• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

It’s All About the Research & New Release #TheUnmasking by @adrianakraft

TheUnmasking_MEDPlease help me welcome Adriana Kraft talking about writing and her new release!

The Unmasking, by Adriana Kraft

Published: February 15, 2014

Romantic Suspense, Heat rating: Four flames

Available at Amazon

It’s All About the Research

 Authors of erotic romance often get teased about what kind of research they might delve into for the sake of their books – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it…**snicker, giggle, knowing wink.**

 The research my husband and I engaged in for this spicy romantic suspense is a little different – some might say, it’s been our entire lives. We’ve both taught at universities (that’s where we met) and we know the academic life from the inside. The choices and struggles faced by our professorial hero, Anthropologist Matt Bayfield, are more familiar than we might like to admit.

Hubs is a sociologist with a specialty in criminology. I promise he’s drawn on this background immensely in creating our spunky female undercover cop, Nancy Appleby, in plotting the trajectory of the crimes and the mystery of solving it, and especially in understanding our truly creepy villain (who I won’t name, of course – that would spoil everything!).

 We’ve both immersed ourselves in understand Celtic culture and history for years – long before we envisioned this novel. Hubs has Welsh roots, and mine are Scotch-Irish on one side, so we feel an ancestral pull to that era and its understanding of seasons and cycles. It was easy to hand that passion over to our ersatz professor. We won’t say more about how it’s woven into the plot, but we think readers will like it.

 We had a close call researching the technology we’ve handed our resourceful cop – hubs found himself on a website requesting security clearance for more information. Backed right out of that one! But found what we needed to know without tripping any more alarms.

 The North Woods, where we’ve set the novel? A place we’ve lived and loved, and left, when the winters grew too much for us to handle. But while we lived there, we threw ourselves with a passion into the cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and crisp winter outings Nancy enjoys so much. Writing those scenes was like watching snippets from our own life on the screen.

 The Unmasking was originally released in 2008 under a different pen name; rights reverted to us when the contract ran out, and we’ve decided to re-issue it as “ourselves.” We’ve thoroughly re-edited the book and incorporated helpful feedback from our beta readers

 Our tag line is Erotic Romance for Two, Three, or More. Most of our published work has focused on the “three or more” side of the equation. We’re happy to offer a book focused on the “two” element, and we think readers will find the sex is no less sizzling. And no, we’re not going to share any research we might have indulged in to write those scenes.

BLURB

Whose mask will crumble first—

the enigmatic professor of Celtic Studies,

the undercover cop masquerading as a co-ed,

or the campus stalker,

biding his time to strike again?

Is anthropology professor Matt Bayfield the Blackthorn College rapist, or a potential ally? Aloof and unapproachable, Matt has academic ambitions. He can’t escape Blackthorn College soon enough, and he doesn’t want any entanglements to slow down his exit.

 Nancy Appleby would like nothing more than to solve the string of campus rape cases before Thanksgiving so she can go home. The last thing she wants is a relationship to complicate her life—but she’ll settle for a fling, especially when the sex sizzles.

 The stalker has his own carefully crafted timetable, with a special date just for Nancy. Can Matt and Nancy force him out of his hidey-hole before it’s too late?

EXCERPT

Chapter One

 Who will be the next victim?

 Nancy Appleby scanned the co-eds in the small lecture hall. Each could be his next prey. Each looked much younger than she remembered being as a full-time student. Each woman hung on Professor Bayfield’s well crafted words.

 Was it the topic, Celtic Myths and Rituals, or was it the aloofness of the tall, dark-haired lecturer with the strong protruding chin that mesmerized? He did command attention. Although his tone was mild, Bayfield played with his audience like a polished actor. Clearly he was in control. Though he gestured but rarely, he moved like an athlete, comfortable in his body.

 Nancy jotted notes on a yellow pad pretending to be no different than anyone else in the room. She glanced up at Bayfield, whose eyes had settled on her; they were piercing and inquisitive. Then he shifted his gaze, but he’d noticed her, was thinking about her. Why? She’d done everything she could to blend in. He hadn’t seemed particularly troubled by her presence, just curious.

 Nancy redirected her attention to the individuals sitting in front of her. She’d arrived early to claim an aisle seat in the back row. The raised auditorium layout provided an advantageous observation post. About sixty women and twenty men were in attendance, no doubt a decent turnout. Blackthorn College had a student body of less than two thousand.

 Nancy scribbled more notes and then focused on the men in the room.

 Was he in the lecture hall? Would he strike again, tonight? Or would the rapist stay in his hole, biding his time?

  Available at Amazon

ABOUT ADRIANA KRAFT

 Adriana Kraft is the pen name for a husband/wife team writing Erotic Romance for Two, Three or More. The award-winning pair has published over thirty erotic romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews. Romantic pairings include straight m/f, lesbian, bisexual, ménage and polyamory, in both contemporary and paranormal settings.

 

ADRIANA KRAFT ON THE WEB

Website: http://adrianakraft.com

Blog: http://adrianakraft.com/blog

Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Adriana-Kraft/182846025133440

Twitter http://twitter.com/AdrianaKraft

It’s Fright-day, Welcome E.A. Poe

Greetings and Salutations,

Sorry I wasn’t here last week, Fridays aren’t the same when I don’t check in with those of you on the ether. I had to kick the mud from between my toes and venture into the real world of writers, publishers, and agents. Oh my. That’s a wordy way of saying I attended the Writers Digest West Writers Conference last week. It was great, I met and had discussions with wonderful people, who understand or pretend to understand writers. I was enlightened, overwhelmed, and energized. Horror is my thing and while I believe all fiction has the possibility to be frightening, not every writer has the courage to turn to the dark side. Not every reader is hoping for that either.

With a full charge in my batteries I’ve decided to change things up here on Fridays. From this day forward Fridays will be known as Fright-days at the Swamp. So come my children of the night, and we will tour the The Swamp in the dark. The way it is meant to be seen. When it is at its most terrifying.

Jami Gray’s wildly popular interview series has given me the idea to follow her lead. Fright-day will take a slightly different tack. Taking a small diversion from the comfortable setting of the Interview pavilion, we will venture to the unconsecrated graveyard for our ghostly interviews with those authors who are no longer in our midst in the physical sense. As you will find out they are very much with us on the spiritual plane.

Our first guest is the man credited with invention of  the detective genre. A poet, author, publisher, magazine editor, and literary critic. A man who’s very death is a mystery to this day. Please welcome, Edgar Allen Poe.  

deasf00a

EA: As you know, I do not have an abundance of time. Please, let us get on with it. 

“Of course Mr. Poe. Thank you for coming. Do you agree that a man is the son of his work?”

EA: I should imagine this is so.

Your body of work is disturbing in its representation of madness, and morose subjects. What kind of son are you?

EA: A son whose life was snuffed out too soon. A son whose experiences colored his writing. An honest son, whose work reflected the mistreatment of men by those who perceived their high station granted them the right to do so. The egotistical Fortunato for instance. Do you not agree the world is a better place without his ilk?

The Cask Of Amontillado, one of my favorite tales. Yes Fortunato was not a likable person, but Montressor buries him alive in the cellars.

EA:I believe the vile deserve a vile ending. What of poor Hop-Frog whose very name was taken from him? Forced to entertain the King and his advisors. Was setting them alight to brutal a punishment. I think not. In Masque of The Red Death, Prince Prospero flaunts his wealth, lords over his realm even as his loyal subjects die in streets of the plague. Is it not poetic justice that plague, attends his most magnificent party of the season, killing all in attendance?

I see. The punishment should equal the injustice.

EA: Precisely.

You mentioned poetic justice. Can we talk about The Raven? What caused you to write a poem about a man mourning the loss of his love?

EA: I chose this topic because the death of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetic topic in the world.

Many think the raven represents the devil.

 EA: a harsh laugh. What do those fools know? The raven symbolizes mournful and never-ending remembrance. The death of a flower before the frost, of a love no matter how much it is felt, can not be received by the intended.

What of the prophetic nature of the poem itself? Two years later you found yourself sitting in that very chamber?

EA: Turns his head away. I believe our ship has arrived in port.

You call the Raven a prophet. 

EA: I imply it may be an Angel, also a thing of evil, bird or devil, do not impose upon my good nature. With a rustle of dry leaves he is gone.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anger you. Quiet darkness is the answer to my apology.

That was rather abrupt, but all good things must come to a timely finish, lest they where out their welcome.

I leave you as always, with a quotation.

All the ancient classic fairy tales have always been scary and dark.

Helena Bonham Carter 

That’s what I’m talking about.

Write On,

Dave Benneman

Bacon and Beer w/NY Times Best Selling Writer Man @KevinHearne

Snarky  *boots propped on my porch railing, whip curled in her lap*:  So you finally womaned up and got Kevin Hearne to swing by?  ‘Bout damn time!

Wicked *hand on doornob*:  Look, I know you and the other Evil 7 think I’m all Miss Social but it’s only because I know you deviants.  Approaching world famous writers like *hush tone* Kevin Hearne reduces me to a stuttering mess.

Snarky *does that “look” thing she does so well*

Wicked *mutters under breath, opens door and steps inside only to come to a complete stops as a mass of fur barrels by*  Was that JoJo and Jasmine, with Hellhound?  What’s the deal?

Prankster Duo 1: Hey Mom, Hellhound invited some chicks over.  He told them that Irish stud was stopping by.

Snarky *perking up*: Atticus?

Wicked: Snarky! Your drool is showing!

Prankster Duo 1 *rolls his eyes across the floor*:  You guys are so weird! Like no, the other one, Oberon.

Wicked: Weird? Looks who’s talking, child of mine.  Okay, does Smokey and Eerie know where their girls are?

Prankster Duo 1:  Dunno.

Wicked: Go tell them.  First, do me a favor and make sure the fur trio doesn’t track dirt into the house. I just cleaned it.  I don’t need Kevin thinking that just because we live in the Swamp, we have to decorate with mud.  *Stops in shock* What the hell happened to my kitchen!

Prankster Duo 2 *head pops over the counter with towering plate of bacon*: Hey Mom! You’re home! Great! We need more bacon.

Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor *turns with devlish grin*: Check out the beer selection I got!  Eerie got the Werewolf Monks to send over some Howling Moon for our get together.

Before the craziness that is my life overtakes us all–Ladies and Germs may I present today’s guest, the always humorous and witty creator of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Kevin Hearne…

Trapped

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue. Who could reduce you to such a level and how to you imagine your initial meeting?

It’s actually already happened to me. The first time I met Patrick Rothfuss I fanboyed all over him. It’s out of my system now and I can speak to him like a normal dude. I suppose now it would be Neil Gaiman. I don’t think I’d be able to handle meeting him. I’ll just be thankful I get to walk the world at the same time he does.

                            –You’re not the only one! One of the few times I’ve seen Red Dwarve all a flutter was when Neil Gaiman responded to one of Red’s tweets!

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere? Inquiring minds want to know: what was your first attempt at writing and how old were you?

I do have one stashed away—it’s called THE ROAD TO CIBOLA. By the gods of twenty pantheons, it’s awful, but I’m so glad I wrote it. I learned a lot writing that book—mostly things I should never do again. But those are crucial lessons to learn. And the other thing I got out of it was the confidence that I can finish a novel, period. That’s also crucial. It took me a long time to finish a book—nine years of starting and never finishing several projects, and then six years after that to finish Cibola. I wrote another book that will never be published in the next three years, and then HOUNDED in a year after that. So nineteen years, all told, before I got it right.

What’s some of the sweetest/strangest things you’ve heard from your readers?

The sweetest have been from a couple of people who said they read my books to someone who was recovering from surgery in the hospital and the stories somehow made their convalescence a bit easier and relieved a whole lot of stress. The strangest have been some folks who wanted me to start a religion based on the Druidry I’ve described in my books.

What is the best advice you can share with others?

Focus on character and let your plots flow from them. And if writing is truly your dream, don’t give up! It took me nineteen years, but I got published without any contacts in NY. If you write a good story that hits the market at the right time you’ll be published too.

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

I tend to avoid stabbity, shooty, punchy, smelly things.

Favorite fairy tale?

Anything that hasn’t been touched by Disney. Give me the old Baba Yaga tales.

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand waiting to be read?

LOW TOWN by Daniel Polansky, LOSS by Jackie Kessler, and a book that’s not even out yet by an author no one knows. However, they *will* know him in the summer of 2013 after his first book, THE DARWIN ELEVATOR, comes out. He’s the next big thing—his name is Jason Hough—and I’m about to dive into the second book in his series. I’m getting early peeks from my publisher, muah-ha-ha-haa.

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

A statue of Ganesha. I’m not a Hindu but he’s a cool dude and I really like him.

Favorite supernatural creature.

Definitely yeti. I don’t know why. Ari Marmell had me read THE GOBLIN CORPS, which is full of all sorts of critters, but I couldn’t stop gushing about his yeti. That just pressed my nerd button I guess.

Kevin HearneMuch love and thanks to Kevin for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit with us! If you haven’t already, you must go add the adventures of Atticus and Oberon to your reading pile.  You can find him at his web site:  www.KevinHearne.com

His latest release is TRAPPED, the fifth book in the series.  Now run, fast before the mobs hit the bookstores and grab all the available copies!

The Amazingly Wonderful @CE_MURPHY is Here for a VISIT!

Red Dwarf:  Psstt…Wicked?

Wicked *looking up from current reading choice RAVEN CALLS*:  Mmm? What? I’m kind of in the middle of a really good part here…

Red:  I’ve brought you a surprise.

Wicked *looking up, squinting*: OMG! Is that…? Where did you…? How did you…?

Mighty *hushed awe*:  It’s C. E. MURPHY!

Smokey: What? Did I see a Smurphy? What the hell is that?

Wicked: Not Smurphy, MURPHY! You know, awesome authoress of URBAN SHAMAN, TRUTHSEEKER, Belinda, Joanne, Margrit…any of these ringing any bells?

Snarky *w/contemplative look, running newest supple whip through hands*: This aught to be fun!

Eerie w/Mischevious on his shoulder:  Are you sure those bonds are going to hold her to that chair?

Quirky: Yeah, if she falls, Eerie’s pets are going to have a feast.

Dreamer:  Umm, guys, I think perhaps you might want to consider that kidnapping and imprisonment might not be the best way to make new friends.  *under breath* Or have them come back.

Wicked *dancing manically with uber Fangirl glee*:  It’s CE Murphy, CE Murphy and she’s going to talk to us…we are soooo cool!

**Swamp disclaimer: We promise to release Catie as soon as we’re done and no harm was done to this or any writer during this interview**

Catie was nice enough to answer all our questions, so sit back and enjoy the visit!

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten.  Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

…a writer. 🙂 No, seriously, my earliest memories of job ambitions are that I was going to be the first woman Senator from Alaska (I may have grown up in a somewhat political family *wink* ) and a writer. An astronaut and a writer. A fireman and a writer. A laywer and a writer.

The writing stuck. The other things, not so much. 🙂

                                            We’re glad the writing stuck, we’re kind of partial to it as well!

If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?

Joanne Walker, from the Walker Papers, would probably have one that says, “WARNING: TENDS TO SAY THE FIRST THING THAT COMES INTO HER HEAD. RESULTS ARE NOT NECESSARILY PRETTY.

Margrit Knight from the Negotiator Trilogy would have one that says, “DON’T GET HER STARTED, BECAUSE SHE NEVER BACKS DOWN.”

Belinda Primrose from the Inheritors’ Cycle’s warning would just be that: “WARNING! STAY AWAY! DANGEROUS!”

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

I would not care to have my characters describe me, given the things I put them through.

We all have favorite characters, either main or secondary, and there are always bits and pieces of them we don’t share with our readers, but keep close to our hearts.  Choose your favorite from your cast of characters and tell us a couple of things that you haven’t shared in your books/writing.

Dude, if I was going to tell you those things, they’d be in the books!

                                       Awww man, c’mon, we promise it will stay just between us!

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior).  Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

Meeting Guy Gavriel Kay pretty much turned me into a gibbering idiot. The worst part was that he’s kind of shy, so after I babbled at him I literally couldn’t figure out a way to keep–or more accurately, *start*–an actual coversation. “I love your books!” I said to him. “They make me cry!”

“Everybody says that,” he responded, a little wryly. “I’m afraid that’s what they’ll put on  my gravestone: “He made me cry.””

Me: *inane attempts to assure him I meant it in a good way, followed by slinking off feeling silly*

Really, though, I mean–shortly after I got published I ended up on a mailing list with Mercedes Lackey, for example. I managed to keep my cool, but then I was invited to be in an anthology with her. At that point I emailed her privately and I was like, “Okay, look, I know that to you you’re just Mercedes Lackey, but to me you’re MERCEDES LACKEY AND OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE* I GET TO BE IN A BOOK WITH YOU *flails like an idiot fangirl*”‘

She was very nice about it. 🙂 And most writers are, really, so at this point it’s much more difficult to think who I’d become incoherently fangirl at (I did it to Marjorie Liu fairly recently, though, again via email, and in a CLASSIC MANUEVER, I sent it to THE  WHOLE MAILING LIST instead of just her. *dies in a pit*).

                                         Yes, they are, much like the graceful patience you showed me as I demonstrated my best airheadedness (yes, it’s a word) when you *gasp* spoke to me! *squeeee*

Growing up, what was your favorite book, comic, game or movie and did you create a character/player that might resemble you?

Of course I did. 🙂 Some of the most lingering ones–ones who’ve spun off their own stories that I might tell someday–were from the Highlander tv show universe and, well, from the breadth and width of Marvel comics. My online moniker, Miz Kit, comes from that. 🙂

                                          Oooohhh, Highlander, loved that show!  Marvel universe…Wolverine, Gambit…’nuff said!

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere?  Inquiring minds want to know: what was  your first attempt at writing and how old were you?

My first attempt at a novel was when I was 8. Sadly, I don’t have it anymore, but it featured red-headed twin girls and their 3 best friends, all of whom together were a mystery-solving cadre a la Trixie Belden or the Happy Hollisters. It was intended to be a long, on-going series like those books. Even at age 8 I grasped how success in writing worked. 🙂

My first full novel I wrote when I was 19, and I’m afraid to look at it again. 🙂

OMG, Trixie Belden, that was a great series and sadly not many recognize it nowdays! Can’t forget Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three or Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising though…

 

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys.  Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting).  Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? We’re you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

*snorts* It happens all the time. I’m suffering from a bad bout of it right now, in fact, which is why I’m enthusiastically answering interview questions instead of stabbing a knife through the heart of the book I should be working on.

The fastest I’ve ever gotten through that is about seven minutes, when I once wrote Joanne Walker into a corner from which she could not be extricated. Like, if the scene happened the way I wrote it, that was the end of the series. No, she didn’t die, but somebody else did (no, nobody you’re thinking of), and there was *no way* the book or the series could continue with that person’s death. So I had to reverse, throw things out, and start again. Usually it takes a lot longer than 7 minutes, but being on deadline helps.

Seriously, though, you escape by gritting your teeth and accepting it and going back to fix it. It’s the only way you can escape. It sucks, but it’s all you can do.

What’s some of the funniest/sweetest/strangest things you’ve heard from your readers?

I’ve had some utterly lovely commentary over the years. My favorite is always when people email to say they stayed up too late reading one of my books. I love that one particularly because I know just what that’s like, so from my perspective it’s the greatest compliment ever. 🙂

But there was one guy–this was quite wonderful–who was standing in line for the 6th, I think, Harry Potter novel, at, y’know, 11:30 at night at all, and as he wound his way through the SF/F section, he picked up URBAN SHAMAN and started reading it. And kept reading. And bought it along with the Potter book. And went home and started reading Harry Potter, but then couldn’t take it and had to put it down and finish reading URBAN SHAMAN first because he JUST HAD to find out what happened!

It’s the only time in my life I’ll ever trump JK Rowling, so I’ll totally take it. 🙂

What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?

Straight-up industry romance, not because I disdain it, but because I have tried it and I flat-out don’t have the skill set to write it. People belittle industry romance, but honestly, it takes real knowledge of how that style of romance works in order to tell a story that way.

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

About writing? Get the character’s motivation on the page. It makes them much more relatable and much less cardboard. In general? Forgive me for going all -Galaxy Quest- on you, but “Never give up! Never surrender!” I think it’s a good mindset. 🙂

What is the best advice you can share with others?

You can’t get what you don’t ask for. Always let the other guy say no.

Blades, guns, fists or feet? 

Feet! Run away! Run away!

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Beauty and the Beast.

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan, THE GODS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and AGATHA RAISIN & THE VICIOUS VET by MC Beaton.

Greatest one liner of all time?

Ron Perlman, Aliens 4, “I am not the man with whom to fuck.” I get a lot of mileage out of that one, anyway. 🙂

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Depends on what’s called for. 🙂

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

…there is nothing in here I would consider strange, but perhaps from another’s POV the 15+ Rogue and Gambit figurines would be a little odd…

                         I wouldn’t call that odd, Catie, but if some of your Gambits went missing, I have no idea where they could have gone….

Favorite supernatural creature?

Oh, Dean Winchester, definitely. No doubt abo…that’s not what you meant, was it…

                          Yummm….Dean…what? Oh no, that’s okay we’ll take that answer!

Huge THANK YOU to the lovely C.E. Murphy for taking time out of her busy day and spending some fun filled moments with us!  Want to see what makes her such a great writer? Come over to Amazon and check out her Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/C.-E.-Murphy/e/B002D656ZI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1351208530&sr=8-2-ent 

or feel free to stop by her place for a visit!

CE Murphy.net

Drum roll please! It’s the Amazing Liv Rancourt!

Alright my warped little crowd! Gather round! It’s that time again…we’re hosting the gorgeously brillant, LIV RANCOURT, author of the wickedly delightful A VAMPIRE’S DEADLY DELIGHT!  Sit up, stop messing around and be NICE!  Pull out your pens & paper, or iPhones & recorders, because it’s time to figure out how we keep those voices in our heads straight.  Without further adieu, I give you Liv…

Why cats?

So, I live with cats. Two elegant, aloof, endearing, amusing felines. I was inspired to write about them because of an incident that just occurred. One cat was draped across the dining room table – don’t think poorly of me, it’s a BIG table – when the other made a surprise leap onto one of the chairs. Table Cat, apparently unprepared for the sight of a creature with whom she’s shared an existence for over nine years, lifted about three inches straight in the air and came down of her feet, hissing ferociously, tail flying.

She’s a bit skittish.

Either that or she’s just not very observant. I mean, come on. Did you forget that there’s another cat in the house? Like, you know, your competition for the scratching post and the originator of those other turds in the litter box? I’m supposed to be a writer, capable of observing, notating, and regurgitating the minutiae of daily life, and yet I live with creatures who seem to forget each other’s existence over the space of a few hours.

Maybe if they took better notes, things wouldn’t sneak up on them that way.

An addition to having opposable thumbs, it’s the ability to take notes that separates me from my kitties. When a particularly snazzy bit if dialogue drops into my head from wherever those things come from, I jot it down on the nearest available piece of whatever (hopefully a post-it note and not the back of an envelope that’s destined for the recycling bin). If the solution to  a snarly scene catches me between hits on the snooze button, there’s always a spiral bound notebook and a pencil on my bedside table.

I’ll whip out my smart phone and make notes while stuck in slow-moving traffic. I tend to keep those fairly concise, for obvious reasons (Why no, officer, I WASN’T texting!), and I try to label them with the name of the WIP they relate to so I can find them later. And then there’s my on-line brain, Evernote, a website that has so many features I’ll be a (much) old(er) lady before I figure them all out.

Working with so many sources might sound confusing, and perhaps suggest to you that I’m not very organized – I let my cats sleep on the dining room table, for goodness sake. It is complicated,  but I seem to be able to make it work. The important thing is to capture the moment so that I’m not left staring at a blank document wishing I could remember that funny thing that just happened or the really cool thing someone said.

I’ve known writers who always carry a small spiral notebook or a stack of index cards to make notes on. Others swear by programs like Evernote. What about you? How do you record the stuff you see so you can scramble it up and spit it back out on the page?

And more importantly, cats or dogs?

Peace,

Liv

Want to Know More about Liv?

Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website (www.livrancourt.com), her blog (www.liv-rancourt.blogspot.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).

Don’t miss her exciting book:

She’s a quiet, unassuming bookstore owner by day, but by night…

Kristen has a deadly secret—when she smells a vampire, she turns into Jai, a beauti-licious babe who makes vamps permanently dead. To a vamp, Jai is like ambrosia. They can’t resist her. She uses this attraction, plus her super strength and her trusty blade, Mr. Sticky, to end their undead lives. The thrill of wearing miniskirts without worrying about cellulite stifles any qualms Kristen might have about killing the undead. Being

Jai is the most fun she has ever had—until they come up against the one vampire Jai can’t kill. If he and Jai have a history, as he claims, Jai can’t remember it…or him.

But when her work catches the attention of some old enemies—who won’t hesitate to destroy Kristen if it also means the end of Jai—this vampire may be their only hope. Can Kristen and Jai learn to tell the difference between good and evil in time to defeat Jai’s ancient nemesis? Or will being Jai’s hostess cost Kristen more than just her beauty sleep?

Available from Black Opal Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

GIVE IT UP FOR BONNIE HEARN HILL AND CHRISTOPHER ALLEN POE…

Welcome back, my fearless readers! Today I’m thrilled to introduce Bonnie Hearn Hill and Christopher Allen Poe. Two extremely talented authors who have some vitally important advice to share on the one aspect most writers dread facing…editing.  Don’t mind the shuffling corpses wandering outside, I’ve made sure to have the shack sprayed by our local Zombie Pest Control service to keep them under control.  I think Dreamer Dwarf brought some lovely pasteries, and Eerie’s supplied the beverages.  Have a seat and give an enthusastic welcome to Bonnie and Chris! Don’t forget to pipe up at the end for your chance at winning DIGITAL INK!

THE EDITING GENIE

Bonnie Hearn Hill & Christopher Allan Poe

BHH: Thanks for hanging out with us today, Jami. We appreciate it. As a fiction writer yourself, I’m sure you’ll agree that one of the most difficult jobs for a writer is being your own editor. We all need an editing genie, but before our manuscripts even make it to our publishers, they have to be clean.

CAP: That means you need to be your own editing genie. We’ve each picked a few of our favorite tips from DIGITAL INK to discuss today. Here’s a basic one. Know the difference between your and you’re. Their, there, and they’re. To, two, and too. If you don’t know the difference, look it up. The Internet is for more than just online stalking and porn.

BHH: Obviously, most authors know the difference. That’s why they’re called typos, but that doesn’t matter to the reader. They’ll forgive your first mistake, maybe even your second.

CAP: Soon, though, you’ll start to sound like a black-toothed hillbilly, spinning tales of pig grease.

BHH: I think I hear a banjo in the distance, Chris.

CAP: That’s right, you do. And the reader will too.

WICKED: Actually I think that’s the Swamp Thing’s cousin…or maybe the Prankster Duo is practicing, either way, I get it!

CAP: The easiest way to spot these errors immediately on the page is to learn to interpret you’re as you are while reading. They’re as they are. Too should be read as well. You’d be surprised how easy it is to retrain your brain, and this alone will knock out 90 percent of the minor typos.

BHH: Absolutely, and did you know that 57 percent of statistics are made up on the spot?

CAP: I did not know that. Thank you.

BHH: Here’s one that I see in my own work as well as my clients’ work. Words and phrases that belong in The Old Words Home.

CAP: You mean words and phrases like commenced, ace in the hole, forthwith, bump in the night, toiled—

BHH: Exactly. Commenced was fine when Saroyan used it, but there are less clunky ways to get your point across now. Check your manuscript. Ask yourself if the language is fresh. If you spot a tired word or phrase, send it to the Old Words Home. Don’t worry. They’ll have nurses and shuffleboard, and you won’t have to deal with those words in your writing.

CAP: That’s not the same as The Word Spa. I actually have a file for that on my computer, and I know you do. That’s where you send your wonderful scenes and speeches that really don’t belong where you put them. They may not even belong in the book you are writing, but they are wonderful enough that you know you can use them one day. Send them to the Word Spa. They’ll get massages and pedicures and be perfect as ever when you’re ready for them.

WICKED:  Hmmm…a day at the spa…maybe I need to become one of those words…think of the pampering…

BHH: When editing, don’t forget to always focus on to-be verbs as well. Is, was, were. Usually, when you see these gems in your manuscript, you’ve probably created a weak sentence construction, which forces you to use a dreaded ING verb. For example:

Jenna was trying to behave.

Now look at the alternative.

Jenna tried to behave.

CAP: See the difference. Fewer words, more flavor. Problem solved.

BHH: Each time you see the dreaded was word, ask yourself if you can replace it with a power verb. I think this brings us to our overall point. I was an editor for many years, and even the best of us miss typos sometimes. So how can you be expected to catch everything and be objective when you wrote the manuscript?

CAP: We’re not saying that it’s easy, but it’s necessary. If you self-publish, and most modern writers probably will at some point, you have the added burden of dozens of jobs that publishers used to take care of. Hell, even if you land a deal with one of the big six publishers, you’ll soon learn that they’re not tolerant of sloppy work. Neither are agents. You have to learn to edit yourself. Plain and simple.

BHH: That still doesn’t cover one of the biggest problems authors face. Mental fatigue. It occurs when we’ve read certain passages in our work too many times, and our brains start filling in ghost words and punctuation that isn’t there.

CAP: Or when our minds cover up garbage that is there, and we read it differently than it actually appears on the page.

BHH: Here are some old tricks, and some new ones, that we use to keep a fresh eye. Hands down, the best ways to catch typos is to read out loud because it forces you to use different parts of your brain. Not only will you see more errors, but troublesome sentences become obvious when you speak them.

CAP: Another excellent way to catch typos is to print your book out and read from that. Or if you have an e-reader, convert your Word document and do a sweep on your Kindle or Nook. That will also change the way the type appears in front of you and force you to see things differently.

BHH: That way, your reader can focus on your killer story, instead of the errors in your punctuation. One of my students tells me she actually has the creepy Kindle robot voice read her story back to her. She says that makes it easy to pick out the awful stuff.

What about you? Tell us your favorite editing tips, and that will enter you into a drawing for a copy of DIGITAL INK.

WICKED:  Huge thanks to Bonnie and Chris for this post! I know many *cough—Eerie* will benefit from this advice.  Remember—‘Let’s eat Grandpa’ and ‘Let’s eat, Grandpa’ have two very different results!

    Bonnie Hearn Hill is the author of six thrillers and four young adult books as well a nonfiction title. www.bonniehhill.com.

Christopher Allan Poe, a Los Angeles-based touring musician, is the author of THE PORTAL, a paranormal thriller, and co-author, with Bonnie, of DIGITAL INK: WRITING KILLER FICTION IN THE E-BOOK AGE. www.christopherallanpoe.com. Their website is www.digitalinkbooks.com, and they welcome questions from readers.

Today’s SwampGuest…Adriana Ryan!

Welcome back everyone! Nice to see you all here. Today’s guest is the fabulous Adriana Ryan, so stop snickering and singing over there, Muses and focus. Put those damn flowers down, you all are embarrassing me.

Swamp Thing stop handing out those stupid plants! Mischievous, go drag Eerie away from that Venus Flytrap, it’s not his friend. Prankster Duo, release the Piranha Hummingbird and sit!

Adriana traveled all this way, you motley crew, so the least you can do is give her your attention.

*chaos drops to muted rumblings*

Thank you. Now, without further ado I give you Adriana Ryan, the most awesome author of Enlightened Book 1 of The Awakened Series and Her Heart’s Desire.

Pinterest for Spooky Inspiration!

By Adriana Ryan

Unless you’ve been trapped in a wormhole (or are a writer on deadline), you’ve heard of the internet sensation that is Pinterest. Pinterest is a great tool for filmmakers, photographers and others in the visual arts, of course, because it lets you advertise your wares. However, it can also be a great visual dose of inspiration for those of us who pen fiction.

The creepy pictures you see in this post are all courtesy of Pinterest. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a board full of spooky pictures? Imagine all the monstrous tales you could create!

I’m currently working on book two of my Awakened series. I can’t go into details because I don’t want to list any spoilers, but I needed to look up female demons for inspiration for one of my scenes. I just scrolled through Pinterest one evening, and within five minutes, I had scads of material to base my scenes on (and also for nightmares to last me through the century).

Another great use for Pinterest? A visual story prompt. Scroll through the front page until you find an eye-catching picture. Then, using a thousand words or less, challenge yourself to create a story worthy of it. What is happening in the picture? To whom? Why?

Now, the only caveat is: Pinterest in addictive! Use at your own risk. 😉

Adriana Ryan writes spunky supernatural fiction in beautiful Charleston, SC. She is currently at work on an urban fantasy series. A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, she enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards.

         You can find her at: http://adrianaryan.com                                                     

On Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAdrianaRyan

On Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/adrianaryansc

On Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/adrianaryansc/

Prepping for Guests…

Okay all, time to drag out the straw broom and tie it to the hellhound’s tail so we can clear off the dust and spiders from the front porch.  I’d ask the Prankster Duo to do it, but that would result in legendary whining.  Besides, they’d probably do the same thing, make the hellhound do it.  In the meantime, I’ll see if I can get Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor to polish himself off (*snort* just realized how that sounded!) and add a little shine to his outfit.  Maybe I can swing by Swamp Thing’s place and see if she has something that will cover up the stink from Eerie’s Zombie horde.  If not, I’ll snag a few of Dreamer’s pretty flowers.  Don’t tell her though–it might upset her if she finds patches gone from her garden. She does such an amazing job with those leafy things, I’m seriously impressed.  Most of mind tend toward brown and flaky. No worries, we can blame Mischevious or the small gypsy tribe of brownies trying to pretend they’re not hiding in the Trecherous Forest.

Are you wondering at the burst of Spring Cleaning I’m embarking on? It’s because next week I’M HAVING A VISITOR.  Yes, indeedy, instead of trotting over and posting on someone else’s blog as I’ve been wont to do for the past month and half, this time around, she’s coming to me.  So who is it?  It’s Alison Stone.  She’ll keep you on the edge of your seat with her thrilling suspense novels with just a touch of heartfelt romance.  I thought it was time we brought a little love and light into the Swamp–it’ll help make Dreamer feel more at home.  Besides, Alison is an awesome writer–so I had to share.

So you must come back next week when she’s here.  Bring your witty charm and fabulous humor and show her we’re not too backwoodsy here in the Swamp.  Share the love and make her feel at home.  I promise we’ll keep the Zombies penned up and Mischevious occupied with something shiny–that why she might come back.

Plus, if this all goes well, I’m thinking of inviting a few other friends to pop in every month.  Especially since I really, really need to buckle down on Shadow’s Moon now that we have our release date for Shadow’s Soul (Book 2) on 6/23/12!

Just an update–I got three chapters in, had to start over, pulled teeth out of a snail, and now I think I finally know where Xander’s going to take us.  You’d think by the third book the story should just merrily stroll along.  Oh no!  No, instead it decides to play hide-n-seek in the middle of a black hole.  Never fear, I’ll take it down–one way or the other.

So until next week…

Be good but not too good!

–Wicked

Guest blog by Michelle Miles!

Pay attention, everyone! Today I am having my very first guest blog appearence. You must be nice to her or I may not be able to convince anyone else to ever stop by again.  The talented Michelle Miles is going to share with us the exclusive behind the book peek at what went into creating her One Knight Only.  Who can resist snarky faery princesses and heroes and heroines who double as card sharks?

 

 

Living in Medieval Times

By Michelle Miles

 

 

 

When I first started writing One Knight Only (now available from Ellora’s Cave), it was around 2005. I know six years is a long time to work on a book, isn’t it? But it actually started out as a straight historical and then morphed into a historical with paranormal elements. My heroine was Grace, she had brother named Lars, Elyne was nothing more than a handmaiden, and the hero was Sir Drake.

 But as I wrote, I realized my heroine was too wimpy, so I changed her name from Grace to Maggie and she became a modern woman with modern sensibilities. My hero wasn’t very interesting either, so I changed his name from Sir Drake to Finian and he became a Scottish knight with a gambling problem. For good measure, I threw in a snarky faery princess who befriends Maggie.

The main story stayed much the same. I still had the book set during a jousting tournament in the mid-1300s. I’ve long had a fascination with the Middle Ages and specifically jousting. I was that girl at Scarborough Faire (our annual ren faire here in the area) hanging off the fencing watching the make-believe jousts. The one who wanted to go to Medieval Times and sit in the front row to ogle the knights. I was the girl who wanted to sleep in castle. (The closest I’ve gotten is Excalibur in Las Vegas. But as God is my witness, I will do that before I die.)

I started researching the book about the time I started writing it. I bought books on jousting and spent a lot of time searching specific information about jousting, tournament banquets, the Tree of Shields, where they lived during tournament, etc. I picked the mid-1300s because of some research I found that King Edward III held a tournament in England after one of his victories in France in the early years of the Hundred Years’ War. I also searched for information on speech. I found a great resource for speech of the time where I learned great phrases like, “God’s Teeth!” and the insult, “a plague-sore boil upon humanity.” I feel sure I can use that in everyday conversation today, don’t you? I also enjoyed using words like mayhap, anon and huzzah.

One of the things I wanted to write into the book was actual jousting. So I did a lot of research on how to do it, what they wore, how they rode, etc. Then I knew I wanted my heroine to do the actual jousting. How did I pull that off? You’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂

Another thing I researched was card games and dice games in the Middle Ages since I had a heroine with a gambling problem. The dice game, Hazzard, was the predecessor of today’s Craps. Playing cards were actually introduced to the Western Anglo world in the mid-1300s. The suit system that we know today (hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds) was adapted by the French in the fifteenth century and referred to as a French deck. Other regions had their own suits (e.g. Germany, Italy, Spain) which included cups, swords, coins, and batons (or sticks); others had animals, flowers, etc. For my story, I went with the familiar and used the French deck during the gambling scenes.

 Did I mention my faery princess likes to gamble, too? 😉

 This story was a lot of fun to write and has a lot of great characters. I’d spent so much time with them during edits that I actually missed them when I turned in the book. My head had been in the Middle Ages for so long, it was hard to pull myself out of it and back into our everyday world.

 I hope you enjoy reading One Knight Only as much as I enjoyed writing it. Book two has been planned and is underway. Elyne, my snarky faery princess, was insistent that she get her Happily Ever After. Who am I to deny her that?

 

 

 

 Michelle Miles writes contemporary, fantasy and paranormal romance.

She believes in knights in shining armor and HEAs. For more information about her and her books, visit her website at http://www.michellemiles.net.

You can also follow her on Twitter @MichelleMiles and Like her Facebook page at Facebook.com/MichelleMilesRomance.

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