Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Ginger Hanson

Believing in Ellie
by
Ginger Hanson
©2011


Ellie’s Song had a long and checkered career before it was picked up for publication by The Wild Rose Press. It won first place in a romance chapter contest and finaled in a publishers’ contest, but it was also requested and rejected by several editors and agents. While it’s the third manuscript I wrote, it’s the first to earn me a personal call from an editor.

I doubt if I’ll ever forget that phone call and the joy of talking with an editor who had fallen in love with my characters and wanted to publish their story. Thankfully, I asked her to put her revision requests in writing and she did. Although I didn’t tell her, I knew I’d never remember everything we discussed because my brain kept singing “she loves it!”

I made the revisions we discussed and resubmited the manuscript, but as I was to learn in the upcoming years, editors don’t remain in houses long and their replacements aren’t always enchanted by the same stories as their predecessor. By the time my revisions reached the publishing company, the editor who called me was gone. The new editor rejected my manuscript.

Instead of burning the manuscript–easy to do in the days of paper submissions–I never lost faith in Ellie’s Song. Sometimes my faith lagged, but it would be renewed when Ellie’s Song placed in a contest or earned me a nice letter from an editor.

What’s best about Ellie’s Song is your ability to put your reader into the situation in a way that comes across naturally. We have no trouble envisioning Ellie’s home, the characters surrounding her, particularly her mother, and the activities, such as Ellie making bread, without distracting us from the events playing out in the plot.”

And how can I forget the friend who read the manuscript and left the area for several years? One of the first questions she asked me upon her return was whether or not I’d ever sold the book about the heroine who made cinnamon bread.

One reason I had trouble finding a home for Ellie’s Song was the hero, Lane Walker. For many years, publishing myth held that celebrity heroes are not popular among romance readers. As one contest judge said, “Although your synopsis is well-written, with a feasible story, editors have steered away from stories involving movie stars, singers, models and writers. So in spite of my liking your tale and (my) interest in the story and how you tell it–I don’t think for a first novel you’re going to get a thumbs up.”

This judge went on to suggest I consider changing Lane’s occupation. The problem with changing Lane’s occupation meant I’d have to change the essence of the story. It would no longer be the story I wanted to tell. Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to suggestions that improve my stories, but at some point the writer has to say this is the way I want to tell this story.

Ellie’s Song deals with the difficulty a shy person has in handling the celebrity status of a significant other. If the hero was, say, a car mechanic, the heroine wouldn’t have a problem visualizing their future. I wanted this story to explore the issues of how an everyday person deals with being romantically involved with a celebrity.

Lane remained a singer and Ellie a shy folk artist and they found a home at The Wild Rose Press. I hope they’ll also find a home in your heart as they did in mine.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Noted by RT Book Reviews for her “fast-paced, rich in detail” writing, Ginger Hanson writes contemporary and historical romance novels. Her contemporary series, set in the fictional small town of Tassanoxie, Alabama, is published by The Wild Rose Press. Feather’s Last Dance (2010) and Ellie’s Song (2011) established the series. The third story in the series, A Christmas Diamond for Merry (short story, ebook only) will be released in December 2011 and a novella ebook is pending.

Lady Runaway, Ginger’s historical Regency adventure romance, was published in 2009 by Twilight Times Press. Her two earlier Civil War adventure romances were published in 2004. Visit Ginger at www.gingerhanson.com

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Author Interview with Chrissie Loveday


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Chrissie Loveday. Chrissie has had a wide range of careers. She ran a soft-toy making business, did outside catering, created wedding cakes, was an interior decorating, and became a chef.

"I made a number of attempts at getting published, but finally made it fifteen years ago," she said. "I love writing novellas which give lots of variety and I don’t get bored with them!"

Chrissie learned to read well before she started school and loved composition days, especially if they could choose their own subject—and her interest in being published began very early.

"I sent a play in to the BBC when I was about thirteen," she remembered. "It was rejected by one of my then favourite authors (Pamela Brown) who told me to keep writing. The fact that Pamela had read it made up for the rejection. It was many years later that I began writing seriously and was finally published."

She has now written about 36 books, her favorite being the most personal one--Rough Clay is loosely based on the life of her father.

"Dad manufactured fine bone china ... figurines and all sorts of decorative ware," she told me. I was inspired to write about him and his work when I started to discover the china being sold on Internet auction sites. I had lost the family china collection following a family feud so it became very emotional as I collected long lost pieces."

Chrissie first considered herself a writer after her first short stories were published in a national magazine, but didn't dare call herself a writer to anyone else until after her first novel was published. She has written several books for People’s Friend Pocket Novels, put out by D.C. Thomson Publishing, many of which have been turned into large-print books.

People's Friend Pocket Novels will be publishing the third book in the Potteries series next month called Where Love Belongs. It's the first multiple story Chrissie's ever written and I asked her to tell us about the series.

"It is set in the Potteries around the 1920/30 era. It’s something of a family saga, telling the story of different members of a family. The first part was a rags to riches story. The second part was looking at the difficulties of a girl moving into a different social class and a romance for her brother. The third part is approaching the second world war with the youngest family member starting her career and of course, her own romance. It has been an interesting experience."

She has recently been asked to continue the series with a fourth book.

The characters always come first for Chrissie.

"I gradually get to know the person I am creating, even having conversations with them before I ever begin to write anything down. I find out where they live, what they do," she explained. "Yes, I do get odd looks at times but my husband assumes I’m speaking on the telephone to someone. Once I know my characters, I start to discover what they are doing and why. The plot follows and then changes as the characters take matters into their own hands."

Sometimes ideas won't flow as smoothly as she likes, though, and then she takes a break—maybe do something away from the computer and come back later with new ideas. She's also been known to start something different altogether and will have two or three works going on at the same time. She insists, though, that it's not writer's block.

"As a friend said, if I admitted to writer's block," she said, "I may start suffering from it."

Chrissie's writing space is a part of her bedroom. She has a corner desk, with windows on each side.

"It's a bit of a distraction as we have a marvelous view over the sea and dramatic cliffs on the Cornish coast in the South West of England," she admitted. "I love watching thunderstorms when it's dark and I can see lightning over the sea. My Jack Russell terriers have a bed nearby and settle happily while I work. I have lots of bookshelves around the room with cupboards and drawers stuffed full of writing paraphernalia. Not exactly a girlie bedroom but I love it!"

She has three Jack Russells and told me, "I don’t want another at present but I shall always have to have at least two dogs. When I’m too old and enfeebled to walk them, I can always throw a ball for them to chase."

Dogs are her favorite animal, but she also loves frogs and horses, along with meerkats, lemurs, and marmosets.

I asked Chrissie what she would like to know about the future, and she shared with me that she's a cryonicist—she's going to be frozen when she's done with this life.

"Hopefully, I shall be thawed out in the distant future with a new body and a whole new life ahead," she explained. "I hope it will be a long time before it happens but I look forward to a life with amazing technology, good health and no famine or wars. Wouldn’t that be just great?"

She definitely cries during movies—as well as dramas, books and even when someone achieves a long-held ambition.

"I live every emotion with anyone, obviously! I need a small tear jerk at the end of each of my own books," she told me.

Some things you might not know about Chrissie:

~she's definitely a morning person, waking up early and will often, she said, "get up to write at some ridiculous hour. Usually fall asleep with the radio on fairly quickly. Strange dreams result!"

~she can definitely multitask. She told me, "I always have loads going on at the same time but hey, I call that efficiency."

~if she could wish for anything at all she would wish for a massively successful book deal. The reason? "So I can put all my grandchildren through university without them incurring these dreadful debts. Not too much money to make a huge difference to life but enough to give them a bit of a start."

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

"For a new writer starting out, I would say that it is essential to keep practicing the craft. Make sure the words flow naturally, especially dialogue. Perhaps try reading it aloud to see how it sounds. Grow a very thick skin, ready for the inevitable rejections and always start something new, so if you are rejected, you have a new ‘baby’ to think about. Reading your work at a later date may give you a good idea of why something was rejected."
You can keep up with Chrissie on her website, http://www.ChrissieLoveday.com

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Denyse Bridger


To wrap up the week, I thought I’d introduce you to a new novel–the first full-length novel I’ve had published in over a year. This one is a complex story, set partly in the past, Victorian London circa Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror–and partly in modern day Toronto. It’s as much a mystery/thriller as it is romance, and the reviews so far have been amazing! We’ll be giving away a copy of this one, too!! So, have a peek…. You can read more over at my gorgeous new website, as well.

OUT OF THE PAST is a paranormal thriller that is part historical and part modern day. The first reviewer stated: "Out of the Past is a crime-mystery, a thriller, a romance—intensely sensual, interweaving 1880's London with present day Toronto in a heady blend of carefully constructed scenes and a cast of characters that bring the story to life with an undeniable authenticity. This is a tale that will satisfy on many levels. I heartily recommend it for your 'must read' list. Well done, Denysé Bridger."

OUT OF THE PAST
A new paranormal romance/mystery novel
Cover by: Kayden McLeod
Buy it from AMAZON
From the Publisher
eBook Page count: 260

A series of killings has the Toronto Police Department in turmoil. The press has labelled the killer a “werewolf” and hysteria is on the rise in the heat of the summer… Detective Damien Knightley is the lead investigator, but he’s got secrets of his own that need guarding in this very public investigation. Knightley is a vampire, and as the case gets more complex, what he discovers has him both baffled and worried.

In the Northern Ontario town of Brighton, a visionary woman finds a stranger outside her door, and because he’s near death she brings him into her home. In the wake of her kindness, dreams and visions expose things that terrify her. The stranger is a wolf, and history is about to repeat itself and explode in violent death if they can’t reach Toronto and capture a renegade on a blood-hunt.

As Damien recalls a love from a century ago, the threads of time are being pulled together, joining the past and the present. The beautiful woman he is falling in love with is bringing back memories he’d rather forget, and when the killer is finally revealed, there are more questions than answers in the identity…

THANKS so much for dropping by this week, it’s been great chatting with you!!

Denyse

Sensual Treats Magazine: http://www.sensualtreats.webs.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Denyse Bridger

Set in the Eternal City of Rome, Italy - the night just got a little bit steamier when two people finally give in to their attraction for each other and take a leap that might change their lives forever.... A best-seller for six months when it was released a few years ago, this expanded and revised version is a little sexier, a little hotter, and whole lot more sensual -- take a look and fall in love..... And if you're curious, listen to the song here:



Bella Signorina
Revised and expanded
Genre: Sweetly sensual contemporary romance

Set in Rome, Bella Signorina is a sweet, romantic story of two people who meet in a trendy caffè, and through the magic of dance and music discover they have many things in common. Bianca comes to Caffè Rosati every week, and for many weeks she's been watching a special man, a handsome, charming stranger who dances, flirts, and leaves alone each week. Bianca is a woman who enjoys her freedom, and has been hurt before, so she's not anxious to fall in love again. Something about the enigmatic Stefano has captivated her heart, though, and she is drawn to him in spite of herself. When she finally gathers her courage to approach him, and ask him to dance, little does she know that her entire world is about to change.

Stefano Esposito is a man who's past relationships have not left him much in the way of ideals about women. Many have claimed to love him, none have understood him. Stefano is a rare breed in today's world of fast-paced life and love. He is a gentleman, a man who many consider a little out of step with the times. For Stefano, falling in love is the completion of a soul, not the consummation of a sexual itch. He wants the woman in his life to respect, understand, and adore him, as he will her. When he meets Bianca, he wonders if he's finally found the one he's waited a lifetime for? She understands his internal conflicts, his desires, and his dreams, after only hours together.

When their attraction to each other flares too quickly and too intently, Stefano pulls back. Confused and uncertain, Bianca flees his beautiful home and business, and goes back to her busy life. But, once the dance has begun, is there a way to go back to what you knew before, or is it just a matter of time before the music lures you back to your dreams and, perhaps, makes them reality?

Read an excerpt:


I simply smiled and raised a glass when she walked over
Then love began, she took my hand, and said let’s dance…


Bianca allowed the music to surge into her being, until the only thing real was the easy rhythm of motion that had her spinning into the pulsing sounds of the catchy song. She’d danced with Gianni many times, and no thought was involved, only the perfect movement and the music. He was an excellent partner, and as always, the song ended too soon. Tonight, as often happened, there was a small burst of applause for the performance they’d given.

She smiled and turned to go back to her table when the handsome stranger at the bar lifted his glass and saluted her. For just an instant, the cafe and its patrons vanished, and there was only his sparkling eyes and the humor that emanated from him. Excitement surged into her veins, making her reckless and determined. Bianca murmured an excuse to Gianni, then changed direction and headed directly for the beautiful man she’d been wanting to meet.

When she stood in front of him, she offered her hand.

He took it, kissed it, and waited, faint challenge in his eyes.

She ignored the tremor working its way into her knees and making them wobbly.

“Let’s dance,” she invited.

Laughter accompanied the shake of his head.

Bianca eyed him with amusement.

“Why?”

“I don’t dance, bella.”

His voice was soft, richly modulated, and layered with too many subtleties to readily define them all.

“Of course you do,” she countered, her head tilting to one side. “I’ve seen you dance here.”

“Not like you do,” he replied.

He reached for his wine, and she caught his hand and tugged, gently but insistently drawing him with her as she walked back to the dance floor, her gaze locked with his startled look. The four piece band was just beginning a lively number when Bianca struck a pose and waited for him to take the lead. He did, and she was totally unprepared for the shock of awareness that went through her when he pulled her to him and they started to move like one person…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Denyse Bridger

Do you ever wonder the ideas come from for some of the most interesting concepts and stories you encounter? One of my latest releases, a non-erotic–all three of them are non-erotic which is a nice change–happened to come about when I was with an actor friend at a convention appearance and he was asked about the origins of a vampire character he was playing in his television series. They hadn’t really made a point of telling the audience much about who he was or how he was “created” and he had very intriguing ideas about it. We talked later in his room and I told him I loved one of the ideas he’d proposed, then asked if he’d mind me writing it. He was totally cool with the idea, so Prelude to Eternity was written. Because it’s about vampires, I considered several things, among them the roots of the whole mythos. If we go back to Dracula, there is a legendary link between Christianity and vampires, so in this short story I ask the question why, and propose an answer that makes some readers shudder, and others angry. So, what do you all think is the connection, and why do ALL early vampire stories present Christian symbolism as the very bane of vampire existence?

Prelude to Eternity is available here: XOXO Publishing.

Ever wonder why a vampire cannot walk in the light of the sun... why he was cursed to nocturnal existence.... reviled by all... a symbol of evil? I have a theory... the Prelude to Eternity....

Excerpt:

The man was dying. Alexander had a keen sense of encroaching death. He was often the cause of it. Angelo della morte – Angel of Death.

He wasn’t sure if the words inside his head were his own, or a whisper from the man who was near death before him. It was an appropriate name to give him, the most honest of the many he’d taken over the past several centuries.

A chill touched his spine.

The shadows were growing longer, yet the sun blazed infinitely brighter behind the figure who commanded the former priest’s enraptured attention.

‘You have damned your kind to a darkness greater than any you have known before.’

Again the words whispered softly, sadly, into his barren consciousness.

As Alexander watched, the sun passed behind the prisoner. He stood, immobile, and felt the shadow of the cross settle over him. Pain, a searing, fiery force that drove him to his knees burned into his dead flesh. He was being torn apart from within, and was helpless to move. Ice flooded through him in the fire’s wake. Again, he was paralyzed by the onslaught of terror and anguish.

For endless, eternal minutes, Alexander writhed before the cross. His mind screamed in a steady litany of agonized horror and emerging understanding. The darkness grew absolute around him and his pain eclipsed all other awarenesses…

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Denyse Bridger

I thought today we’d take the opposite side to yesterday’s discussion. How about those hot and sexy heroes! In spite of my reluctance to become a paranormal author, I have discovered that I have an affinity for vampires in particular, and they are endlessly fascinating. But, what does make a truly remarkable hero? Does he have to be drop-dead gorgeous, braver than the bravest soldier, or just an average guy who loves the heroine with so much passion that he rises well above his own fears to be the man she needs?

I’ve been accused of writing bitches and bastards from time to time. I don’t really agree with either tag, because frankly, I can’t imagine anything more boring than a “nice” vampire. And bitch has become synonymous with strong in some of my stories. I think a smart woman who has her own ideas is the kind of woman most of us know and want to have as a friend. Thing about that. If you actually had to know some of these heroines, would you want to?

I love the diversity of voices in today’s writing, the multitude of combinations we see in the types of lead characters. Think about it, ten years ago how many paranormals would have thought to take angels and humanize them into romantic heroes? Tomorrow, we can talk about traditional romance and today’s more unconventional approaches.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Denyse Bridger

Hello everyone. Since most of you know me already, I’ll forego the introductions this time. I’ve had a busy month, three new releases in under ten days again, so going a bit crazy. Also, just finished writing my first ménage story in ages, so it’s been insane. Two vampires and a mortal woman, and one wild relationship.

That got me to thinking about the perception we have of our heroines. We spend so much time focusing on our heroes that we often overlook the kind of woman we expect these wondering men to fall in love with and cherish. So, the question would be, what makes a good heroine, in your opinion? We tend to be very, very critical of heroines, much more so than the heroes. My theory is that we want to identify with the heroine  so we can love the hero through her. She tends to be the focus of our dissatisfaction when we read a book that we don’t like very much.

So, in my opinion, a good heroine is not someone who is remotely perfect. I don’t often describe my heroines in more than passing terms, that keeps them accessible to everyone. Large, small, smarter than average, poor, rich–there has to be something that makes us want to be her–something more than the fact that the hero would do anything for her, that is. :)

If you could tell an author what you like, or hate, about the heroines she/he creates, what would you suggest?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Author Interview with Abby Morris


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Abby Morris, whose debut novel Disturb the Universe was released in March by Secret Cravings Publishing.

Even though Disturb the Universe is her first published work, Abby has been writing for fifty-five years. English Literature was her passion as far back as elementary school and she wrote short pieces for writing competitions as often as she could. She also used her writing skills throughout her business career, writing policy statements, speeches, and training manuals. Once she retired, she had the time to devote to writing fiction.

Disturb the Universe is very important to Abby, for more than being her debut.

"It's very special to me because it addresses a situation almost all women have dealt with—what if the man you want is your best friend? Or what if he is gay?" she explained. "It is fascinating to me that once a woman paints a man as unavailable for any reason (gay, married, a priest, absent, indifferent), she will construct a shield of tolerance around him that is impervious to fault or blame. Like an imaginary playmate, he becomes a touchstone, a symbol of perfection, a goal to be reached, a place to which she returns no matter how far afield her interest may stray. This book is about a couple, Lauren and Charlie, who grow up together—constant companions, best friends—with no romantic attachment. When Lauren finally acknowledges she is in love with Charlie despite his obvious lack of sexual interest, the conflict begins. The ultimate question is – when given the chance to have him, issues and all, what will she choose to do?"

The title was taken from the T.S. Eliot poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which deals with the issue of whether one should dare to seize the moment, take the risk, live the life. She viewed the concept of "daring to do" as perfect for the story.

Abby often turns to favorite poems for title ideas, because poets have a facility to compress reams of meaning into a short phrase.

"Pick the right phrase," she told me, "and you capture a whole spectrum of feeling within a short title. I plan to use an Emily Dickenson phrase for a title—think of the meaning behind 'entertaining plated wares upon my silver shelf' or 'because I could not stop for death he kindly stopped for me.' Of course, Mr. Eliot has many other good ones to offer – The Waste Land alone could be the inspiration for titles of hundreds of books. Or Richard Shelton, ‘the forms of love are myriad as the stars …’."

When discussing which came first, characters or plot, Abby assured me, " My characters always come first because they are the story. The plot may take several forms before it is finished, but it always reflects behavior that is true to the nature of the characters."

Abby also told me that she doesn't believe in writer's block.

"I either have something I want to say or I don’t, and I never force it," she said. "When characters and a story press themselves upon me, I write; other times, I read, which often inspires me to write. Many of my stories are based on real-life family and friends, so the raw material is always there – sometimes it just needs a jolt of energy."

One of her favorite authors is Ayn Rand.

"Ayn Rand was the most gifted storyteller and had the most skillful, compelling manner of presenting her extraordinary message," Abby told me. "However, for the sheer pleasure of enjoying silky, lyrical prose, I return again and again to Tennessee Williams, Pat Conroy, and F. Scott Fitzgerald."

Tennessee Williams and F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with Arona McHugh and John O'Hara, have had the most impact on Abby's own style of writing, however she said, "The beauty of the lyrical language of Anne Rivers Siddons’ best book, Peachtree Road, has inspired me in many ways."

Abby has a built-in desk in her kitchen/sunroom which is the center of her home world, complete with pc, printer, phone, files, and a comfortable chair. She also has a more formal study, though, with a nice lady's desk, period furniture, and a lot of books.

"I like to use it sometimes, just for a change of environment."

When Abby's not writing, she likes to read, play bridge, lunch or shop with friends, watch TV (especially old movies), and indulge her passion for gourmet cooking.

"I love to try new dishes and seldom follow any recipe exactly," she admitted. "My husband and I are both retired and both of us write, so we are never without something to do."

Abby had a Samoyed for twelve years who was a wonderful pet.

"I loved him immensely and was crushed when he died from cancer," she told me, explaining why she doesn't want a dog right now. "It wasn’t until he was gone that I realized how much time and work is involved in properly caring for a dog—especially one that large."

"You can erase any horrible experience from your past," I told her. "What will it be?"

"Whatever caused me to be claustrophobic. I don’t remember the incident, but something made me afraid of closed–in spaces, particularly if there is not an obvious exit, or I can’t effectively use my hands and arms. I can’t even watch TV scenes where someone is crawling through a tunnel, and it’s downright embarrassing to have a panic attack in a stalled elevator."

Abby's heritage is Irish, Scot, and English on her mother's side and English, German, and American Indian on her father's side.

"My ancestors were part of the American Revolution and the Confederacy," she said. "We are southern to the core, having migrated down from Virginia to settle in Georgia."

The strangest thing she's ever eaten was considered a delicacy in the south…"still are, I expect," she said, "by those who aren't grossed out by the thought. Calf brains. When I was a child, my grandmother would prepare brains and eggs for supper when she had them."

"Have you ever cried during a movie?" I asked.

"Good Lord, yes. I also cry during commercials, TV series, music, and at funerals of people I don’t even know. The first really sad movie I remember was A Place in the Sun, with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Cliff. I recall going to the drive-in theatre with my girlfriends, watching it twice and sobbing from beginning to end."

Abby is a self-admitted night person.

"All those years I had to get up early for school or work, I yearned for the day when I could stay up late and sleep late," she told me. "In college, I never understood the people who got up at five a.m. to prepare for class because I don’t really ‘get in gear’ until around ten a.m."

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

"Enough money to avoid anything I don’t want to endure. I don’t believe that wealth ensures happiness, but it does remove obstacles and provide the freedom to get away from whatever makes us unhappy. Whether it’s a miserable marriage, an unpleasant neighborhood, health issues, a bad job, bad climate, boring family or friends—enough money enables one to choose rather than accept. Think about it—what’s in your life that you could improve with more money than you have? Even if you have enough money to be very comfortable, wouldn’t more of it give you a chance to change something for the better?"
You can keep up with Abby on her website, http://www.wix.com/abbymorris1/abby-morris#!.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Jane Toombs

What Makes A Trilogy Different From A Series


What does a trilogy need that a series doesn’t? A trilogy must have a real and viable connection within the three books. Either the same main characters throughout the three or secondary characters from the first book taking on major roles in the second and third books.

Or a single goal throughout the three books, such as a problem needing to be solved, which finally is taken care of in the third. Or a specific setting that’s the core of the trilogy. Or a family connection, where various members may encounter different settings, but the people in the trilogy are all related.

In my Darkness of Dragons Trilogy, the books are connected by the same house and area (setting). And by the goal, which is essentially the same in all three--to control the Black Dragon.

On the other hand, In my Dagon House Ghosts Trilogy, the connection is simply the house (setting) and what happens to the people who are staying there. That and the ghosts.

On the other hand, a series needs only to be loosely connected in some way. That to me is the difference.

Again, the connection can be a family, such as in my Golden Chances Series. Or a setting, which that series has as well.

In my Temple Of Time Series, the series title is the connecting factor, because once you enter this place, anything can happen.

Also in a series, years can pass between the books.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Jane Toombs

5 W’s And An H


I’m often asked how I write. So I finally dreamed up a short answer. I use the who, what. when, why, where and how method of creating.

Who are the two main characters. Three if there’s a villain.
What do each of them want? Plus the way this will impact the story.
When is the time period of the story.
Why is the reason for what the main characters want.
Where is the physical location of what’s happening.
How is the resulting story.

I’m a plotter, so I do an overall synopsis for the entire book or series. I may deviate from this synopsis as I go along, but usually not radically. This gives me an overall plan, so I don’t wander off into the woods and get lost.

And, yes I might. I pantstered my first two sales back in 1943, and 1944, but got so far off track with the third that my agent couldn’t peddle it anywhere.

He was the one who, though inadvertently, rescued me by asking me to do a synopsis and three chapters for a publisher doing a gothic Zodiac series. After he explained what a synopsis was (I had no clue) I did it and got the contract. I found it amazingly easy to write the book more or less following the synopsis. I never wrote another without one. Even did a synopsis for that third book, revised it drastically and it sold. I’ve never looked back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Jane Toombs

THE DISEASE OF WRITING


Abelard to Heloise: “Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.”

This tragic couple wrote numerous letters to each other, one containing the above remark. Not going further into their ill-fated love affair, I’m using the quotation as applies to all writers. In the narrow sense of being contagious, I’m not sure it applies, since we can’t “catch” writing from being exposed to a writer. But in another sense most of us have been readers from an early age, so maybe we did “catch” it from the books we read and enjoyed which were written by already infected authors. Not a highly contagious because not all readers get infected.

A dangerous disease? Absolutely, since after catching it most writers remain infected for the rest of their lives. Those lucky enough to be published find that intensifies the disease severely. Many may even go to a heavenly reward with their cold, dead fingers still on the keyboard.

What‘s the reward for suffering most of our lives from this disease? Sometimes monetary rewards, but often merely walking-around money. We all do have the joy (and pain) of reviews. Plus the wonderful satisfaction of hearing from readers who tell us how much they enjoy reading what we write. A few of us may even become famous.

Famous or not, we cling to our disease and keep writing. We say we can’t help it, and of course we can’t-- we’re suffering from the disease of writing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Jane Toombs

Are Gothics Spooky?


Do you think of gothics as spooky stories? I do. Of course they’re also more than that. A gothic may come close to horror, but never really is because there‘s always a happy ending. Nor is it just a romantic suspense story because darker elements are always present. And almost all gothics are paranormal in some way. Modern gothics also differ from the earlier ones as far as sex goes--they can be sensual. Earlier ones were filled with sexual yearning, but consummation was missing. Though that’s not true of Rebecca because the hero and heroine are married even if we don’t see any consummated sex between them.

Modern gothics differ in other ways from earlier ones, in that the heroine is rarely if ever a shy virgin. Neither, as a rule, is she too stupid to live. No more midnight ventures down a dark hall with a wavering candle the only illumination. In her nightgown, no less. And the hero does not have to be the stereotypical tortured and brooding loner, who is usually a widower. Usually with some question as to why his wife died, making him seem implicated.

Neither does the setting have to be a castle, though a mansion is still popular. An isolated setting is a plus. Usually nothing is exactly as it appears on the surface.

The RWA Chapter of the Gothic Writers has a great gothic series running at Red Rose Publishing, called Shadowed Hearts. Six books are out now, with more to come.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Jane Toombs

Review Behavior For Authors


If you’re like me. You hope all the reviews your book gets are good ones. But what if some aren’t? What do you do? Regardless of how you feel, here’s what you should do for a really bad one.

1. Always thank the reviewer Yes, even if you hate their review and feel she or he didn’t understand what you were trying to do. The only other words you might use is that you were sorry she or he didn’t seem to like your writing. Even if you or your publisher didn’t ask for a book review, you need to remember the reviewer took the time to read it.

2. Never, ever respond to a reviewer with an angry email. Why? Not everyone can or will like your story. That’s a fact you need to remember every time you ask someone to review a book of yours. It’s never wise to alienate a reviewer, which an angry email will surely do. Secondly--after all, this person gave you their honest opinion. Remind yourself not everyone will like your book. Repeat it like a mantra.

3. If you must share your scathing remarks do so with folks you know are your friends. Preferably per phone call rather than email. Do not share your opinion online.

4. Tell your publisher you’d prefer this reviewer didn’t read any more of your books since she or he doesn’t seem to like them.


Have I ever gotten poor reviews? You bet. Most authors have.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Author Interview: Shona Husk


The Long and the Short of It is happy to welcome Shona Husk, whose newest book The Goblin King was just released by Sourcebooks. The Goblin King is the first in the Shadowlands series.

I asked her to tell us a little bit about the book.

Cursed by a Druid millennia ago, Roan lives a bleak existence in the Shadowlands, desperately trying to retain his soul and not succumb to the goblin horde.

When a beautiful human summons him to grant a wish, he sees a glimmer of hope. But will she ever agree to be his queen?
The next two books in the series, Kiss of a Goblin Prince and For the Love of a Goblin Warrior, are scheduled to be released next year.

The Goblin King wasn't really intended to be the actual title—it was the working title just until Shona could come up with something she liked better. However, by the time she finished writing it, she liked it and it stuck.

Shona wrote her first book while she was in high school for an English project.

"It was, in hindsight, a horrible clichéd piece of fantasy," she admitted. "But I had fun writing it. Skip forward a decade to when I was on maternity leave and feeling a little bored, so instead of doing housework while the baby slept I started writing. Again another fantasy. It took me 18 months to finish but in that time I’d discovered plot, characterisation, RWA and a critique group. I knew this was something I wanted to pursue."

Once she started collecting rejection letters that asked to see something else, she started feeling like a writer. "That was when I realised that I must be doing something right," she told me.

Shona's never suffered from writer's block, but she has gotten stuck a few times—usually when she's written a scene that really belongs later in the book. She's discovered that if she goes back, she can usually get back going. A few chapters later, the scene that she was stuck on fits perfectly.

I asked her which came first in her writing: plot or characters?

"A little of both," she said. "I usually have an idea for a character and part of them is what they want. Their goal forms the plot. So I build the two up at the same time while throwing in a love interest to complicate things."

She finds empathetic characters, however, one of the most important elements of good writing.

"If a reader can be engaged by the character, and care about the character, they will read on. They are the hook into the story," she explained. "It doesn’t matter how great the plot is, or how perfect your grammar is, if the reader doesn’t care what happened to the main character they will put the books down, in my humble opinion."

Shona has a desk and bookcase in a little space that doglegs off the main bedroom.

"On the plus side it opens up onto the back yard so it has quite a nice view and I get to put all my stuff in one place. On the desk I have my laptop, dictionary, thesaurus, baby name book and folders for each of my WIPs. On the bookcase I have my TBR pile, reference books, and folders for stories that are more than an idea but not yet a manuscript."

She writes her first drafts longhand, even though she confesses that her handwriting is shocking. She can get the story down very fast this way—usually in a month—then she can spend months cleaning it up and fleshing it out.

On a personal note, Shona gets up early, so unless she has a very pressing deadline, she likes to be in bed by 10 pm.

"What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?" I wondered.

"I've lived in Africa so I chose not to know," she assured me.

A saying she uses a lot is "no worries."

"I tend to use it at the end of phone calls," she said, "and I have no idea when I started using it."

Her favourite animal is seals, and she used to collect them, having about twenty ornaments. Unfortunately, they got lost in a move, but she still has a few of the soft toys.

"Have you ever cried during a movie?" I asked.

"Yes. I’d read The Time Traveller’s Wife and bawled at the end, then I went to see the movie and even though I knew what would happen cried anyway. I was surprised so many people walked out dry eyed."

She hates thunderstorms and is a master multi-tasker, being able to cook dinner, talk on the phone, get snacks for the children all the while planning the next scene she's going to write. She also needs a light on in the house when she sleeps and will wake up if the power goes off.

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

"Write what you love…then find out if it’s marketable, then tailor what you love to the market. Trying to write to the market will kill you while you are still learning the craft."
You can keep up with Shona on her website, http://www.shonahusk.com.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Renee Wildes

First thing you need to know about the woman behind the writer, I’m a Navy brat & Tricare employee. That being said, I just got back from a family vacation driving from Wisconsin to Maine. Took my kids to see their grandpa. My dad was in the Navy & now works for BIW (Bath Iron Works) in Brunswick, Maine, building DDG destroyers for the US Navy. He’s been there for 30 years & runs the tin shop, thinking about finally retiring next year.

While we were in Maine, Dad mentioned the USS Spruance (DDG 111) was scheduled to be launched and did I want to go to the send-off? Are you kidding me? How often does a girl from central WI get to see a brand new warship off on her inaugural voyage? Her captain, Cmdr M. Tate Westbrook, wrote a wonderful article thanking the people of Brunswick from making his family feel welcome and the guys at BIW for building such an awesome ship. The thing that stuck out in my mind was a comment that experienced Navy personnel can tell immediately once they set foot on a ship if she was built by BIW. They’re just a cut above. Cmdr Westbrook commented that he knew she was built to sail into harm’s way and he had no doubt she’d bring her boys back home.

Now I have to say, Brunswick takes her military and her shipbuilding VERY seriously. They had to dredge the Kennebec River to make sure the USS Spruance didn’t have any hang-ups. There was some environmental protesting, but that had to be weighed against a government contract and people’s JOBS, which in this economy is no small thing. There were buoys marking the central channel and a couple of tugboats standing by to help her on her way.

There are three key locations on the Kennebec – BIW, where the USS Spruance would begin her voyage, and Ft. Popham, which has guarded the mouth of the Kennebec since 1607 and is the last turn for the USS Spruance—there she makes a hard right and is in open ocean. Right smack in between is the Maine Maritime Museum, which is where we were—and she’d sail right on by us.

So there I was with hubby, kids & dad. The Municipal Band was playing. The ceremonial cannon was out and primed—little bronze/brass thing, didn’t look like much. The flag ladies were out in their American Flag shirts & real flags flying. Dad told me ever since this war began those 4 little old ladies are out every Tuesday, rain or shine, waving those flags on the street corner. There was a table set up with commemorative hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and coins for DDG 112, the USS Michael Murphy, the NEXT ship of the line (comes out NEXT year, 2012). SHE’s named for Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy, US Navy SEAL from New York, KIA in Afghanistan 2005. Medal of Honor winner. First ship to NOT be named for a president or an admiral. For HIS story please check out http://www.navy.mil/moh/mpmurphy/index.html. My dad got me one of the coins that’s now my personal talisman. There were a BUNCH of guys there who were assigned to the Murphy, there to wish the Spruance off. I stood next to Ensign Z., really a nice kid, looking forward to his FIRST shipboard assignment. I asked him if he was waiting for the Murphy, and he smiled a shy smile, stood a little straighter and said, “Yes Ma’am.” The average age of the personnel on a ship is 19—most of them are kids on their first assignment. They train while the ship’s built, the bigwigs go out on sea trials to make sure everything’s working like it should (they run drills like crazy, do all the worst case scenarios, fire her guns, etc., and then it all comes together in the end. The crew boards with their BIG duffels and off they go. These ships are not built to be pleasure yachts. They’re loaded for bear and armed to the teeth. We may not start a fight but by the gods we’ll finish it! They’ll keep their crews safe and bring them home.

So the USS Spruance comes around the BIW derricks; you could just see her flags flying through the cranes. Everyone starts cheering and waving their flags, camera flashes going like crazy as she swung into the channel, tugboats chasing after her like baby ducks following their mother. The crew lining the deck rail stand at attention. The USS Murphy personnel is at attention & saluting them back. They fired off that itty bitty ceremonial cannon (just black powder, they really don’t fire at their own ship!) and Ensign Z & I both jumped about a foot off the ground—that sucker was LOUD! The band started playing “Anchors Aweigh” and I started bawling like a baby! My kids huffed in disgust and pretended they didn’t know me. But it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed. In my life.

I write fantasy romance with warrior/guardian characters—the Guardians of Light series for Samhain Publishing. An entire community that can band together and rally around their warriors, with love, respect and support—the quiet pride and courage of the men—is something I can reflect in my stories. Heroes and heroines with courage and honor, strength of character and compassion. You can check out my website at http://www.ReneeWildes.net to learn more about MY guardians.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Renee Wildes

CONQUERING FEAR


I am a true April Taurus—earthbound, practical, stubborn and temperamental. My life is ruled by fear. In true “bull” fashion, I tend to meet it head-on. It’s what drives me, not a weakness but a motivator.

I’ve always been a tomboy, preferring horses to boys growing up. I belonged to the Wilderness Challenge Club in high school (Wisconsin Academy in Columbus, WI). Whitewater rafting, caving, rappelling, canoeing, if it meant sunburn, mosquitoes and getting dirty—that was where you’d find me. Very glamorous stuff. Now, I’ve always been afraid of heights. Like—freeze atop a 6-ft ladder scared of heights. We won’t even mention airplanes. Sedatives. LOTS of sedatives…

So, the first time I went rappelling was at Devil’s Lake, from atop Devil’s Rock. Guarded by all manner of…rattlesnakes. Saw two, sunning on the rocks. So there I was on a snake-infested rock atop the world. Beautiful view. Wasted on a sixteen-year-old in a cold sweat. See, the secret to rappelling is to WALK down the rock face. Anyone who’s walked across a floor knows the easiest way to do that is to be perpendicular to the floor surface. So if the floor surface is almost entirely vertical, that means the walker gets to be the one who’s…horizontal. And that translates into standing backwards at the edge of a cliff, the true ground several hundred feet below, and LEANING back against a rope-and-nylon-harness-affair into thin air until you’re lying down on NOTHING—and then walk down the wall.

Sure. Uh huh. (Never said I was a BRIGHT kid. Well, okay, I was. Straight A nerd.) And Mr. Snyder was right there like some hairy bearded cheerleader from Buffy saying stupid things like, “It’s easy. You can do this. Nothing stops you. Just leeeeeean back and walk down.”

But it was my best friend stating “Don’t be such a chicken shit” that got me going. Okay, it took me 20 minutes of whimpering like a toy poodle in a thunderstorm before I leaned back enough to start walking. Reaching the bottom to more Buffy reject cheering felt like conquering Mount Everest.

That’s how I tackle life. I let fear motivate me into moving, defeating, conquering. It can either stop you or get you going. Being a Taurus, stubbornness gets me a long way through life. As a writer I try to let the quality bleed off into my characters. Set them up against a bad situation some would consider impossible, but the character just takes a deep breath, says “Who if not me?” and forges on to start, to try. And so the stories go.

In Riever's Heart, the heroine Verdeen goes to the Icelandic-esque kingdom of Isadorykja with the hero, Daq Aryk. They have to climb a mountain and cross a glacier, and when a crevasse breaks open and an avalanche starts, she has to face her own fears:

They continued on. Rounding a clump of boulders like scattered marbles, Aryk paused and frowned as he eyed the path ahead. A fine latticework of ice crystals covered the surface, as if it had melted and refrozen. He crouched down, pointed to a jagged line transecting the snow. Valkyn studied it as well and nodded.

“What?” Verdeen whispered.

“Partial thaw,” Aryk replied. “Might’ve weakened this area. We cross above that line.”

“Spread out,” Valkyn advised.

They proceeded with caution. Verdeen watched Fiske. The dog’s fur stood on end as he sniffed the air and paced back and forth, stayed close to Aryk. Snow creaked and crunched underfoot, as if the Horn groaned at their intrusion. Verdeen shuddered. Ominous clouds crept across the sky. The dim light pressed like a physical weight against her. She tried to convince herself ’twas just her imagination, but the Horn no longer felt benign. It felt like ’twas waiting…

A sharp crack and Fiske’s startled yelp were the sole warnings as the snow collapsed beneath the dog’s paws, and he dropped. Verdeen choked down a scream as he disappeared into the ground. Aryk hurled himself to the snow, clutching the line. Slowly, he wound the line around his hands, drawing the dog back up with every coil. Verdeen didn’t dare move, scarce dared breathe, as Valkyn crept forward on his belly to the edge of the newly opened crevasse and grabbed Fiske’s harness when the dog came within range, hauling him back onto solid ground. The shaking, whimpering dog tottered over to Aryk, who wasted no time in yanking off his gloves and pulling the dog close enough to bury his face in Fiske’s red fur.

Verdeen’s heart thundered as Valkyn eased away from the treacherous opening. They’d almost lost Fiske. She’d gotten attached in just a few days. How much worse for Aryk, who’d raised him from a pup?

The sharp cracking continued. With a monstrous roar, everything on the lower side of the opening fell away, thundering down the slope in a wall of frozen white. They flung themselves to the ground as the slide fell away, shaking the Horn.

Aryk and Valkyn crawled over to her as the shaking stopped. Aryk reached across the snow to lay a reassuring hand over hers. She was grateful for the comfort as she clambered to her feet and looked down in dismay. Their way was blocked; too unstable to risk it.


Fantasy Romance Author Renee Wildes writes the Guardians of Light series for Samhain Publishing. She lives in central WI with hubby, 2 kids, a calico cat, a black Chow, and 2 gray half-Arab mares. She still considers herself a tomboy, although she hasn’t hoofed it down Devil’s Rock in years. Nowadays, writing, reading and scrapbooking occupy her time—when she’s not prying her kids out of a tree or off the roof…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Renee Wildes

THE POWER OF A DREAM


Riever's Heart came out on Tuesday, 9/27/11. The hero Daq Aryk is a man with a dream—a warrior prince who dreams of peace. He loves his children, his people and his land. He’s tired of his people being cold & hungry, of warriors dying young and illness taking its toll. They’ve been professional raiders for generations but Aryk has a vision of their children growing up to other career options.

The problem is old habits die hard. His own people can’t see themselves doing anything else. Even Aryk’s best friend Valkyn accuses Aryk of turning his back on their fathers. The outside nations are clearly skeptical of a message of peace coming from a riever leader. The only ones to give him a shot are the elves in Poshnari-Unai. King Loren assigns his best warrior Verdeen to accompany Aryk back to Isadorikja as a helper and witness. Part bodyguard, part counselor and part spy.

Aryk has enough on his plate with stubborn clansmen and skeptical neighbors. The last thing he needs is a beautiful cadet with no real battle experience. She’s a distraction he can’t afford. Even though she makes him burn with desire, he has to focus on the mission. He’s got to no time to think of his own needs.

With everything he’s got against him it would be so easy to give it up, to just continue things as they are. Unpopular leaders can be replaced. He takes a big risk following his dream but sometimes a dream is all a man has.

Ask Martin Luther King, Jr.

How many things have changed in history because someone stood up and said, “You know what? This is wrong. I think we can do better.”

A dream can make change happen.

Everyone has dreams. What they do about them is what defines who and what they are, and can define the future for everyone else. We have to believe in the power of the possibilities of their dreams. Words like “can’t” and “never” should never enter your vocabulary. Dreams can inspire change. Dreams can affect change. Don’t laugh at the dreamers—embrace them. Join them. Become them.

I’ve always loved to write—I was writing horse stories when I was six, and I was the only kid in school who got a maximum word count in school. I always dreamed of being a published author and even though the odds were against me (I got a LOT of rejections when I was first starting out) I never gave up on my dream.

Riever's Heart is Book 5 of the Guardians of Light series for Samhain Publishing! Can’t have Book 5 without Book 1. What if I’d given up? Quit?

Never give up. Ever. No matter what other people say, you have to believe in yourself. Don’t ever listen to the naysayers. I hope Aryk’s and Verdeen’s story can inspire you to keep your own dreams alive.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Renee Wildes

Riever’s Heart came out Tuesday, 9/27/11 from Samhain Publishing. I have a lot in common with the elven heroine, Verdeen and thought I’d share a bit about the both of us. Maybe you’ll see a bit you can relate to as well.

Verdeen was born to high parental expectations. Her parents were so proud when she became lady’s maid to the queen, Dara, in Duality. They thought “queen” but she saw “lady’s maid” and it wasn’t enough for her. Dara asked what she wanted and Verdeen was honest and told her. So Dara helped her enter the military academy—first female to do so in generations. Her parents were…disappointed. I used to be a waitress, and living off tips getting pinched by drunk businessmen was not where I saw for the rest of my life either. So I went back to college—and became the only vet tech in a family of nurses.

We’re both black sheep, following our own dreams instead of that of others’.

Verdeen and I are both tomboys. We’re both bookworms, both inclined to “look it up” when we have a question. I’m terrible about never wanting to stop research to actually WRITE. There’s so much interesting stuff to learn! But she and I both learned that sometimes, there’s no substitute for actually getting out there and LIVING life instead of just reading about it! Research is also EXPERIENCE. (And we both love to read just for fun, too.)

We’re both major horse lovers. I’ve always had Arabians and have two half-Arab mares now. Temptation Fyre N Ice (aka Sassy) is a gray 7-year-old Morab and Moonlight is a white 20-year-old half-Welsh pony who technically belongs to my daughter Tami. Verdeen’s always dreamed of having an elven war mare select her to partner in becoming a full elven ranger—those beautiful, glowing white, sentient war mares. Only when she graduates from the military academy, Verdeen DOESN’T get her war mare. None of them choose her. For me, I just had to buy one. Verdeen doesn’t have that luxury and her disappointment is crushing. What to do when the one thing you want most in the world is denied you? How to come up with Plan B? I’ve also had to deal with disappointments and roads not taken.

Sometimes it’s not about what you want. It’s about what you need.

I’ve started gaming on Dragons of Atlantis with my son, but because I never do anything halfway I’m now second in command in our mutual alliance. I’m basically the go-between between the overlord and the rest of the tribe. I’m counselor, resource allocator and diplomat. I also fight when necessary to protect what’s ours and defend my fellow alliance members. Verdeen is assigned by King Loren to accompany the human riever Daq Aryk back to his kingdom of Isadorikja and help him unite his warring clans into a single cohesive nation. She also is a go-between between Loren and Aryk. Part counselor, part spy. But she’s also right there to guard his back and defend him when threatened. Diplomacy when you can, war when that fails, diplomacy again when the war is over.

Always have a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup to the backup. Turn disappointment into triumph. See a failure as a new opportunity.

We both struggle to balance “warrior and woman.” Career vs. family. Time constraints. Choosing one thing means NOT choosing another. Time management and prioritizing. Coming to grips with the realization that you can’t do everything. Recognizing that every day you set an example, both good and bad. Learning to accept that your best is all there is, but it’s always enough. If you can look yourself in the eye in the mirror every night then you have nothing to apologize for.

We’ve both faced our fears. Verdeen had to climb a mountain, face her fear of falling. I’ve gone rappelling and faced my own fears of heights and falling. We both trusted the person holding the other end of the rope (belaying) not to let us die. Sometimes it’s out of your hands and in the hands of another. Sometimes you just gotta check that rope and step over the edge.

Both of us have dealt with the insecurity of wanting another’s approval, not getting it and slowly coming to the painful realization that we can’t please everyone all the time. You have to be secure within yourself. You can’t let others’ opinions dictate who and what you are.

The best characters are like real people with the triviality burned away. They’re multi-faceted. They have insecurities, weaknesses, moments they’re not proud of and things they want to do over. But they’ve got a good heart, learn from their mistakes and always try to do the right thing. Learn and grow. Be open to change. Be able to adapt. Celebrate life’s triumphs both great and small.


I loved hanging out with Verdeen, seeing how much she’s grown between Duality and Riever’s Heart AND how much she’s grown from the beginning of Riever’s Heart to the end. I hope you all find some part of her and her story to relate to your own life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Renee Wildes

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Mythology For The Modern Reader


When was the last time a book REALLY resonated with you? The book that, rather than end up in last summer’s yard sale, is actually rubber-banded together because you’ve literally read it to pieces but can’t find a replacement copy? The one you can recite entire passages from? The one you recommend to everyone and their cousin?
What makes that book so special? So powerful? Have you ever stopped to think about where the magic comes from? How the author pulled character and theme and emotion and drama all together?

For me, I grew up with epic fantasy and sci fi – from reading CS Lewis and Tolkien to watching Star Wars. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized they had a common thread – a scholar/teacher named Joseph Campbell. The eminent mythology expert of the 20th & 21st centuries. The man who made it his life’s work to study universal themes, what all cultures’ storytelling and mythology have in common. Why people are still drawn, over and over, to the good defeats evil, David beats Goliath, the good guy always gets the girl and they live happily-ever-after? There’s so much chaos and negativity in the world that it’s great to be able to curl up with a tale and know the good guys are gonna win. “And they lived happily ever after. THE END.”

What do you look for in a story? Great characters you can identify with? Believable problems and solutions? Exotic locations? Grand adventures? Tales that weave emotion through every page, where you laugh and cry and worry and wonder along with the characters? See it this pattern looks familiar:

• Little hero/ine in a sucky spot, wants things to change
• Little hero/ine thinks, “What can I do? It’s too big for me.”
• The last straw breaks the camel’s back and little hero/ine thinks “enough already” and off s/he goes to change things
• Meets their ideal hero/ine, sparks fly
• Various adventure, mayhem and disasters ensue, with betrayal and death and rescues and lessons learned
• Hero & heroine fall in love, but it will never work (see above various & sundry complications)
• Black moment when all hope seems lost
• Wondrous solving of the problem, characters personal growth and triumphant return
• The happily ever after
• THE END

The above template is my variation of “The Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell, the Holy Grail of storytelling. It’s a wondrous journey, an adventure, an escape, with fabulously real lands, weird food, bad weather, horrific villains with evil plans, the occasional noble death, brave and sassy heroines, and smoking hot heroes. Any combination of the above. Anything goes!

The magic’s in the journey – and the triumph in the end.

Ever cheer at the end of a movie? Every hug a book you just finished reading? Ever write an author to say, “This book changed me/my life?”

Ever frantically search for a rubber band to keep from losing one single page of the third copy of your favorite book? (Okay, for me that book is Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies of Mandrigyn from Del Rey, 1984, ISBN 0345309197)

So, I cut my teeth on epic fantasy – Tolkien and Terry Brooks and LOTR and Willow. As a writer, I now have my award-winning “Guardians of Light” fantasy romance series for Samhain. Reviewers have taken notice. I hope you’ll check it out.

My heroines? A half-dragon fire mage, an assassin nun, a selkie single mother, a dream faerie and an elven warrior.

My heroes? Elven princes and paladins and spirit healers. The odd werewolf and troll.

My villains? Demons and genocidal queens, power-mad dragons and selkie princes, and goblin sorcerers.

We also have the odd tree sprite, gypsies, an occasional mermaid, talking horses and sentient jewelry. Chaos and mayhem aplenty, with the occasional head-on-a-pike. Noble death and self-sacrifice. Always the good-wins-out-over-evil AND they-lived-happily-ever-after.

My newest title is Riever’s Heart. It features an elven warrior who used to be the queen’s ladies maid and a human barbarian prince who dreams of uniting his clans into a nation. Verdeen is selected to be King Loren’s Right Hand, and accompanies Daq Aryk back to Isadorikja, a rather Icelandic-esque island as both counselor—and spy.

Renee Wildes is an award-winning fantasy romance author for Samhain Publishing. Renee is a history buff, from medieval times back to ancient Greece and Sparta. As a Navy brat and a cop’s kid, she gravitated to protector/guardian heroes and heroines. She’s had horses her whole life, so became the only vet tech in a family of nurses. It all comes together in her Guardians of Light series for Samhain – fantasy, action, romance, heroics and lots of critters!
Visit Renee at:
Samhain Author Page
Blog
Yahoo group
Twitter: @ReneeWildes
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