Friday, January 30, 2009
For those who do not know me, "Hello and greetings from Chicagoland, USA!" I write historical romantic suspense and began my writing career almost a decade ago as Laura Renken with my pirate series for the Seduction line at Berkley. My Winds of Fury series featured a seventeenth century aristocratic family wrongly condemned for treason and their struggle to regain their name and bring their accusers to justice. The story stretched over years and three books, My Lord Pirate, Night Shadow, and Heart of the Condor, and need to be read in order, as this is truly a family saga.
I mention my pirate books only because in 2004, I made the leap from seventeenth century pirates to Victorian England when I began writing as Melody Thomas for Avon. I enjoyed the seventeenth century West Indies backdrop, but I quickly fell in love with Victorian England. The mid-nineteenth century has the absolute best clothes, after all. LOL Not that I’d want to be a woman cinched into a corset, but the men were Rhett Butler dashing. (All the good ones anyway) With my leap to AVON, I not only wanted to create a fictional world filled with flawed but courageous characters where honor and loyalties collide with the mores of the time but I also wanted my characters to win out over forces of evil in the process. Yes, I wanted my hot romance and justice, too.
I began this journey with my Donally Irish family series, In My Heart, Must Have Been the Moonlight, A Match Made in Scandal, and Angel in My Bed. Each book features a member of this upstart family, men and women trying to make a difference and to survive in world where a man is judged by the merits of his birth and not his deeds. This great series segued into my current Charmed and Dangerous Mission Impossible series, which takes place in the same world where the Donallys live.
Wild and Wicked in Scotland is the first book in my Charmed and Dangerous, series. Devlyn Sinclair, the earl of Hampstead is one of my favorite male characters to write. He is such a bad boy on the outside, but very vulnerable beneath that dark exterior, which provides a dynamic conflict between him and the heroine, the quite innocent American heiress he jilted at his own betrothal ball. Their story begins when she takes her future in hand, and literally runs into her betrothed on the road to Scotland. What ensues is an adventure of her lifetime where appearances are too often deceiving and destiny is theirs to make. (After he gets the bad guy, of course)
Sin and Scandal in England introduces Ian Rockwell, my first blond hero. Woohoo. (Sorry blond lovers but I am a tall, dark and handsome alpha hero sort of writer) I first introduced Ian and Bethany in Angel in My Bed. When Ian and Bethany accidentally meet again, Bethany is no longer the young innocent miss, Ian once knew. Bethany Munro is one of my more unique heroines, with a vulnerable outer shell encased around a core strength she doesn’t know she possesses until she must stake her integrity against her ideals. Much of the book takes place on the turbulent sea-swept cliffs of Northeastern England, overlooking the North Sea. Very moody. Very electric. And a perfect background for a budding romance that is equally as moody and electric--(And a perfect place for her to get the bad guy).
Passion and Pleasure in London, the last book in this series, and my most recent release, introduces Rory Jameson my half-Gypsy hero whose ambivalence toward his own life has made him the perfect spy/assassin. Winter Ashburn has saved her people from hard times but has been unable to save herself from a past that has robbed her of her future. But this book is not about espionage, spies, or a do-gooder female Robin Hood. The story is about two people who discover their passion for living again as they seek justice to right the wrongs of her past. (They both get the bad guy)
I love creating layered imperfect characters with lots of baggage. But as you can probably tell, the “fighting for justice” (underdog superhero) theme is a predominant element in all my books as well. In fact, I didn’t even know that until I was writing this blog and thinking about the synopsis of each book I’d written. As I considered this new psychological tidbit about my character, I wondered what other secrets in my psyche might lay hidden beneath my prose. Hmmm. Am I a secret Superman wannabe with shades of a Batman persona lurking just at the edge of my conscience? Or merely Goddess of my own universe? Sigh. I’ll leave that answer to my psyche eval--should I ever be forced to have one. LOL
I only know that reading or writing about characters who have overcome adversity, taken control of their lives and found true love, empowers us all as readers. So my question to you is what are your favorite themes? Do you find yourself drawn to a particular storyline repeatedly? Are there themes you will never read no matter the writer? I wonder if this tells us a little about our inner selves more than we think. What I am sure we can all agree on is that a great story invokes our emotions and our passions, and resonates long after we close the book. I hope that my books make you feel some of that inner passion. Enjoy!
Coming July 28th, 2009 Brand New: Mystical Bliss Series Beauty and the Duke
A Scottish tale of passion, intrigue & a wish come true.
Visit me at: WWW.Melodythomas.com and learn how to put your name in for free monthly contest giveaways.
Leave an answer to Melody's question and your email addy to be entered to win "Wild and Wicked In Scotland" (Book 1 in the trilogy). One winner will be picked at the end of the day.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm not a huge tv watcher, but I'm a faithful one when I find a show I love. I have been sucked into a new tv show that debuted in December on TNT - Leverage. If you watch TNT you can't miss the previews, but if you don't, the show is about a group of thieves and "bad guys" that unite under good guy Timothy Hutton to outscam the scam artists of the world and to help the little man. A kind of group Equalizer plot (loved that show too). Leverage has the classic elements I love - a group of skilled people working together with humor and cleverness. Little wonder that I started watching it when I have always loved shows like The A-Team and Mission Impossible. Tailor made for me, really. :) Movies like Ocean's Eleven and The Italian Job also rate in this category.
Other great team shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly didn't so much have the heist aspect present, but with their buddy/monster/badguy of the week setup they showed off their great dialogue and fun interactions. Supernatural falls into this category and I really love that show. I suppose it too is a show about skilled people working together with humor and cleverness. :) Love those Winchesters!
I'm hoping that the new Joss Whedon show Dollhouse also has these elements. :)
What is your favorite type of tv setup? Is there a show on now that exemplifies it? Or did you have a favorite setup in the past that you wish would be revived? Terra will select a winner from the commenters to receive one of my books - winner's choice. :)
Thanks, Terra, for having me at Yankee Romance Reviews!
Back cover blurb of The Bride Price:
Winner take all...
Sebastien Deville, the debauched, dangerously handsome illegitimate son of the Duke of Grandien, has waited his whole life for revenge - and suddenly it is there for the taking. A competition sponsored by the King has all the ton talking. The winner will receive an immense fortune, a newly created title, sponsorship, and a well-born bride - everything Sebastien needs to reclaim his mother's stolen lands and to wield the colossal power itching beneath his fingertips. His victory is all but assured...until he meets Caroline.
Caroline Martin knows all about Sebastien, the legendary heartbreaker who leaves women weeping in his wake, and she is determined not to see him win the competition in which he would claim her friend as his bride. Yet sabotage is so very hard to concentrate on when the target's searing glances promise incredible pleasure and his skillful hands vow unimaginable desire. She knows the danger he presents...the temptation he offers, yet she is willing to risk everything for all she holds dear.
But Sebastien Deville will do anything to win...and Caroline's heart may become the ultimate prize.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Thank you so much Lynsay for being with us today and for taking the time out of your really busy schedule.
Terra: Our hero, Cullen Laird of Donnachaidh, is reputed to be the Devil of the Highlands. How did you give such a delicious vision of a man such a dastardly character reputation. Do you ever feel guilty for making your hero with this type of reputation or do you think it might have been a common thing during this time period for the Laird of the Clan to be so frightening?
Lynsay: No, I don’t feel at all guilty. Nicknames, I gather, were very common back then. Think of Richard the Lionheart, Black Agnes, Bloody Mary, etc. I think having a strong nickname was probably a psychological advantage when it came to battle and since war was so prevalent and such a way of life back then, any advantage was one to be used.
Terra: When I first started reading Devil of the Highlands I felt a bit like I was stepping into some fairytale. We have the wickedly evil Stepmother, miss used and abused heroine and our hero the Prince. Was it your intent to use our beloved fairytales as a basis for the story and if you could change any one thing, what would it be?
Lynsay: I actually didn’t notice the resemblance to fairy tales until you mentioned it. Fortunately, that’s only at the start and it soon leaves the fairy tale trappings behind. And I wouldn’t change a thing about Devil of the Highlands. It came to me the way it is and the way it was meant to be.
Terra: Our heroineʼs ladies maid has a personality plus. I immediately fell in love with Mildrede for her sass and spunk. (Go Mildrede!) Why did you give this particular personality trait to someone of her station when in all reality she would have been punished severely for some of the antics she pulls? Putting all this aside I really do have to say that she had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks in a torrent. LOL!
Lynsay: Do you really think she would have been punished harshly? I don’t. Mildrede has been with the family since she was a child. She grew up in the castle and tended to Evelinde for most if not all her life. Considering the personalities of both women, I think it would be impossible for an affectionate relationship not to have grown up between them. That being the case, Evelinde would have surely done everything she could to keep Mildrede safe from her step-mother and would have put up with a lot from Mildrede herself just as we do with family and friends. . . or at least as I do. I know my family and friends get away with a lot with me, lol.
Terra: Our heroine is quite the character. Sheʼs daring but a wee bit clumsy, intelligent but lacking common sense, sheʼs loyal but fool hardy, how has she not driven Cullen to be a real Devil of the Highlands with some of her escapades no matter how noble her intentions?
Lynsay: Oh, I’m sure she will drive him mad at some point, but it will take a little bit of time for his patience to slip. He is still in the “stars in his eyes, madly in love—okay, well, it’s probably closer to the truth to say “tongue hanging out and led by Little Cullen” stage.
Terra: After losing his first wife and their unborn child, his father and his uncle to what supposedly seemed to be natural causalities, why wasnʼt Cullen more suspicious that maybe things were not as they seemed? You would think that once accidents started plaguing Evelinde that Cullen would most certainly start thinking something was out of the ordinary but he didnʼt until it was pointed out to him. Is this one of those cases with people when if its right in front of their faces they canʼt see the truth for what it is?
Lynsay: Part of it may be that he is too close, but you also have to remember that these deaths and accidents took place years and years apart. The uncle died when Cullen was just a boy. His death also took place in front of everyone and did appear to have been an accident in the chaos of the moment. Then ten or twelve years passed before the father died and then it was another four years between that and his first wife’s death. It’s not like they were one right after the other.
Terra: I must say that I love your Highland series as much as your Paranormal series. Will you keep writing in both sub genresʼ, will you add another sub genreʼ at some point or will you just decide to settle down with one? Also, which would you say you like writing better, Historical Highland or Paranormalʼs?
Lynsay: I’m not sure if I’ll add more sub genres. Perhaps, if I get a good idea. But I doubt I’ll drop one or the other. I like writing more than one sub genre. And I don’t really prefer one to the other. Each has something to recommend it.
Terra: Is there the possibility that at some point in time you might integrate some werewolves or other fantasy creatures into your historicalʼs? With Devil of the Highlands I could almost feel magic here and there in certain scenes and not just because some of the people have gifts. Have you had to hold back on the magic in these books?
Lynsay: No, I don’t have to hold back on magic. I tend to prefer logic and science to magic which is why my vamps aren’t your typical mythical soulless undead. That being the case, when it comes to adding werewolves or other fantasy creatures . . . I doubt it, but I never say never.
Terra: What are the chances that we will hear more from the Donnachaidh clan in the future whether it be a storyline prior to this one or following this one?
Lynsay: You will visit them again in both of the two books that follow.
Terra: Most women who read these lovely Highland Historicals just have to have their fix on what lies under those kilts. I think you have done wonderfully with Cullenʼs family package. (Oh my, fans self) What do you think the odds were during that time period that the average Scottish man would have such a prize package to present to his bride or anyone else for that matter. Also do you think the women of that time period would have placed wagers on the size of their Lairdʼs delightful attributes? If men could place wagers on women and what they were like in bed then why couldnʼt women. I know the whole womenʼs lib thing wasnʼt around then but lets just speculate.
Lynsay: Regarding having a fine package, I think the odds were as good then as they are now. I doubt men have evolved that much physically in the time since then. As to the other question . . . well, it actually never occurred to me that men would wager about this kind of thing. The fact is though that people gossip and natter and yip about stuff. Women like to talk about men and men like to talk about horses, battles, ale, and women . . . and probably in that order. Shrug. I’m sure servants and married women would be nattering and yipping about the Laird and every other male in the castle.
Terra: If you were a lass of the Highlandʼs and your father or evil stepmother were going to marry you off to a Laird of such a dire repute, would you run or would you stay and face the music so to speak especially knowing full well that the rest of your life could and would be spent miserably?
Lynsay: That’s hard to answer. If it happened today, of course, I’d be out of there so fast all they’d see was the door closing behind me. But this was a different time and the alternative wasn’t a happy one. A woman on her own without family to support her would not have come to a happy end either. I suppose I would have married him and then prayed he fell down the stairs while in his cups if he was as cruel as everyone said.
Terra: If Cullen, the Laird of Donnachaidh, The Devil of the Highlands were to jump out of a book right before your eyes today, what would be your honest reaction? I know what mine would be and that is to get on my knees and pray to whatever God or Goddess in reverent thanks and to hope that I didnʼt need a white jacket to go with my prayers. LOL!
Lynsay: I’d tell him to get his butt back to Evelinde. He’s married and so am I. LOL.
Okay Everyone, Lynsay will be doing a giveaway of one of her books so leave a question or comment about the interview or her book and your email addy to be entered.
Northern England: 1273
That anxious cry made Evelinde pause in what she was saying to Cook and glance around. Her maid was rushing across the kitchens toward her, expression both angry and worried. It was a combination usually only engendered by Edda’s actions. Wondering what the woman had got up to now, Evelinde quickly promised Cook they would finish their discussion of menus later, and moved to meet her maid.
Mildrede caught her hands the moment they reached each other. Her mouth turned down grimly as she announced, “Your stepmother is calling for you.”
Evelinde had already suspected as much, but grimaced nonetheless. Edda only sent for her when she was in one of her foul moods and wished to cheer herself by abusing her unfortunate step-daughter. For one moment, Evelinde considered ignoring the summons and finding a task away from the keep for the rest of the day. However, that would only make the woman’s mood—and the following abuses—worse, she knew.
“I had best go see what she wants then,” Evelinde said and squeezed Mildrede’s hands reassuringly before moving past her.
“She’s smiling,” Mildrede warned, following on her heels.
Evelinde paused with her hand on the door to the great hall, trepidation running through her. A smiling Edda was not a good thing. It usually meant Evelinde was about to suffer and suffer hard. Not that the woman ever dared hit her, but there were worse things, tasks so unpleasant one would almost prefer a beating. Biting her lip with worry, she asked, “Do you know what has set her off this time?”
“Nay,” Mildrede said apologetically. “She was railing at Mac for not pampering her mare properly when a messenger arrived from the king. She read the message, smiled, and called for you.”
“Oh,” Evelinde breathed faintly, but then forced her shoulders straight, raised her head and pushed through the door. It was the only thing she could do . . . That and pray some day, she would be free of her stepmother’s control and abuses.
“Ah, Evelinde!” Edda was indeed smiling--a very wide, beaming smile that really didn’t bode well.
“I was told you wished to speak with me?” Evelinde said quietly, aware of Mildrede hovering at her back. The woman always offered her support during Edda’s little attacks. It was all she or anyone could do.
“Aye.” Edda continued to flash a wide toothy smile, although toothless would have been as good a description. The woman was missing half her teeth and those remaining were brown and crooked. Edda rarely smiled, and certainly never widely enough to show off the state of her mouth. Her doing so now made Evelinde’s anxiety increase tenfold.
“Since your father’s death, seeing to your welfare has fallen to me, and I have been most concerned about your future and well-being, my dear,” Edda began.
Evelinde managed not to sneer at the claim of concern. Her father, James d’Aumesbery, had been a good man and a faithful Baron to their king. When Henry III had requested he marry the troublesome Edda and remove her from court where she was making a nuisance of herself pestering him to see her wed, her father had bowed to the chore gracefully. Edda had not. She’d resented being tied to a man who held only a Barony and had seemed to take an instant dislike for Evelinde on reaching d’Aumesbery.
It hadn’t been so bad at first. With Evelinde’s father and her brother, Alexander, around Edda had at least behaved cordially to her. However, Alexander had ridden off to join the crusades with Prince Edward three years earlier and while the Prince had since returned and been crowned King on his father’s death, Alexander was still in Tunis. Worse yet, no sooner had he left than her father died of a chest complaint.
James d’Aumesbery hadn’t even been placed in the family crypt before Edda dropped any pretense at civility and let her true feelings show. These last three years had been a hell Evelinde feared she would never escape. Her only hope was to await her brother’s homecoming so that he might see her married and settled far away from the woman. Unfortunately, Alexander seemed in no rush to return.
“I have decided tis well past time you married,” Edda announced, “and the king agrees with me.”
“She means the king decided you should marry and she was forced to agree,” Mildrede muttered behind her, low enough Edda couldn’t hear. “You don’t think she’d willingly give up tormenting you. It’s her favorite pass-time.”
Evelinde barely heard her maid, she was too busy trying to absorb what Edda was saying. Part of her feared it was simply a cruel attempt on Edda’s part to get her hopes up and then dash them.
“And so I chose a husband for you and the king negotiated a marriage contract,” Edda announced grandly. “I have just received a message that tis all done. You will be married.”
Evelinde simply waited, knowing there was more. Edda would now either explain it was all a jest, or name some perfectly horrid, smelly old Lord that Evelinde would surely be miserable with.
“Your betrothed is on his way here from his home even as we speak. He is the laird of Donnachaidh,” she announced triumphantly, pronouncing it Don-o-kay.
Evelinde gasped. This was worse than a smelly old lord, this was—“The Devil of Donnachaidh?”
Edda’s expression was full of evil glee. “Aye, and I wish you all the unhappiness in the world.”
“Bitch,” Mildrede hissed furiously from behind her.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Thank you so much, Heidi, for being with us today and agreeing to this interview. Your book TANGLED UP IN LOVE is a true hoot!
Thank you so much for having me! It’s a delight---& not just because you buttered me up with nice words about TANGLED. :-D
Terra: With all the challenges you could have come up with between the male species and female species, what made you choose knitting? I know I will never look at a ball of yarn and knitting needles the same way again. Do you think your readers will also have the same reaction, and why?
Heidi: The truth is, knitting wasn’t originally my concept. It came about during a conversation with my editor at St. Martin’s Press, when we were batting around ideas. She said, “I don’t suppose you know anything about knitting.” I said, “Actually, I do—why?” She said, “Because I’ve sort of been wanting a really hot, sexy knitting romance, & if anyone can pull it off, it’s you.” And the rest is history. *vbg* Of course, once she put the notion in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Hot, sexy knitting? Those aren’t exactly the first two words that pop into your head when you think about needles & yarn, are they? But I love a challenge, & I loved coming up with different ways to get the heroes & heroines of this series “tangled up” & making knitting a central part of each of the stories.
And I am absolutely hoping readers have the same reaction you did to Dylan and Ronnie! I want them to laugh out loud, maybe sigh once or twice, and realize that yarn apparently can be sexy, after all.
Terra: Your hero is a pompous ass, pig headed, ego centric and delights in putting females in their place. Your heroine is the Ice Queen from the Artic, actually probably more along the lines of Ice Queen from Jupiter and can freeze any male within glancing distance into a block of sheer terror. You couldn’t ask for two better characters. What made you go to such lengths to make them such polar opposites while trying to make an unforgettable romance out of a situation that seems utterly impossible?
Heidi: Ouch. Okay, until you got to that “you couldn’t ask for two better characters” part, I was getting nervous. Dylan & Ronnie don’t exactly sound like the kind of characters to give you the warm fuzzies, do they? But I think an important distinction to make is that this is how they see each other when the book opens. Normally, they’re perfectly agreeable individuals, & their friends like them just fine. (If I remember correctly, one of Ronnie’s friends even makes the statement that she’s such a nice person around everyone else, but she gets around Dylan & turns into a raving lunatic. LOL)
When I started plotting the “Chicks with Sticks” trilogy, one of the things I most wanted to do was set up a situation where a man would have to knit. After all, what better way is there to prove that yarn is sexy than to wrap it around a handsome, well-built hero? *g* But to get Dylan doing that, I had to give him a really good reason & sort of back him into a corner. Enter the fact that Dylan & Ronnie are bitter rivals when the story opens, with nothing nice to say about each other. On top of that, they routinely dare each other to go through with challenges in an attempt to prove that “anything you can do, I can do better.” They’ve done the bungee jumping/white water rafting/tattoo thing, but those are fairly manly endeavors. The rivalry between them had to be really big for Dylan to be willing to go through with learning something “girly” like knitting.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I had to make the characters such polar opposites in the beginning.
Terra: I must say that you are a very naughty girl! Most women could only dream of having one orgasm per encounter, most men wouldn’t even consider taking the time to give said woman that one orgasm as most men usually think of themselves. Do you really think that there is a man out there that not only would give a woman pleasure first but to also take the time to give his partner a baker’s dozen of orgasms in one night?
Heidi: Thank you, thank you very much. *vbg* Well, this is fiction & a romance novel to boot, so we have to be willing to stretch our imaginations a teeny bit & accept the larger than life. J But I suppose it’s within the realm of possibility that there’s a man out there who would be willing to work on giving his lover a baker’s dozen. Maybe once, & early in the relationship when there are still hearts & flowers & the romance is going strong. Remember, too, that this was another challenge, & Dylan couldn’t walk away from a dare. It would have ruined his reputation & possibly cost him his beloved Harrison Award. LOL
Terra: If you spotted a man in the romance book isle at your local bookstore what would you say to him to convince him that your book is a must read for men as well as women? Would you go so far as to stand there and read him one of the really juicy parts and then dare him to buy the book?
Heidi: Finally, an easy one! I’ve actually done this---though not in the romance section of a bookstore. You see, the thing men need to know is that if they read romance novels, they would understand women so much better. What we look for in a man, what we want in a relationship.
The way this usually happens is that I’ll give a man---my plumber & orthodontist come immediately to mind---a copy of one of my books for his wife. The next time I see him, I get effusive thank-yous & requests to buy more books. And though it’s the wives who read the books first, the husbands reap the benefits & usually admit they “skimmed” the story, too, & actually liked the writing. They always act so surprised that “it was actually a decent story.” LOL So the proof is in the pudding, I guess.
Terra: Not only have you made Dylan and Ronnie rivals in almost every way possible but you have thrown them into the same circle of friends, the same job field and both watched by their readers closely to see what could possibly happen next. Why throw them together on a deeply personal level also?
Heidi: Because TANGLED UP IN LOVE is the first book in a trilogy, all three books had to be plotted out & very closely tied together from the very beginning. (If I were a more organized person, I swear would have storyboards & pie charts littering my office!) My editor & I both loved the idea of a sort of “jocks vs. knitters” feel to the series, & the best way I could think of to set up something like that was to actually create these two groups of individuals who were separate but very closely connected. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to keep tabs on all the other characters & slowly build toward the situations that would take place in Book #2 & Book #3.
Terra: I must admit I am usually not a reader of contemporary romance but this book has really made me think that I’m missing out. Convince me that I must read the next book in the series!
Heidi: Yay! I just love hearing that I “converted” someone. J As far as convincing you that you must read the next “Chicks with Sticks” book… I guess I’m hoping that TANGLED UP IN LOVE will in large part do that job for me. But I can tell you that the title is LOVES ME, LOVES KNOT, which I love. The cover is awesome! (And can be sneak peeked at my WIPs and Chains blog, but you’ll have to scroll down because it’s been a week or two now since I posted it.) And it’s Gage & Jenna’s story, both of whom appeared in TANGLED. I don’t know about you, but my heart broke for them, seeing how lonely & miserable they were after their divorce. LOVES ME gives them both the chance to find love again, & I for one am rooting for them.
Terra: If I were a shadow looking over your shoulder while your were writing one of the rivalry scenes between Dylan and Ronnie, what would I be witness to? Do you get really animated while writing scenes such as this, mumble under your breath, just let everything play out in your mind and then type frantically before you forget? Have you ever had anyone walk in on you while you were in antagonistic storyline writer’s mode?
Heidi: For the most part, I think I’m a pretty calm writer. I don’t usually talk to myself or cackle uncontrollably. But once in a while, when I’m really enjoying a scene or am really involved in what I’m going, I do chuckle, snort, or make faces. And I usually just get annoyed when I’m interrupted, no matter what type of scene I’m working on, because it pulls me out of the moment & makes me lose my train of thought.
Terra: Okay, dear, do tell---how many times did you read the Kama Sutra before you found the perfect position for your characters’ encounters and will we get more sex education in upcoming books? (grin)
Heidi: LOL Believe it or not, I find the Kama Sutra is a bit of a snooze. But you will definitely get another nice, sexy treat in upcoming books. Something along the lines of…oh, I don’t know…a big, strapping hero being tied to the bed & very thoroughly seduced? *vbg*
Terra: I thought your descriptions of the pajamas that you dressed Ronnie in were a hoot, how did you come up with them? Do you have them yourself, see them at a Dept. store or did you find them online? Picture yourself answering the door at 10 PM in the monkey jammies and tell me what would be the person’s reaction on the other side of the door as he spotted that monkey sitting in the middle of your chest.
Heidi: Although I don’t own jammies exactly like that, they were definitely personally inspired. I love cute, fun pajama sets, & I like my heroines to have them, too. J And I actually do answer the door at all hours of the day & night in my pjs, so the reaction is usually an indulgent smile. If it’s one of the little girls from next door, I’ll usually get, “I like your Spongebob pajamas” or “I have Betty Boop slippers, too!” LOL Unfortunately, even if the person on the other side of the door were a handsome, unattached male, I’m not sure my chest would be enough to inspire much of a reaction at all---monkey or no monkey. :-P
Terra: Okay I have to know how authors can take such simple physical characteristics of a man and make him sound like a sex God. A simple thing such as blond hair and blue eyes could turn a head or two but authors seem to be able to turn those two characteristics into something that can make a woman burn with desire. How do you do this? Do they give classes for authors in how to make a man so delicious, or do you go hunting down pictures or male models until you find the right one for your book?
Heidi: LOL I’m not sure how we do this, exactly. It must be a gift. I am just always searching for new ways to describe characters---male & female alike---that will draw a picture in the reader’s mind that helps them feel more connected to that person. I’d also prefer it not feel like every other character description you’ve ever read.
The topic of using pictures of celebrities or from magazines actually came up on my blog recently, but the truth is I rarely do that. I’m not even sure why not, since it’s a good idea! But I tend to get a pretty clear mental picture of my characters in my head fairly early on & they’re just there, ready to be described. However…we do have this nifty thing called “Sexy Saturday” over at WIPs and Chains where I post pictures of exceptionally hot guys on a weekly basis. Right now, I’m focusing on ones that remind me of the hero of TANGLED UP IN LOVE, Dylan Stone, but any of them could be ample fodder for a romance writer’s imagination. :-D
Thank you so much for having me today, & for the interesting-if-tough questions. LOL I’m thrilled that you enjoyed TANGLED & are already looking forward to the sequel.
I’d also like to offer a free book from my backlist (http://www.heidibetts.com/books/index.php#back) to three winners from today’s visit. (This includes the HOTTER THAN HELL anthology, by the way, though you have to scroll up a bit to see the cover.) I look forward to chatting with you, so let the questions begin! ;-)
Tangled Up In Love
“I hate that man with the flames of a thousand fiery Hells,” Ronnie spat as she returned to her table of friends and started refilling glasses from the pitcher of slushy, pale green margarita that shook in her hand.
She said it. She meant it. So what was with the strange sense of exhilaration she always felt after one of their sparring matches? Even now, with adrenaline pumping through her system and rage burning in her brain, she almost wanted to dive back in for Round Two.
“What man?” one of them asked, glancing around the bar as though the offender would be standing under a spotlight.
“Who do you think?” Grace said. Blond and beautiful, she was the picture of calm, never a hair out of place, never an emotion left unchecked. Only her close friends knew she had a sharp wit and a tongue like a razor blade. “Only the same guy Ronnie’s been bitching about for the past year—Dylan ‘That Arrogant Jackass’ Stone.”
“Let’s just call him ‘The Jackass’ for short,” Ronnie clipped out, filling her own glass to the brim before plopping down on her chair with very little finesse.
“I don’t get it,” Grace said. “You’re such a nice person otherwise, and get along with just about everyone you meet, but put you within a ten mile radius of Dylan Stone, and you turn into a slavering she-witch.”
Ronnie’s eyes narrowed as she finished filling glasses and set the pitcher aside. “Payback’s a bitch,” she quipped, “and you’re looking at her.”
“So what did he do this time?” the petite, short-haired Jenna inquired.
“He asked if my new tattoo was sore.”
“Of course it is,” Ronnie grumbled, taking a long, fortifying drink of her deliciously frothy tequila-laced concoction. “It throbs like a suffering bastard and rubs against my clothes all day, every day.”
“Did you tell him what it means?” one of the other girls asked. The rest of the group chuckled, because they knew. Ronnie had divulged that little secret at their first knitting meeting after having the body art done.
“No way. Let him wonder.”
“Fuck him, right?” Grace teased.
A cocky, knowing grin spread across Ronnie’s face and she reached around to pat a spot high on her left buttock. She didn’t even wince at the added sting it caused. “That’s right.”
“So it’s your turn to send him out on a dare. What are you going to make him do?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought of anything yet that’s adequately dangerous or embarrassing.” Her brows knit in a scowl. “He’s so obnoxious about thinking men are braver and more accomplished than women. I feel like daring him to walk into traffic blindfolded. A nice Greyhound bus to the temporal lobe would knock some of the smugness out of him.”
She lifted her head and met the gaze of each and every one of her friends around the table, her eyes conveying her desperation. “Any ideas?”
“You could figure out a way for him to go through simulated childbirth,” Melanie, a mother of two, offered flatly. “That would shut him up and have him bowing down to every woman he met from now until the end of time.”
“You could send him for a bikini wax.”
Ronnie flinched slightly at that suggestion. “Don’t remind me. I still have that landing strip in my panties that is in no way ready to wave in approaching air traffic. Plus, I don’t want to repeat myself, and I already made him get his legs waxed.” She smirked. “Wonder if his hair has grown back yet.”
“You could dare him to meet you at some no-tell motel for hot, sleazy sex, then leave him tied to the bed until the maid finds him the next day. And you could be there to capture his degradation on film.”
Ronnie laughed with everyone else, but inside, her stomach had clenched, and picturing Dylan tied to the bedposts, beneath her and at her mercy, sent an odd fluttering through the rest of her body.
Which was ridiculous, because he was a jerk, and if she was going to be attracted to any man at the moment, it certainly wouldn’t be Dylan Stone. She was only having this reaction because it had been so long since she’d had any type of sex that didn’t require batteries. After such a long dry spell, it was completely natural to have a physiological response to anything even remotely suggestive.
“How about walking across hot coals or dressing in drag and going down to the red light district?” one of the women asked, bringing her focus back to the matter at hand.
“If you really want to trip him up on the men-versus-women thing, then he should have to do something women do on a regular basis and are really good at,” Melanie spoke up again. “Like cleaning the house, getting a kid ready for school and to the bus stop on time, or making a Halloween costume from scratch.”
Reaching under the table, she retrieved her purse, which was oversized and stuffed to the gills. She pulled the knitting needles and skein of yarn she’d been working with earlier that evening off the top and set them aside, then continued to remove items one at a time.
“Do you know any men who have to carry around the crap women do, especially ones with kids? They grab their wallets and keys and take off. The rest of us have to make sure we have tampons, tissues, make-up, and nail files. And if you have kids, then you have to walk around with a steady supply of Band-Aids, baby wipes, antibacterial lotion, snacks, toys . . .” She punctuation her words by pulling every one of those things from her purse, including a couple of strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups and a tiny yellow dump truck that was missing one wheel.
“Yikes,” Jenna commented, blanching at the pile of junk cluttering the tabletop.
“So what are you suggesting?” Ronnie asked. “That I challenge Dylan to carry an overstuffed lady’s handbag everywhere he goes for a month?”
Melanie’s mouth twisted as she started loading things back into the purse, making its seams stretch and bulge. “He’s certainly welcome to carry mine. It’s no wonder women end up with osteoporosis. Most days, I’d swear I’m going to be a hunchback by the time I’m forty.”
She squinted an eye and twisted her mouth, lifting one shoulder much higher than the other in a near-perfect imitation of Quasimodo. “You guys will come visit me in the bell tower, won’t you?” she inquired in one of the funniest voices they’d ever heard.
They all laughed, and Ronnie nearly choked on her ill-timed sip of margarita.
“If we’re not already there with you,” Jenna promised, deliberately straightening her spine and throwing her shoulders back, the model of perfect, chiropractor-approved posture.
A moment later Grace said, “I have a better idea,” so quietly Ronnie almost didn’t hear her.
Her attention was immediately drawn back to what had started this thread of the conversation—her ongoing feud with Dylan Stone. “What?”
One side of her friend’s mouth quirked up in a sly, conspiratorial grin and she inclined her head in Melanie’s direction. Or more accurately, to the bag balanced on Melanie’s lap, a tangle of pale yellow yarn and two shiny, metallic blue needles sticking out of the top.
Ronnie looked at the purse . . . then back at Grace . . . then back at the purse.
And finally comprehension dawned. A slow smile spread and lifted her lips until she was grinning like an idiot.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Writing paranormal romance obviously means writing about extraordinary or magical beings. Often the hero, heroine, or both are not human, or only partly human. And in a romance, one will usually have love scenes. So when does weird become too weird?
I suppose like many things it’s a matter of opinion. What woman wouldn’t be attracted to the tall dark handsome man who is also a vampire with his preternatural beauty, immortality, and superior strength? And the earthy attraction of a man who has the animal instincts and predatory nature of a wolf or panther tightly restrained beneath his veneer of humanity provides an intriguing and dangerous hero.
But what about a hero who has wings?
In my debut paranormal romance, The Magic Knot (Dorchester Jan 27) the hero and heroine both look human, although both are of fairy blood with magical powers. Writing love scenes between the heroine Rose who is half human and half Cornish pisky and the hero Niall who is Irish Tuatha dé Danaan was just like writing any normal love scene, except the first time they make love they are ‘running the light’ to release Rose’s hidden fairy qualities. But one of the secondary characters in The Magic Knot is a winged vampiric fairy called Nightshade.
The third book I plan to write in the series will be about Nightshade, and I’m already pondering the logistics of sex with a winged man. (It’s a tough job being a writer!) The thought of writing a love scene with a hero who is a testosterone charged vampire with a taste for power and blood, with the added spice of wings is an interesting prospect. I think his Scottish heroine is in for a great time!
Leave me a comment and tell me what type of magical or paranormal being is the most unusual or interesting hero or heroine you have read about for a chance to win a copy of The Magic Knot.
To read the first two chapters of The Magic Knot go to www.helenscotttaylor.com and click on the link on the front page.
Here’s a taster:
Rose Tremain sat on the chair before Niall’s desk, his Magic Knot cradled in her palm. She swayed slightly, her eyes dazed and dreamy. His nerves sparked. Need for her struck like lightning. He managed to suck in air, to ruthlessly crush the feeling until his body calmed.
So, he had been right. Rose Tremain was more dangerous than she appeared. She’d been sent to enslave him by capturing his stones. If she thought he’d give in easily, she had another think coming.
Silently, he walked forward and closed his hand over hers. His vision blurred at the whip of sensation. Too late, he realized his mistake in touching her. Gritting his teeth, he fought the mental pull as she sucked his very essence through their joined hands into a deep hidden part of her that whispered of ancient magic and mystery.
Niall snatched up his Magic Knot and stumbled back. His breath came in short gasps as he stared at her in shock. Rose was the Cornish pisky Tristan wanted. How had she stopped them from sensing the truth about her? That deception alone proved she was up to no good.
Slowly, her green eyes focused on him. Confusion set tiny creases between her delicate brows, then surprise chased them away. She slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Aye, be afraid, little thief,” he whispered. “You’ll pay dearly for your deception before I’m done with you.”
Saturday, January 24, 2009
*tetewa ~ The Vampire's Revenge by Raven Hart
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thank you Raven for agreeing to this interview and I hope you have enjoyed the questions I have given you. Yes! Thanks and you’re welcome!
Terra: After reading The Vampires Revenge I have come to the realization that you have layered your story and quite nicely too. Is it easier to reveal all the different crisis’ at once and then solve them separately one at a time? Even though it is one crisis after another, each one is quite organized. Is this your typical style of writing?
Raven: Yes, I like to maintain a good level of ongoing crises/action/resolution. I love a fast-paced story as a reader, so that’s how I write. As far as the way crises are revealed, it kind of depends on where I am in the story. The crises crop up where they will. Hopefully I can get them to build on each other and resolve them one at a time so they have maximum impact individually and sustain a high level of excitement taken together. I wish I could tell you I plan things out to the nth degree before beginning, but a shocking number of plot points come to me as I’m writing and I have to go back and change things to make them fit together properly. I do keep an exhaustive outline though, so that helps me stay organized.
Terra: Jack is really a lively character. I find him quite endearing, love his sense of sarcasm and think it is adorable that he thinks with the wrong head most times. He almost seems more human than vampire. What do you think he would have to say about my description of him?
Raven: I think he would say you’re right on! More than any other vampire in the Raven Hart “world,” he still thinks of himself as human. So does Werm, but he’s still a fledgling so that’s to be expected. It’s Jack’s humanity and his concern for his human friends and “family” that set him apart. This trait makes a nice contrast between him and William, who really has to struggle against his evil nature. In fact, it was Jack’s humanity that lead William to turn him into a blood drinker. He saw a spark of something pure in Jack, and wanted to create a companion for himself that could remind him of what it was like to be human and good, even though Jack would be a vampire. Somehow William knew that Jack would hang onto a human sensibility as a blood drinker.
Terra: Okay this question has been niggling at me for quite some time now. We know Jack is a vampire thus the undead, Connie is human now turned immortal, how in the world as we know it did Jack do the duty of getting Connie pregnant while she was still human? Yes I do know the story of the birds and the bees but if Jack is undead shouldn’t his little swimmers be unable to function properly? OUCH, please don’t let Jack know that I said that!
Raven: Believe me, Jack is more shocked that anyone! Ordinarily Jack would not be able to father children, but a prophecy exists that says one day this will happen with a very special vampire. Jack is the fulfillment of that prophecy. There’s also a prophecy about a vampire fathering a slayer. That would be Travis Rubio of course. These prophecies have only been hinted at so far. One of these days in the future of the series, they will be made more clear.
Terra: You have a wonderful romance going here. Vamp male loves human female, Were male loves human female, Vamp female wants to jump Vamp male bones but that could get complicated. Vamp male sets up Were male to seduce human female that is said love of both males. How in the world did you keep your line of thinking straight when everyone must have been crowding in wanting their affections to be told first? Did you have any of the characters actually getting angry with you because they were jealous of who gets what and when?
Raven: Seth is getting a little peeved, yes.
Terra: I have to say this is the first time I have heard of the double deads and would really like to know where the innocent souls go when they have been popped out of their own human bodies for a demon from hell to take over? Do they go into another body, lay in limbo, go to the desert of lost souls?
Raven: I like to use the traditional vampire “rules” involving coffins, mirrors, holy water, etc., but I also like to throw in my own original touches. I came up with the idea of the double deads to represent vampires (already undead) who had been killed again, hopefully for the final time. However, the old lords were able to strike a deal with satan to resurrect them. When they come to the surface from the underworld in “The Vampire’s Revenge,” they can either take the demon form that satan cursed them with or they can take over some poor unsuspecting human’s body. When the latter happens the human’s soul jumps into the nearest living thing. When the nearest living thing is another human, it sets off a chain reaction where a large group of humans are not who they’re supposed to be. Some are possessed by demons and others are bumped out by other innocent humans. If the possession is allowed to spread exponentially, a whole planet’s worth of people could be walking around in somebody else’s skin!
Terra: Why did you pick Savannah as your home base for the storyline? I know the South has a lot of history and they are a very spiritual people, how much of this has to factor in on your decision to place the storyline there?
Raven: The spirituality aspect was important, but the main reason Savannah was picked was because of its violent history and its status as one of the most haunted places in the country. There were all kinds of military battles going all the way back to colonial times in which the fighting was so intense and the casualties were so great that people were often buried where they fell, even if it was in someone’s front yard. There were yellow fever epidemics, great fires, cutthroat pirates and brigands of all kinds. With vampires you can tap into all Savannah’s bloody history.
Terra: Does Seth know of Connie’s pregnancy and if not how do you think he will react upon finding out that what he might be expecting as his own little bundle of fur turns out to be someone else’s little blood drinker? And what do you think Connie is going to make of this once it becomes clear that she’s pregnant?
Raven: Seth doesn’t know yet, and frankly, his reaction will not be pleasant.
Terra: How long did it take you to write The Vampires Revenge? Was there any particular rituals/habits that you followed to help you go from beginning to end?
Raven: It took several months, and I had a couple of false starts until I got a handle on how the story should play out. The best ritual/habit you can develop when writing on deadline is called BCHK which stands for Butt on the Chair; Hands on the Keyboard.
Terra: Will we have a future story featuring Olivia and her clan? I really enjoyed the Celtic Gods showing up in The Vampires Revenge, will you have more deities visiting us in future stories, possibly with Olivia’s clan?
Raven: Thanks! I would really love to do a story about Olivia and her clan. I liked playing around with the Celtic gods. I hope to use more of Olivia and Donovan, who I really like. I visited Ireland this past summer and it was very inspiring. I saw a lot of archeological sites and monastic ruins that put me in mind of trips back in time I could make with a really ancient vampire like Donovan.
Terra: Have you thought about writing a novel in another romance sub genre”? If not, would you consider it if your editor put the question to you? Why or why not?
Raven: I would consider pretty much any writing job that sounded fun. I can’t think of any romance sub genre that I would hesitate to take on, in fact. As a professional working writer I have a sharp eye out for any and all opportunities.
Okay everyone, ask Raven a question pertaining to her books or to this interview and make sure and leave an email addy to have a chance to win one of two copies of The Vampires Revenge that Raven has been so kind to giveaway today. Hope you have enjoyed the interview and I know you will enjoy the book.
The Vampire's Revenge
Hey! Watch where you're swinging that axe!" I yelled as the blade whistled through the air, grazing my cheek. "I'm trying to help you bring that demon down, you know. The least you could do is try not to lop off my head."
The demon, a nasty little number covered with slimy brown scales, ducked but not before Connie's axe connected with its shoulder. It howled in pain and outrage from the bricked-in corner of the alley we had backed it into.
"Is head lopping one of the ways you can kill a vampire?" Connie asked. She never took her gaze off the demon, but her eyes lit up with a deadly fervor that made me cringe because I knew it was meant for me.
"Well, yes," I admitted. "One of the few." The demon made a break for it, but I caught him in the jaw—if that hump below its mouth was a jaw—with my fist and spun him back into the corner.
Connie sighed. "I have so much to learn. So many vampires; So little time."
Werm, who'd acted as bait by luring the creature into the side street where Connie and I were hiding, danced back and forth looking for an opening so he could use the ninja throwing stars he'd ordered from a martial arts catalog. He'd gotten each of them specially engraved with an ankh, which was the ancient Egyptian symbol for eternal life and a good-luck charm for vampires, or so he told me. Of course Werm's greatest weapon was his ability to make himself invisible, but he'd still rather play with kung fu toys.
"And as for you," I warned, pointing at Werm, "if I wind up with one of those chunks of steel sticking out of my forehead I'm going to make you rue the day you begged to be made into a vampire."
"What makes you think I don't rue it already?" Werm asked, holstering his weapons with a pout. The little goth guy had thought being a vamp would be all fun and games and give him a change to scare the shit out of guys who used to kick sand in his face. He didn't figure close-quarters demon fighting would be part of the deal. Be careful what you wish for.
The demon charged me and I kicked it in the side, slamming it back into the wall. Connie raised her weapon again and swung with almost as much speed and strength as I myself could muster. The demon's head left its shoulders with a spray of blood and its body fell forward onto the pavement and turned into a pile of dirt. The smell of it mixed with the sickening-sweet stench of the nearby dumpster and made my nose twitch with disgust.
"Another one bites the dust, uh, uh," Connie sang with a little victory dance. I watched her shimmy her shapely booty in awe, not quite sure whether I should be grossed out by her blood lust or turned on by it. I seemed to be a little of both. Maybe I'd inherited William's death wish along with all his responsibilities.
"I'm going back to the club," Werm said. "Call me when you need me."
As I waved him off, Connie turned her attention to me, noticing the trickle of blood running down my cheek. Her eyes dilated, the pupils turning into slits, the irises blood red. She grabbed me by the neck and pulled my face next to hers so quickly it startled me. I searched her eyes for the spark that was my old Connie, and didn't see it. Would it—would she—ever be back? Or was she lost and gone forever, lost in the shell of this vicious, half-human killer standing in front of me now?
When she pressed her lips to my cheek, I felt myself go weak in the knees. She hadn't shown me any affection since. . . the night I tried to kill her. For her own good, of course.
I quickly realized it wasn't the hots for me that caused her to move her lovely lips along my skin, sending a shiver running down my spine and a throb of desire running everywhere else. As a dhampir, she was part vampire, part human, part goddess. She was savoring my blood for its flavor and its power. She was a predator now, and I was her prey of choice. She flicked out her tongue and lapped away the dribble of my blood.
"Mmm. Good to the last drop," she murmured in a throaty whisper.
Even as I glanced down to see her pull back her lips and reveal her baby fangs, I felt more yearning than terror. She was born to kill me after all, and I swear if it weren't for Mel and Rene, I would let her. As long as she made love to me one last time.
I closed my eyes, relishing the serrated rasp of those fangs across my skin, and nearly swooned. I know, I know. Kickass vampires with superpowers like me don't swoon. But you don't know Connie. Her hot breath burned a line from my cheek to my neck.
"Please," I heard myself beg.
"Please what?" Her tongue probed the hollow of my throat, searing my cold, dead flesh.
I bit my tongue to keep myself from murmuring, kill me. It was tempting, but too many innocent people depended on me for their safety. I couldn't take the easy way out as much as I might want to die in Connie's arms, at the point of her fangs, and be done with it.
"Nothing," I muttered. I took hold of her shoulders and gently pushed her away from me, breaking the suction lock she had on my neck. "Remember our agreement. I help you with the demon killing and you don't eat me."
"You're going to get a nice, blood-red hicky," she teased, ignoring me.
I rubbed at the spot on my neck. It was difficult getting used to the new Connie. Before, she had been a no-nonsense woman. Oh, she had a great sense of humor and could be as playful and fun-loving as anyone, but when it came to matters of life and death—which it came to all the time because she's a cop—she was as serious as a heart attack and always in control. But the way she went about catching demons as a slayer was altogether different from the way she went about catching regular bad guys as a detective.
When she was activated as the Slayer, she'd turned wild, unpredictable and vicious. Travis Rubio, her father and the only vampire who had faced down slayers and lived to tell the tale, said she would achieve more self-control as she matured. Right now, to her way of thinking the only good vampire was a dead vampire. She saw those of us who refused to do harm in the same light as those who preyed on humans. I hoped that as time went on, she would develop some discrimination. I longed to be able to reason with her, to convince her to fight at our side against the evil ones. I only hoped I could keep her from killing me for that long.
And I also hoped I could keep my beloved Melaphia the voodoo queen from killing Connie to avenge her adoptive father's death. What was done was done. William was the first vampire that Connie had slain, and nothing could bring him back now.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
No, seriously. If you like me, don't take me to a craft store. At my first glimpse of paper flowers, I will shrink against a shelf display and tremble in wordless awe. Puffy paints! Green styrofoam! Glitter. Bolts of cloth, soft and glimmering. The smell of wood and wax and potpourri. There is so much cool stuff in these places, and I have no idea what to do with any of it. And if you do know? Then I envy you tremendously.
This envy was born a year or so back, when I'd finished the revisions for my first historical, The Duke of Shadows, and also a particularly difficult paper for a class on social theory. My mind felt like a dried-out sponge; it begged to be replenished with some creative, hands-on project. But what does a fiction writer do to be creative? Why, she boots up Microsoft Word. And I'd had enough, thank you very much, of wincing at computer glare. I wanted to produce something tangible—something I could hold, wear, put up on a wall.
I'd been reading Jennifer Crusie's blog and was amazed by the collages she made. So off I went to Michael's Crafts to pick up some posterboard, a wooden frame, and glue. But I couldn't make the shelves of the makeshift shrine stay upright. I decided I'd do it panorama-style, like those little dioramas I'd made in sixth grade when we were studying the Civil War. (Cotton balls make great cannon smoke! I still remembered that, at least.) On JC's blog, thrift stores were recommended as great sources for collage items, so I went next to the Salvation Army, where my confusion only grew. Teacups, dolls, pastel prints of ocean views… none of this would fit into the wooden frame. I resorted to cutting out pictures from magazines. After a few nights of feverish pasting, I had…something. My best friend came over to take a look.
"Right," she said. "Maybe you should go back to writing."
I refused to accept defeat. A couple of months later, I enrolled in a knitting class. Back I went to Michael's, delighted that I had a legitimate excuse to feel up that rainbowed wall of yarn. Alas, my teacher was a right-hander, and neither she nor I could figure out where I was going wrong in my attempts to mirror her. I finally mastered knit and purl, but the whole concept of "gauge" stumped me. To date, I've made twenty-odd scarves, and six hats with huge holes in the crown (excellent for a spring chill, I assure my friends). No one in my circle of acquaintances needs another scarf. Including me.
I'm not sure what craft I should attempt to master next. But over the last six weeks, my thoughts have increasingly strayed to aisles packed with Fimo clay, glass buttons and ribbon trimming. I tell myself that I deserve a craft. I've spent most of the last six weeks curled up on a couch with my laptop, in weather so cold that frost formed on the inside of my living room windows. I was copyediting my second historical (Bound by Your Touch) and on deadline for completing my third (Written on Your Skin); I sat out celebrations for my birthday and New Year's to finish it. The moment I typed THE END, I had to put down the computer and begin to pack for a cross-country move. Forty-eight hours after that, I was on the road in a sixteen-foot rental truck with a car in tow, driving through a blizzard that chased us all the way from Chicago to New Jersey. Do I not deserve a bit of paper mache?
The problem, of course, is that I have no idea what paper mache (or Fimo, or ribbon trimming) is for. But I am firmly convinced that in these mysterious objects lies the secret to revitalizing my muse. I think of it this way: children know instinctively how to let their minds wander aimlessly, and in their daydreams, they often discover visions rich with wondrous possibilities. But after weeks of strategizing about how to meet deadlines and race through my to-do lists, my mind automatically balks at the prospect of idleness. It requires some excuse that might allow it to wander. I'm thinking that this excuse might involve paste. Or glitter. I do love glitter.
I therefore humbly request the readers of this blog to share their crafty expertise. How do you get creative, off-screen? And what crafty art forms would you recommend for folks whose enthusiasm might, um, outstrip their native talent?
Coming June 2009
BOUND BY YOUR TOUCH
Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London’s favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous. But Sanburne’s golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim facade to the woman beneath . . . and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger lies within—in the shadowy, secret motives of his heart.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
On Tuesday, January 27, my newest book is due to hit book stores everywhere. A Highlander of Her Own is the fourth book in my Daughters of the Glen series and, truth be known, I think I’m more excited about this release than any since my debut book.
Why is that?
Honestly, after thinking this through for hours, I finally decided it comes down to two issues – the ending and the characters in this story.
First off, I am definitely a Happy Ever After gal. I work hard to make sure my main characters get the happy ever after they deserve in each of my books. But, I have to admit, I’m pretty jazzed about the ending of A Highlander of Her Own. It came to me in sort of a flash as I neared the end, and I’m anxious to see what readers think of it.
The second reason I’m so fond of this book has to do with my characters. Now, all my books are character centered. I begin each one by deciding who my hero and heroine are, what problems and obstacles they face and how they fit together. It’s only at that point that I really start to work on the story. In fact, their stories develop out of who they are.
I have to picture my characters in my head. I have to hear them. Maybe it comes from being an only child and having spent all those years entertaining myself with just my imagination and my Barbies! But now it’s how I write. Sometimes the characters are easy to see and hear; sometimes they’re not. Whichever the case, for the time I spend writing that book, they are as alive in my imagination as people I actually know.
The more ‘alive’ they are, the easier it is to write their book.
After finishing Soul of a Highlander, the third book in the series, I knew I needed to follow up with Caden MacAlister’s story. I met Caden for the first time while writing Soul and by the end of that book, I already liked him and really felt concern for what his future would bring. He was a secondary character always there to take charge or lend a supportive hand. When I pictured him in my mind, it was a picture of man with a quick wit and a knowing smile. But I knew that what he’d gone through toward the end of that story would have to have a huge impact on the way Caden viewed life from that point forward. I also knew it would take a very special woman to be his match.
From the moment I began work on this book, Ellie Denton, the heroine in A Highlander of her Own, just clicked for me. I could see her. I could hear her voice. I think she’s the sort of woman I’d be friends with if she lived next door. It was easy to picture her home and the setting she grew up in… it was patterned after my relatives’ homes in rural Texas, particularly the one ranch I spent a few months on between my junior and senior years of high school.
I suspect this relationship with my heroine – how easily I could see and hear her – is what excites me so much about this particular book. I’m anxious for readers to meet Ellie and watch her story play out to see if they connect with her in the same way I did.
My question for all the readers out there is this: Are there books you’ve read where a particular character resonated with you? If so, are those stories that stuck with you long after you’d finished the book? Leave an answer and your email addy in the comment section to be entered to win one of two copies of "A Highlander of His Own" being given away.
I hope you’ll all be waiting to grab your copy of A Highlander of Her Own on Tuesday, January 27 and, once you do, I’d like to invite you to stop by my website at www.MelissaMayhue.com and leave me a message in the ShoutBox, letting me know what you think of the book. You can also contact me through my MySpace page at www.myspace.com/MelissaMayhue. I’d love to have you all come friend me and let me know your thoughts about the series!
A Highlander of Her Own
TEXAS, PRESENT DAY. Ellie Denton’s world has spiraled out of control. A strange new birthmark, animals talking to her, and her mother’s ex-husband laying claim to the family ranch have her thinking life can’t get more complicated. But Ellie doesn’t know the birthmark’s connection to her Faerie ancestors. Complicated takes on a whole new meaning with her innocent wish to find her true love.
SCOTLAND, 1304. Caden MacAlister has more trouble than he can handle. With his brother held for ransom and the laird missing, the last thing he needs is another problem. But the Fae have other plans.
A mysterious woman shows up in his stables, sent by Faerie Magic to find her true love. Fighting his attraction, Caden insists she’s meant for one of his brothers. With his history, he has no desire for a woman in his life—especially a woman sent by the Fae.
Only the magic of the Fae can determine whether Ellie will find a Highlander of her own...
Sunday, January 18, 2009
What makes a hero?
Last week, I watched the remarkable events of the “Miracle on the Hudson” unfold. Since my DH is a private pilot, is employed in the travel technology field and we love to travel, we’ve logged a lot of hours in the air. Trust me when I tell you ditching in the river is no one’s first choice. But the US Air pilot “Sully” made it look easy.
Everyone in the media was hailing Sully as a hero and pilots in general certainly possess heroic qualities. Being a pilot requires intelligence, a cool head and physical courage. All things we look for in a hero.
But Sully not only dead-sticked a nearly impossible water landing, he walked the plane twice and was the last person off the sinking craft. When I heard that—well, all the small hairs on my arms stood at attention and I experienced a full-body shower of glorybumps. I was responding to the strongest hero trait of all.
More than a hot bod, more than a quick wit, if a hero will sacrifice himself, his goals and dreams for the sake of others, we are drawn to him.
Sully hasn’t given any interviews, but I managed to catch Lucian Beaumont, the hero in my upcoming release, Vexing the Viscount. Here’s what my Georgian hero had to say:
Emily: What do you think about the “Miracle on the Hudson?”
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: I’m still agog about the miracle of flight! But that pilot chap certainly is a “top-of-the-trees” type, a regular out and outer. Captain Sully definitely walks the hero’s path. Yet I hear he says he was merely fulfilling the expectations of his station, or words to that effect. Commendable, that.
Emily: And yet you are acting in ways not in keeping with your station. I understand you’re excavating an ancient Roman ruin you discovered on your family estate. Rumor has it you’ve even stooped to (shudders in horror) physical labor. Tell me, milord, just why are you so keen on mucking about in the dirt?
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: I know it’s not fashionable, but a little honest sweat never hurt anyone. In fact, if one removes his shirt, physical labor can actually be quite pleasant. I highly recommend sunshine on a man’s bare back.
Emily: (fanning myself, imagining Lucian without his shirt) Still it shows a level of determination not often seen among the nobility. Why is finding this treasure so important to you?
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: My father was caught up in the South Sea Bubble and lost the family fortune a decade ago. I hope to restore them. When one is born to privilege, one is also born to responsibility. We have retainers and crofters on our country estate who will benefit from increased investment in our holdings.
Emily: But I sense this dogged determination of yours smacks of a more personal motivation.
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: Losing all that money has . . . affected my father deeply. To be honest, I fear for his mind.
Emily: And you hope a restoration of your fortune will also restore his mental health.
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: Exactly.
Emily: Taking care of others. Then you too are doing more than “merely fulfilling the expectations of your station.” You’re walking the hero’s path yourself.
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: (smiling slowly) If you say so. (smile replaced by a scowl) If I can keep that meddling Daisy Drake from placing obstacles in my way.
Emily: Trust me, milord. You’re going to enjoy some of those “obstacles.”
Lucian, Viscount Rutland: (grinning wickedly) As you are my author, I’ll hold you to that. Now if you will excuse me, I believe Miss Drake is reassembling some rather naughty Roman art and I’m certain she needs my help.
Emily: Pace yourself, Lucian. And I hope you’ll all enjoy Lucian’s story as he “walks the hero’s path.”
Thanks for having me, here at YankeeRomanceReviewers! I’m giving away a FREE copy of Vexing the Viscount to one lucky commenter.
So tell me. Who is your favorite fictional hero?