to be soldiers so that when they’re ready, they can be sent back to not only find their mates, but to be prepared for what is to come later.

The final book in this thirteen book series brings all the daughters and their warriors together to help their mother and father in their fight to save their lives and their way of life.

This series also brings another love of mine. Scotland. Though I’ve lived in Germany, I didn’t get the opportunity to make it over to Scotland. And oh, how I wish I had. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to travel back to Scotland with the knowledge that we have today…To go back and see the castles in all their majesty with the landscape virtually untouched…To sit in on a battle discussion of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce as they plan to do combat against the English…To find myself in the muscular, claymore wielding arms of my very own Highland Warrior who would move the mountains for me.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss another love of mine…The Paranormal. Or more to the point, Ghosts!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Annie Marshall

I started late in the game when it came to reading romance novels. Most of what I loved to read was ghost stories, mysteries, medieval history, and travel books. I loved the fact that I could pick up a book and go anywhere.

At the time it all started, I was in the Army, so there was always the necessary task manual that needed studying and let’s face it, reading romance would have undoubtedly set me up for a ton of ribbing from the guys.

I was twenty years old when I was standing in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service bookstore looking for something new to read and nothing was striking my fancy. As I was getting ready to leave empty handed and disappointed, one of the sales clerks opened a box and pulled out this dark pink book with a silver gauntlet holding a white rose on the front cover. The title A Knight in Shining Armor popped out in bold white letters by an author named Jude Deveraux. So entirely on a whim, I bought the book because after all, wasn’t it a sin to walk out of a bookstore empty handed?

That evening after dinner was over and the dishes were done, I grabbed the book off my end table and began to read.

I laughed, then I cried, then I laughed again as I read through this exquisite tale of heartbreak, desire, and mystery. And then they kissed. Wow was all I could say and I couldn’t get to the next page quick enough. Then there I was towards the end of this time-travel tale when the unthinkable happened. I fell madly in love. The romance, the humor, the happily-ever-after had my heart and mind in its grasp and before I knew it, I was greeting the sunrise as I read its last page.

I set the book down on my coffee table and exhaled; again, wow. Then with a yawn, one would think that sleep was in order. Oh, no. All I could think of was more.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Author Interview: K. Dawn Byrd

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome K. Dawn Byrd whose latest book Queen of Hearts was released the first of this month by Desert Breeze Publishing. So far, this book has been her favorite of the four she's written.

"I love the WWII era and I really like my heroine, a reporter turned spy who's lousy at love," she explained.

I asked her to share a little bit about the book.

Daphne Dean is proud to be serving her country stateside during WWII as a reporter and an Office of Strategic Services operative. When the photograph she takes of the crowd at a murder scene places her on the mob's hit list, she's forced into hiding in a vacant mental asylum in the middle of nowhere with terrifying secrets of its own.

Daphne believed herself to still be in love with her ex-fiancée, Kenneth, until she spends several days locked away in the asylum with Vito, the mob boss' son. Can she put the terrifying events that occurred there behind her and allow herself to pursue a relationship with Vito? Or, will she return to Kenneth who has turned his back on his country by becoming a draft dodger and a black market racketeer? One thing's for sure, it won't matter if she can't escape the mental institution alive.

Dawn told me she's always been a reader with a very active imagination. She would see something and begin to think "what if…" At some point, she decided to start writing down the "what if's" and two years ago began writing seriously for publication. In that time, she's studied every book she could find on the craft of writing. As a matter of fact, it's something she would recommend to any new writer just starting out.

"Buy every book you can find on writing and study, study, and then study some more," she said. "Once you've picked a genre to write, read as many books as you can in that genre in order to see how other authors do it. Read bestsellers and ask yourself how they became best sellers."

Sometimes when she's not sure about where she's going next in a story, she'll walk on her treadmill in order to clear her head, but other times she needs to step back from the story and will take a few days off from writing. This allows her to distance herself from the story and come back with a fresh perspective.

She feels it's important that authors get in a deep POV so the reader feels like they are actually on the journey with the characters, not merely on the outside looking in.

"Getting into a deep point of view," she told me, "will allow us to connect emotionally with the characters, which is a must for a good book."

In Dawn's writing, she has found that the plot almost always comes first.

"Sometimes I use a story board to plot out my story and sometimes I use a story notebook," she explained. "I plot before I write and come up with an overview of the major scenes. I also use a character worksheet to get to know my characters before I start writing. Even thought I plot, things change…it's exciting when I sit down to write a scene and my characters take on a life of their own and lead me down a road I never intended to travel. ) I was surprised when I had plotted the first novel and knew exactly where I wanted to go, but my characters took on a life of their own and changed their story."

Dawn is currently working through edits on Killing Time, her next release from Desert Breeze Publishing which is scheduled to release in August. It is actually the first adult novel she wrote.

"It's a suspense novel about a strong Christian woman who is wrongly incarcerated, framed for murder, and upon release, finds herself in real danger," she shared.

Even though Killing Time is completely fiction, Dawn told me that the setting is very real.

"I was a counselor for a while at a jail," she told me. "I didn't want to forget what the atmosphere was like, so I placed Killing Time in that setting."

The hardest part about writing Killing Time was the rewrites, she told me.

"I must have rewritten it a dozen times. I'd read another book on the craft or editing and I'd dig it out and revamp it again."

Her writing time is limited, because she works a full-time job, but she can write 1000 to 1200 words an hour. She sets aside two hours every night to write and more time on the weekend. That way, she can complete a novel in a month. She'll always put it aside for a while to distance herself from it before she begins editing.

She shared with me that she writes "wherever it's quiet." Sometimes she writes on her laptop, sometimes on her netbook. But the primary thing is—she has to have total peace and quiet.

"I'd rather be in the living room with my husband, but can't stay because of the TV. We have a room in our home that my husband turned into a library. I sometimes write from there or outside on the swing if it's a pretty day."

When Dawn's not writing, she enjoys taking long walks with her husband and their two dogs, hairless Chinese Cresteds, near a beautiful lake near their house. She also enjoys reading. Currently she's downloading and reading ebooks published through her publishing company.

"Desert Breeze represents many different genres and I know the books they publish are going to be a good read," she explained.

On a personal note, Dawn confessed that she has terrible handwriting.

"It was legible until I went back to college to get my masters degree," she told me. "Now I know why doctors write the way they do."

I asked, "What is your strangest habit?"

Her response was, "My husband threatened to buy me a t-shirt one time that read I eat ketchup with my ketchup. I eat it on things most people wouldn't…like eggs, tuna, crab, shrimp, etc."

She told me that she didn't eat strange things, but confessed that she loves oysters, especially Oysters Rockefeller. And, her favorite pizza? Veggie. You can keep up with Dawn on her blog, http://kdawnbyrd.com .

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Silver James

The Time Has Come

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."


That stanza, from a poem by Lewis Carroll, was used by the author O. Henry as the basis for his book, CABBAGES AND KINGS. I've read both ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, where Carroll first unveiled the poem, and Henry's book. Both are works of fantasy and both had an impact on my early childhood psyche. I was lucky. My dad put books in my hands early and often, and allowed me to access books far beyond what many would have considered appropriate for my tender age. He taught me an appreciation for the classics and “pulp fiction” – westerns, science fiction, spy thrillers. I read Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton. Ian Fleming. Shakespeare's plays, Alexandre Dumas, Mary Shelley, and Robert Louis Stevenson. And every one of these books led me to one conclusion—I wanted to write romance. Why? Because despite the swashbuckling, the swaggering derring-do, intrigue, or the way life might be in the future, every one of these writers had romance in their stories. Sometimes it was more sex than love, but there was romance there, too.

Studies abound on why readers flock to romance novels. Me? I read them because I want to know there's hope for that Happy Ever After somewhere. Even when life looks pretty grim, I can curl up with a good romance and escape for a bit. When I write a book, I want to provide the same for my readers. I want to take them away from their lives and give them a chance to dream of far off places, of heroes and heroines who manage, despite what life throws at them, to find their HEA.

Thanks for hanging around this week while I rambled on. I hope you enjoyed our time together as much as I did. Be sure to visit me over at www.silverjames.com. I'm there every day. Thanks also to Marianne and Judy for letting me drop by this week. LASR rocks! May all of you find your Happy Ever After!

FAERIE FATE available now in ebook and print: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/faerie-fate-p-3965.html

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Silver James

Chewing up the Scenery

Not all writers live in exciting or exotic locales yet most books are set in such places. I will also wager that most of us can't afford to travel to all the places we want to set our books. The Faerie books are set in both Ireland of the past and various places in the present. While I was lucky enough to visit England ages ago, I've never been to Ireland. A trip there is on my Bucket List.

I actually remember the dark ages before the internet, back when writers prowled the dim shelves of dusty libraries hunting for information on the places where their stories were set. Coffee table picture books, calendars, even the Encyclopedia Britannica all coughed up images the imagination could transform into words describing the “where” of their story. Travel books, movies (if it were actually filmed on location instead of a Hollywood set), and looking at photographs taken by people lucky enough to have traveled to the spot in mind could also help. Then lo and behold! The internet arrived. And Google Earth. A whole plethora of images and information spilled from those magical boxes on our desks. Wow. Research sure got easy in a hurry! With Google Maps, I can drive from Point A in my story to Point B, and describe every street corner along the way. Not that I should, of course.

Being a “visual” writer, I like having an image in my head when I type out a description or a scene in one of my books. I hope to relay my vision, through my words, to my reader. Anything that simplifies the process is a win. When someone reads my book(s), I want them to get a sense of time and place in hope it enhances their enjoyment. I love hearing from my readers when I succeed.

Have you ever read a book and then wanted to visit the place the book was set?

Visit me at www.silverjames.com

FAERIE FATE available now in ebook and print: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/faerie-fate-p-3965.html

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Silver James

Character or Plot

The Only (my daughter) had friends over to play when she was much younger. I was ensconced in my office muttering darkly at the computer while occasionally chastising a character who wasn't cooperating. I had a point in my plot I had to reach and the character just wouldn't go there. I overheard one of the children ask The Only, “Who is your mom talking to? There's nobody there...” I didn't realize I was ranting that loudly so I shut up and listened to The Only's reply.

“Huh? Oh, those are the people who live in her head. She argues with them all the time,” The Only answered helpfully. When her friends gasped, and most likely edged toward the door, she added. “Mom's a writer. She talks to imaginary people. Or the dogs. Take your pick.” While I'm happy my daughter understood me so well, I am sad to report those particular friends never came back for a play date.

Yes, those voices in my head seem quite real at times. While I'm working on a book, the characters live and breathe, taking on their own personalities with their own quirks and traits. When I don't listen to them and try to force them to follow the plot I think I've devised, they often kick up a rebellion. Should I admit the characters are usually right? Well...sometimes they are. Rebecca, the heroine in FAERIE FATE, insisted on discussing the voices she heard in her head. A case of imagination mirroring reality? Not really. In her instance, those voices belonged to two fae hoping to guide her through her story. Once I started listening to Becca, I knew she was on to something. Of course, the fact those two fae wormed their way into my head for their squabbles didn't help matters, though it was a bit easier to write the book.

Do you think writers are crazy because we hear those voices in our heads? Or because we talk back to them?

Visit me at www.silverjames.com

FAERIE FATE available now in ebook and print: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/faerie-fate-p-3965.html

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Silver James

What Ideas May Come

Another question I'm asked by non-writers is where I get ideas for my books. For me, the question is not how I get the ideas, but how to sort through all of them to find the most compelling “What if?”--the one that captures my imagination, and hopefully that of my readers. Ideas abound. Good ones are a horse of a different color. I have an idea file chock full of rejects, some-days, maybes, and what-the-hell-was-Iffy-smoking! Yes, indeed, every once in awhile Iffy slips an idea into my head that really makes me wonder. That last one contained a talking Newfoundland dog, Coyote Angel, and a middle-aged woman on a mission. Scary stuff that. That idea isn't even on the back burner. I shoved it into the freezer so fast it never got warm. Although.... No. I'm not going there. Really! Do you see how Iffy sidetracks me?

I'm a pantser when I write. Mostly. That means I plot by the seat of my pants. I start with my characters and the idea of the story they want to tell and I start writing. When I'm really lucky, the plot comes with twists and turns, magic, mystery, and a lot of romance. When I'm not, the story is consigned to the Maybe Someday When I'm Really Bored file.

When the idea for FAERIE FATE first came to me, I had to let it sit and percolate in my imagination for a long time before it finally gelled to the point I could start writing. I knew my main characters, Becca and Ciaran, and I knew what they had to do to find their HEA, but figuring out all those twists and turns before they got there took awhile. I discarded a lot of ideas before the words flowed naturally and the story tumbled out. I'm pleased with what Iffy and I wrote. I hope you will enjoy it, too.

What is your favorite subgenre of romance? What keeps you turning the pages of a book?

Visit me at www.silverjames.com

FAERIE FATE available now in ebook and print: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/faerie-fate-p-3965.html

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Silver James

The Muse Within

When people talk to me about writing, I'm often asked about my Muse. I usually wait until she's distracted or otherwise occupied before I answer because Iffy has a tendency to get The Big Head(tm) and a Muse with a puffed-up ego is hard to manage. I call her Iffy for two reasons. Her favorite game is “What if?” which comes in amazingly handy for a fiction writer. Second, her cooperation is always “iffy.” Just when I think I have a handle on the plot, she disappears. When I talk about her on my blog, I have a picture of a little blond-headed girl carrying a massive pair of scissors to represent her. Iffy with scissors is a scary sight. She can cut off my train of thought, snip holes in my plot, or stab a character to death in the blink of an eye. She can also trim loose threads, carve out a pattern, or shave off excess words when I start to ramble.

Many authors insist they don't have a Muse. Me? I'll take all the help I can get! (Even if Ms. Muse is a figment of my imagination.) That's where a fiction writer lives—in their imagination. Without Iffy to play “What if?” with, I'd never be able to paint my way out of corners, tie up loose ends, or create characters who are interesting. Imagination, by whatever name, is what makes the words appear from thin air. Imagination creates the scenery in which stories are crafted, the worlds where characters exist, and the means to draw a reader into the writer's space. I just happen to call mine Iffy.

If you are a writer, do you have a Muse? And readers, what about a book stirs your imagination?

Visit me at www.silverjames.com

FAERIE FATE available now in ebook and print: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/faerie-fate-p-3965.html

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Beauty Shop by Michelle Hicks

“Sure you won’t come out with us, Lorna?” The other stylists of Dreams Beauty Shop clustered by the door all eyes on me.

“No, I’ve got to clean up before I head home.” Alone. “You guys go ahead and have fun.” Somebody should.

As they left one of them whispered, “She really needs to get a life.”

Yeah, right. Running the beauty shop had proven to be a never ending battle. How had Grammy managed for so long? It had only been five months, and I was barely keeping my head above water.

As I swept up the last bit of hair and trash from the day’s clients, the bells over the door rang out. I tried to stifle a groan. What had they forgotten now?

I turned and gasped. A man, carrying a colorful bundle of blankets, filled the doorway.

My eyes darted to the right. Peeking out from my purse was my cell phone. No way I could grab it and call for help before he crossed the distance between us. Why didn’t I lock the door when the others had left? Idiot.

“I didn’t mean to scare you, but I need help.” His deep rich voice didn’t sound like it belonged to a serial killer.

But a woman couldn’t be too careful. I inched toward my phone. “The mi…mission is down a few doors. I’m sure they could offer you more help than—”

“No, not help like that. Like this.” He lifted a corner of the blanket.

Huge brown eyes dominated a sweet, chocolate brown face. The little girl had her thumb stuck in her mouth and tufts of hair sticking out at odd, almost impossible angles.

Fear forgotten, I moved forward and reached out for the mop of knots. “What happened to her hair?”

“Thee Dadd-ee, I thold thoo.” The little girl spoke around her thumb.

The man lifted the little girl higher to embrace her and his large hands tenderly patted her back. “It’s okay, sweetie. I’m Jason, and this is my daughter, Lea” He shook his head, eyes wide. “The box said… the tenderizer was supposed to make her hair easier to comb.”

“Texturizer, a tenderizer is for meat.” I gently lifted clumps of hair to assess the damage. Poor baby. “Hey, little mama, you want to come with Miss Lorna?”

Lea looked first to her father then to me and extended her arms.

I scooped her up and headed back to the sinks. “Grab a seat,” I called over my shoulder.

He slumped down into the closest couch. Poor daddy.

It didn’t take a minute to realize the delightful four-year-old didn’t have a shy bone in her body. She chirped away while I washed, conditioned, and cut her hair. After tucking Lea under a hair dryer, I clicked on a cartoon video for her to watch.

Heading back to the front of the shop, I paused. Jason’s bald head rested on his palms. He looked as dejected as I felt some days. No longer afraid and the hair crisis safely behind us, I studied him.

His short sleeved t-shirt revealed thick, corded muscles in his deep brown arms. Yet when he’d held Lea his hands had been gentle.

“Is she going to be all right?”

Uh-oh. Caught gathering wool, as Granny would have said. I walked forward. “Yeah, she’ll have a cute little afro for a while.”

He politely stood as I approached. He wasn’t much taller than my five seven, but heavily built and solid. Strong, a protector. And in his faded sweat pants, he could have walked off any football field. Concern creased his brow but didn’t detract from his full lips and high cheek bones. Running a hand over his head, he groaned.

“Don’t worry. Kids are resilient.”

“Thankfully.” He motioned for me to sit down on the sofa then sat beside me. His distinctive masculine scent smelled wonderful after a day of heavy perfumes and hair care products.

“It’s crazy. I didn’t even know about my daughter until the day her mother dumped her at my door. Said she was tired of being a mom. But having Lea is the best thing that has happened to me.”

Spending thirty minutes with his little girl, I could see how easy loving her would be.

“I just didn’t think it would all be so hard.”

“Tell me about it.” Without thinking, I rested my hand on his.

Our gazes locked. “The funny thing is I feel like I could.” Slowly his warm fingers curled around mine.

When the buzzer from Lea’s dryer sounded, I hated to pull away.

***

“What you need is a man.”

Mrs. Mott sat in my chair the next day freely giving advice about my non-existent love life. Well, at least it was a change from her usual ‘my-daughter-is-so-perfect’ speech.

I didn’t bother to look up when the bells over the door rang. The shop was always busy on Fridays. Date night.

“Miss Lorna.”

I turned and grinned.

Lea skipped toward my station carrying a lovely bouquet of carnations. She wrapped her arms, flowers and all, around my legs.

“What are you doing here, little mama?”

“Hello, Lorna.” No longer dressed in a t-shirt and sweats, but in a crisp gray suit, Jason sauntered behind her.

My heart skipped. If possible he looked even better this morning.

“I own a small accounting practice on the next block. That’s how I knew you were here last night when I needed you.” His lips curved up into a smile and a dimple appeared. “Just wanted to come and say thank you and –”

“See if you would date us?” Lea chirped.

I raised my eyebrows at Jason.

“Dinner. We would love it… I would love it if you would have dinner with us tonight.”

“If you don’t say yes, then I will,” Mrs. Mott said.

Encouragement was not what I needed, only enough time to remember how to form the words. “I’d love that, too.”

About the Author: Michelle Hicks lives in Virginia with her husband, kids, and faithful dog. She is an aspiring writer who loves telling stories about people falling in love.

Author Interview: Nicole Zoltack

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Nicole Zoltack. The second book in Nicole's Kindgom of Arnhem series, Knight of Glory, was released last month and this month she has a short story in Desert Breeze Publishing's latest anthology Be Mused.

Nicole has been writing stories since she first learned how to write.

"My mother used to sit my sister and I at the table and hand us both paper and pencil and told us to write," she said. "Is it any wonder that we both want to be authors?"

Along with being a writer, though, Nicole said she always knew she would need to be something else in order to support herself.

"So, I also wanted to be a paleontologist or an actress," she told me. "I actually received my college degree in chemistry with a concentration in forensic science and worked as an organic analyst in an environmental laboratory for over two years."

Nicole told me that sometimes she gets a specific character in mind and the story revolves around him or her. Other times, the plot idea strikes her first. She never has a shortage of story ideas; however, sometimes the execution of those ideas isn't quite so easy. When that happens, she steps back from the story and just thinks about it. And, if that doesn't help, she'll work on another story, because she's always in the middle of more than one writing project at a time.

She's always been intrigued by the Middle Ages, even to the point of having a Renaissance-themed wedding, and has devoured books about the period. It's no surprise that her first novel Woman of Honor was inspired by that period. She wanted to know if there had actually been any female knights in that time period. Turns out, there were—one such group was the Order of the Hatchet, women who were honored as knights for their brave defense of their town. Nicole was inspired to write about Aislinn, who wants to become a knight to honor the death of her brother. Aislinn petitions the king about her desire to become a knight, and she cites these brave women that defended their town, and is given a probationary training period.

Nicole's Kingdom of Arnhem series is very similar to the Middle Ages on earth; it is, however, set on the planet Terra, which is a parallel universe.

I asked Nicole to tell us a little about her latest book in this series:

Sir Geoffrey, along with some companions, has been sent away from Arnhem, entrusted by Queen Aislinn for a special mission, and has to leave behind the mysterious lady Celestia. On his journey, he uncovers seeds of a sinister plot, learns a horrible secret, and makes a new friend in exile Jenanna.

Their mission completed, Geoffrey and his companions rush to two different kingdoms to ask for aid. Danger and betrayal lurks around every corner, and even allies have secrets that could prove deadly. Geoffrey's feelings for Celestia grow and wane. After learning some of Celestia's secrets, he begins to have second thoughts about his love for her and is even drawn to Jenanna.

Rumors abound that the Speicans have enlisted a mage of their own, to work unspeakable, forbidden magic. The war between Speica and Arnhem has just begun. Will Geoffrey survive the battle to live another day and discover which woman he truly loves?

She's currently working on the third book in the series, Champion of Valor, as well as a couple of short stories.

It's not been easy for her finding the time—or the energy—to write, she shared with me. Her best writing time is normally late, after her son Nicholas and her husband go to bed. Lately, however, she often just crashes at night as well, because in addition to having an eighteen-month-old (Nicholas, not the husband), Nicole is also expecting Baby #2 in August.

A few months after that, Nicole told me, she'll be losing her office, which will become Nicholas' bedroom once the new baby takes over the nursery. For the time being, though, her office contains "two bookshelves holding three bookcases worth of books, three desks, and a filing cabinet that contains a lot of my writing papers."

On more of a personal note, I asked Nicole if she really wanted a dog.

"Nope," she answered promptly. "If I could have any animal, it would be a Pegasus. But, since I haven't found one, I guess a horse would have to do."

She also confessed to me that her Facebook picture is well over a year old. She loves that picture and hates how she looks in most others, which is why she uses it for her author picture as well.

Nicole not only cries during movies, she admitted that for some movies she cries every single time she sees it, even if she's seen it over a hundred times.

Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Never give up," she said. "A rejection is not the end of the world. Instead, it’s an opportunity for another publisher or agent. And, one of the most important elements of good writing is realistic characters that grown and develop as the story progresses. I can't stand reading boring characters nor static ones. How a character changes is one of the most compelling reasons to keep turning pages."

You can keep up with Nicole on her blog, http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Jessica Andersen

In Demonkeepers, recovering-nerd Lucius finds his mojo by playing the Mayan ballgame. Are you a geek, a jock, or something else?

I’d say that I’m a geek with delusions of coolness, and I occasionally rise to the level of barely competent in a handful of sports. I’m also a pretty hard-core baseball fan.

I’m a Red Sox supporter from way back, which kind of makes sense given my penchant for putting my characters through the physical and emotional wringer (Bill Buckner in ’86, anyone?) before giving them an amazing happy ending (2004 World Series Champs!). And that makes it kind of fun that the release of Demonkeepers coincides with baseball’s Opening Day.

On Demonkeepers, Publishers’ Weekly said: “Andersen ramps up the danger (in a story that) mixes action and elements of Mayan myth—from a voyage to the underworld to a fantastic high-stakes ballgame—with soul-searching, lust and romance.”

I love that they mention the ballgame, as the story has lots of geeks-versus-jocks and sport-as-combat overtones, and the symbols of the ballgame are all over the place when you talk about the 2012 doomsday.

I could go on forever about that stuff (cue my wonderful editor’s voice in my ear: “cut the lecture and get to the running, screaming, shooting and/or sex!”). But the thing is, games are part of the fabric of life. And I can think offhand of any number of great games that have been used to enrich the stories I love.

Friendly (and not-so-friendly) challenges and wagers are made on hands of Starfield Doubles in Linnea Sinclair’s most excellent Games of Command. Pyramid is a part of daily life on Caprica and in (the new) Battlestar Galactica. The holo-chess board on the Millennium Falcon is still way cool decades after the fact. They’re all small moments in the larger scheme, perhaps, but ones that bring added depth.

Similarly, I hope readers will find that the Mayan ballgame adds to the story of Lucius, an Indiana Jones wannabe who never quite measures up until a twist of magic brings him powers beyond belief … and reunites him with Jade, the magic-wielding one night stand he never forgot.

Despite the sizzling chemistry between them—and the added power that comes with a love match—Jade is determined to prove that she’s more than a researcher … she can be a Nightkeeper warrior in her own right.

But as the two race to rescue the sun god himself from the underworld, they learn that kicking ass isn’t enough. They’ll need all their brains and skill—and the long-denied love that burns between them—to foil the dark lords’ plot.

FMI about the novels of the Nightkeepers, please visit www.JessicaAndersen.com.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Jessica Andersen

How has your background in science helped with the Nightkeeper novels?

The good news is that my research training (I used to be a lab rat who worked on cloning genes for inherited eye diseases) has definitely helped me track down the information I need to bring the Nightkeeper books to life. I love the history of the ancient Mayan and Egyptian empires, and I’m fascinated by the science surrounding the 2012 end date.

For example, the Maya set their calendar to end on the day—far in their future—that their astronomers precisely calculated that the earth, sun and moon would align as they passed through the dark hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy (which the Maya believed was the entrance to the underworld). It’s just a coincidence that this day corresponds to the symmetrical date of 12/21/12 in the Gregorian calendar … or is it?

That’s one of the many questions the Nightkeepers must answer as they race to find and win their destined mates in order to protect the barrier of psi energy that forms humanity’s last line of defense against the ancient Mayan demons.

More, in each book, I try to bring in a different piece of the Mayan culture: Skykeepers touched on the use of chocolate in Mayan rituals, and this month’s release, Demonkeepers, includes the Mesoamerican ball game, which was the first to use a bouncing rubber game ball—and which, incidentally, could be won by putting the ball through a high, tiny hoop … representing the passage of the sun through the dark spot at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Are we seeing a theme here?

But although it’s a good thing that my research has uncovered a ton of cool details… I struggle to contain my inner nerd when it comes to the stories. As I’m writing, I always want to include all the cool details, and wind up with a way fat manuscript. So then I have to cut it back by focusing on the details that need to be in the story for the sake of the romance and the plot, and aren’t just cases of me thinking ‘ooh, shiny!’

Overall, I do my best to tell a satisfying, sexy love story against a thrilling action backdrop, with enough detail sprinkled in to make the stories into something a little different than the paranormal norm. At least I hope that’s the end result!

FMI about the novels of the Nightkeepers, please visit www.JessicaAndersen.com

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Jessica Andersen

Who is the easiest character for you to write? The most difficult?

The two easiest characters for me to write have always been Lucius and Rabbit.

Lucius is the geeky hunk (hunky geek?) who has mostly outgrown tripping over his own feet, but always falls back on his inner nerd when threatened. Or at least he used to. In Demonkeepers, an ancient spell helps him become the warrior he’s always wanted to be … but that comes at a price. Since I’m a foot-tripping-over geek myself, I totally relate to Lucius.

Rabbit, on the other hand, is a favorite of mine because he’s a walking example of Murphy’s law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong if Rabbit is involved. Since I feel like that most days, he’s got a special place in my heart. I also love that he’s got the guts to say things that I would think, but not say.

As for the flip side, Michael’s book (Skykeepers) was a tough one for me because I had a hard time getting inside his head. I hadn’t been in his point of view prior to writing Skykeepers, and didn’t really know what made him tick.

So writing that book wasn’t just about getting the story down on the page, it was also about figuring out why he was doing/thinking/saying the things he was.

And then once I figured out what his deal was (he’s very dark), I had to really work out why nice-girl Sasha, who doesn’t want anything to do with magic or the 2012 war, would stick around long enough to fall for Michael and realize that there’s another layer under the dark-and-brooding alpha male.

FMI about Lucius, Rabbit and Michael, please visit www.JessicaAndersen.com.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Jessica Andersen

Who is your favorite hero so far in the Nightkeeper books?

I love each of them for different reasons, truly.

The first book of the series, Nightkeepers, introduces almost all of the characters who will be in the nine-book series arc (each book stands alone as a romance, but they’re tied together in the overall save-the-world story). Because there are so many characters are on the page, I worked to make them very different from each other, each with distinct flaws and virtues.


The hero of Nightkeepers, Strike, is a reluctant king who has to grow into his responsibilities … and in the process falls for a woman the gods have chosen as their next sacrifice.

In the second book of the series, Dawnkeepers, shapeshifter Nate struggles against the idea of predestiny, refusing to let the gods define his life.

I think perhaps the sexiest hero is Michael, the hero of Skykeepers. He’s very dark, very dangerous, and very hooked in to his own sensuality.

But for me, perhaps one of the most lovable characters is Lucius, the hero of Demonkeepers. He’s my ‘nerd that roared’ character; he’s not the biggest or strongest, and he doesn’t even have true magic (at least not at first), but he’s always wanted to be a hero.

But when demonic possession and a twist of magic leaves him with the powers of a prophet and he becomes the swashbuckling, magic-wielding Indiana Jones he’s always wanted to be, he quickly realizes that being a Nightkeeper isn’t the solution to all his problems … it’s the start of a whole new set of them!

I love watching him grow into the hero he’s always wanted to be, even though he makes some really Big Mistakes along the way.

Then again, ask me the same question in a few months, and I’ll probably say that Brandt or Dez are my new favorite heroes. Part of my writing process is falling in love with each of these guys, and loving who they become with their heroines :-)

For more info on the Nightkeepers, please visit www.JessicaAndersen.com.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Spotlight: Jessica Andersen

Why write a series about the Mayan 2012 Doomsday?

I’m a huge fan of books and movies that have lots of action and romance in them, but are spiced up with interesting factoids that I didn’t already know (National Treasure, DaVinci Code, etc.).

So when I came across a reference to the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, I immediately saw the potential for a high-action, high-intensity series based on a mythology that hasn’t been done to death in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy markets.

Part of my fascination comes from having spent time down in the Yucatan as a kid. My parents would pull me out of school for a few weeks every spring (much to my teachers’ relief, I suspect) and we would go investigate the ruins, which were in the process of being restored at the time.

They’re far more regulated and tourist-ified now, but back then, ruin ratting was a total Indiana Jones, creep-through-the-collapsing-tunnel experience. I try to bring that excitement and wonder to the books.

The Nightkeepers are fighting the rise of ancient demons who were banished from the earth many millennia ago. But at the same time, they were raised among us, so they’re also dealing with the disconnect between modern life and some of the things the old prophecies require them to do in order to defend mankind in the years leading up to the 2012 doomsday.

For me, it’s really interesting to blend archaeology and 2012 cosmology into sexy urban fantasies. I’m writing the kind of books I love to read, but can’t always find on the shelves!


That’s especially the case for my newest release, Demonkeepers, which is about an Indiana Jones wannabe who never quite measures up until a twist of magic brings him powers beyond belief … and reunites him with Jade, the one-night stand he never forgot.

FMI about the series and Demonkeepers, please visit www.JessicaAndersen.com.