Monday, December 7, 2009

Interview with Catherine Bybee

I have an author to introduce before you can read the interview. Catherine Bybee is a paranormal romance author with The Wild Rose Press.

Catherine, take it away!

CB:Thank you, Nicole for having me here today.

NZ:When did you start writing? Why?

CB:A few years ago I injured my back at work and found myself sitting in a chair with a heating pad day in and day out. I’ve always written when I had time… after work or when the kids were asleep… but at this point I had more time than I knew what to do with so I picked up my pace and finished my first manuscript.

NZ:How did you come up with the title?

CB:Titles are actually easy for me. Binding Vows is based in part on a handfasting ceremony that links my hero and heroine. The title was a given.

NZ:Most authors are also readers. What book(s) are you currently reading?

CB:I finished Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Pineiro last week and haven’t had time to pick up another book. Sins was a fantastic twist on the paranormal. Caridad did a wonderful job, as always.

NB:Any advice for writers?

CB:Writers write… so do it. You can’t get published if you don’t finish a story. So write, polish and submit. In that order!

NZ:How would you describe yourself in three words?

CB:Determined, determined, determined.

NZ:What is your go to tool in your author's toolbox?

CB:My critique partners. They keep me on track whenever I’m stuck or need a boost.

NZ:What comes first: plot or characters?


NZ:What have you learned about writing since becoming published?

CB:That there is just as much hard work do be done after signing the contract as there is before. With an editor and a publisher working with you, this work is guided and you do have a warm and fuzzy feeling through the process, but the work is far from over.

Binding Vows is available now at The Wild Rose Press in print or electronic copy.

To learn more about Binding Vows, future releases or previous ones, visit my website.

Thanks again for having me here, Nicole. I look forward to seeing you over on my blog soon.

NZ: Thanks for the wonderful interview, Catherine! Wishing you many, many sales!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My question for the DBP Scavenger Hunt (and some writerly and nonwritely news)

Question: What is the title of the NaNoWriMo novel K. Dawn Byrd wrote for DBP?

Visit here to find the answer!

Now the writerly news:

I've started to send out The Land of Imagining to agents. Wish me luck because this part of the process might take a looong time. Originally called All-Knowers' Land of Imagining, this was the fantasy YA story that I rewrote last month, one that I started many, many years ago. It's my baby.

And the nonwriterly news:

Speaking of babies, I'm pregnant again! Just found out on Thanksgiving. We're thrilled! I'm hoping for a little girl this time, but so long as the baby is healthy, I'll be happy. Hubby and I have already nicknamed the baby "sweet pea" because that's the baby's current size and it stuck. Whenever we talk to Nicholas about being a big brother, he smiles so wide. It's adorable!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Desert Breeze Scavenger Hunt - Win prizes!

Questions will be posted daily beginning today and ending on Dec 18, 2009 - the Desert Breeze Scavenger Hunt begins HERE!

Some of the prizes will include:

Free reads from authors like Stephanie Burkhart, J. Morgan,
Barri Bryan, Shawna Williams, and Michelle Sutton
Free books
Fresh baked cookies to 3 lucky winners
Goodie Bags and autographed Postcards
Holiday themed handmade jewelry
$10 GC to Amazon
Cover Art Mugs with coffee and bookmarks
2010 Calendars and hand crocheted snowflakes
Author Pens
Bookmarks, Pens and Magnets
Tins of mixed nuts
Crucifying Angel tee shirts
Cover Art Canvas Bag ­ Woman of Honor
2 book credits to DBP storefront
Irish themed gifts
Book themed gift basket

The grand prize will be a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update: Nano, Knight of Glory, Bonus Excerpt, and Dreams

November is always a crazy month for me because of Nano so I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much lately.

I changed my mind about Nano. Instead of doing two stories, I rewrote my fantasy YA novel. It had been roughly 69K, now it's just over 80K and (hopefully) ready for an agent's desk. In addition to that story, I wrote another combined 19K from other stories so I almost wrote 100K anyhow. A wild success if you ask me!

Now I've been doing my final revisions of Knight of Glory before I send it off to my Beta Reader. I hope to send it sometime next week. I'm really excited for some feedback on it.

And a bonus for you all, I decided to post another excerpt from Woman of Honor for you to enjoy:

This day, the last class was riding. After setting the saddle on Dream Rider’s back and tightening the girth to keep it in place, Aislinn adjusted the stirrup length and set her foot in the stirrup, swinging onto Dream Rider’s back. Again, the horse refused to cooperate. “Come on, go straight,” Aislinn muttered, trying to spurn the horse onward with a touch of her heels to his side. Dream Rider turned right. Aislinn pulled up on the reins, trying to get the horse to halt but the horse continued to go right and made circle after circle until Aislinn wondered why he didn’t stumble from dizziness.

“What is going on here?” Baron Benedict came over, riding his own steed, Moonshine.

“I’m sorry, Lord Benedict. The horse won’t stop spinning.”

“I thought you told me you knew how to ride a horse?”

“I did, my lord. And I do.”

“Evidently not.” The baron wrinkled his crooked nose in disgust. “But since you think you know how to handle a horse, then, by all means, go ahead. You don’t need my help then.”

Aislinn watched the Baron’s backside as he rode up to another page. The dark baron was a formidable instructor and his contempt wounded her more than she liked to admit. Refusing to let him see how much his lack of faith hurt her, Aislinn kicked her heels hard into Dream Rider’s formidable sides. But no matter how hard she dug in her heels or tried to coax the horse to the right or left, the horse refused to listen and did the opposite.

Finally, class finished. Aislinn swung herself free of the saddle to walk the horse back to his stall. “You listen well enough when I guide you and walk beside you, why can’t you listen when I use a rein?” she grumbled.

“I told you ‘fore, that horse don’t listen well,” Tomas said, limping over to her.

“What happened to your leg?”

“A knight brought me a wild horse the other day. I was tryin’ to break it in but it’s got a vicious mean streak and it kicked me. I’ll be fine.” He brushed her concern away with a wave of his hand. “The better question is what are you goin’ to be doin’ with that yon horse?”

“I don’t know.” Aislinn sighed. “The baron was not pleased with me.”

“Well, can’t say that I blame ‘im. There aren’t any more horses to offer either, not that the horses can be reassigned anyways. But, as if said ‘fore, I’ll help in any way that I can. I just don’t know how.” He grinned broadly at her and Aislinn wondered if the few missing teeth was from a well aimed kick by a horse.

“If I come back tonight, after I finish my work, will you still be around?”

“Not tonight, lass. But you can come ‘ron if you be wantin’. I don’t mind.”

“Thank you, Tomas, I might do that.” Aislinn untacked the horse and brushed the dirt and dust from him. If only she could figure out how to force the horse to listen!

Aislinn faces many difficulties on her journey to fulfilling her dreams. What are your dreams? What obstacles are you facing or might you face? Me? I would love to be a best selling author. But I'm also a mom and that comes first. What about you?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It's November 1st and you know what that means: NanoWriMo

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, November is National Novel Writing Month where authors around the world try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

Crazy, huh?

Yes, but it's a ton of fun.

My sister told me about it when I was in college. Four years in a row I won. Last year I didn't try because of Nicholas but I'm willing and ready this year. Just have one last chapter to type for the rough draft of Knight of Glory and I'm ready to go.

This year, I'm going to try for two. I might end up just doing one but I figure it can't hurt to set lofty goals.

The first story: From the Brink of Insanity. A woman accidentally kills a child during a game of hide and seek. Her guilt and paranoia causes her to kill again and again.

The second: Magic's Origins. When magic suddenly appears, chaos and war results and four teens must work to gather to save the world.

Wish me luck! And if you're doing Nano this year, good luck and happy writing! Oh, and add me as a writing buddy: Scarlett9284

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I just received an email that my short story, Beauty is Only Fin Deep, has been accepted into the Mertales anthology from Wyvern Publications. The response time was incredible. Four and a half hours after I sent my story in, they asked for a rewrite. I made the changes (whole heartedly agreeing that they made the story stronger and more complete) and they accepted it. The best part about this anthology? It will be available in print format. It will be available Fall 2010. More details to come.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mertales Call for Submissions

I found a new call of submissions.

Wyvern Publication is looking for YA stories about sea creatures for its Mertales Anthology. The 2010 anthology has the theme of mermaids and sea monsters. Although the theme and teen genre is set, the story can be as folklorish as you like! Mertales is planned to be compiled and published at the end of 2010 and submissions will be accepted from 1 Sept 2009. Deadline for submission is 1 Aug 2010, although if the anthology is 'full' before then, new manuscripts will not be considered. Word count should be between 2,000 and 5,000 words. More details here.

I wrote a story for this anthology today and I sent it in already. A little over 3,800 words. Varun loves to sing to his little cousins but they aren't the only one who likes to listen. One day Varun's voice brings a young maiden to him but is she human?

What I like most about this story is that Brenna is not a typical mermaid. But I won't say anything more about it, hopefully you'll be able to read it in Mertales. I called it Beauty is Only Fin Deep.

In other news, I guest blogged at a fellow DBP author's blog about my writing journey. Read it here and leave a comment please!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New book from Author Ava James

Ava James is wonderful. A fellow child of the 80s, she has become a good writer friend. We first met because we both have short stories in Freya's Bower's One Touch, One Glance: A Sweet Romance Anthology and are in many of the same yahoo groups. Her newest release is called For One Dark Knight and here's some information about it:

For One Dark Knight

By: Ava James | Other books by Ava James
Categories: Historical Mainstream ROMANCE
Word Count: 63,277
Heat Level: SENSUAL
Published By: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc.

Past the suitable age for marriage, Lady Isobel longs for her life to begin. When the chance to flee the clutches of her misery arises, she sets out on a journey to her dower lands and childhood home. But no road is without its perils, and she soon finds she needs someone by her side.

Sir Robert de Gever's duties become vastly more complicated when Lady Isobel stumbles into his life in need of rescue. Questions arise and secrets run deep, leaving desire and suspicion to war within him.

Intrigue awaits the pair, and conspirators abound. Is the bond of one dark night spent together strong enough to save them from their fears?


He wished he could keep her locked away—far, far away. The woman
looked as though she were arming herself for battle. Her sweet smiles
changed the instant the last of the men quit the room.

“What is the matter?” Isobel asked with a clipped tone.

“What is the matter?” Robert began his counterattack in falsetto.

“Where should I start? My men have all left their posts, and training, to
come to the beck and call of the devilish temptress besieging Durham .” He
watched her eyes grow wide as he spoke. How was it that even now, he
could think of nothing but her lips?

“Devilish temptress? If I tempted any man, it was in no way intentional,
and in every way a result of the man’s baser interests.” Isobel took a
challenging step toward him. She accused him with her eyes and her words. "Furthermore, if it weren't for yer noble act of imprisonment, I would not be

Robert stepped closer to her. Her feminine scent wafted into his
nostrils. She easily broke his train of thought. The aroma that lingered about
her intoxicated his senses. Beyond doubt, she was a foul temptress! With
every attempt to ignore her, he failed miserably. Each time he was in her
presence she distracted him. If it was not her beauty that caught his
attention, it was her voice and words. The woman drew him in and he did
not care to be so affected by her. He needed to reign in his thoughts and

Focus, focus.

In a much calmer voice he said, “Would ye rather I left ye to be ravished
by those Saxon mercenaries?” He took another step closer to her as he spoke. He watched her gaze fall to his lips. Her pink tongue crossed her own bottom lip, and a blush came to
her soft cheeks. God’s wounds, he felt too much for this lady.

She drew away. “Ravished by those Saxons is not what I want.” Her
voice weak, and unusually breathy, he wondered just who she’d like to be
ravished by.

His own errant mind conjured up dangerous visions of her
naked body slick against his own. He couldn’t help himself, so he asked just
what he’d been wondering. “What do ye want?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Blogger Interview Swap with Deanna Dehlsad

September 14 through the 18th is Book Blog Appreciation Week and through it, I am being interviewed by and have interview Deanna Dehlsad.

Deanna Dahlsad, an avid collector of many things but especially kitsch and "things pertaining to female history". You can find/follow her at Twitter and contact her via email at

The only thing she loves more than kitsch & collecting is talking, err- writing. (Nearly anything but bios for herself.)

She is a staff writer at Collectors’ Quest (these are her columns and she is PopTart in the CQ Community).

At Twolia she covers kitsch & pop culture "From A (Feminist) Chick’s Perspective" at Kitsch Slapped.

Collectors News says, "Dahlsad is a touchstone of where women have been, what they wore, and how they carried themselves to get there. She is a historian of how powder puffs and nail polish have both ensnared and enshrined the image of womankind."

She and her husband run Kitschy Kitschy Coo and, when they remember to list things for sale, sell at We Have Your Collectibles.

With some gal pals she founded and participates in Pink Populace Paparazzi Parade Exposé.

Dahlsad also publishes vintage home ec tips and projects at Things Your Grandmother Knew.

So check out some of her links, I know Denanna would love it if you did. And I hope you enjoy reading the interview:

How did you get into book blogging? How long have you been doing it? Why did you start?

I've been writing on the internet for a decade now (geeze, I'm feeling old!), and while none of those sites are or have been "book blogs" per se, books, reading & literacy have always fit in because I'm a true bibliophile.

I read books, collect books, research with books, and I want to talk about them, continue their discussions. The author may have started the conversation -- maybe even think they've finished it! -- but I always have something to say. Since I can't always talk to the author or even my hubby as often as I'd like, I have to talk to somebody...

What's your favorite thing about blogging?

I feel that writing is really just another way to have conversations. As blogs (even the places I'm paid to write/review) usually do not have intermediate folk who edit prior to publishing, the conversations at blogs are far less managed -- they are more real, in the moment, as spontaneous as conversations with friends & family. In my experience, this has led to a far less commercial agenda. For example, I review many books which are, if not out of print, long past publisher promotional interests. Many publications would deem these reviews unfit for publication because they are not as likely to generate advertising income from book publishers as the latest releases. And I find that invaluable in & of itself because there are many of us who love to know about so-called "old books."

Do you blog about subjects other than books?

Heavens, yes! I write at several blogs; you can see a list in my Google profile.

At Kitsch Slapped I explore what "bad taste" really is from a pop culture perspective -- and that's not always the kitschy retro garden gnomes, but larger cultural issues.

What drew you to reading?

Like most children, I fell in love with story telling & story tellers; my family is full of great story tellers. Reading storybooks was a natural extension of that -- only when I tugged on the boards of a book, it never turned me away with a promise of later *wink*

I naturally fell in love with the idea of stories on demand, the independent access to what I want, when I wanted it. And that only grew when I discovered nonfiction.

I remember when I was about 8 or so and progressing from reading Walter Farely's Black Stallion series & C.W. Anderson horse stories to nonfiction equestrian books. And again, after realizing that myths were stories from real places, I stalked nonfiction books on Greece & Egypt, exploring the art and history that went with those myths. I was like Columbus discovering those tomes... Well, I was greedy, but I didn't destroy any cultures or enslave any people lol Unless you count librarians...

I vividly remember how my relentless pursuit of ancient Egyptian history books -- and anything related, like belly dancing -- startled the librarians at the public library. They were a bit surprised with my quest for such grown-up volumes & my voracious reading of them; but eventually, they just fed the beast. lol

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Perhaps because I tend to mainly read nonfiction, and so follow "subjects" more than authors, I don't have many favorite authors.

With nonfiction, one tends to be concentrating more on the research & credibility than the prose so to speak... Not to slight nonfiction authors, but it is more important to be clear and factual than to craft a clever phrase or paint a scene. That said, I'm currently absolutely in love with Molly Ivins (of Molly Ivins Can Say That, Can She? etc.) because she makes me laugh & snort out loud -- very embarrassing for my husband when I'm reading her while we are sitting in waiting rooms. And Maya Angelou & Alice Walker, who have so much truth in their books, they don't feel like fiction to me at all.

What is your favorite type of book? Why?

A book that forces me into action. A book that makes me respond out loud. You know, give a real "lol" or exclaim, gasp, cry... Maybe even snort or yell in outrage -- on the issue or plot, not the writing or misinformation. I can be, and enjoy being, a very vocal reader. (For these reasons, I do frequent libraries, but rarely read in them outside of research that must remain in the building.)

That vocal response can mean I will have to take other action too, like talking & blogging about the book &/or subject. Maybe even write a letter to a public official or obsessively research the subject more. Just whatever it takes to keep that conversation going!

Are there any genres you refuse to read? Why?

"Refuse" is a rather strong word; I'm too open to the serendipity & possibilities for that. The thing I am least likely to read though is a book I've already read for a second or multiple times. I've done it on very few occasions, but a book reread means another book I will not have time to read in my lifetime -- and that list is too-too long already.

Where is your favorite place to read?

On the sofa or bed with a blanket up to my waist -- preferably with a cat or dog within arms reach. But I will do it anywhere; books travel with me to appointments, skateboard parks with the kids, wherever.

Do you usually buy books, check them out of the library, or trade them?

I am a collector, so I prefer to own my books. The bulk of my book buying is thrift shops, rummage sales, used or old bookstores (online and off), and library sales. Other than review copies & galleys, I'm rarely the first to read any book. But I do make good use of libraries too.

Are you on LibraryThing, GoodReads, both, or neither?

I'm on neither of those, I'm afraid. As it is, I fear the time I spend on social or community sites already cuts into my reading (and reviewing) time -- and I am starting to resent it! lol

What do you do besides read and blog?

Aside from my various family & friend roles, I am a collector, an amateur anthropologist & historian, & general bon vivant.

Thanks for a wonderful interview, Deanna!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Interview with Sandy Lender

Faithful blog readers, you probably remember Sandy Lender, author of Choices Meant for Gods, whom had a guest blog here back in June. Now she is promoting her newest book, Choices Meant for Kings. Instead of another guest blog, I have a lovely interview for you all to enjoy.

Tell us about yourself. When did you start writing? Why?

Sandy Lender: I started writing when I was pretty young. I used to write little stories for my great grandmother—stories about mice picking berries and this one about a squeaky spider that an old woman kills against the ceiling. The spider ends up haunting her, so I consider that my first foray into speculative fiction. He he. As to why I started writing, I can’t say. I think it’s just “in” me.

What inspires your writing? In particular Choices Meant for Kings?

Sandy Lender: Holy cow, everything inspires me. I have to say, I know certain triggers. When I was preparing for the annual 3-Day Novel Contest right before Labor Day Weekend, I set up my writing “area” with comfy pillows and certain candles and ornate bookends around my reference books and paintings of the type of dragon I wanted in the story and specific, moody songs on my iTunes. For my fantasy novels, Choices Meant for Kings in particular that you’re asking about here, the characters inspire me. I have a muse that tends to threaten me if I’m not spending enough time on his bride’s story.

3-Day Novel Contest?! That's just insane. Back to Choices Meant for Kings, how did you come up with the title?

Sandy Lender: Chariss, the heroine in the story, thinks her choices are better made by the gods of her society instead of herself, so Choices Meant for Gods introduced the series. For the second novel, a couple of kings in the southlands of the world of Onweald have choices to make, too, so Choices Meant for Kings followed the theme.

Most authors are also readers. What books are you currently reading?

Sandy Lender: Dragon in Chains by Daniel Fox; The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer; Facets of Fantasy by Sarah Scheele; and Folk Tales and Fables of the World (although that last one is more reference-like in the way I’m approaching it) As soon as I get through these I’m hitting the Sevenwaters trilogy from Juliet Marillier.

You're like me, I am always reading more than one book at a time. Do you have any advice for writers?

Sandy Lender: Make it marketable. All the lovely stream-of-consciousness poetryness that they teach you in college creative writing classes is nice for novels that you put in a trunk in your closet. If you want to get published, write something that can be marketed or an agent/editor/publisher will close the door in your face from now until eternity.

What is your definition of success?

Sandy Lender: Finishing.

Short and sweet! Finishing is definitely the first step. How would you describe yourself in three words?

Sandy Lender: creative, driven, playful

What is your go-to tool in your author's toolbox?

Sandy Lender:

I'm a big fan of google myself. What comes first: plot or characters?

Sandy Lender: I’m convinced it’s the characters. Even when it’s the plot, I think it’s really a character hiding behind some grey matter whispering a plot idea to me so I’ll tell his or her story.

What do you do for fun when not writing?

Sandy Lender: I’m confused. What?

LOL, spoken like a true writer! Describe a typical writing day.

Sandy Lender: Oh, no, this is hard! I don’t get typical writing days. Well…maybe that’s not true. I’m the editor of a magazine so…let’s give this a shot. The morning starts with me hitting facebook, twitter, my blog, or whatever site has sent me an update, and then with me appeasing the birds. I set up their playgyms on top of their cages with hidden treats, their morning food, repaired toys, foraging piles, fresh water, and whatever else looks like a good “game” or “puzzle” for them. So while they stay busy, I write and edit articles and departments for the magazine. At the end of that part of the day, I do whatever promotion stuff I didn’t accomplish in the morning. Then I spend some time working on whichever writing project is prominent in my mind. If it’s a weekend, oh, Heaven. I get extra writing time. Bonus! I used to be on a really good schedule, but that was a couple years ago when life was calmer.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Sandy Lender: Definitely. Very necessary.

What have you learned about writing since becoming published?

Sandy Lender: Writing the book is the easy part.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Sandy Lender: Ooooo. I want the power to screech in a pitch that breaks lights so the inconsiderate people who leave their lights on along sea turtle nesting beaches will no longer negatively impact the safety of hatchlings. Then I want the power to disintegrate people with my eyesight, because, you know, sometimes, you just want to disintegrate some people. Mwuahahahaha. Hopefully there would be other superhero types roaming about who could take care of feeding the poor, which is probably a nicer thing for me to have chosen…hmmm.

If you could be a paranormal creature, which would you be and why?

Sandy Lender: A vampire. I know it’s kinda in vogue right now, so it’s boring. But, really, vampires can rock if you do it right. He he.

Nicole, this was an exhausting interview! Thank you! Let’s see if any of your visitors have anything else for me—it’s like a challenge. Mwuahahahahaha.

Thank you for a wonderful interview, Sandy! I hope it wasn't too exhausting for you so you can return to your writing.

And now, blog readers, here's the blurb and an excerpt from Choices Meant for Kings:


Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?

You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour:

As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”

To learn more about Sandy, visit her site.

Don't forget to leave a comment for Sandy so that you can be in the running for a first edition, autographed, hard copy edition of Choices Meant for Gods!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Classic Romance Revival

I am a member of CRR, Classic Romance Revival, a group of sweet and sensual authors that write romances with heart.

I highly recommend checking out their website as they are running awesome contests for readers and writers. For readers, they are giving away a book a day courtesy of Desert Breeze Publishing. All you have to do is read the blurb and answer an easy question.

Desert Breeze Publishing is offering a contract to authors. It's now time to start voting for the best writing. Go here to read the entries and vote!

CRR also has a blog and for the month of September, the authors are introducing themselves. Click here to read mine.

I hope you enjoy all that the CRR authors have to offer. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Reviewing

Since I'm a writer, I love to read. I think it's a given: writers have to love to read.

Because of this love to read, I have been reviewing for the site the Long and the Short of It for awhile now. I had originally seen a call for reviewers for Dark Diva Reviews and applied there but the position was full. I mentioned to keep me in mind when another opening occurred and saw that LASR was now looking and so I jumped at the chance. Free books? I'm there!

Dark Diva Reviews has changed hands from Jade to Melissa and Melissa recently emailed me to see if I was still interested. Of course! So I am now a Diva!

But, I'm not just a reviewer for DDR. I, along with Em, am now one of their editors. This role will serve to broaden my horizons as a writer, better my own writing, and help out DDR. It's a win win! I am so grateful for this opportunity. Thanks, Melissa! And I know I'll enjoy working with Em.

So, my blog readers, let's talk about reviews. Have you ever bought a book from reading a review? What would you like to see in the book reviews you read? Would you consider becoming a reviewer ever?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

All About Eve Anthology

Yesterday was the deadline for WolfSinger Publications' All About Eve Anthology. They wanted a story about the first female, whether you wrote about Eve or Pandora.

I wrote a short story about Pandora and her box in two days, just under 5k. It was really fun to write. I've always been interested in mythology. I choose to use the Roman gods instead of their Greek counterparts and how to do search and replace because I kept typing Zeus instead of Jupiter! So I submitted Breaking Hope and hopefully I'll hear back soon.

Tomorrow's my birthday and since I love Italian cuisine, we're going to Bravo, an Italian restaurant. I'll be turning 25, a quarter of a century. Wow, does time fly. After my birthday celebration, I'll resume working on Knight of Glory, Book 2 in the Kingdom of Arnhem series.

Speaking of my fantasy romance series, you can now purchase Woman of Honor at another location: Books on Board. I'm very excited about this!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Have you join Desert Breeze Publishing Book Club yet?



1. First, make sure you are a registered customer at the Desert Breeze Publishing website.
2. Sign up for the Club by emailing
· Please provide your name and your customer number.
· If you're already a registered customer, no need to register again.
3. Purchase a total of 10 books.
4. Within 30 days of your 10th purchase, you will receive a personalized promotion code for your 11th book. There is no time limit on the promotional code.

Membership in the BOOK CLUB is absolutely FREE. No sign up fee, no registration fee.

There is no time limit in which you need to purchase your ten books. And after you make your 10 purchases -- and receive your 11th free book -- you can start all over again!

Already a purchasing customer at Desert Breeze Publishing? Sign up for the BOOK CLUB between now and December 1, 2009 and all your past purchases will be credited toward your 10 books! You could already be well on your way to a free book.

So hurry over to the Desert Breeze site and sign up today!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Diane Craver Guest Blogs about Inspiration for her Heroes

Where I Get My Inspiration For My Heroes

When I post a hottie of the week for my blog, I enjoy reading the comments and of course, I love sharing my favorite hotties. Some of them have been the inspiration for my male characters in my romances.

The first one to come to my mind is Matthew McConaughey. He was one of my early blog hotties and was the inspiration for one of my characters in my newest release Whitney in Charge. One of Whitney's romantic interests is Jack Hensley. Whitney's older sister Regan tries to hook her up with Jack by saying how he looks like Matthew McConaughey. Both Jack and Matthew share light brown hair with a bit of wave to it, and sexy blue eyes. Jack is taller than Matthew but both have a rangy handsomeness.

David Conrad inspired the looks of Dr. Seth Whitman in my upcoming (January release) inspirational romance, Marrying Mallory. In fact, I'm drooling right now just thinking about my former blog hottie. If you don't recognize the name (come on, you have to know drop-dead gorgeous Conrad), he's on Ghost Whisperer and plays Melinda's husband. I seem to have a lot of heroes with black hair. Ben Spencer, another guy Whitney dates, and Steve Collins in Never the Same have black hair, too. Hmm…wonder if it's because my husband has black hair and that's why I'm drawn to that hair color for a lot of my male characters.

My hottie in my inspirational romance, No Greater Loss, is Luke Brunsman. He's not based on a movie star, but on my husband Tom. Both men are good-looking, spiritual, caring, strong, loving, and funny.

Although I've never made collages for my books, I know some authors use them for inspiration while writing the physical description of their characters, setting, and stories. One author said that when she makes the collages, she has few revisions. Even though readers have told me how real my characters are to them, I'm considering making a collage for my next book. I think this will be a great tool for inspiration whether I'm gazing at a hot guy picture for my main male character or useful in keeping focused on the story line.

As a reader, what do you like in your hero? Are there any special traits or a certain physical appearance you prefer?

I hope you buy my ebook, Whitney in Charge because reading it will provide escapism into another world where two hot guys are crazy about the very desirable Whitney. Believe me, Jack Hensley and Ben Spencer come to life on the pages while they pursue Whitney.


Whitney Benson is tired of her older sisters’ attempts to fix her up with every single male they meet. Shannon and Regan cross the line when they arrange for her to go skydiving with the simple excuse that more guys like to float in the air than women. Whitney needs to find something else to keep them busy.

When she suggests that the three of them start a family business, the fun begins in their small town. And she thought being a TV producer in New York had been exciting.

Without going skydiving, Whitney meets two eligible bachelors, Jack and Ben, who constantly battle for her affection. Which one will she choose? Both men make Whitney realize, even a heart shattered by her husband’s death, can once again be made whole.

But did she have to fall off a cliff to learn that?


When the fireworks went off to celebrate a Reds homerun above the Ohio Rive, the crowd roared and clapped. Whitney let herself be caught up in the enthusiasm, jumping up from her seat to clap and whoop, cupping her palms around her mouth. She sat down, laughing, enjoying herself more than she had in a long time. When Jack had invited Whitney to go to a baseball game on Wednesday, she’d hesitated even though she loved going to the stadium. They’d just gone out Saturday night. She wanted to take things slow and easy. But, in the end, she’d said yes.

And she was so glad she did.

Who was she kidding? She wanted to wrap her arms around him and kiss him until neither one of them could think or breathe. But she couldn’t smother his lips with hers during a baseball game. She took a quick glance at Jack. Regan was right – he did look a lot like Matthew McConaughey. She wondered if McConaughey also loved baseball.

Jack tugged on her visor. “Hey, you look pretty cute in this cap.”

She took a bite of her nachos and cheese. “I like the eating part a lot at games.”

Jack glanced at the boy sitting a couple rows in front of them munching on a box of popcorn. The delicious aroma of popcorn and butter drifted up to them. “I might have to buy popcorn, too.”

“Please help me eat the nachos first.”

He dipped a chip in the cheese, popping it in his mouth. He smacked his fingertips between his lips, licking off the melted cheese and salt. “I wish you hadn’t paid for the beer.”

“You bought the tickets. I wanted to pay for something.” She licked warm cheese off her finger. “So did you rescue any cliff climbers today?”

“Nope. I only rescue beautiful women on Mondays.”

“I’ll have to remember that. Since the pool’s open now and if it’s not too cold, we can go swimming after the game.” Why did she blurt that invitation out to him? Could she handle him if he got too intimate? She hated taking a step forward, then a step back again, but she was just confused about what she wanted from Jack.

“I’ll have to go home to get my trunks first.”

“I have several suits in different sizes.”

Jack smiled at her. “Do you collect trunks from your guests?”

She laughed. “No. Unless my mom did. People used to drop in a lot, and she’d invite them to go swimming with us. They didn’t have their suits. Mom bought a few girls’ suits and women’s and men’s in different sizes.”

“Bases are loaded. Bring them home.” Jack patted her knee. “Isn’t this fun? I love the Reds.”

“You’re right. This is fun. I’m glad you─”

“Hey, the kissing cam’s on us.” Jack wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close, covering her mouth with his.

She’d forgotten how they had a kissing camera to zero in on couples and when it happened, the pair usually waved or kissed each other.

She enjoyed kissing Jack back and hated it when he stopped. “You didn’t need to stop because the camera’s no longer on us.”

“I don’t want to spoil you.”

It occurred to her why he wanted her to switch T-shirts before the game. “You gave me a Reds’ t-shirt to wear to increase our chances of getting on the kissing cam.”

He shrugged. “Ben already got you on TV when you fell. I had to get you on TV again. I didn’t want you to think I’m a slacker here. And I managed it without you falling out of your seat.”

“We can’t have you being a slacker.” She glanced down at her red shirt. “Do I get to keep this shirt?”

“Only if you get me a baseball cap like yours?”

“This one was my dad’s, but it’s a deal.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yet Another Review for Woman of Honor

Title: Woman of Honor (The Kingdom of Arnhem Book 1 )
Author: Nicole Zoltack
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing Inc.
Copyright: 2009
ISBN : 978-1-936000-03-6
Genre: Fantasy; Romance
Reviewed By: Lynn 7/29/09

Arnhem 1155 AD

Aislinn of Bairdhe wants to honor her brothers death by becoming a lady knight and maintaining her family’s prestige in the knighthood. At the age of 7 years Aislinn is at the right age when one starts the training as a page. As she makes her journey to the castle to consult the King to let her train as a knight. King Patrick grants her wish to begin her training. With many years of training looming ahead of her, she has to put up with the ridicule of the other pages just because she is a girl, and the worst one being Prince Caelan who also is training to become a knight.

As the years slowly go by Aislinn and Caelan go from being antagonistic to each other to becoming close friends to falling in love . As their training continues towards their upcoming knighthood, the underlying threat of war with the Speicans is always close at hand. Aislinn is committed to serve Arnhem and become ths Kings Champion. When its time for Caelan to take over the occupancy of the throne, can Aislinn who now is a Lady Knight stay committed to Arnhem or will she give her heart and her life to love.
This then is the story of a young girl who has a dream and embarks on the journey to bring her dreams to realization. It always amazes me how Authors of fantasy books can come up with the names of their characters. This was such a interesting read to watch the characters mature from children to young adults. This book kept be interested from the very beginning . For a fantasy book to hold my interest it has to grab me at the very beginning and this book did just that as in my mind I kept urging Aislinn on to make her dream come true.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Five Delightful Divas and a Recommended Read for Woman of Honor!

Woman of Honor by Nicole Zoltack

Woman of Honor by Nicole Zoltack
Publisher: Desert Breeze
Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Aislinn of Bairbhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother's horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn's wish and she begins her long years of training.

Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparing classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love.

The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King's Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything... her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain, it brings.

My Review: Woman of Honor by Nicole Zoltack is a beautiful sweet romance with a touch of fantasy. The author uses a lyrical cadence in her descriptions. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy reading about a young girl, but to my delight, I did! Ms. Zoltack created a story that allowed me, the reader, to experience a different world through a seven year olds eye all the way through womanhood. The depiction of the surroundings, as well as the struggles Aislinn has in her travel to knighthood is well done. Tender moments sprinkled throughout kept the story warm and inviting. Aislinn is a heroine worthy of her ambitions. I was reluctant to stop reading for sleep because I wanted to know how the story progressed and if Aislinn succeeded. The supporting characters and accurate details gave a lovely view of life in medieval times. Ms. Zoltack took the time to build, layer by layer, a magnetic plot. Woman of Honor concludes nicely with the commitment of Aislinn and Caelan. The behind closed door intimacies seem very appropriate for this coming of age love story.

Ms. Zoltack did an excellent job giving a personality to Caelan through Aislinn’s eyes but as a reader, I want and expect a little of the hero’s point of view. What I missed was the thoughts and narrative of the hero, Caelan. Even with that said, I still found their journey to be wonderfully romantic.

With the exception of wanting a little more insight to the hero’s thoughts, I would recommend this book. Nicole Zoltack provides a well crafted story that focuses on emotion and anticipation. Not only a book that a young adult would enjoy, but a woman of any age who wants to enjoy romance and a strong heroine and how she gained her strength. In the future, we will see Nicole Zoltack ranking with many of the top authors we have come to love over the years. We will have a section of our bookcases or hard drives waiting for her newest release. I will certainly read the second installment in this series, Knight of Glory, due out in April 2010 because I enjoyed Ms. Zoltack’s writing and Woman of Honor that much.

Rated 5 Delightful Divas and a Recommended Read by Em Epe!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Interview with Joanna Waugh

Welcome Joanna Waugh, author of BLIND FORTUNE from Cerridwen Press! She's here for a lovely interview for you all to enjoy.

Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for inviting me in to chat. It’s always a pleasure to visit with a fellow Classic Romance Revival author.

Tell us about yourself.

I live in Northwest Indiana, just a stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Michigan and the beautiful Indiana Dunes. When not writing, I collect Russian nesting dolls. My debut Regency romance, BLIND FORTUNE, was published in trade paperback by Cerridwen Press in February, 2009. It’s also available in ebook format.

Here’s the blurb:

They say love is blind, but Lady Fortuna Morley doesn’t believe it. Sightless since birth, she can think of only one reason a gentleman would wed her—for the dowry and three thousand pounds a year her father will provide. She’s in London the spring of 1814 to help launch her younger cousin into society, but prefers living quietly in country with her music. The last thing Fortuna wishes is to cross swords with the arrogant Marquess of Granville.

Charles Lowden, Lord Granville, has decided to take a wife. The bride he’s chosen is thirteen years his junior, but meets all criteria. What he won’t abide is interference from the girl’s impertinent cousin, the outspoken and opinionated Lady Fortuna Morley. The woman is determined to thwart the match. Charles is just as determined to charm Fortuna out of her disdain for him.

What neither expects in this battle of wills is to fall in love.

Sounds like a wonderful story! When did you start writing and why?

The need to write has been in me as far back as I can remember. I was (still am) asthmatic and, as a child, spent a lot of time indoors. Reading became my favorite pastime. A natural outgrowth of this was entertaining myself with my own stories.
I wrote my first romance in junior high school, about the doomed love between an American girl and a British officer during the American Revolution. But I got away from fiction in my late twenties. For the next two decades I wrote articles for specialty newsletters, did political op-eds and white papers. Then I woke up one morning with a full-blown book in my head and it was back to romantic fiction!

What inspires your writing, in particular, your current book?

My late husband lost his eyesight because of diabetes. One of the disconcerting side effects of his blindness was how differently we interpreted conversations. Because he couldn’t see a speaker’s expression or body language, he often misunderstood what was said. We had some very interesting disagreements as a result, especially when he misconstrued things I said! I found this situation so intriguing, I decided to write a book in which that kind of misunderstanding lies at the heart of the romance.

I love romances that deal with emotions. Oftentimes, we allow our emotions and feelings to color our outlook on our own lives and those of the people we love. Sometimes we don't see ourselves the same way that others do. In three words, how would you describe yourself?

Outgoing. Stubborn. Opinionated but able to see the other side of an argument. A take-charge kind of person. Reliable. A strong sense of duty.

Oops. That’s more than three words! Well, I am a writer!

That's ok, I'll allow you more than just three words, just this once. Now for a couple of fun questions. If you could be a superhero, what would your superpowers be?

I don’t know if there’s a specific superhero that covers this, but I’d love to be able to time travel. History is so fascinating. I often get lost in research! If I could just whisk back to learn the truth first hand… But I suppose if I was able to do that, my family seldom would see me and I’d never get any writing done!

I love history too. Time travel as a superpower, that sounds wonderful! I would opt for the Middle Ages. That was a time period rife with superstition about creatures. If you could be a paranormal creature, which would you be?

A wizard in the Druid tradition. I love all that one-with-nature stuff, but especially the idea of keeper of ancient knowledge, custodian of the tribal memory. I’d love to command the elements and weave magic around the human soul.

Hmmm. Sound a lot like a writer, doesn’t it?

Great choice! Druids do have their secrets and worlds of knowledge. Speaking of knowledge, do you have any advice for writers?

It’s okay to follow the trends, but write what’s in your heart. I’ve watched too many authors bounce around genres trying to find the magic bullet until they were so discouraged they gave up. Write to please yourself as a reader first.

And DO IT NOW. Had I known how hard it is to get published in fiction, I would have started the process sooner. Don’t put your writing on hold, don’t let life get in the way. And never, never, NEVER give up! Believe in your abilities.

An excerpt from BLIND FORTUNE. This scene won the 2008 Midnight Seductions Endless Romance Contest:

“Are you familiar with Herr Beethoven?”

Fortuna shook her head and, like a puff of smoke, the emotional tension between them dissipated.

Charles felt a twinge of regret at its passing. Out loud, he said, “His Quasi una fantasia—Almost a fantasy—is just as somber but much more full-bodied. I’d be honored to play it for you.”

Rising from the piano, she stood aside so he could take it.

Charles shot her an assessing look as he stepped forward. “I have an idea, something that might enhance your enjoyment of the piece.”

He crooked one arm around her waist, then bent to hook the other behind her knees. She squeaked a protest as he lifted her against his chest. Flexing his fingers in the flimsy material along her rib cage, he savored the warm supple body beneath his hands.

Striding down the side of the piano, he swung Fortuna onto its lid. Seated upright with her legs stretched out, she wore a dumbfounded expression.

Charles tucked her nightgown around her limbs and stepped back. “Lie down, with your head toward the music stand.”

He then returned to the piano stool. Releasing the buttons of his jacket, he sat and ran through a set of scales to limber his fingers.

As the notes reverberated through the mahogany lid, Fortuna uttered a small cry of surprise and turned her wide, cat’s eyes his direction.

He grinned. “They say Beethoven was out one evening for a walk when he passed a cobbler’s shop and heard someone practicing one of his compositions.
He went inside and found a blind girl struggling with the piece.”

Tentatively, Fortuna scooted forward and laid down on her back with her arms at her sides. Bronze curls snaked through the music stand to hang over the keys. Spellbound, Charles stared at them. Then, swallowing hard, he cleared his throat and continued.

“Herr Beethoven offered to demonstrate how the piece was meant to be played. He became so caught up in the beauty of the moonlight falling through the open window on the blind girl that he went home and composed this sonata.”

With that, he began to play.

As Charles’ fingers flew over the keys, he let his gaze rest on the copper froth dangling just above his hands. He tried to imagine the sensations Fortuna was experiencing. How each keystroke pulsed through her body and sent vibrations quivering along her limbs. Especially when he came to the fast-paced, accentuated finale.

He ended the movement in one abrupt crashing stroke. Hands suspended above the keyboard, Charles waited for the last note to reverberate through the music room.

“Fortuna?” he quietly breathed.

She lay still, as thought she hadn’t heard him. At last it registered that the piece had ended. With a heartfelt sigh, she pulled herself upright.

Charles leaped to his feet. In two swift steps, he was beside the piano.

Fortuna swiveled toward him on her bottom, until her legs hung over the lid’s edge. She wore a dazed expression, like that of a well-loved, satiated woman.

Desire spiked through Charles. Deliberately, he pressed his chest against her knees, then slid the palms of both hands up over each rounded hip until he clasped her slender waist. Lifting her off the piano, he stepped away and let her slippers slowly slide to the floor.

Her legs seemed incapable of support. “That was…so…” she whispered breathlessly.


Fire burned a trail straight to his groin. Charles barely managed to stifle a groan. Unable to resist the sexual pull between them and accepting the inevitability of his actions, he lowered his head and captured Fortuna’s rosy mouth with his own.

To read more excerpts from BLIND FORTUNE, click here.

Thanks for having me in today, Nicole!

No, thank you, Joanna!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

5 smacks review for Woman of Honor!!

Woman of Honor received a wonderful 5 smack review from Ruby Lee of Mistress Bella Reviews. Here is what Ruby Lee had to say:

I found this story a compelling, magical read. It took to me to a place I had never been before. The details and descriptions of the scenery, characters and plot were so vivid and so easy to follow and understand. I truly felt as though I had gone stepped into a fairytale. Nicole Zoltack has an excellent writing style and I know we are going to see great things from her to come. I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for her readers…consider me your number one fan!

I'm thrilled. Thank you so much, Ruby Lee, for your kind words!

Here is the link to the review.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interview with Michelle Sutton

Welcome a new guest blogger! Michelle Sutton is a fellow DBP author and is here with us today to talk about her August 1st release, Danger at the Door. Now for the interview!

Tell us about yourself.

I am the author of more than 11 books but for now that is the number I have contracted for publication. I started writing in August of 2003 and joined a writer's group in 2004, signed on with an agent in 2005 and sold my first book in 2007. I am also a part-time website designer and am Editor-in-Chief of an online magazine called Christian Fiction Online Magazine. I've been married 19 years (in August) and have two teenage boys.

Wow, 11 books. That's wonderful! Let's talk more about your writing. When did you start? And why?

I wrote my first full-length novel in 2003. In fact, it has been retitled and will be sold by Desert Breeze in January 2010. It was originally about 80,000 words and I cut it back to 20,000 words for a novella collection that didn't happen (with three other multi-pubbed authors) so I left it in the hard drive all this time and pulled it out again to polish when my husband kept nagging me about tweaking that book for sale. I'm glad I listened. It's a cool story.

Aargh, I know all about writing a story for an anthology or collection and then getting the rejection letter. But that's great that you were able to find another home for it! That's inspiring news for other authors to read about. And speaking of inspiring, what inspires your writing? In particular, you current book, Danger at the Door.

What inspires my writing is my faith and the fact that many Christian novels leave out the physical side of life and the sensuality in romance. I want to read more fiction with real life temptation and struggles so I write about that myself. And in Danger at the Door, I wanted a character who struggled with the English language and American culture and didn't speak something easy like Spanish, so I picked a language with an obscure alphabet and difficult words, like Macedonian. My hero is pretty hot. :) The accent definitely helps.

We all face temptations so why shouldn't our characters? And I love characters with accents. I also love the title. How did you come up with it?

For Danger at the Door? I brainstormed it with friends as the original title didn't sound very suspenseful. Same with First Impressions (releasing in January). It used to be called "For the Love of James" and then "The Shady Lady" and then "The Shy Captain" and now this.

Most authors are also readers. What book are you currently reading?

I'm in the middle of reading about five books right now. As long as they are in different genres I don't have trouble keeping them straight. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell is currently on the top of my list of books I'm reading for review.

That sounds like me, my nose is always in a book or two or five! *laughs* Do you have advice for writers?

Don't be a one book wonder. Write like crazy until something sells.

Excellent advice. And now for a couple of fun questions. How would you describe yourself in two words?

Energizer Bunny

And if you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

The ability to make 24 hour days longer and to not need sleep so I can be on top of the game all of the time and not get behind in my reading. If I couldn't accomplish that I'd like to be a speed reader who has great comprehension skills.

What a wonderful superpower that would be! Thank you so much for interviewing with me today, Michelle. I'm looking forward for your August release. You can learn more and read an excerpt from Danger at the Door here

As a closing, here is the blurb to Danger at the Door:

Upon her fiancé's death, Laney became a recluse who only left her home for emergencies. She managed to survive - barely - on food delivery service and her work-at-home job. When she tries to move on from her grief, the commemorative meal she orders is ruined. However, it leads to an unlikely friendship with an attractive man, Bojan, who speaks little English.

As he befriends Laney he continually says the wrong things, but he doesn't give up trying to win her trust. Meanwhile, she has this strange feeling of being watched and wonders if she's losing her mind.

Complicating things further, every time she leaves her house something bad happens, confirming that she is safer at home. Can Bojan convince Laney she'll be safe with him, or will his presence put her in further danger? Will he be able to protect the woman he loves before it's too late?

Friday, July 3, 2009

How to Write Realistic Dialogue

Well written, realistic dialogue is one of the most useful tools at an author’s disposable. Nothing else can pull a reader from a story than unbelievable dialogue. Imagine a character like Mandy Moore’s in A Walk to Remember. Now picture that character cursing. In context, it might work, if given the right situation but most likely, a goody-two-shoes like that would never swear. A bum on the streets won’t use large, obscure words. Neither would a small child unless they are precocious. Here are some tips for including authentic dialogue in your novels:

1. Go to the mall or other places where lots of people go. Sit on a bench and eavesdrop. It’s amazing how much you can learn just by listening. As an added bonus, you might even come up with new story ideas!

2. Create a character sketch. In order for your character’s dialogue to be true to the character, it must reflect the character’s flaws, weaknesses, strengths, and personality. A smoker character will not rant about the evils of the big bad tobacco companies. An animal activist will yell at someone for killing a fly.

3. Large blocks of dialogue, similar to large blocks of description, are boring. Pepper some action throughout dialogue scenes. Maybe your hero and heroine are dancing. Or they’re on a long car trip. People often talk with hand gestures. Include movements and other actions.

4. As I hinted at earlier, use swear words sparingly unless the character demands it. Some people hide behind them or use them for release. Other characters may only use them under highly stressful situations. And if you are writing a historical piece, look up the curse words of that time period. In Woman of Honor, a medieval fantasy romance novel, my characters sometimes yell, “God’s Teeth!” or “God’s Wounds!” It lends an authentic feel to the piece.

5. While using words appropriate to locale (some regions say soda, others pop), try to avoid dating your piece with slang. Unless you are rewriting West Side Story and need gang dialogue.

6. If you are going to use accents, make certain that they are constant throughout the novel but not overbearing. Reread Huckleberry Finn, Twain was the master at this.

7. Once you write a dialogue scene, read it aloud. Have your boyfriend/wife/sibling/someone reading a character and you read another. Does it flow well? Does it make sense? Does it further the story and add details to the plot? If you answered no to any of the questions, your dialogue needs a tune up.

Woman of Honor tells the tale of young Aislinn, who desires to become a knight to take her fallen brother’s place. The king grants her a two year probationary period during which Aislinn proves herself time and again. Once the two years are over, the king says that she may now beginning her training as a first year page. Infuriated, Aislinn has an argument with Prince Caelan in this never shared before excerpt that shows how powerful and emotional dialogue can be:

Aislinn hurried outside the castle. The walls loomed oppressive and overbearing. She quickly strode around the courtyard, letting her long steps eat up the earth. The scent of flowers reached her nose but she couldn’t process the sweet smells. She attempted to calm down but her thoughts ran around at such a lightening quick speed that she couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. Eventually, she forced herself back inside the castle and returned to her room. Regardless of what choice she decided, whether to redo the last two years of her life or not, she would have to return at some point. The whole situation is absurd! To think that at ten years old, when I am at the same level as the other two year pages, that I should be forced to be on the same level as the new pages! Seven year olds! And to think that I was humiliated when I told everyone I was eight.

She opened her door, and stopped short. Her room wasn’t empty. Prince Caelan, heir to the throne, rose from the single chair in the room.

“Caelan,” she managed to say through clenched teeth. She looked at him and saw his father, saw her king, and relived her humiliation all over again in one heartbeat.

“Aislinn, I’m sorry,” he said, swiftly coming out of the seat. He took a step toward her, one hand held out. “I fought for you, I told my father you deserved a chance. You must know that.”

His words mean nothing to me. He means nothing to me!

She said nothing and stomped over to the bureau, yanking the drawers open. She pulled her few possessions and clothing, holding them to her chest as she slammed the drawers shut. Caelan stepped closer, hovering near her shoulder, but he refrained from touching her and said nothing. Her hands shook with rage and the clothes wrinkled. She took them to her narrow bed and refolded them, her movements crisp and precise. When she finished, she returned to the bureau and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. The reflection startled her. She wore an emotionless face but her eyes contained so much hurt and pain that she barely recognized herself.

Caelan spoke again, his voice rougher and deeper.

“I know you would do anything for my father. If he asked you to leave this country and to spy on the Speicans, you would. You would lead a raid into their country if he merely hinted at it. You would lay your life down for him just because he is the leader of this country.” Here, the prince paused. “One day, I shall take his place and I shall be king. Yet I don’t know if you would follow me as willingly as you would my father.”

“Why do you say that, your Highness?” she asked, the formal title more a stinging retort than a sign of respect.

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. His hand rested in the bend of her arm, but she didn’t turn to face him. “I have done nothing but fight for you.”

“Why?” Aislinn asked. She thought of the three W’s, how the prince had wanted to help her but she had been too proud to ask for it, how he had helped anyhow. Even before that, warning her to learn how to swim. He urged Geoffrey to be her mentor, even though Geoffrey denied that Caelan had made him.

Caelan pulled on her arm enough to make her turn and she faced him, keeping her hands clenched at her side. The prince grinned slowly, a reckless and daring smile that spread to his eyes. Aislinn drew in a breath as sudden heat spread over her. His whole face had lit up with his grin and his eyes glowed, like two dark sapphires.

“Why doesn’t matter,” he eventually answered in a voice so low it barely carried across the space between them and Aislinn realized the truth of his words. It didn’t matter.

But he was wrong to question her. Aislinn served the king because he was king. One day, Caelan would be king, and she would serve him just as fiercely and just as honorably.

“I would obey you like I would any king,” she told him, finally finding enough control to keep the edge from her voice. She swallowed. “I would die to protect you.”

“Good,” Caelan said, his eyes still slightly wild as his grin widened a small degree. “Then you know what you must do, Aislinn.”

Aislinn stared up at him, her heart breaking. She clenched her fists harder. “But I have to redo the last two years of my life all over again. Everything up to this point had been for naught! For nothing!”

“You have two choices.” His voice was calm, a sharp contrast to the anger and frustration waging in Aislinn’s chest. “Either do as my father says and begin again. Or leave and the last two years will truly be for naught.”

“No, there has to be another way.” She shook her head sharply.

Caelan’s hand slid from her elbow to wrap around her fist. Without thinking, she unfurled her fingers and he held her hand in his. “Aislinn, I can’t persuade my father. He shall not bend.”

“But he isn’t being fair!”

“Fair or not, he is king.”

Aislinn frowned. Protests welled in her throat but she refused to voice them and slowly an idea formed. “Perchance…” she started.

“Perchance?” Caelan prompted, taking a step closer to her.

Aislinn shook her head, refusing to say her thoughts. “I gave him my services. I gave him my life for two years. Two years! I can’t forgive him for this.”

He released her hand, taking a step back, his expression hardening. “You must,” he said, his tone now cold and distant.

Aislinn tightened her jaw and stared at the floor. He stepped back from her and walked away. She didn’t bother to look up when the door slammed as the prince left the room.

She slowly whistled her breath out before quickly packing her belongings and leaving the room without a backward glance.

You can purchase Woman of Honor here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My winner of the summer treasure hunt...

The summer treasure hunt is now over, and I'm pleased to announce that the winner of a PDF copy of Woman of Honor is Cindy Sampson Fleet of Canada! I hope you enjoy it, Cindy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Antonia Tiranth Guest Blogs

Hello everyone! Firstly, I’d like to thank my wonderful hostess for allowing me this opportunity to talk to you. Now, who am I? My name is Antonia Tiranth, I’m fairly new to the published scene, my first book The Quickening made its debut on February 2nd and has already sold over 200 copies. My second book, The Gathering, will be released on July 20th from Lyrical Press and continues the tale begun The Quickening.

When I started writing The Gathering I ran into a small problem. For the first book, I set the tale in my own hometown, something I knew well. But for the second, I wanted to set it in England and I have never been there! So what did I do? I turned to a writer’s most valuable tool…RESEARCH. Yes, it’s not just about sitting down and writing whatever comes into your head. Sometimes, especially with stories set in real world settings, you need to do your homework. In college, my first fiction writing professor drilled into my head “Write What You Know.” Unfortunately, he seemed to be in the camp of thought that if you don’t know it, don’t even try to write it. But with careful research you can write about places you’ve only seen in pictures. I even talked with an online friend who lived in London. One of our conversations went something like this:

Me: So, does it always rain in London?

Him : If you try to say that, then anyone who has been here will laugh at you.

Research is not only needed for locations but for other things as well, if you’re female you need to research how to write from a male perspective. If you are straight, you might need to research how to write from the gay/lesbian perspective. The internet can be very helpful and there is a huge library of writing references available. My own collection of such books is growing by the month. So don’t be discouraged if you are thinking about writing a story set in the Middle East but have never been out of your little town in the US. Grab a computer and have at it!

So here’s a little taste of The Gathering::

The sleek black limo rolled to a stop in front of the giant granite steps, and I opened the car door, not waiting to be assisted. I left my bags, knowing they would be brought in, likely to my old rooms. Once a room was claimed, it remained yours to use whenever you wished.

I hurried up the steps and into the manor house. With little conscious effort I walked the path to Calidan’s rooms. The hallway approaching his bed chambers was lined with sobbing Rikashi of all three remaining clans. Whatever troubles were brewing, sorrow was quelling it for the moment, at least here.

I paused at the closed double doors that led to his bedroom, needing a moment to make certain I was in control of myself. Before I could knock, the door swung inward on silent hinges. A golden-haired female stood on the other side.

“You must be Shirak,” she said with a sad smile. At my nod, she stepped aside. “He’s been asking for you. He hasn’t much time left.”

“There is nothing you can do for him?” I asked, assuming she was a Surion.

She shook her head. “All my powers cannot rescue a body ravaged by time, youngling. Go see him now.”

I nodded again and stepped into the bed chamber. It smelled of cinnamon, Earl Grey tea, and death. I did not think I would ever be able to drink Earl Grey again.

My feet made no sound on the thick carpet as I moved forward. Calidan’s son, Severick, rose from a chair in the corner, glaring at me as he left the room. I shook my head; that one had never liked me.

Calidan lay on an impressive gilded four-poster bed, his eyes closed, and for a moment I feared I was too late. But then I saw the slow rise and fall of his chest, and I could hear his labored breathing as I moved closer.

“Calidan?” I called, keeping my voice low.

His eyes fluttered open, and a smile touched his lips. He lifted a hand and waved me forward. I knelt at the edge of the bed, taking that hand carefully in mine. “Lazing about in bed when there is work to be done, sir?”

A rolling exhalation of breath was all the chuckle he could manage. The old Rikashi’s mouth worked up and down, but his voice would not work.

“Do not try to talk. You need to rest so you can get well. You said when I left I was not finished with my training.”

He shook his head. Whatever he needed to tell me was important enough for him to make an attempt while on his death bed. I reached for his mind and found it as feeble as his body looked. I could only pluck a few words from his fading thoughts—tariel, jewel, protect.
Another frown pulled the corners of my mouth. “I do not understand, Calidan.”
Calidan sucked in a rasping breath, letting it out with the words he tried to speak. “Jewel…duty…protect.” His hand went to his throat, tugging at a chain there. “Yours now, Shirak.” He placed something warm in my hand and with a sigh, closed his eyes again.
I looked at the amulet nestled on my palm. It was a beautiful star shaped gem. A myriad of colors sparkled within its depths. It seemed to pulse with a light of its own.
“Calidan, I cannot accept this.”
“Yours to protect.” The words rang in my mind and the amulet flashed. A wave of dizziness took me briefly. A tone, sharp but not unpleasant, sounded in my ears. Faces flashed in my mind, twelve of them. Five were male. Five were female. The final two faces were blurred and difficult to make out. To my surprise, Aerandir’s face was one of the visible ones. My own face flashed last in my mind, the image lingering before fading. It was over as quickly as it had begun.
“What in the hell was that?” I murmured, staring at the amulet.

If you wish to get in touch with me I can be found in several places on the internet:

Twitter -
Blog –
Facebook –

Feel free to friend me or drop by for a visit!

And the trailer for The Gathering:

Monday, June 22, 2009

IWOFA contest

Enter IWOFA's Summer Breeze scavenger hunt for a chance to win some awesome prizes from about forty participating authors. The contest runs from June 21 to June 30, 2009. Click here for contest rules. It's fun. It's easy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sandy Lender Guest Blogs Today

I'm opening up my blog to guest bloggers and the first is Sandy Lender. My blog is just on of the many during Sandy's virtual book tour which began June 1st and will end July 3rd. Be sure to leave Sandy a comment to win an autographed, hard cover, first edition copy of Choices Meant for Gods.

God Bless the Other 99
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

As Nicole reminded us a few days ago, rejection sucks. But true writers only sigh (or drink) over the rejection letter (or e-mail) for a little while, take what we can from any suggestions the publisher (or judge) was willing to take the time to offer, and move on with the job of writing. When I read Nicole’s post about the rejection letter from the Demon Clash of Steel folks, I felt that stab-in-the-gut moment of empathy that all writers feel for each other when a rejection lands in the in-box. But I was pleased to read in the same post that she’s continuing to submit her short story and is contemplating some edits.

It reminds me of a Barry Manilow song.

Hear me out! I’m a huge Barry Manilow fan, and have been since age 5. He’d probably roll his eyes to hear (read) that number, but, hey, it’s not every musician who can say they have 34-year fans. Here’s the scoop on the song:

Barry has a song titled GOD BLESS THE OTHER 99 in which he sings, “I learned more from failure than I learned from success; I learned so much more from no than from yes; I learned to be willing to lead with my chin; and if I were willing to lose I could win.” He has no idea what that song has meant to me as a single, solitary little fan out here in the world, but, on more than one occasion, I’ve stared at a rejection thinking, “Criminy, what else do I try? Is this worth it?” and heard his voice in the back of my head. “If I were willing to lose…”

Now, having been a successful stalker of Duran Duran for 25 years, you would think I could get up close to Barry. I mean, I know he performs at the Las Vegas Hilton and I know his schedule. But due to his fabulous security, I’ll probably never get the chance to tell him that my main character is named “Amanda” Chariss just so Nigel can call her “Mandy.” I’ll not get to tell him that I MADE IT THROUGH THE RAIN was a theme song for me for most of winter 2008/2009. But I certainly hope he realizes his fans are moved by more than the romantic, lovely songs like WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND (although that one brought tears to my eyes when I saw him in Vegas in March 2008, and that usually only happens with MANDY).

So why this rambling tribute to Barry Manilow when I’m on tour to promote my first fantasy novel CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS? (and, according to an answer he gave in his fanzine, he doesn’t particularly get into fantasy novels) Why wax poetic about how his song inspired me to keep submitting my work despite past rejections when what I’m supposed to do is entice all you visitors to read about the latest and greatest in sword and sorcery, good versus evil, and prophecies twisting out of control? Well, simply stated, today is Barry Manilow’s birthday. I have the special honor of sharing this birthday with him. How cool is that?

Many songs inspire my muse to peek in on me and suggest a writing spree. I have a folder in the iTunes called “Music to Write to” that contains wonderful, moody, esoteric kinds of stuff like Arcadia, Groove Armada, Moby, Radiohead, Dido, Kula Shaker, Enigma, Low Pop Suicide, etc. You get the picture. But there’s a plethora of moodier Duran Duran and the almighty Barry Manilow in there, too.

Without Barry’s GOD BLESS THE OTHER 99, would I have kept plugging away at finding a publisher for CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS? Quite likely. I have a stubborn streak in me and the characters in the series deserve to have their stories told. But I have to say…on those dark and dreary days when a rejection letter is in one hand and a glass of amaretto-on-the-rocks is in the other, hearing Barry’s advice makes it a little easier to get on with the business of writing. “I learned more from no than from yes…”

(And just so no one worries, I don’t actually “stalk” famous pop stars. Well…maybe it could be classified as mild stalking. Is it stalking if you note the license plate number of the vehicle they’re in as they leave the concert hall so you’ll recognize it when you get to their hotel? Mwuahahaha. This is where Chariss gets that strategizing mind from, you know. But I’m a really nice and calm little fan. Trust me. I’m a pleasant stalker. I swear. Mwuahahaha.)

Thank you to Nicole for the time here today, and thank you to everyone who’s stopped in to visit.
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

The blurb for Choice Meant for Gods:

Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

And an excerpt:

This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...

Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.

“Hey!” she objected.

“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”

Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.


“You’re staring at me.”

“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”

“I’m not angry.”

“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.

“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”

“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”

She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.

“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.

He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.

“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.

“And that I’m your friend?”


“And does that please you?”

He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.

“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”

“Friendship?” he retorted.

“Such a rapport.”

He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”

“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”




“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”

“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”


“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.

“Because I’m in love with you?”

She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”

He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”

“I don’t think you should say those things.”

“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”

She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.

“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.

“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”

She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”

She nodded again.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”

“You shouldn’t assume that means—”

“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.

“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”

“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”

“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”

“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”

“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”

“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”

They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.

She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”

Thank you, Sandy, for guest blogging today! Here's wishing you a wonderful birthday and many, many sales!