Archive for the 'Guest Bloggers' Category



The Fitness Instructor’s Guide to Writing Fast
by Our Guest on June 3rd, 2010

Note from Jessa: I got to dance with Marie-Claude Bourque at RT in Columbus this year, so I can attest to her fitness!  She’s willing to give away a copy of ANCIENT WHISPERS to one lucky commenter, so you can experience her wonderfully evocative writing yourself!

mcb-photo-verysmallWhen it comes to writing fast, face it, unless we are specially gifted, it all comes down to motivation and how much time we spend putting words on the page.

I spend 15 years as an AFAA certified fitness instructor, the last 5 of those as a coordinator and trainer of instructors. I learned a thing or two about motivation, because really, taking the steps to stay fit and healthy requires a lot of motivation.

So here is what I taught my fitness clients and class participants and how you can adapt it to find the motivation to be more prolific in writing (and, as bonus, learn some fitness tips).

Keep your goals intrinsic:

Fitness: This means that your goals should be things that you can do something about as opposed to goals that involve someone else or external factors. I can have a goal of losing 10 pounds by next month or looking like Heidi Klum by my birthday but I’m fighting a lot of things here, my metabolism and my genetics. It is impossible with that goal to reach success. If I say I’ll exercise 4 times this week, or take my latte nonfat for now on, the goal is completely under my control. If I do fail, it’s my fault.

Writing: Similarly if my goal is to sell my first book within the year, hit the NYT list in 5 years or become as famous as Nora Roberts, I am not setting myself up for success.  However, I can be quite successful if I chose to submit my manuscript to ten agents this month, or my proposal to my editor by next week or finish my 2 completed novels by the end of the year. It’s all under my control.

Write it down:

Fitness: Most successful fitness professional write down their progress. In an exercise or a food log, in a notebook, calendar or on a smart phone, it doesn’t matter but it seems that people who track down what they are doing tend to think more about what they are about to eat and are motivated to see their progress on paper. I lost 40 pounds of baby weight twice by writing down everything I ate. It works.

Writing: We can do this in writing to. Track your daily word count or pages written, whether on a calendar that you see every day or in a special notebook, by coloring blocks on a chart, using a word count meter online or posting your accomplishments to your social networks, whatever works for you. Seeing the number add up every day is very motivating.

Make it social:

Fitness: I always tell my participant to make dates with friends at the gym. If you know your best friend is there, you can’t change your mind at the last minute. She might be upset. Planning for coffee afterwards with a bunch of pals makes you more likely to go because it’s fun. Having a running buddy who picks you up at your house also gives you no choice but go ahead with your exercise.

Writing: Writing is more solitary but you can make it social. Why is Twitter so popular with writers? You can meet a writer friend at the coffee shop to write, you can have a writing buddy that you email in the morning then at the end of the day to encourage each other or you can belong to goal oriented group like Amy Atwell’s Goal in a Month groups. It’s a lot more fun when you are not alone.

Get your stuff ready ahead of time:

Fitness: I like to keep my gear close by and accessible. If I am not spending 15 min. looking for my gym socks, I am much more likely to stick with my daily walks. I like to have my clothes ready if I know I’ll exercise in the morning and I would always pack my gym bag in my trunk in the morning when I used to work outside to head straight to the gym before going back home. In college, I would pack my locker with a fresh supply of all my gear for the week including swimsuit and rackets, so I could just go there and decide what kind of exercise I would do on the spot.

Writing: I write first thing in the morning and I am not blessed with an office. I found that when I put my notebook, pen, and laptop all ready for me to write, I am much more likely to do it. If you keep your material organized and easily accessible in an obvious reminder that you need to write now, you are more likely to do it.

If all fails, buy something.

Fitness: I used to tell people to go buy some nice exercise wear when they felt their motivation slipping. Yes exercise it hard, but we might as well look pretty while doing it. Trust me, it works. Plus if you’ve invested some money, you’re imposing a little guilt on yourself to actually use the stuff.

Writing: I cured my writer’s block last summer by downloading a song each time I would finish a scene. I figured the most it would cost me would be $75 for a whole book. Pretty cheap! It worked for me. Soon I was writing one-two scenes a day and even started to forget to buy songs because I was having so much fun writing. Find a little treat that you can get once you’re done, it might help!

Just do it

Fitness: In the end, there are no tricks. That’s why Nike got its trademark bang on. You just have to get there and do it. Don’t think. Learn to shut that part of your brain that moans and complains that you are tired and will start tomorrow. Get out there and exercise. Do it first thing in the morning (early exercisers are more successful at keeping up with it) or head to the gym straight after work. Don’t get comfortable, do it. Do it for 5 minutes, hey you might actually stick with it for 30 min. but if not, at least you got into the habit of doing it. It does get easier.

Writing: BIC: Butt in Chair. Is there any other way? Again, just do it. Don’t think about it. Sit and stare at the blank page. Even if all you do is sit there for your allotted time and think about your book, you are being productive. Find times to do it when you are so tired there is nothing more you’d like to do than sit down and daydream (I like early morning and right after my run).

So now, make a date with yourself and write!  (or exercise or both!)

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mcb_ancientwhispers-original-mediumMarie-Claude Bourque is the American Title V winner and author of ANCIENT WHISPERS, a sensual gothic paranormal romance filled with sorcerers and Celtic priestesses in search for eternal love in modern time. She worked as a climate research scientist, a scientific translator and a fitness expert until she turned to fiction writing. She draws her inspiration from the French legends of her childhood and a fascination for dark fantasy.

ANCIENT WHISPERS, a Dorchester -Love Spell release is available now wherever books are sold. Find more at www.mcbourque.com and don’t forget to enter the contest for her month-long virtual release party at www.mcbourque.com/launchparty

The Draw of the Dark Side
by Our Guest on May 20th, 2010

Note from Jessa: When Elisabeth Naughton told my writing group about her first adventure romance trilogy, she called it “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone,” which is like saying chocolate ganache meets dark chocolate.  And now she has a new series paranormal romance starting, which is like saying chocolate ganache meets dark chocolate with chocolate sprinkles.  And she’s giving away a copy today, so read up and leave your comment.

elisabeth-naughtonThanks so much to the gang at Silk & Shadows for inviting me to be with you all today! 

If you’ve read any of my previous books you know that I’m a romantic suspense author who has recently shifted to the dark side and is now writing paranormals as well. The first book in my Eternal Guardians series – MARKED – released this month. Someone recently asked me, “Why the change?” and I thought about the question for a minute, but couldn’t answer. It’s a simple question, I know, but the only answer I could come up with was not one I knew the questioner wanted to hear. I mean, authors are supposed to know why they do everything they do, so to have an author say, “I dunno. I just write the books that come to me,” I knew my answer just wasn’t gonna cut it. 

That, of course, is a cop out answer (even if it’s true). And since readers seem to want to know why things change (as my editor says… “Okay, why is this happening again?”), I’ve decided it would be in my best interest to have a list of answers ready and waiting for just such a question. 

So here it is, my top ten list for shifting to the dark side. 

marked-final-400x60010. Look at that cover. Do I need to have another reason for wanting to write paranormals?!

9. Special powers come in really handy in the climax of a paranormal book. As an author who ALWAYS gets stuck here trying to make everything work out, I can tell you it’s much easier to throw in an electrical storm or zap someone with lightning fingers to get out of a bind than it is to save the day with plane ol’ Tom, Dick & Harry. 

8. Superhuman sex. (I do write romantic paranormals, after all.)

7. I get to write about snarky gods. They seem to be able to get away with anything they want. Who knew? 

6.   Looking for a little danger? You don’t need a serial killer on the run to amp up the tension. That’s sooo over done. Throw in a seething daemon instead. Seven feet tall, horns like a goat, face like a cat, ears off a dog and lots of claws? Oh man. So much more fun! 

5. Sure, romances are great, but when the two main characters are fated to be together and hate each other at the same time? That just adds an extra level of tension that makes the whole romance that much more interesting. 

4. The fact I can throw in a Fury (or two or three) whenever I feel like it (Yes, I am Fury obsessed). And this time they’re real winged creatures with snakes in their hair, razor sharp teeth and a rabid need for blood, not simply stone carvings of the creatures. 

3. I can write really twisted scenes and blame the genre. (“What? You think that’s too sick? Yeah, but it’s a paranormal. My readers will expect it.”) 

2.  Superhuman sex (did I say that before?) 

And the number one reason I decided to write paranormals: 

1. They’re just plain freakin’ fun! 

I never expected I’d have so much fun writing this series, but every day I’m excited I get to take my world one step further. While I love romantic suspense and don’t plan to give up writing in that genre (as soon as I turn in TEMPTED, book 3 in my Eternal Guardians series, I’m jumping back into a romantic suspense novella for Kensington), I’m thrilled I get to write about heroes and gods and prophecies and soul mates. The possibilities in a paranormal are endless, the danger is epic and the romance seems a thousand times more intense when other-worldy dangers are lurking around every corner.  

So why did I shift to the dark side? The answer is clear: Why the heck wouldn’t I?   

What do you love most about paranormal novels? What draws you to them again and again? I’ve got a copy of MARKED to give away to one lucky commenter today! 

***

 

Your browser may not support display of this image. A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, heralded by Publisher’s Weekly as “A rock-solid debut,” was recently nominated for two prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America in the Best First Book category and the Best Romantic Suspense category. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Learn more about Elisabeth and her books at www.Elisabethnaughton.com.

Tracy Madison’s quirky guest blog!
by Sharon Ashwood on May 13th, 2010

Tracy Madison knows how to make paranormal romance light and fun! And to prove it, she’s having a Month of Mysticism (with great prizes) on her blog.

Meanwhile, Tracy has dropped by S&S to give away a signed copy of A BREATH OF MAGIC to a commenter, so tell us about your favorite quirky characters!

madison_breathofmagic

Quirky Characters and Why I Love Them

One of my favorite words in the entire world of words is “quirk.” I love how it looks, how it sounds, and I even love saying it. Quirk. Quirks. Quirky. Go ahead and say it out loud. Please? I’ll wait…

See? It’s a fun little word! Just saying it forces your mouth into a pucker, which is sort of quirky on its own. But as much as I love the phonetics of the word, that’s not the only reason why I adore the word “quirk.” I also love its meaning.

Quirk has a few different definitions, but the one I’m talking about today is:

“A peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality: mannerism.”

And right there is the reason why I am hooked. Every single one of us has at least one quirk. I totally believe this. Even if you can’t identify your own quirks, I bet those closest to you can. Some people’s quirks might be tiny, barely noticeable peculiarities, while others have more than their fair share of peculiarities. Heck, I know a few on both sides of the equation.

But these quirks are part of what makes us who we are. Some of them are funny, and we’re used to being teased about them. For example, I cannot sit in a public place with my back to the room. Okay, well, I can. I just don’t want to. It gives me the creepy-crawlies and I’ll do almost anything to avoid it. My friends and family give me a knowing look whenever I beeline it for the chair against the wall. If I have to sit with my back to the room, I will. I’ll just be uncomfortable until I can get up and leave.

And oh, am I teased about this. Everyone thinks it’s hilarious. Especially because I have no reason to be this way—it just is what it is. But if you think about it, that’s a true statement for most quirks. And that’s another reason why I love them. Quirks, peculiarities of action, can breathe life into the characters of any book I’m reading. They are an important aspect of what helps me connect to characters, so I care about them and their story.

These quirks don’t have to be huge or crazy, either. Often, the tiniest of mannerisms are the strongest in characterization, the most compelling, and deliver exactly the bit of insight I need to truly understand a character. They add dimension, texture, and create characters that jump off the page into real life.

Can you imagine Sookie Stackhouse being quite as interesting without her high quirk quotient?

Or what about Eve Dallas and her penchant for sweets and coffee, or even the fact she hates having her hair styled? Eve is a strong woman, an engrossing character, and infinitely interesting to read about, but I have to say, I like her even more because of her quirks.

Quirks can also make me dislike a character, feel disgust, or even cringe as soon as that character walks into a scene. But when that happens, it’s for a reason. In most cases, the author wants me to have those feelings, and that’s why they’ve given these particular characters unappealing quirks. They’ve still used certain peculiarities of action to add dimension, texture, and realism into their characters. So, whether I like, love, or loathe the end result—these characters feel real to me, and that’s exactly how I want to feel when I’m reading a book.

And this is why I love quirky characters.

When I’m creating the characters who will live in my stories, I definitely give a great deal of consideration to quirks. Sometimes, these quirks pop up when I least expect it, and I love that. Other times, though, I have to consciously decide what quirk is right for which character. In my Magic series (A Taste of Magic, A Stroke of Magic, and my newest release, A Breath of Magic), I use quirks mostly to add humor, but also to add emotion.

I want my readers to care about my characters, to laugh with them, to worry about whatever struggles they’re facing, and giving them quirks is one way I can accomplish this. As a writer, my hope is that my readers will become invested in my characters, so they’ll stick around from page one all the way to “the end,” and enjoy the journey in between.

What about you? Who are some of your favorite quirky characters? And if you feel like sharing…what are some of your quirks? Everyone who comments will be entered to win a signed copy of A Breath of Magic!

To learn more about my books and maybe even some of my quirks, visit me at www.tracymadison.com.

Sherrill Quinn Guest Blogs!
by Sharon Ashwood on March 17th, 2010

Read the post and comment to win Sherrill’s book. Details below!

quinn_daring_the_moon_mm_sm_7nz3

I live in the Southwest, and things are starting to heat up. We hit 80 degrees yesterday, and will be in the mid-upper 70s for the next week. In the next 30 days we’ll creep into the 90s, and by late June we’ll flirt with temps in the low 100s. The sun starts coming up over the eastern mountains at 4:45 a.m. And since I’m very tuned to daylight, that’s when I wake up. Not willingly and certainly not happily.

It’s all relative, isn’t it? When I lived in Ohio I couldn’t wait for winter to be over. Snow, ice and cold are not my friends. Now I don’t want winter to end. Arizona in the winter is as close to paradise, weather-wise, as you can get.

I really love living here, and that translates to my books. Daring the Moon, Book One in my Kensington Brava Moon series, starts out here in Tucson, and the series wraps up back here with Taming the Moon. In between there’s the wildness of Cornwall’s Isles of Scilly and men who go wolfish at the full moon. Here’s a brief excerpt from Daring the Moon:

quinntamingthemoon

Staring down the end of a shotgun barrel was not the way Taite Gibson had planned to end her day. She bit the inside of her lip and, with two fingers, carefully moved the barrel so it no longer pointed directly at her.

“Listen, Mr. Wheeler, I’m not asking you to testify in court.” She left the yet unspoken. “I’m just starting the investigation for the Pima County Attorney’s office, okay? I need to talk to you about what happened.”

The man’s face went dark with outrage. “What happened? I’ll tell you what happened! A bunch of punk-ass hooligans came in here and robbed me at gunpoint, that’s what happened.” Wheeler made a threatening gesture with the shotgun. His ruddy face darkened even more. “I dare ‘em to try it again.”

Taite held up one hand and tried to inject as much authority into her voice as possible. This wasn’t the first time she’d been on the wrong end of a gun and it probably wouldn’t be the last. “Mr. Wheeler, put that away.”

He grinned. “Don’t worry, Ms. Gibson. It’s legal. I’ve got a permit.” He held the gun in one hand and ran the other one down the wooden stock in a slow caress. “Ain’t she a beaut? Remington Wingmaster five-shot with walnut stock, twin bead sight, and would you look at the finish on that barrel.” He sighed like a man in love.

“I wasn’t concerned about the legality,” she replied steadily. “Just put it away. Please.”

With a mumbled comment and a last, loving caress he complied, stowing the gun under the counter. He walked back around and leaned against the glass case and fussed with a display of cowboy hats.

“Thank you.” Taite drew in a breath. She loved the smell of leather. Wheeler carried leather coats, chaps, boots…you name it, if it was made of leather, he had it. She also caught a faint smell of something similar to sage as she walked forward again and pulled out a small notebook from her oversized purse. “Now, as I said, I’m here on behalf of the Pima County Attorney’s office. I’m investigating the robbery in preparation for the trial.”

Over the next two hours, Taite got Wheeler’s account of events, drilling down to the smallest of details. “And you’re willing to testify against them in court? Point them out to the jury as the ones who robbed you?” she asked as she flipped the cover closed on the notebook.

“Yep. Those punks’ faces are burned in my memory.” He tapped a beefy finger against his temple. Big teeth flashed in a wide grin. “You get ‘em in court and I’ll nail their asses to the wall.”

She couldn’t resist returning his smile. “It’s a deal.” After tucking the notebook back into her purse, she flipped her wrist to check her watch. Almost six p.m. She had time to stop back at the office to debrief her boss–he rarely quit work before seven. She told Wheeler goodbye and left the store. Making sure she had her keys firmly in hand, two keys poking out between her fingers, she walked toward her car with quick steps.

A spot between her shoulder blades heated. She glanced around, but there was no one behind her. Just the same, she tucked one hand into her purse and curled her fingers around her can of pepper spray. There was no doubt in her mind someone was watching her.

Take a moment here to chat with me and be entered to win a copy of Daring the Moon.

TOO WICKED? Inconceivable!
by Our Guest on February 25th, 2010

erica-ridley_sm

Today, Silk And Shadows welcomes Erica Ridley, whose debut TOO WICKED TO KISS has a dark hero to die for. 

Breaking News: Win an autographed copy of Gothic historical TOO WICKED TO KISS this week only, just by answering the daily kiss question on Twitter #2w2k or Facebook!

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Although release day for my debut Gothic romance is Tuesday, March 2, today I received a text from a friend who saw a stack of copies on the new release table at Borders (!!!) and sent me a photo with her iPhone. So exciting! Too Wicked To Kiss is also a Barnes & Noble book club pick for the month of March, and I’m hoping to get news of 2W2K sightings in those stores soon, too. I’m also getting ready for my first-ever signing next week, at a local independent bookstore. Definitely a scrapbook moment! But enough about me… let me introduce you to the book!

I absolutely love the cover. I think the art department did a spectacular job at evoking both Gothic darkness and sensual romance. The back cover reads:

too-wicked-to-kiss_erica-ridleyHIS TOUCH HOLDS HER CAPTIVE…

From the ravens circling its spires to the gargoyles adorning its roof, Blackberry Manor looms ominously over its rambling grounds. And behind its doors, amid the flickering shadows and secret passageways, danger lies in wait.

TO HIS EVERY DARK DESIRE…

Evangeline Pemberton has been invited to a party at the sprawling estate of reclusive Gavin Lioncroft, who is rumored to have murdered his parents. Initially, Gavin’s towering presence and brusque manner instill fear in Evangeline…until his rakish features and seductive attentions profoundly arouse her. But when a guest is murdered, Evangeline is torn. Could the man to whom she is so powerfully drawn, also be a ruthless killer?

TOO WICKED TO KISS

I had absolutely zero to do with the creation of the back cover copy, which turns out to be a good thing, because I think the copywriter did an amazing job at evoking the Gothic tone and hinting at the hero’s darkness.

The heroine’s first impression of his mansion does not exactly go over well:

Despite the tall arched ceiling with its bowed wooden beams curving at the creases like so many rib bones, the air was thick, heavy, oppressive, as if she had not stepped into the foyer of an aristocrat’s mansion, but a long forgotten sepulcher untouched by anything but death.

Were there no windows? Evangeline craned her neck to peer upward, just beneath the rafters. Ah, yes. Several. But not the kind to let in light.

The narrow slashes high above her head were the sort suited for medieval castles, for skilled archers to aim their deadly arrows at those who would trespass below, not for illuminating entryways for members of Polite Society. This evening, no archers crouched at the ready, just as no sun hung in the sky. Only the slipperiest, blackest of shadows filtered through the thin cracks to fall upon her upturned face like the cool caress of ghostly hands. The wisps of damp hair on Evangeline’s neck fluttered nervously, touched by a breeze she could not feel.

Nor does her first impression of the man himself:

He stood at the landing above the spiral stair, cloaked in shadow. Tall. Unnaturally so. Was it the angle, the skewed perspective of being so far beneath him? Or was his towering stature undeniable, evident in the width of his shoulders, the muscular length of his legs, the long pale fingers curved around the banister?

Evangeline swallowed a gasp.

Not because of the obsidian eyes framed by equally black lashes. Nor because of the angry slash of cheekbones, the flash of bared teeth, or the scar just above the edge of his jaw. Those things, though separately terrible, together formed a face of cold, cruel beauty. A face for statues, for frescoes, for—

Another flutter of orange light as he reached the final stair, and Evangeline could no longer breathe.

He was angry. Horribly angry. Livid. Enraged. Furious. His eyes glittered like a wolf’s because he was a wolf, a beautiful, powerful, violent wolf, prowling toward his unsuspecting prey.

Miss Evangeline Pemberton has her own dark secrets to keep, some of which are linked to the psychic abilities she’s tried so hard to hide–which is hard to do when she’s bombarded by visions and debilitating migraines at the slightest skin-to-skin touch. Before he discovers her secrets, the hero has his own unsettling encounters with the heroine:

For several long moments, Gavin watched her, unnerved by how still she held herself, how statue-like she posed. Her body was as lifeless and beautiful as an ivory sarcophagus molded in her image.

She stood so quiet and unmoving he might well have been in a room with two dead bodies. The unwelcome sensation of watching a pair of corpses had his muscles twitching in trepidation.

Gavin shifted his weight, uncomfortable in his own skin, even less comfortable with the motionless woman a few feet before him. Her fingers no longer shook, so frozen did she stand. He could not hear her breathing, even in the unnatural silence of the dank chamber. Her breasts no longer rose and fell. Even the folds of her gown held no ripples, no motion, as if they too were carved of stone and impervious to both breeze and life.

These two have a lot to deal with, but don’t worry–there’s still plenty of time for romance! Here’s a snippet from just before their first kiss:

He coasted his open mouth just above her flushed cheek, his breath steaming against the curve of her cheekbone, the dip below her earlobe, the length of her exposed neck.

Her body writhed between the hard wall and the even harder man before her. A sudden urge to force his lips upon her thrummed in her veins, but her dimming sense of self-preservation cautioned her to flee while she was still able.

You can read the full kiss scene on my blog at:
http://www.ericaridley.com/blog/2010/02/excerpt-monday-illicit-kisses/

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Erica will be hanging out at the blog today, so please leave comments! And don’t forget to check out the kiss contest on Facebook or Twitter and win an autographed copy of Gothic historical TOO WICKED TO KISS!

Get extra content and bonus features for Too Wicked To Kiss on the Unauthorized Scandal Sheet at: http://www.2wicked2kiss.com

For contest, blogs, embarrassing photos, and other fun stuff, check out Erica’s author web site at: http://www.ericaridley.com

Please join Erica for lots of games and prizes in the Facebook community at: http://www.facebook.com/EricaRidleyFans

And if you have Twitter, please come tweet with Erica at: http://www.twitter.com/EricaRidley

Guest Author - Donna Grant
by Annette McCleave on December 31st, 2009

I’d like to welcome guest blogger Donna Grant to the Silk and Shadows site today. Donna is celebrating the December 29th release of Dangerous Highlander, the first book in her brand new series from St. Martin’s. Her Dark Sword series smoothly blends together magic, history, and hawt Highland heroes–who could ask for anything more?

*****

donna_grantFirst, thanks to the ladies of Silk and Shadows for having me!

I get asked a lot why I chose Druids for my new Dark Sword series. I find the legend of the Druids fascinating. There are so many conflicting accounts. Some records show the Druids to be spiritual leaders who helped heal the sick and gave counsel to kings and other leaders.

The Romans would have us believe they were the basest of humans who routinely sacrificed humans and animals in order to appease their pagan gods.

So who’s right? I don’t think we’ll ever know. We all know that whoever writes history controls history, so I think it’s safe to say Rome may have exaggerated a bit. Or maybe not. ;)

It was the knowledge that the Druids could have been a mixture of any number of things that led me into more research into them. I find their culture fascinating, especially how it continues to this day.

dangeroushighlander_300x186In DANGEROUS HIGHLANDER, there are two different sects of Druids. I have the mies, or the good Druids who keep to their pure magic. They are one with nature. They heal, share their wisdom, and protect the innocent.

Then there are the droughs. The droughs are Druids who, upon their eighteenth year, undergo a ceremony where they give their blood and soul to evil thereby forfeiting all the good inside them. The evil takes over, and in doing so gives them a more powerful magic – black magic.

So how can the mies combat the droughs if the droughs have more powerful magic? That is a good question, and one I visit with every book of this series I write.

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of either MUTUAL DESIRE or THE PLEASURE OF HIS BED to a commenter. Happy Reading!

To find out more about me or my Dark Sword series, please visit my website at www.donnagrant.com.

hugs,
D

Conflict with Keena Kincaid
by Our Guest on December 17th, 2009

keena-cover

Conflict. It’s an inescapable part of life—especially when you’re a character in my stories. In TIES THAT BIND, a second-chance story released this week by The Wild Rose Press, the conflict between my hero and heroine isn’t so much about what happened in the past but how they each dealt with it.


O
r didn’t.


In TIES THAT BIND,
AEDAN ap OWEN and TESS, LADY OF BRIDSWELL each deal with their anger in hot and cold ways, respectively. This difference means each approaches conflict differently and often at odds with one another.


My heroine
is icy in her fury, more likely to walk away from conflict than resolve it. In a prequel to this book, when Tess learned about Aedan’s misuse of his magical abilities, she appeared calm on the outside, as if the hurt didn’t quite touch her, and she told him to go away rather than deal with the hurt and anger of his betrayal.


Aedan, on
the other hand, acts on his anger. When he learned Tess had married within a few months of his leaving, the drinking, fighting, whoring binge that followed kept medieval gossips talking for years.


For both characters, how they
handled this conflict changed the course of their lives, and when they meet up five years later, they are both very different people from when they first met—a fact they both recognize immediately.

___________________

Tess stiffened at his words, and another gust of cold air blew between them, tangling a fine lace of curls that had escaped her braid. Her hair was darker now—a deep reddish auburn highlighted by strands the color of cinnamon. A memory of twining one of those curls around his finger pushed forward. The ache that followed surprised him.


“My lady.” Aedan bowed low, suddenly,
keenly aware that neither of them was the raw youth who had loved so carelessly years before. “How do you fare?”


She tucked away the beckoning curl. The
movement set a row of tiny copper bells along her sleeve ringing. “Well enough.”


“Who is this, Tess?” The dark-haired woman
at William’s side sounded as suspicious as she looked. When Aedan gave her his best grin, her dark blue eyes glinted like the sharp edge of broken sapphire.


“I am Aedan ap Owen.”


“The king’s minstrel?” Excitement and disgust
warred in her expression. “We have heard about you.”


Aedan flashed his most innocent smile. “Have
you?”


“Yes.” Tess looked at him as if he’d run down
her dog. “The gossips say you are rich in coin and women.”


They exaggerate.”


“Do they?” Her inflection carried a challenge.
“They also say the Duchess of Burgundy measured your sword with both hands and found it sturdy. Now the duke’s weapon no longer leaves its sheath.”

___________________

I had fun exploring how Aedan and Tess’ core personalities would influence the way they handle conflict—although I must admit, Tess’ reaction surprised me. She’s very outspoken except when it counts most.

 


In your writing or reading, have you come across any interesting ways characters handle anger and conflict?
How does it affect their story?


keena-portrait
Keena Kincaid, the author of three historical romance novels with The Wild Rose Press, is celebrating the release of TIES THAT BIND, the second of her Druids of Duncarnoch series. To learn more about her or her stories, go to: http://www.keenakincaid.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

 

Jordan Summers guest blogs!
by Sharon Ashwood on December 3rd, 2009

I got into this series because I loved the idea of a post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood. I stayed because it’s gritty, dark, and fascinating. If you haven’t encountered the Dead World series before now, here’s your chance–Jordan is giving away a copy of Crimson to one commenter!

On the run from the law, Gina ‘Red’ Santiago and Sheriff Morgan Hunter continue their search for the proof needed to clear their names. Unfortunately, the danger doesn’t just lie in No-Man’s-Land. Someone near to them is about to betray them for the Other blood running through their veins.

Politician Roark Montgomery is desperate. The election is near and he still hasn’t found the fugitives. Roark’s not above using the traitor in his midst to kill the two people that stand between him and political victory. It takes a predator to catch a predator.

Morgan’s and Red’s only option is to face the assault head on. With Roark, nothing is ever that easy, but they know two things he doesn’t: Love is worth dying for. And it’s never smart to corner a hungry wolf…

The End of a Series…

First off, I’d like to thank the Silk and Shadows gang for inviting me to blog here. I really appreciate the opportunity.

My third and final book, CRIMSON for my Dead World series came out on November 3rd. It’s a bittersweet moment when a series wraps. One side of me was excited to finally get the conclusion into readers’ hands, while the other side was sad that the tale was over. I was leaving the Dead World behind for new horizons.

Here’s a little background for those of you unfamiliar with my series. I wanted to write a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but with a twist. My premise was: What if Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person? I didn’t set out to make it a post-apocalyptic story, but the setting refused to budge. I knew I wanted werewolves, vampires, and other creatures in the books, but instead of going the magic route, I used ‘science’ to create them.

When I first started this series, it wasn’t a series at all. I’d written RED (book one) and had set it up as a stand-alone story. My editor at the time came back and asked if I could turn Red into a trilogy. I hadn’t thought about it beforehand—at least not consciously. I’d left a few loose ends open, but that was about it. Fortunately, the things I’d left open were enough to create a three book story arc. Originally, I’d planned to make SCARLET (book two) Raphael’s and Chaos’ story, but Red and Morgan, my heroine and hero wouldn’t cooperate. That’s why there are two love stories in book two that continue into book three.

Series books are fun in general to read and to write. They give both the author and the reader a chance to really get to know the characters after the ‘newness’ wears off. The Dead World series was the first series I’ve ever written that takes a couple, the hero and the heroine through all stages of their relationship. It’s not just the instant or not so instant attraction that occurs in the beginning, but what happens when the warts start to show. I really enjoyed being able to explore the relationships, which is why I’m a big fan of series books. I’d name my favorite authors, but we’d be here all night. *g*

To celebrate the release of Crimson I’m giving away one free copy.

Running Amok
by Our Guest on November 19th, 2009

This week, Silk And Shadows is thrilled to have Judi Fennell with us.  Wondering how such jewel-bright covers could hide a Silk And Shadows-style darkness?  Well, when you’re that far under the waves…  Make sure you read all the way down to learn about Judi’s fabulous getaway contest for the series. 

judi_fennellWhen I was invited to do this guest blog, Jessa said I could “run amok.”

She must not know me very well, ’cause if you tell me I can run amok, well, I’m pretty much going to go with it.

Which, actually, ties in well with my latest release, Wild Blue Under. There’s lots of “amok-ing” going on. Lots of “muck” too. (That is what happens when you get a couple flocks of birds together, you know?)

But what do birds have to do with Mermen, you ask? After all, Wild Blue Under is about Mer Prince, Rod Tritone, who has to travel to land-locked Kansas to bring the half-Mer Princess, Valerie Dumere, back to Atlantis so that he can claim the throne. But Atlantis is under water, and, aside from penguins, there aren’t exactly a plethora of birds under the sea. So where do the flocks come in?

Wild Blue Under is the second in my Mer series. In In Over Her Head (released June 2009) we have a Human named Erica end up in the sea where she discovers a Merman named Reel. He’s Rod’s brother, and, yes, I do see the humor in their names. I hadn’t actually planned it though; Rod showed up when Erica heard Reel’s name for the first time. “You got a friend Rod around here anywhere?” she asked. To which Reel shot back, “As a matter of fact, he’s my brother. He’s in charge of the South Atlantic.”

I sat back and looked at my computer screen and said, “Really? He does? He is?” and that’s how Rod came into being.

wbuBut I couldn’t write the same Human-in-the-water story that I’d done for In Over Her Head, so this time I decided to play on all the fish/water puns I’d had so much fun with in the first book and make Wild Blue Under a true fish-out-of-water story. Best way to do that was to bring Rod onto land. But once I did that, I needed a bad guy and since Humans aren’t supposed to know about Mers, it had to be someone from the ocean. But how do I get him on land?

Without stretching credibility too far (I know, kinda hard NOT to do when you’re talking Mermen…), I used birds. Hired guns, as it were. Mercenaries. Thugs.

Birds can do all sorts of things on land that we Humans can’t, by virtue of their ability to fly. Dropping fish bombs from fifty feet up? Yep. Swooping down into your face only to cut away at the last second, leaving you to drive into a field? Definite possibility. Dive bombing your car so you’ll crash? Oh, yeah, baby. They got that in spades. It was Amok Heaven.

And of course, all that life-and-death amok-i-ness just makes it that much easier for the hero and heroine to band together to defeat the bad guys. Or rather, it should… unless the hero happens to mention that he’s taking the heroine to the ocean. You know the ocean? The one she’s allergic to?

So now she thinks he’s trying to kill her, too. As I said, amok.

But, as with all romances, this tail has a happy ending. I mean, this tale. No. Wait. Which one do I mean? I’ve written those words over and over so much lately that it’s hard to remember which one it is.

Will Valerie get a tail? Or is Rod’s tall tale just that? Do they get tails? Do they get tail? (Oops, sorry. It’s that “amok” thing, you know…)

But beneath the wild blue under, amid the “amok,” you’ll find the answers.

Just watch where you step. :)

*          *          *

So thanks, Jessa and ladies, for having me. I was thrilled when you offered today’s post because today is a special day to me. If you read the dedication page, you’ll see that I’ve dedicated Wild Blue Under to my grandmother. She’s been one of my beta readers for my stories and has always been one of my biggest supporters all along, never doubting that the stories would see the light of day.

I’m happy to say that she’s still with us, and today is her birthday. The 60th anniversary of her 29th, though to look at her, you definitely wouldn’t believe it (it’s those Italian genes. They keep you young looking!)

So I’d like to say thanks for having me here today and happy birthday, Nan! (And, yes, she is internet savvy, so hopefully she’ll be popping in to read this. Whether or not she’ll comment is anyone’s guess…)

Here’s some of the “amok” for you to enjoy:

*          *          *

“Get ready to slam on the brakes, Valerie.” Rod sat back.

“Brakes?” At this speed, the car would spin out, and having already done its lifelong quotient of Indy driving today, that probably wasn’t a good idea. She’d been a cabby, not a stunt driver.

Rod braced his hands on the dashboard. “You wedged in, Livingston?”

“As well as possible. How much longer?”

Rod leaned over as far as the belt would allow, which, in her small car, was pretty darn close. “Twenty seconds.”

“Okay, Valerie.” It felt weird to be taking directions from a voice beneath Rod’s tush. Not that anything was odd about this situation to begin with…

“… to let them fly past.”

“What?” She shook her head. Mind off his butt, Val.

“Fish, woman, weren’t you listening?”

“Livingston-” Rod’s interjection was harsh.

“Right. My apologies. What we need you to do, Valerie, is slow down at the last possible second. Apply as much pressure to the brakes as you can without spinning us so the peregrines miscalculate. Their missiles tend to be other avians, which are more dangerous than JR’s small fish. Got it?”

“Yeah.” She exhaled. She so did not want to be doing this. But then, she wasn’t exactly into cleaning roadkill-airkill?-off her roof either.

“Ten.” Rod braced his palms against the dash.

Val scanned the road ahead. No more cars, thank God.

“Nine… eight…”

Val swiped her palm against her side, wrapping the fingers of her left hand around the steering wheel.

“Seven… six…”

She then dried her right hand on the other side of her shirt and curled her hand over the stick shift.

“Five… four…”

She inhaled.

“Three…two…”

“Now!” Livingston screeched.

Wanting to close her eyes, amazed she was going to do this yet again, and still hating that screech, Val took her foot off the gas, stepped on the clutch, swung the car out of gear, and slammed on the brakes.

Two slate-blue projectiles shot inches above the hood of the car. Whatever the birds were carrying had missed them by a hairsbreadth.

“Go go go go go!” Livingston roared.

A seagull could roar? Val shook it off, reversed everything she’d just done, and forced the protesting engine back to work.

But peregrines could turn on a dime and they weren’t known as some of the best hunters for no reason.

“Guys, we can’t keep doing this,” she panted, a bead of perspiration trickling its way down her temple.

“They misfired. They’ll have to reload. That’ll give us some time.”

“What if we just pull over and talk to them? Maybe offer them more than whoever-it-is is paying them?”

Rod looked at her as if she’d suggested a transgender operation, and even Livingston poked his yellow beak out from under the seat.

“What?” she asked the two testosterone-spouting males.

“We do not negotiate with terrorists.” Rod said it so low that, by rights, she shouldn’t have been able to hear it, but the timbre of his voice vibrated the words through her very bones.

That was silly. They were just birds. Okay, birds with dead things in their talons, but still… “Terrorists? Let’s be real here, guys.” Guy and bird… Whatever.

The bird popped out from under the seat. “Look, chicky-”

“Valerie.” Rod gripped her arm. “I don’t think you comprehend the seriousness of the situation. They are-”

“You’re right.” She yanked her arm away, then had to straighten out the car because being manhandled did not gel with high-speed driving. “I don’t comprehend it, because you won’t explain it. I don’t see how falcons can be terrorists. I don’t see how any of this is even possible. Yesterday I’m minding my own business, worried about seagulls, and now I’ve got albatrosses and peregrines and God-knows-what-else dropping dead stuff on me! And you’re acting like I’m supposed to think this is normal!”

“Enough chitchat, people!” Livingston was back to peering out the rear window. “We can discuss it later. Right now, I’ve got avians on the wing, starboard, coming in low. Two missiles each. I repeat, two missiles each.”

“I heard you the first time,” Val muttered under her breath. She took a deep one, re-gripped the steering wheel, and pushed the gas pedal down, getting ready for whatever the Universe–and the birds–threw at her next.

© Judi Fennell

Wild Blue Under
Judi Fennell
Sourcebooks, Inc.
November, 2009
ISBN#:9781402224270

Rod Tritone is all set to take over the Mer kingdom when his father retires, until the ruling council tells him he has to marry first. The council gives him legs for the duration of his mission, as well as his future queen’s address and phone number.

She’s Valerie Dumere, the daughter of a Mer father and a human mother who raised her in landlocked Kansas. When devastatingly handsome Rod Tritone shows up and tries to tell her about the kingdom under the sea, not only does she think he’s crazy, she’s determined that’s the last place she’d ever want to go.

Then a vicious squad of seagulls tries to stop the Mer Prince from inheriting his throne and Val finds out about her true nature. Now she has to make the choice of a lifetime–stay on land, or follow Rod to his underwater world…

What people are saying about Wild Blue Under:

“Fennell returns with another underwater adventure, her second story about the Tritone brothers. She’s proving herself to be a solid storyteller, and this tale is an enjoyable and pleasant read.”
-Devon Paige, RT BookReviews Magazine.com

“Wild Blue Under” is the second book of author, Judi Fennell’s Mer Trilogy, and the first of hers I have read and definitely won’t be the last! This book was such a fun, delightful read.”
-Jaime, Revenge of the Book Nerds

“Judi Fennell is a bright star on the horizon of romance.
-Judi McCoy, author of Hounding the Pavement

“The best Mer book I’ve ever read.”
-Rowena Cherry, author of Knight’s Fork

“Bubbly fun! Judi Fennell whips together talking birds, princely peril and a sexy Mer man in this sparkling ‘under the sea’ tale.”
-Virginia Kantra, USA Today best-selling author

 What people are saying about In Over Her Head:

“Nora Roberts? Danielle Steel? Much acclaimed romance writers should step aside. There is a new romance writer in town and she is certainly causing a great splash with her debut novel, In Over Her Head.”
-ABibliophile.com

“I truly found a pearl in my oyster when I read this delightful tale. I was surprised how good of a book In Over Her Head is. It is extremely well-written, the storyline flows and I was hooked from the first page.”
-LongAndShortReviews.blogspot.com

“IN OVER HER HEAD is a delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure and passion. All in all, this is a fast, fun read and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon or a sunny day at the beach.”
-Lynda K. Scott, Star-Crossed Romance

“The beauty will draw you in, the action will get your pulse racing and the sensual scenes will keep your eyes glued to the pages.”
-Katrina, Bloody Bad

“In Over Her Head is a heartwarming, but action-packed story of two people-one human and the other of the seaworthy body-joined together in an adventure. I enjoyed this story immensely.”
-Dawn M. Ekinia, Armchair Interviews

“A delightful underwater adventure… full of good-natured humor and fun. A strong first effort by a promising new talent.”
-Romantic Times

“A playful debut… sincere wit.”
-Publisher’s Weekly

About The Author:
Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to “get outside!” instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did–right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at www.JudiFennell.com for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to “dive in” to her stories.

Contest
To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn (www.AtlantisInn.com) and the Hibiscus House (www.HibiscusHouse.com) bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi’s website, www.JudiFennell.com

Guest: Raven Hart
by Sharon Ashwood on October 14th, 2009

Like your vampires hot? The Savannah vampires are all that and more - and one lucky commenter will get a copy of the latest Raven Hart book and a pair of Raven Hart earrings!

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Hello all. Raven Hart here. Thanks for inviting me to guest blog, Sharon.

The topic is regional settings, very appropriate for me since I can’t imagine my Savannah Vampires series working anywhere else. When you write fiction you want to use all the tools in the box, and one of the most powerful and fun is the setting. You want to make the best use of it you possibly can, to use it almost as a characters in and of itself. So you might ask why I decided to set my series in Savannah, Georgia.

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I actually live in northern Georgia and had only visited Savannah a couple of times when I decided to set my series there. Savannah has much fascinating history—a lot of it violent—so there’s a lot for a paranormal/horror writer to work with. The fact that it’s one of the most haunted cities in the world is a bonus. Savannah’s “spooky” quotient is off the charts.

In addition, there are countless little details about the city that make it perfect for vampires. For example, the tunnels I mention in my books—the ones the vamps use to move around in daylight hours—are real. They’re a result of the city streets being raised by the height of an average building story in order to protect it from hurricanes. How perfect is that? If there really were such things as vampires (and who are we to say there are not?) they couldn’t live in a more ideal place than Savannah.

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Then there’s the overall look of the place. There’s nothing like walking the sidewalks of the lamp-lit squares after dark, a breeze swaying the Spanish moss and making the ancient oaks overhead sigh. As you walk and walk the lights behind the gauzy parlor curtains of the mansions go out one by one and you realize that the squares are becoming more and more deserted. You’re meeting fewer and fewer fellow walkers until you realize you’re alone. As you look to your right to cross the street, you see something out of the corner of your eye and then it’s gone, or is it? And what’s that scraping sound that’s grown louder in the last couple of blocks? You glance over your shoulder but there’s no-one there except the statue of the long-dead general in the middle of the square. Odd how his eyes seem to follow you on your journey. . . . Oops! Seemed to have gotten carried away, there. Guess it’s just the writer in me. Perhaps you can see why Savannah is so inspirational.

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If you haven’t been to Savannah, you should visit some time. Now is actually a fine time to go. In a few weeks they’ll have a nifty tour of the antebellum homes decorated for Christmas and the off-season rates give you a chance to stay in a nice place at affordable rates. And while the azaleas might not be in bloom, you’ll get to skip the heat. Believe me, Savannah is HOT in the summertime.

While you’re there, you should visit Jack’s garage on Victory drive. Can’t find it? Just close your eyes, click your heels together and say to yourself, “There’s no place like Savannah!”

The Savannah Vampires series: “The Vampire’s Seduction,” “The Vampire’s Secret,” “The Vampire’s Kiss,” “The Vampire’s Betrayal,” “The Vampire’s Revenge.”

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