Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Kiss Carson

Character Archetypes

I love creating characters. More often than not, I start a new story just so I can meet my new characters. Although, they don’t always behave. My Librarians end up as Crusaders. My Free Spirits end up as Seductresses. My Swashbucklers end up as Lost Souls. This is a good thing. I hope.

My favorite book when it comes to characters is The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines (Sixteen Master Archetypes) by Tami D Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders.

I often refer to this book when my heroine is a little wishy washy, and needs more oomph to keep up with her gorgeous hero. Now, I don’t study this book. I take the key facts and turn them into a character I’m proud of.

Take Calypso James from my recent release, Calypso’s Curse. She starts out a Waif/Librarian. Woe is me vs I can do this as long as you don’t interrupt me. And by the end of the book, she is a Gutsy Kid, ready to face the world.

Now for the gorgeous, but cheeky, Israel Alexander, Calypso’s hero counterpart. At the start of the story, and pretty much throughout, he is a Charmer/Lost Soul. Oh, yes. However, by the last page he is a Warrior.

Just like real people, characters need to develop. The hero needs to open up and find his inner child, or the other way around, he needs to grow up. The heroine needs to find the courage to love and put up with the hero or the demands the story. During their metamorphosis, a story is told, worthy of tears, cheers and laughter.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Three Little Wishes by Liz Lafferty


Susannah cried. It nearly broke my heart.

She hated spending holidays alone, and though I was with her, she didn’t know it. I couldn’t offer her the type of consolation she needed, but at least I would have been good company. I know jokes in twenty-two languages.

As a ten-year old, she had purchased me at the Bay Flea Market and, since she’d inherited the family home, I sat on the fireplace mantel.

Susannah was now forty-seven. I was three-thousand, six hundred and twelve. Give or take. Time gets a little distorted inside my bottle.

She sniffed, wiping at her nose, reaching for me. “You were always my favorite bottle.” She cradled me, as she had numerous times. Each time, I flinched in anticipation. My bottle filled with smoke. My very skin itched, ready to leap.

Thirty-seven years I’d waited for her to rub the bottle.

Today, she did.

I dissolved into a showering mist as the lid popped off. My body materialized from the smoke and floated over the opening. “Your wish is my command.”

She screamed. The bottle slipped from her hand, but I landed one foot out, the other still a smoky apparition that started to form as I stood.

“Who are you?” She backed away, falling onto the worn upholstered couch.

“Alesade. I’m here to grant your three wishes.”

She fisted her hands and rubbed them hard against her eyes. “I’m hallucinating. I’m going insane. I’ve lived so long by myself, I’m now inventing people.”

I knelt in front of her. “No, mistress. You’ve freed me from the bottle, and I must now obey you.”

“If you have to obey me, you would go away, right?” She peered through her fingers.

“Not quite how it works. The sooner we begin, the sooner I can go away.”

I liked Susannah. She had a beautiful voice and had often sung as a child. But not recently.

I glanced up. She was lush and curvy, like women from my time in Mesopotamia. She’d be embarrassed if she knew the things I knew about her. It didn’t change my regard for her.

“Who are you?” she demanded. Tentatively, she reached out. Her fingers touched the center of my chest. “You’re real.”

“Yes, mistress.”

Her hand slid up my chest and caressed my shoulder. “You’re a man.”

“I am Alesade. It is my curse and my privilege to serve you.”

“You’re a man. And a genie?”

“Yes, that is the name you use in this time.” I learned languages easily. Sitting on someone’s shelf for thirty-seven years made it simple, especially when the television was Susannah’s only companion. I missed Murphy Brown and Frasier, though.

“A genie?” She laughed, falling back on the couch. “A genie has fallen into my crappy life?”

“No, mistress. I have fallen into the life of an angel.”

She frowned and folded her hands across her body. “This is a trick. Of course, my genie would be handsome and a liar.”

“Thank you, mistress, but I am not allowed to lie. It is part of the curse.”

“So, if my first wish was to free you from the curse, then what?”

“Only Ravisha, the Queen Witch of Mesopotamia can free me, and I do not know where in time she resides.”

Susannah touched my hair. Must I tell you that, at times, wishes involved sexual largess? It had been several decades since I’d been touched in any way. It was as good as I remembered.

“You are cursed? I’m sorry.” Her hand slid over my face. This was the Susannah I knew. Kind beyond measure. A heart of gold.

“Your wishes, mistress?”

“I don’t know what to wish for. Can you give me any instruction? What if I make a mistake?”

“One must thoroughly consider the consequences of the action. Do not ask for rain in the desert. The desert wasn’t made for such a wish. Don’t be rash. Make your wish be known in word and thought so I understand the complete request.” I opened my hands, palms up, waiting to receive the first request.

“I don’t know. There are so many people I want to help.”

Others. I hid a smile. I should have known she’d think of anyone but herself. Susannah’s wishes would be pure, unlike so many others before her.

She jumped up from the couch and brushed past me, stopping to look at her features in the large, ornate mirror. “I could wish myself beautiful, so someone would love me.”

“You are loved, Susannah.”

“Not that kind of love,” she said wistfully, touching her rosy, round cheek. “Okay, my first wish.” She closed her eyes. Her thoughts churned, spilling over into my magic. “My first wish is for everyone at the nursing home to be whole in mind and body until their natural death.” She opened her eyes and stared. “Well?”

“It is done, mistress.” My faith in her wasn’t misplaced. I knew she wouldn’t be selfish.

I knew what she wanted above all. Would she ask for such a thing?

I could hear the wishes forming, gelling into certainty.

She opened her mouth.

I opened my hand, to stop her. “Might I suggest you reverse the order of your wishes?”

“But I haven’t said anything.”

I couldn’t make her do anything. I had a few limitations. No lying. No freedom from the curse. But I was still a man.

“Okay, I’m ready.” Susannah closed her eyes. “I wish…” She faded into a cloud of smoke as we were sucked into the bottle.

Bewildered, she looked around. “I don’t understand.”

“I wish to love and be loved forever and ever, too,” I said.

“Oh, Alesade. I haven’t said my last wish.”

“Keep it. As long as you save it, I will belong to you and no other. And if you ever wish to return to your life, I will make it so.”

I was the selfish one.

I opened my hand, and she accepted.

About the Author: Liz is a hard working wage earner by day and a romance writer caught up with strong heroines and handsome heroes by night. "Three Little Wishes" is part of a larger series and genies her current male obsession.

Author Interview: R. Ann Siracusa


The Long and the Short of It, in conjunction with R. Ann Siracusa, author of The Tour Director Extraordinaire series. Ann's latest story, Tiffany, her first short contemporary with a paranormal twist, released this month.

Ann has always liked to read and write stories. Her mother was a librarian and they always had a lot of books around the house. She was encouraged to write by a wonderful English teacher in high school, but never considered it as a profession. Instead, she earned a degree in Architecture from UC Berkely, worked in Rome and got married there, then got caught up with family and her profession, where she did a lot of non-fiction and professional writing. She didn't follow up on her interest in fiction writing until she was in her forties.

"I read a novel that everyone was raving about and said, 'Oh, man. Even I can write better than this. So, I sat down and wrote my first complete novel in about eight months (working about 60 a week at a full-time job)," she said.

Once she retired ten years ago, she started serious, get-published writing.

She's currently working on the fifth and final book in her Tour Director Extraordinaire series which features a young tour director who is searching for what she wants to do with her life, which has been good, but ordinary and predictable…until she meets the hero, a Europol Spy and US covert operative with a dark and troubled past. Then her world turns upside down.

The first three novels, All For A Dead Man’s Leg, All For A Fist Full of Ashes, and Destruction Of The Great Wall, have already been released. The fourth full-length novel (working title Russian Roulette) is scheduled for release, but not before the end of 2011. The series also includes three “bridge” or short stories with the same hero and heroine. The final book is set in South Africa and Botswana, and she outlined the novel while she was in southern Africa in 2008.

Most of the time, the plot line or a particular line in the book offers ideas for the title. Sometimes, though, it's more planned than that, because Ann believes that the title should reflect the genre so the reader has a sense of what kind of book it is. She was particularly concerned that the titles for the books in the series reflect the nature of the humorous spy adventures.

"I do write down phrases that sound like good titles and stick them in file for future consideration, such as one I picked up at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. from a T-shirt―Deny Everything,” she explained. "I’ve actually used a couple of the ideas from that file, and one title inspired a storyline."

"What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?" I asked.

"Run away from home! Actually, that’s the best piece of advice I can give, but since that may not be possible, here are some practical ideas which nearly every author advocates in one form or another.

▪ Start today! Never think you’re too old or too young. Don’t put it off; the “right time” never comes.
▪ Set aside the time to write, and stick with it, in spite of your family. Don’t allow interruptions.
▪ Hook up with a writer’s or critique group. Feedback is invaluable; critique partners keep you writing.
▪ Learn to take criticism and learn the difference between useful and hurtful criticism.
▪ Be persistent and never get discouraged. (But don’t expect to win the first few contests you enter or sell the first manuscript you send out. You might, but don’t set your heart on it.)
▪ Know your market. Even as a beginner you should know what kind of book you’re writing.
▪ Read. Lots. Variety. But also read books in the genre you want to write in; do your homework.
▪ Be cautious of who you take advice from. Your English teacher or best friend may not know what sells and may not know the craft of writing fiction.
▪ Don’t expect writing to be easy. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it if you are truly a writer.
▪ Don’t parrot what happened in real life. The story has to work as fiction.
▪ Learn all you can about your computer and programs you intend to use; otherwise, you will go nuts.
▪ Learn to write anywhere. Always have something with you, tablet and pen, items to edit, whatever. Use whatever time is available to write, edit, etc. (Buy a mini-laptop.)
▪ Learn the craft of writing (plotting, structure, character development, etc.) by writing a lot. There is no substitute for craft or for writing, writing, writing.
▪ Finish the book. Don’t get stuck rewriting the first couple of chapters over and over.
▪ Send your work out (it will never get published if you don’t), but polish it first and do your homework. Follow the submission rules. Editors have lots to choose from and are looking for reasons to turn you down.
▪ Learn to take rejection without losing confidence; learn how to extract useful feedback.
▪ If you are serious, you must go about writing like running a business.
▪ Understand that you have to pay your dues.
"Most of the time, the idea for the plot comes first and then Ann has to find the right characters for the story. Sometimes, however, a character will pop into her mind and then it's a question of what will engage that character, then finding the correct story. She finds it difficult to separate plot and character because, for Ann, fiction is all about people reacting to circumstances and each affecting the other.

"If I put one set of characters into a given story idea, it becomes a particular novel. If I put different characters into the same situation, it ends up a different novel because the characters react differently," she told me. "The characters’ reactions, in turn, affect the action/plot. The old chicken and egg syndrome. As I write the backstory for my own use, I begin to see more clearly the characteristics, goals, and motivations of the characters."

Ann has a bedroom in her house that she uses as an office.

"It’s small, but it’s mine, mine, mine! I don’t share it with anyone, although my writing has to share with my quilting, the ironing, and personal things like bills and income tax files. And the bathroom is close," she said.

"I tend to be very organized and have everything in files and three-ring notebooks, color coded by what I consider the four aspect of writing: Business, Education and Craft (which includes my professional organizations), the actual Writing, and Marketing. I organize my computer files by the same categories. Then there is personal stuff which has it own set of color codes and categories. Still, I have stacks of papers everywhere and am always in a state of mass confusion. Heaven only knows what it would be like if I weren’t organized."

Her goal is to write every day, seven days a week, usually from 5-7 or 8 AM, then again in the evening after her husband goes to bed.

"I’m not always consistent, unfortunately, but I that’s the schedule I shoot for. If I don’t have appointments during the day, or grandchildren to take care of, I try to devote all morning to the business of writing, which include marketing and everything else."

On a personal note, even though Ann likes dogs and over the years she and her husband has bred and raised both Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers, she doesn't want one now.

She doesn't have a clue what her strangest habit is. Her husband offered to tell me, but she curtailed that idea.

I asked her about the strangest thing she's ever eaten.

"I don’t know that these are strange, maybe unusual for some Americans, but they stick in my mind.

▪ Chocolate covered bees and grasshoppers. (In college. Early 1960s. Crunchy. Not bad. Thanks, Neil.)
▪ Beef brains. (Rome, 1964. The only time I ever hurled when pregnant. Not the taste, but the odor.)
▪ Roasted Mammary glands. (In Sicily, circa 1970 and 1980. My sister-in-law fixes those, either beef or lamb. Not bad if you don’t know what you’re eating.)
▪ Sea urchins. (2000s. My extended Italian family eats sea urchins, so I’ve sampled them. Once. No comment, unless you like orange snot.)
▪ Peking duck (China, 2001. There were a lot of things I ate there but really didn’t know what I was eating. Everything “unknown” was chicken, according to what they told us.)
▪ Crocodile, zebra pate, ostrich, warthog, and the Mopani worm (you don’t want to hear about that, either). (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, Africa, 2008)
▪ Alpaca and yucca in Peru over Christmas and New Year 2010-11.
"I have no idea what I might have been eating in Egypt, Morocco, and India. I used to be willing to try anything, at least once, but I’m much less adventurous as I’ve gotten older. I’m saving my calories for things I know I like."

As you might can tell from the above answer, when Ann's not writing, she enjoys traveling. Unfortunately, that's only possible for a limited time every year. On a more regular basis she enjoys quilting and reading. Before she got arthritis, playing the piano was a daily activity.

Finally I asked, "If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?"

"Unlimited wishes. But that tends to fall into the category of 'be careful what you wish for.' I’d probably screw sometime when I was frustrated and wish for something terrible and that would be all she wrote.

"I’ve had my shot, and what is, is. So, instead, I’d probably wish for a happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives for my three children and eight grandchildren."
You can keep up with Ann on her website, http://www.rannsircusa.com

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Stacey Joy Netzel

On my last day here, I’d like to share an exclusive excerpt from my Colorado Trust Series.  First up in the series is TRUST IN THE LAWE and it’s available now.  Shattered Trust is due out March 30, 2011, and Shadowed Trust should be out later this year. 

TRUST IN THE LAWE

Kendra Zelner has three brothers: Eight-year old Noah she's determined to protect, Joel who has no clue she exists, and Robert who wants her dead.

With reason to be distrustful of cops, she takes Noah and flees their Manhattan home for Joel’s ranch in Colorado. Under the pretense of needing a job, she plans to hide out until her twenty-fifth birthday, when she’ll inherit her trust fund and legally gain custody of Noah away from Robert’s greedy hands. Unfortunately, her brother’s sexy, infuriating ranch manager insists on demolishing her defenses and digging into her past.

Colton Lawe has good reason to suspect Joel’s beautiful, long-lost sister isn’t what she seems—the little liar stole from him! He silently vows to expose her secrets, but long hours together on the ranch fosters a closeness and fiery attraction neither of them expects. Can Kendra trust Colton with the full truth before Robert finds them?
EXCERPT:

In the darkened bedroom, Kendra sat straight up and strained her ears to pick up anything unusual. Any sound to explain why she suddenly found her eyes wide open in the middle of the night without having had the dream.

A glance at the clock brought her up short. It was only ten-thirty. In the absence of any other explanation, she began to imagine that Robert had found them. Her heart pounded so hard in the acute silence, she heard the thump of each beat.

Then she heard a sound that chilled the blood in her veins—the muted sounds of footsteps on the kitchen linoleum. They were too heavy to be Noah’s…

Noah!

She flew out of bed and peered into the hallway. All clear. Pressing against the wall, she scurried to the entryway between the living room and kitchen. A quick glance revealed the living room to be empty.
In the dim illumination from the light above the sink, she saw the kitchen was, too. Whispering across the floor in her bare feet, she grabbed a butcher knife and went to check on Noah.

She froze at the sight of a hulking shadow backing out of his room. If he hurt Noah…A blinding red wave of anger swept through her and she sprang forward, the knife raised high. “Leave him alone, you monster!”

The shadow’s arm rose to deflect her attack. He was definitely real, not a dream.

Flesh and blood after her brother. She had to stop him.

That single thought screamed inside her head. When his hand closed over her wrist, the one with the knife, the one thing she’d mastered in self-defense class flashed back.

She dropped the knife and seized his wrist with her free hand. Pure adrenalin gave her the strength to twist her back to his chest and plant her feet. Using his own weight and forward momentum against him, she bent at the waist and heaved him over her shoulder.

He landed flat on his back with a loud thump. The breath whooshed from his lungs. She heard a strangled gasp and squatted down, scrambling to locate the knife. The bite of the blade had her reaching with her other hand for the handle.

Ironically, a rush of temporary relief shook her knees even more.

She braced her free hand against the wall for support as she rose with the knife extended in front of her. Slightly crouched, she swept her hand back and forth along the wall until she located the light switch. One flip and she’d confront Robert face to face. Her heart clogged her throat, but she forced her fingers to move.

The hallway lit up. Kendra nearly dropped the knife again as her other hand flew to her mouth in astonished horror.

Colton?

He lay on the floor in front of her, squinting in the bright light. Then his gaze fixed on the nine-inch blade in her hand, and he scooted to sit against the wall.

What was he—her gaze narrowed before she spun around and hurried inside Noah’s room. Assured he was unharmed and still sleeping soundly, she returned to the hall to find Colton picking himself up off the floor.

Dizzying relief gave way to anger. He’d scared the living daylights out of her! “What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded.

His green eyes narrowed. His attention dropped to the hand at her side and then, without a single word, he strode toward the kitchen. She rushed after him and he whirled to face her.

She jerked the knife up in automatic warning. “Stay there. I asked you a question.”

His gaze caught hers and held. The challenging glitter in his eyes held her immobile as he took a deliberate step forward and slowly reached to close his hand over her fingers on the handle. Heat from his touch radiated up her arm and through her entire body. She tried to pull away and his gaze darkened in tandem with the tightening of his grip.

“Threaten me again, and you’d better be damn sure you succeed the first time.”

~*~

Again, TRUST IN THE LAWE is available now at The Wild Rose Press if you’d like to pick up a copy.  Then mark your calendars for SHATTERED TRUST on March 30th, and watch for the third in the series, SHADOWED TRUST, later this year.

Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful weekend!
**Everyone who comments is eligible for the prize at the end of the week: ebook or print copy of my new release, TRUST IN THE LAWE. Check out my website for a excerpts of this and my other books.

Stacey Joy Netzel
www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Stacey Joy Netzel

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH


I climbed this mountain. Long’s Peak, in The Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado is 14, 259 feet high. I made the climb 20 years ago and I’m still proud of having made it to the top. I’d love to do it again, but these days I’m climbing ‘other’ mountains instead. (Explanation and uplifting message to follow.)

Right after high school, I spent 2 summers working at The Aspen Lodge Ranch Resort and Conference Center in Estes Park, CO. I fell in love with the mountains at first sight and the first year, after 2 months of hiking and getting acclimated, I was ready for the challenge of Long’s Peak, the mountain that practically shadowed the resort at sunset.

Our hiking party left at 3am to begin our 14 mile round trip hike and make it above the tree line (11,000’) by sunrise. Let me tell you, that was one amazing view! Then we made our way across the switchbacks to the Boulder Field, which leads to the Keyhole (13,300’). After the Keyhole, it’s only one more mile to the summit, but this hardest mile of all includes the Trough (600 feet of rock climbing while your leg muscles are on fire), the Narrows (a aptly-named narrow ledge along the south side of the peak with a sheer drop to your right), and the Homestretch (a mostly smooth, 300 foot incline with cracks for hand/footholds and the SCARIEST part of all! One slip and bye-bye…or so it seemed to me.).

My first summer, by the time we reached the Keyhole, fog had rolled in to mostly obscure the landmark, and our guide made the decision to turn back.
I was so bummed! But first of all, bad weather, rain and possible ice don’t mix with the Trough, the Narrows and most especially, the Homestretch. Second, on the top or the way back down, no way do you want to be caught unprotected above the tree line if a storm with lightning rolls in.

So, how do I know how scary the Homestretch was? As I said at the beginning, I did make it to the top…it just took me an extra year. In August of my second summer (the month with the best weather for tackling that mountain), another WI native and I lucked out with a beautiful Saturday and completed the climb! I stood looking out at the view in awe and amazement, pretty much on top of the world!

I’ve revisited that feeling when I finished my first novel and typed The End. It came back with the second book. And third. And oh my God, when I held my first published book in my hands! Us writers follow trails (and forge our own) that are mostly uphill and strewn with boulders, but we keep on hiking. We get up at 3am and stay up after midnight. We write through the storms in our lives and sometimes we turn back until the fog passes. But we do return.

And I know writers aren’t the only ones who tackle and conquer mountains every day. Physical or emotional, all of us have things in our lives that mean enough to fire up our determination to succeed even as we’re going through hell. We reach for the summit and don’t give up.

I was physically wiped out for a couple of days after reaching the top of Long’s Peak and then traversing the never-ending, exhausting 7 mile return hike on Jello-like legs…but I’m so glad I did. Heck, making it to the end of a book is emotionally draining at times and I wonder countless times, “Why am I doing this?”

Then I reach The End and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life without goals seems a bit boring and not much of a life at all. I even find myself a bit lost when I haven’t decided on my next mountain to climb. And if reaching those goals was easy, we wouldn’t experience that satisfying, even euphoric, sense of accomplishment that makes life worth living. I definitely want that in my life and hope you do, too.

Your turn. What ‘mountain’ are you climbing right now? When was the last time YOU had a Rocky Mountain High? Go ahead and build yourself up. Not only do other people’s successes make me want to do better, but you deserve it!

**Everyone who comments is eligible for the prize at the end of the week: ebook or print copy of my new release, TRUST IN THE LAWE. Check out my website for a excerpts of this and my other books.

Stacey Joy Netzel
www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Stacey Joy Netzel

ANIMALS IN BOOKS


Dogs, cats, horses. Those are the mainstays. Cows, deer, birds. Still probably fairly common. Toads, raccoons, mountain lions. Not so much.

Whether they are a main character, prominent secondary character, hero, villain, or just part of the scenery, animals can play a big part in books. I’ve had most of the above in my books. Funny enough, a toad, raccoon and mountain lion have all made the cut before a deer, though. In fact, twice I’ve had mountain lions…both times they performed a heroic act, though one was by nature in Trust in the Lawe, and the other by choice in my recently contacted book, Shadowed Trust.

I can’t imagine life without animals. We love them and we love to read about them. Who can resist the comic relief of the reindeer-antler-wearing Boston terrier/poodle mix Fabio in Christie Craig’s Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, or the heart-healing comfort of the adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Bliss in Teri Wilson’s Cup of Joe. Then there’s the moody kitty Mr. Louie in Donna Marie Rogers’ Meant to Be.

Even in my books where an animal doesn’t figure directly into the plot, they’re still in the background. Swans gliding on a lake. Birds chirping in the trees. A cat sitting on the porch, its tail lazily swishing in the afternoon sun. They add depth and realism to our scenes and settings.

And when they’re a bit more important, they have the ability to reveal things about our characters that we as authors don’t want to tell the reader outright. You know, the hero with a tough as nails exterior who reveals the wounded warrior’s heart of gold when he adopts the homeless dog who followed him home? Or the horse who listens intently as the heroine confesses her deepest fear? Because animals don’t tell secrets. Well—unless it’s a talking  Mynah bird like in Tory Richards’ All the Right Moves …then you’ve got great potential for the comic relief I mentioned earlier.

In the book I recently contracted, (Shadowed Trust, release date TBA) I have a mountain lion named Sassafrass and a raccoon named Rocky. Sass offers the heroic act, and she’s in there just because I love cougars so much. Rocky will make you laugh. He comes from the raccoon we had one summer when I was growing up. He used to crawl in our sleeping bags with us and help build sand castles. Well…he demolished what my siblings and I built, but we still had fun!

Okay, after all that rambling, it’s time for you to share…Who’s your favorite animal character in a book? And, do you have favorite author for writing animals?

**Everyone who comments is eligible for the prize at the end of the week: ebook or print copy of my new release, TRUST IN THE LAWE. Check out my website for an excerpt of this and my other books.

Stacey Joy Netzel
www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Stacey Joy Netzel

HOW DO THEY EARN THEIR MONEY?


In my books, I’ve had many of my characters own their own businesses. Whether it’s as a dog-sitter, veterinarian, construction company, financial advisor, rancher, or antique shop, they have the freedom of being their own boss, yet they have the troubles that can come with a business that isn’t necessarily doing the best, or they have to deal with employees, etc.

Jobs in general for my heroes and heroines have included lawyers, construction workers, waitresses, advertising executive, an animal behaviorist, a park ranger and a few others. Upcoming books will feature a wedding cake baker, a movie star, television producer, photographer, documents courier, undercover cop, jewelry maker, and a US Marshall.

Some will require lots of research (I’m thinking especially for the wedding cake baker *grin*) and others will be in the background to shape the character. Either way, I work at keeping them varied, despite always wanting to go back to a job that is easiest for me as an author to deal with.

I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks about the different jobs that heroes and heroines have in books. Do you have favorites? Are there jobs that an author describes that make you laugh? Say ewww? Roll your eyes?

Which ones do you feel are overdone? (You set the book back on the shelf as soon as you read on the back cover that the hero is part of a covert secret agency where no rules apply.)

Which ones would you buy the book no matter what? (You immediately put the book in your cart when you read that the hero is part of a covert secret agency where no rules apply. :-))

What’s the wackiest job that you’d love to read about?

Scariest?

Most dangerous?

Sexiest?

Come on and share!

**Everyone who comments is eligible for the prize at the end of the week: ebook or print copy of my new release, TRUST IN THE LAWE. Check out my website for a excerpts of this and my other books.






Stacey Joy Netzel

www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Stacey Joy Netzel

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE


Welcome to the week! I hope you’ll join me each day, and to start things off, I thought I’d take a little trip down memory lane by sharing one of my favorite book series as a kid: The Black Stallion Series, by Walter Farley.

I read and collected every book in the series I could get my hands on. I swear I had more than what’s pictured, but unfortunately, this is all I have left on my shelf. I know for a fact that my first copy of The Black Stallion fell apart from multiple readings. The rest…not so sure where they went. There are 21 books in the series. :-) I keep hoping my daughter will decide to read them and fall in love as I did, but alas, she’s more into cats and owls. (Guardians of Ga’Hoole, anyone?)

I liked the Black Stallion covers as much as the books themselves. Who could resist the beautiful horses? Mr. Farley created such a bond between Alec Ramsay and his horse, Black, entertaining me for countless hours. My favorite in the series was The Black Stallion Revolts, where Alec had amnesia. My next favorite was The Island Stallion, about a flame-colored stallion on a mysterious island. And the ultimate…The Black Stallion and Flame, a showdown between the two stallions.

Just the other day while at B&N, I checked the kids section to see if they still carried the series. They do, though only the first two books of the series were on the shelf. The others are available to order. They’ve redone the covers with reissued editions, but I still prefer the old ones.

Quick fun fact: The Black Stallion was first published in 1941.

I had no idea back when I was reading the books in the 80’s that they were already over 40 years old. I never thought to check copyright dates back then. One of these days, I’m going to have to pick one up to do some rereading. I have no doubt I’ll still enjoy them.

Your turn. What is a series you read as a kid that is still near and dear to your heart?

**Everyone who comments is eligible for the prize at the end of the week: ebook or print copy of my new release, TRUST IN THE LAWE. Check out my website for a excerpts of this an my other books.

Stacey Joy Netzel
www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Double Winner by Michael Bracken


“Excuse me, ma’am,” said the grocery store’s security guard as he touched my arm.

My heart skipped a beat. How would I explain the can of spaghetti sauce in my purse? I glanced at the name badge over his left breast pocket. Then I looked up into Wychoski‘s sparkling blue eyes, wet my lips with the tip of my tongue, and began batting my eyelashes.

“You dropped this.” He handed me the scratch-off lottery ticket I’d purchased a moment before. “Good luck.”

I shoved the lottery ticket in my pocket and watched as Wychoski walked away, admiring the way his uniform seemed tailored to fit his classically V-shaped body. I wondered how much longer he would have his job after I reported his failure to detain me for shoplifting.

Everyone’s heard of “secret shoppers,” people hired to shop at particular stores and then report their experiences. I was the opposite. I was a “secret shoplifter” employed by a security company to test the loss prevention capabilities of its own staff.

As soon as I settled into the driver’s seat of my car, I pulled the spaghetti sauce from my purse and placed it on the seat beside me. Then I grabbed a clipboard and started writing my report about John Wychoski.

A tapping on my window startled me, and I looked up to see Wychoski standing outside my car. I rolled my window halfway down.

“Do you have a receipt for that?”

I glanced at the spaghetti sauce and then returned my attention to Wychoski. “No. Should I?”

“I’m afraid I must ask you to return to the store with me.”

“I don’t think so,” I said. I had a role to play and I played it well. I keyed my ignition, starting my car.

“Ma’am,” Wychoski said, “I’ve already taken down your license number. It won’t take long for the police to track you down after I report your theft.”

I lifted my hands from the steering wheel in mock defeat. “OK. You got me. I surrender.”

I turned off the engine and pulled my keys from the ignition. I put them in my pocket and pulled out my company I.D. card. I climbed from the car with my purse slung over my shoulder, the spaghetti sauce in one hand, and my I.D. card in the other. I handed him the card.

“What’s this?”

“It’s my ‘get out of jail free’ card,” I said.

Wychoski glanced at it, saw my photograph and read my job title. “You know, Miss Stevens, I’ll have to call my supervisor about this.”

“Anything less would be a dereliction of duty.”

Wychoski escorted me into the grocery store and then into a private office. We sat on opposite sides of a desk, with the spaghetti sauce between us. Throughout the telephone conversation with his supervisor, he kept staring at me.

After he disconnected the call, Wychoski returned my I.D. “You’re free to go.”

“You surprised me,” I said.

“How’s that?”

“I thought I was going to get away,” I said, “and my report would not have been favorable.”

“And now?”

“You passed. You did everything by the book. My report will reflect that.”

“So we’re done here?”

“Absolutely.” I stood.

He stood and opened the office door. Then he walked beside me until we’d reached my car.

“You really didn’t have to walk me out,” I said. I pulled my car keys from my pocket and opened the car door. “But thank you.”

I slid into my car, closed the door, and put my purse on top of the clipboard I’d been using earlier.

A tapping on my window made me look up, and I saw Wychoski standing beside my car holding a scratch-off lottery ticket. I rolled down my window.

“This fell out of your pocket when you took out your keys.”

I took the ticket from his hand.

“And I wanted to tell you that I didn’t follow you out the first time because of the spaghetti sauce. I didn’t even realize you’d taken it,” the security guard said. “I followed you out here because I thought you were attractive. I noticed you weren’t wearing a ring and I was going to ask you out.”

“And now?” My heart skipped a beat.

“This might violate protocol,” he said, “but how about dinner? I know a great little Italian place not far from here.”

I smiled. “I think I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.”

We agreed on a meeting time.

As my date walked away, I used the edge of my ignition key to remove the metalized scratch-off layer from my lottery ticket. My eyes widened in surprise when I saw what I’d won.

Five hundred dollars.

Not bad for a two-dollar scratch-off ticket.

Maybe I would pay for dinner.


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. Visit his website to see other works.

Author Interview: Larion Willis


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Larion Willis, whose latest book It's Still Tomorrow is out from Swimming Kangaroo Books. Her next book, White Savage is scheduled to be released in May from Museitup Publishing.

From the first time Larion picked up a pen and notebook and wrote her first story ("which was horrible," she confessed) she was totally hooked.

"I had always been a story teller though the only person I told those stories to was myself. I became a writer when I started putting them down on paper. The stories were there, but the skill and technique came later," she told me.

Her inspiration for that first book?

"A spin off of I. Fleming's Bond books. Heck if she could do it, so could I. After that was a script for a series I liked. It gained momentum from there."

Larion told me that she's never called it writer's block but she does take spells when she feels overwhelmed and can't settle into a new project once she's ended one—she can't decide what she wants to work on next.

"That's when I dive into my book pile and go on a reading binge," she said. "I have no idea why, but for some reason that seems to clear my head. After I've read five or six books, I 'm ready to get back to something of my own, either a new story or doing what needs to be done on a finished one."

Larion writes the first draft by hand, and she hates to type it into the computer for editing.

"Maybe that's why I put it off with a reading binge when I know that's what I should be doing next," she mused.

"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.

"I'm liable to make some people made with this one, but I think foremost would be not being lazy," she said. "If you don't care enough to take pride in your work, why would anyone want to read it? When I started doing outside editing, I saw manuscripts that were so sloppy, in appearance, in story line, in continuity--I couldn't understand how they could present themselves that way. Stop and think about it; if you went into a store and a blouse was hanging on a rack that had been dropped on the floor, that was dirty and wrinkle, next to a blouse that was clean and pressed, which one would you buy?"

Larion told me that an author should research the preferred formatting of the publisher she plans to submit to as well as brush up on basic grammar and punctuation.

"Oh, yes," she added, "and give as much attention to your query letter and synopsis."

I wondered which came first in Larion's writing—the plot or the characters.

"That all depends on what started the story off in my head to begin with. Sometimes it's a person, sometimes it's a situation. Many times I can read an entire book or watch a movie where I come away with one thing in my head, maybe something no more than an expression, and I'm a people watcher."

For her first release, The Knowing, she witnessed a scene in a parking lot that was the seed that the story grew from. Characters might come from the situation or the situation might grow out of the characters, then the plot comes from both.

Larion knows her characters intimately, even though only a very small percent of their background actually makes it into the book. She knows, however, why they do the things they do and what happened in their lives to make them the way they are. She knows what they like to eat, drink and watch on TV even if the reader never sees it.

"The trick is to give the reader enough back story and glimpses into their personality to make them real, but not bore them to death with it," she explained.

She told me that there wasn't one book or author that most influenced her writing. From the time she was a child, lugging an armload of books out of the school library, she wanted to write. No matter what she reads, she takes something away with her, even if it's just a "don't do that."

Larion writes in multiple genres, so it's not surprising that she reads in multiple genres as well, actually more than she writes in.

"All of them are examples of different styles," she told me. "I find myself thinking I like the way she/he did that, or I like that kind of a character, and I'm sure I incorporate those things, if even at a subconscious level. I enjoyed reading a book about witches so much I wrote about one, with that big 'what if' working."

She admitted that sometimes titles can be one of the hardest things to come up with when it comes to her writing. She will look for a phrase in the story, or perhaps she'll use a place where the story takes place. Occasionally, if nothing else seems to fit, she'll resort to using one of the main characters' names.

The only thing harder than titles for her are the blurbs and taglines.

"Condensing a two or three hundred page book into a couple of paragraphs and still give the essence of the story and make it sound interesting enough that someone will want to read it is difficult, for me anyway. As far as that goes, a synopsis is hard. My tales tend to be complicated."

When she's writing, Larion doesn't really have a schedule—for the first draft, she looks up from her notebook and moves away only when she has to.

"I'm not quite as bad when I'm re-writing or editing," she said. "I often have a dog in my lap because he got tired of hearing 'just a minute' too many times and staring at me from the floor didn't work. Since it's hard to write around him, I set it aside long enough to take them out. I have two. Hubby yells at me, pointing to his stomach when it's time to eat, and he's learned to ask me early in the day if I have anything planned yet for dinner so it can be taken out of the freezer. I've become a real fan of those frozen entrees to save me for the times a reminder didn't work. Those who know me can tell when we're out if I've got a story going by my lack of attention and seeing me drift off in a daze."

When Larion's not working, in the spring and summer, she works in her yard which is edged with flower beds.

"Don't get the idea I'm a dedicated gardener," she warned. "I've gotten pretty good at knowing what plants are drought resistant by watching which ones start to droop first or just die before I notice. Same with my house plants. When I notice the most delicate start to shrivel, I water. I do occasionally even fertilize them--inbetween books, of course. I do spend each Friday with my daughter going along with her on her errands, running a few of my own that I've saved up so I only have to go out one day, and we hit a few yard sales. I'm a sucker for antiques and collectibles. Oh, did I forget to mention I read?"

"How many books have you written?" I asked.

"Okay, you're asking how many I've written, not how many I have published. At last count there were about fifty. I wrote for years without sharing, just as I had done with the stories I told myself. Four years ago, with pushing from my family, I entered the world of submits and rejections. The help of a few edited pages told me that one of the things I needed to do (and something I advise new writers to do) was brush up on composition skills. With those edited pages I did some major editing, resubmitted and was accepted. That was the start. You can see excerpts, blurbs, etc on all of them at my website and join in whatever contest I have currently running as well as request available goodies."

And… she can't unwrap a Starburst with her tongue but she can pick up things with her toes.
You can keep up with Larion on her blog, http://www.larriane.com/apps/blog/

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Jacqueline Paige

There are many myths out there about authors and the writing scene that make me laugh.

My favourite one is “You’re a published author?  You must be rolling in it.”

If the “it” being referred to is money, I can verify that this is pure fiction.  Yes, many can sustain their existence from their royalties – but unless you write and publish a huge amount of books each year (that become very popular books) or hit the big time on the NYT Bestsellers list chances are you write more for the love of creating a great story than becoming rich and famous.

Another myth is authors are these eccentric people that live differently than everyone else.

I can honestly say I know many authors and most of them are up to the tailbones in normalcy – from school trips and chasing the kids and pets between chapters as well as sitting up late at night after the kids are in bed and the household chores are done trying to hammer out that scene that just won’t behave in time to grab a few hours sleep before work the next day.

The last myth I think I’ll mention is the belief that only those with amazing grammar skills and perfect spelling can write.

Yes, there are many authors out there that are brilliant editors and have the knack for the English language – but seriously jump into a chat filled with authors sometime and see how we really are without our spell check and the time to sit and study the correct phrasing of each sentence.  After a manuscript is finished it’s worked on, proofed, edited and corrected until the writer can barely stand to read one more word of it – then it’s sent to an editor after it’s signed where they fix it all up properly.  (There should be a national editor’s day – at least ten times a year!!)

A myth that’s true?  Writers write because they have to.  To go too long with plots and characters running around inside their heads would be a very chaotic time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Jacqueline Paige


I was asked the other day what genre I read.  In truth I will read just about anything; reading is my joy when I’m not writing.  When I was questioned on my favourite book series, it didn’t take me long to list them.

I can't wait for the next book in these series by my favourite authors:


Christine Feehan:
Ghostwalkers series
Dark (Carpathian) series

J. R. Ward:
Black Dagger Brotherhood series

J.K. Beck:
Shadow Keeper series

J.D. Robb:
In Death series

Laurell K Hamilton:
Anita Blake series
Meredith Gentry series

Sherrilyn Kenyon:
Dark Hunter series
The League

P.C Cast & Kristin Cast:  (this one is my daughter’s fault!!)
The House of Night

Charlaine Harris: (bless her for the inspiration for True Blood!!)
Sookie Stackhouse

Kresley Cole:
Immortals After Dark

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Jacqueline Paige

 Sitting down and figuring out what I liked about each of the male characters in my books wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
  
From the Magic Seasons:

Chris – has a dark, powerful magnetism that he keeps carefully under wraps.  I enjoyed unravelling his secrets and finding out what made him that way. 

Owen – is the strong, silent type of male.  He reminded me of a giant teddy bear.

Dade – despite nothing ever turning out quite like he wanted it to, I loved the way he tried to help everyone. 
 
Steven – at first I thought he was the comedian in the group, but I was shocked to find out there was so much more under the surface

From Behind the Mask:

Evan – the fact that he follows his heart.  It may take him ten years, but he doesn’t give up.

From the series A Dream:

Dominic – is definitely the alpha male without being over bearing, it was a nice change.

Brody – I only got to briefly know him and he seems like joker on the outside but I suspect as I get to know him better there’s going to be a whole lot more underneath.

From the Hidden Senses trilogy:

Reid – I have to be honest as first his lone ranger attitude annoyed me, but then I got to see the real man hidden behind the tough cop exterior and I have to say I liked the man once he let that side show.

From Salvation :

Jareth –  What’s not to like about him?  After two hundred years of living as a ghost, I was rooting for this sexy pirate from page one.  

From Twice Cursed :

Colin – Who said you couldn’t have brain and brawn all in one package?  I loved how he handled the strange situation he landed in with charm and more patience than I have ever seen a male exhibit.