Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Welcome special guest author Sandy Lender!

Cate: Please welcome fantasy author Sandy Lender. Sandy, will you please share a short bio with us?
Sandy Lender: Fantasy enthusiasts will recognize Sandy Lender as the author of the breakout novel CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS and a leader of workshops on world-building and characterization. Her four-year degree in English and seventeen-year career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations.

Cate: Tell us about Choices Meant for Gods and where it’s available.
Sandy Lender: My first fantasy novel is the beginning of a trilogy, so folks get to fall in love with the characters for a while. It’s a very Girl Power fantasy but without a feminist agenda. Amanda Chariss is the heroine who’s been running from a madman all her life. It’s when she stops running—stands up for herself—that she learns how important she is. The very gods of her society need her.

Folks can find the eBook version at the ArcheBooks Publishing site. But the print version of CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS is available in scads of places. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, BookHitch.com, Waldenbooks—you name it, they either have it or can get it for you. (And go ahead and ask them when they’re getting the sequel because CHOICES MEANT FOR KINGS is due out in July. Woo-hoo!)

Cate: Major congrats!
At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Sandy Lender: Eegads…I started writing little stories when I was a child. I wrote stories for my great grandma and she’d share them with the folks in her apartment building. One was about these mice picking berries in a field. A cat came along and scared one mouse so badly that he fainted and the other mice had to carry him home (running, of course). My first publication was this short (emphasis on short) one-sentence article in Mrs. Zeller’s first grade newspaper for our parents. What a great teacher!

My call story is nerve-wracking. The coordinator of the Naples Press Club’s Annual Writer’s Conference arranged a pitch session with Publisher Bob Gelinas of ArcheBooks Publishing for me. I believed in my soul that he’d made the arrangement for the weekend AFTER the conference, at Bob’s workshop on the other side of the state, giving me an additional weekend to get my synopsis and marketing plan put together. So while this gentleman and I were assembling name badges at the writer’s conference one early Saturday morning, I see Bob’s name and announce gleefully, “Hey, it’s that publisher.” Phil says, “yeah, you have a pitch session with him tomorrow.” I nearly fainted like the mouse in Grandma’s story… So I had to rush home after the conference that evening and type up a synopsis, marketing plan, character sketches, etc. Luckily, all went well and Bob accepted the ms. He sent me a contract a few weeks later and I frightened my bird with my shout for joy. I think the subject line was “Contract for Choices Meant for Gods.” Eegads.

Cate: Gotta love those type of emails! So are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Sandy Lender: My dad has a couple textbooks published for the drafting industry. He’s an engineer with Boeing and knows insane amounts of technical information about math. I, on the other hand, have to use my fingers to figure how much money is in my checking account at any given time. (The sad part of that statement is that the money in my checking account is under the number 10.)

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Sandy Lender: Creative, intelligent, suspenseful.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Sandy Lender: I used to. Sigh. Then life got complicated. Now I write whenever I can…grabbing snippets of time…waking in the middle of the night and wondering if this is a writing binge comin’ on or just the need to wee.

Cate: How many hours a day do you write?
Sandy Lender: This answer will be misleading because I write for the day job. I’m a magazine editor. So I write for HOURS for the day job. Then I have to stop to feed myself (and my pet birds) and do common things like go to the store and blog. But I try to get a good hour of fiction writing in before passing out. I’m actually thankful for the nights when I wake up staring at the clock thinking, “I don’t need to wee…”

Cate: How do you pick the characters’ names?
Sandy Lender: They usually tell me their names, but for a lot of support characters, I’ll grab the Old English dictionary and figure out what matches their personality or their purpose.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Sandy Lender: The most challenging aspect of writing has become finding the time. I think that will settle down now that a few personal “items” have finished off in my life. My divorce is over (thank God); my bankruptcy has been approved (thank God); my cancer is gone (thank God); my dying car is traded in for something that works each time you put the key in the ignition (thank God); the travel schedule for work is calm for the summer (thank God); and I’m about to approve the galleys on CHOICES MEANT FOR KINGS (thank God). So things are much better. Time is opening up in little chunks that were being consumed by the most bizarre of requests from the most bizarre of quarters.

The easiest aspect of writing is talking to the characters. They love to voice their opinions. They all have ideas for where a story should go. (Not always good ideas, mind you, but ideas nonetheless.)

Cate: Wow, glad things are going easier for you now.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of writing?
Sandy Lender: The most rewarding aspect of writing is having someone tell me they love Chariss or they want to be like Chariss or they wish they had written a character like Chariss. She is my heroine and my angel. I love her. When someone praises Chariss, I feel like a proud mom…

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Sandy Lender: Nigel is leaning over my shoulder right now. He has a blog where he makes fun of me at http://sandylender.blogspot.com. He’s always with me…

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Sandy Lender: One of my earliest reviewers said I redefined the fantasy genre—he had gotten bored with the same old story lines and I had changed all that for him. More recently, Suspense Magazine’s editor said I had woken the fantasy genre from a sleep spell. A couple of the reviewers on Amazon have made comments regarding my new approach to fantasy. I find that incredible. I knew I was doing a couple things differently because, hey, every author wants to stand out from the crowd, but I didn’t realize the audience would be so enthusiastic.

Cate: That's quite the compliment! One every author hopes to hear.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Sandy Lender: I love Charlotte Bronte (and her sisters). My favorite book of all time is JANE EYRE, and if you look closely, you’ll see influences in CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS. Right now I’m reading a book called CHARLOTTE IN LOVE by Brian Wilks. It’s driving me mad because, bless his heart, Mr. Wilks keeps saying the same things over and over and over…and they’re mostly things that Bronte scholars already know. So I keep putting the book down to read other books. That sounds very harsh of me. I should also say that he has done his research well. The things that he repeats are accurate and well-placed to make his arguments in the text.

Cate: What’s next for you, Sandy?
Sandy Lender: I keep on writing! I have a plethora of stories in the works.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Sandy Lender: This question made me laugh, Cate! I dare you to Google my name. Bwuahahahaha. Seriously, though, I have a brand spankin’ new Web site at www.authorsandylender.com. I also have a main blog that I’ve been posting to for several years now at www.TodayTheDragonWins.blogspot.com. What a cool name, eh? Then I have a presence at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ArcheBooks, FiledBy, Facebook, myspace, GoodReads, Shelfari, RedRoom, BookHitch, BookTours, AuthorIsland, Author’s Den, Gather, Ning, LinkedIn, Suspense Magazine, BookGlutton—the list goes on. And on. I just participated in the first live tweeterview on Twitter in Internet history. (Full interview is archived at http://tweeterview.blogspot.com)

Cate: Very cool!
Sandy, is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Sandy Lender: I’ve just listed a ton of social networking places. What site(s) do you go to when you’re looking for a new author or a new book to read? If you don’t have a particular book in mind…just browsing…where’s the first place you think to visit?

Cate: I'd love the answer to that as well.
Readers, Sandy is giving away a first-edition, hardcover book to a random commenter each week of her tour... so start commenting. Her tour organizers pick the winners at the end of the tour.

Sandy Lender: Cate, thank you so much for a lovely interview and for opening your blog to me as part of my tour today! It’s been great and I look forward to answering questions from your guests. “Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

Cate: Thanks for being here today, Sandy!
Readers, below is an excerpt from Choices Meant for Gods. Enjoy!

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?”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Visit me at Nita Wick's today

Nita Wick interviewed me - come on over to Nita's blog and leave a comment for a chance to win a PDF of One Soul for Sale.
You Gotta Read Reviews said: The writing style made me feel as though I were a part of the story instead of someone on the outside looking in. I was pulled into the story and couldn't stop until I hit the last page. The ending by the way ..... OUTSTANDING! I loved it! One Soul for Sale was filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blogging away today - and a contest too

Today I'm over at Colin Galbraith's blog, Freedom from the Mundane. Come join in, leave a comment and you might win a copy of One Soul for Sale!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WDRF's Review of The Duende and the Muse

WDRF rated The Duende and the Muse, my short Faery (fantasy) story from The Wild Rose Press, as Memorable Good.
Here's the best part of the review:
"The author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read. It sparkles and fizzes with energy and the dialogue is sparky and natural. Both characters are independent and strong and although I didn't really identify very closely with them, they were engaging, interesting and likeable. What more can you ask for from a story of this length? I don't think you can go wrong with this- so have a read. If you are looking for something light and distracting then this is ideal."

70 years of TV

Come on over to Popculturedivas to reminisce about favorite shows during TV's 70 years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Lure of the Vine release scheduled!

Freya's Bower will release The Lure of the Vine on July 7!

While I researched Greek mythology for The Duende and the Muse, I came across some interesting info about Dionysus, God of the Vine - and his followers, the Maenads. Dionysus was madly in love with his mortal wife, Ariadne. One of the few gods to remain faithful to any woman, he mourned her for eternity.
In ancient times, Dionysus became a master marketer to push his product: wine. He enticed people to drink by any means, and could be either friend or foe to humans. Sometimes both.
The Maenads worshipped Dionysus, but also lived in complete freedom. They slept beneath the stars, sang and danced in the forests. And, oh yeah, ripped to shreds animals or humans they happened upon, and feasted on their flesh.
As an immortal, Dionysus would, theoretically, still be in existence today. Still promoting his product. And still yearning for Ariadne. Or someone very like her...

Here's the excerpt from The Lure of the Vine:
On the wall opposite his bed hung a portrait. The likeness stunned her. “Oh my God. How did you…?” When could he have had a portrait made of her?
“She’s my wife.” He sat on the bed and stared at the painting, his eyes like glass. “Ariadne.”
“Your wife?” She walked closer, the portrait almost breathing, as though she were looking in the mirror. “It’s amazing.”
“When I saw you, it was as if….” He lay back on the bed, laid his forearm across his eyes.
“Oh, Dion.” She sat next to him. Ariadne. She’d heard that name before.
“I miss her so terribly.” Pain cracked his voice.
“I’m sorry. If I had known….” She couldn’t finish–what? She wouldn’t have come here?
He sat up and held her shoulders. “Ariadne. My princess.” His voice held an unfamiliar gruffness.
“No. I’m Clio.” She pushed at his arms.
With one swift movement, he twisted her beneath him. “The Fates brought you back to me.”
The Fates. Ariadne. Dion…. Her mother had told her bedtime tales when she was growing up. The realization hit her. “Dionysus.” The God of the Vine.
It couldn’t be, didn’t make sense.
Hearing his true name, his face alighted with happiness. His mouth sought hers. A life force flowed from the portrait through Clio’s veins, overwhelmed her senses, as if she’d drunk a case of his wine. His wet lips traveled down her neck. The strap of her bathing suit fell away, revealing her breast. He suckled and nibbled at her. His fingers slid between her legs, his tongue tracing her ribs, then her hips.
His tongue licked and teased. With a groan, she arched her back, inviting more, but wanting nothing of him. A swirl of thoughts stormed through her mind, fighting for dominance. Her writhing body screamed for completion. She clutched his hair. Her breaths came hard and fast, a wave of passion cresting within her.
He slid his leg across hers, then hovered above her. “You are my queen again.”
His words sobered her. Two desperate needs clashed within her, to reunite with a husband for whom yearning had surpassed sanity, and to escape, to find a husband she loved more than anything. Her words from her wedding night returned to her: I will do anything for you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cover for Angels, Sinners and Madmen

Isn't this a catchy cover? Freya's Bower cover artist Valerie Tibbs did a great job. Having the cover makes me eager to see Angels, Sinners and Madmen released! But before that can happen, it has to go through rounds of edits. As always, though, it'll be a better book in the end.
Hmm, maybe it's time to go back to Key West for more research...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet

It's summertime!
Soon the gardens will be lush with flowers, kids will play past dark catching fireflies, bands will play concerts under the stars, and the smell of cookouts will permeate the air. One of the things I love best about this season is getting together with family and friends.
Here are a few great sayings about friendship:
"The only way to have a friend is to be one." Emerson
"Be true to your word, your work and your friend." Henry David Thoreau
"I wonder if there is anything in this world as beautiful as good, strong friendship." Wilbur D. Nesbit
"There is no better looking glass than friendship." Thomas Fuller
"People who have warm friends are healthier and happier than those who have none. A single real, true friend is a treasure worth more than gold or precious stones." G.D. Prentice
"Friendship is the wine of life." Edward Young
Cheers, Edward!

Reading a great book is like finding new friends, too. Augustine Birrell said, "Friendship is a world the very sight of which in print makes the heart warm."
Well said, Augustine.
Here's to summertime, good friends and great books!

What's your favorite part about summer? Leave a comment for your chance to win an ebook - choose from: Seventh Heaven or The Duende and the Muse.

Be sure to follow the Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet tour:
You are here: catemasters.blogspot.com

Have a great summer! Visit again soon! To get you in the mood, here's Bruce Springsteen singing "Girls in their Summer Clothes."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rock Bottom - contemporary romance

Rock Bottom
Contemporary romance
Lyrical Press/Kensington Publishing

For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits over and over. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet’s reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog’s success keeps her trapped there. Her life’s at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet’s new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was 15. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

I was captivated by this story just from its blurb. I am a very big music fan and did watch Rock of Love so I found it very interesting to see how an author could make a story from that concept. And Cate Masters did it perfectly! One of the things I am very fond of when I read is the imagery authors try to portrait and Cate does it beautifully. The way she describes the scenery of the house, the hills and sand gives you a perfect picture in your mind. 
The chemistry, tension and conflicts between the characters were written exceptionally well, made me keep turning the page to see how they were going to resolve some of their issues. It had just the right amount of steamy scenes as well, did not feel thrown in just for the sake of having one like some other stories I have read. Anyone who grew up in the 80’s will appreciate the music references in this book as well, had be nodding my head yes in more than one occasion lol.
The cottage appeared tiny from the outside, but actually had two stories if the bedroom loft counted. A boomerang-shaped overstuffed sofa dominated the main floor, and cabinets topped with bookshelves lined either wall. In a small nook sat a ceramic-topped iron bistro table and two chairs.

As cozy as a beach getaway.

She swung her carryon bag atop the tufted ottoman. Turning to retrieve her suitcases, she stopped short.

Jet leaned against the doorway. If his presence had been palpable in the house, he overwhelmed this small space.

His lopsided smile appeared almost shy. “Need any help settling in?”

The personal touch. If he hoped to make it literal, he could forget it. Despite her resolve, she found him overwhelmingly distracting. She had trouble recalling what she’d planned to do.

Glancing around, she thought she’d be pretty pathetic if she claimed to need help. “Nope, I think I can find everything.”

Stepping inside, he closed the door and moved toward her slowly. Purposefully.

Her pulse quickening, she tensed, but couldn’t find her voice to ask what he wanted.

He touched the cabinet. “There’s a small fridge under here. I’ll have Cindy stock it for you.”

Nodding, she tucked her hair behind her ear. “Great. Thanks.” She felt sure he must hear her heart pounding. And think her an idiot. “It’s an adorable little place. You’re saving the magazine a bundle by letting me stay here.”

When he moved closer, his crystal blue eyes felt like a laser piercing her own.

To clear her head, she turned away. “It’s situated perfectly too. Right next to the house.” Could she possibly sound any more brainless?

She sensed him directly behind her. His soft tone made her muscles go fluid. Her eyes drifted shut, imagining his famous voice singing to her alone.

“If you look out your bedroom window, you can see into mine. Right over there.” His arm lifted beside her and pointed.

His warmth penetrated her skin. He smelled like ocean and musk. An impulse struck her to guide his arm around her, fit herself against him. Fill her senses with him.

Snapping to reality, she fumed at his flirting, but made her voice sweet as honey. “Oh, over there? I appreciate you telling me.” Smiling, she turned. “I’ll be sure to keep my curtains closed.”

Tensing, he straightened, and his nostrils flared.

Her muscles drew taut in response. You shouldn’t have made him mad--not the first day.

But his eyes crinkled at the corners, and he cocked his jaw and nodded. “Billie Prescott.” He said her name with a kind of wonder.

Not quite knowing what to make of it, she gave a giddy laugh. And wanted to die. “Jet Trently. We finally meet.” As though she’d been waiting. Or it had been prearranged. By whom? The universe?

To recover her composure, she went to her bag and pulled out her laptop. “Any internet connection in here?”

He flopped onto the sofa and extended his arms across the back. “Wireless, pretty much from everywhere.” With a kind of amused curiosity, he watched her. “We need to talk.”

Her mind blanked. The way he spoke sounded so intimate, as if he wanted to discuss their relationship. His gaze seared into her, and she had trouble remembering they had no relationship. “About what?”

His mouth curled into a smile. “The show. Don’t you want to interview me?”

She felt her face flush. He played a cat and mouse game. And he’d trapped her already.

Welcome special guest author Colin Galbraith!

Cate: Readers, please welcome paranormal suspense author, Colin Galbraith. Colin, will you please share a bit of background with us?
Colin: Hi Cate, it’s great to be here! I’m 35 and live in Edinburgh, Scotland, with my wife, daughter, two bunnies and a shoal of fishes. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and seriously for about 11 years. I love monkeys, easy Saturday mornings and chocolate pastries, and I’m a top grade expert in the art of fake falling.

Cate: Your home sounds like a menagerie, as mine is.
Please tell us about your recent release and where it’s available.
Colin: STELLA was released on 7th June by those wonderful people at Eternal Press. It tells the story of Randolph, an ageing assassin who finds himself falling in love with the woman he’s been assigned to kill – the beautiful Stella. What he doesn’t realise is that by getting closer to her he’s putting his own life at risk - because Stella has her own dark and deadly secret. He chases her, loses her, and it all comes to an explosive head in Amsterdam.

Cate: Sounds like an on-the-edge-of-your-seat read! And such an evocative cover - very Bondlike.
Stella is a paranormal suspense story. Do you prefer any particular genre over another?
Colin: STELLA is the first paranormal work I’ve written. Normally I write crime fiction or contemporary “urban” fiction, but this was an experiment that went right, and naturally, I’m delighted it did.

STELLA wasn’t meant to be a paranormal book when I started writing it, though. My original idea was for the book to be a spy story, something with its roots in the mysteries of underground Eastern Europe. As the ideas began to develop on paper, though, the book began to take on its own form and it made sense for a paranormal aspect to come into it. I can’t honestly see it working without it now.

Cate: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Colin: I’m the only one! My mother has often said she doesn’t know where my inclination to write came from but I’m glad it did. I’m passing the bug on, too, because my daughter is a voracious reader and one of my biggest supporters. She’s started to really enjoy writing stories, which I like to think is down, in no small part, to me.

Cate: Very cool to pass along that gene.
What inspires you in your personal life? In your writing?
Colin: I get my inspiration from people. It might be something that happens in the street that provides me with a tiny nugget of an idea that I can build around or just the look of someone. It’s the old what happens next trick, like if someone ran up to you in the middle of the street and shoved a piece of paper in your hand then ran off again – that’s the start of a novel – what happens next?

That’s what I love about writing. My imagination is my only restriction, so while I still have one I can make anything I want happen, write about it, and hopefully give people enjoyment from it.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Colin: I’ll answer that one in reverse. The easiest thing about writing is when it’s all going well; you have a great story, magnetic characters, and everything is just flowing along – that’s the easy bit because it’s fun. But there are so many tough things about writing that if you thought about them all it might depress you into never wanting to write again. You really have to love writing to want to do it all the time.

I reckon the most challenging thing is when you’re on a real low but you know you have to keep going and make yourself write for a deadline or to meet your own goals. That’s the toughest – being tenacious enough to reach the completion of a novel is what sets out the wannabees from true writers.

Cate: Persistence is definitely key.
What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Colin: Hearing positive feedback is an amazing thing. When you speak to someone who has read your work and you know would tell you it was rubbish if they thought it was; hearing them say they like it means the world.

But there is one thing greater and that’s when you make a change to someone’s life through your writing. I recently gave a copy of a kids’ poetry e-book I had written to someone because I heard their child had been ill. It turned out the child was severely disabled and can’t communicate, but one of the poems – about a worm! - made him laugh. That choked me up and meant more to me than anything any book feedback could ever do for me.

Cate: Do you feel as if your characters come alive vividly as you write? Do they assert themselves in ways that surprise you?
Colin: Constantly! It’s one of the delights of writing and part of the chemical compound that makes it so addictive. I find there’s only so much you can do when creating a character; give them hair colour, attitude, clothes, that kind of thing, but to get right under a character’s skin the art is to be able to listen to them, feel what they feel, and let them do what they need to do. After that the plot falls into place round about them – most of the time :)

Cate: What comes first in your writing process – a scene, characters, title? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Colin: It depends. Sometimes it’s a person or a situation, sometimes it’s music or one of those “what if?” moments. Sometimes it’s a good title. I could plot until I go blue in the face but in the end when the story begins it more than often goes off on its own tangent anyway.

Taking STELLA as an example, the idea first came to me in 1988 while I was listening to an album of the same name by Yello. The music formed themselves into a series of images in my mind. I wrote down these images, and from that I used what I had as a structure and began writing until I had a first draft.

Cate: Love that trailer!
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Colin: My favourite authors tend to change quite a lot depending who I’ve been reading! But I’d have to say Paul Auster is my top favourite, along with William McIlvanney, Janice Galloway, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Favourite books: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, The Outsider by Albert Camus, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. I’m currently reading The Grave Tattoo by the wonderful Val McDermid.

Cate: What's next for you? Anything in the works?
Colin: At the moment I’m working on the sequel to STELLA. I couldn’t resist doing more with Stella and Randolph, since there were so many questions I wanted to ask and things I wanted to know about them, I had to dig deeper! So I’ve begun work on BACCARA BURNING, which will be book two of a trilogy involving those two characters.

I also have one novel and a novella both in the editing stage, am working on a new chapbook of poetry to be released later in the year, and I also want to complete the crime novel I began near the end of last year. What with all that and writing gig reviews for News of the World, it’s a busy old time!

Cate: Wow, congrats on juggling all those projects! And best of luck with them all.
Any other hobbies or specialties?
Colin: Because I have a day job – I work in I.T. to pay my way – any hobby time I might have I sacrifice to writing. When you throw research, reading, promotion and marketing into the mix, there isn’t really much time for anything else.

I do like eating out and going to the pub whenever the chance avails, and I enjoy the cinema, theatre and going to see live music, but that usually involves writing since I’ve started writing concert reviews for News of the World. It always seems to come back to writing!

I’m quite a talented fake faller, though. I’m getting very good at the Stumble and Roll manoeuvre.

Cate: I'd love to see it sometime! Where can you be found on the web? Rolling or otherwise?
Colin: Most of my Internet activity revolves around my blog, Freedom from the Mundane, which you can find at http://www.colingalbraith.co.uk/blog - remove the ‘blog’ from that URL and you have my main website.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Colin: If your readers would like some more excellent fiction and poetry they could do worse then check out the e-mag I edit and publish. It’s called The Ranfurly Review and you can find it here: www.ranfurly-review.co.uk

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Colin: Would any of them like to win a free copy of STELLA to add to their collection? If so, back to you with the information…

Cate: Readers, you heard Colin. He's giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. He'll pick a winner and announce it here on Sunday the 21st around 8 pm EST.

Colin: Thanks for having me today, Cate – I’ve had a whale of a time!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First review for One Soul for Sale!

I couldn't wait til next week to post this! I just received an email from You Gotta Read Reviews, who rated One Soul for Sale as You Need to Read. Woot!
Here's the best part:
"This story was really a different kind of story for me that had me thinking about how the story could possibly turn out with a happy ending. Yes, I must confess I am a happy ending kind of person. I can't let you know if it has the HEA or not, that's for you to find out, but I can say you will be entertained on your way through this book. The writing style made me feel as though I were a part of the story instead of someone on the outside looking in. I was pulled into the story and couldn't stop until I hit the last page. The ending by the way ..... OUTSTANDING! I loved it! One Soul for Sale was filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story.
Ms. Masters has done an outstanding job with One Soul for Sale and has exposed me to a genre that I want to read more of. I recommend this book to anyone who wants an exciting read that will have you turning the pages as quickly as possible. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Masters work and because of One Soul for Sale, I will definitely be reading more books like this."

Wow, thanks, Val! So glad you enjoyed it!
One Soul for Sale is available in print on Amazon, too.

New contract for historical novel!

My gloomy Wednesday brightened when I opened my email and found - a new contract! Hooray! Freya's Bower will release my historical adventure-romance novel, Angels Sinners and Madmen, set in 1800s Key West.
About five years ago, my family went to Key West for a vacation. While visiting a mariner museum, I had a vivid vision of a story (no alcohol was involved, I swear!). It hijacked my few days on the island. While my husband and kids went snorkeling and parasailing, I spent the day in the Key West library, copying any and all old documents I could dredge up from the stacks. Then I visited another museum, the house of a wrecker captain.
Finally, last year, I decided I'd waited long enough. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote the bulk of Angels Sinners and Madmen.
What's a wrecker, you ask? Well, you'll have to read my novel to find out! They're fascinating, actually. And though I was not interested in the subject of history in school, I found writing a historical fascinating, too.
I'll post more on Angels Sinners and Madmen later. Right now, it's time for a happy dance!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy blog birthday!

Wow, it's already been a year since my first post. To celebrate, I'll give away a PDF copy of either of my Wild Rose releases or my Eternal press urban fantasy novella to a random commenter - just tell me what type of stories you like best and why. Is it the characters that draw you in irresistibly? The writing? The story line?
And oh yeah, tell me which of my stories you'd like to read! Choose from:
Seventh Heaven or
The Duende and the Muse
Or my Eternal Press novella, One Soul for Sale.

As always, Cinderella Dreams (are tough to shake) is always free!

Anne Lamott said: "If you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining."

Here's to a multitude of lighthouses! Shine on!

Monday, June 15, 2009

4-Ribbon review for Liberation via Pen!

Wow, I had good news in my email today! Pamela Denise of Romance Junkies gave Liberation via Pen a 4-ribbon review!

Here's the entire review:

Krista believed she had the perfect relationship with her boyfriend Ethan of two years. Then one day, on an outing, he abruptly breaks it off with her causing her world to shatter. Heartbroken, she can’t see or do anything without thinking of Ethan, which costs her the new job she’d just landed. She finally lifts herself out of the emotional gutter she’d fallen into. She starts a search for a new job, deciding that she needs to be able to pay for food and shelter for herself and Verisimilitude, her cat.
Krista finds immediate work at a bookstore and decides it’s just what she is looking for. In walks Todd and things seem to become brighter for her. He invites her to a writers meeting where she finds inspiration to write her own story. As she puts the pen to paper about her failed relationship with Ethan, she is able to better comprehend what happened. Todd is there to help with advice and support along the way.
Krista’s story is a published success and she finds herself ready to take the next step with Todd. However, things don’t continue to go so smoothly. She may have missed her chance with Todd and when Ethan finds out their relationship has become public knowledge he isn’t too happy. He shows up wanting compensation and another chance with Krista.
LIBERATION VIA PEN is a great story. Cate Masters does an exceptional job working out her plot. I could feel Krista’s emotions and sympathize with the upheaval of her breakup. The empowerment displayed towards the end was uplifting. Any woman who has been in Krista’s shoes will enjoy this read.

Thanks so much, Pamela!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Welcome special guest author Paty Jager!

Cate: Today, I'm pleased to have award-winning author Paty Jager as a guest. Welcome, Paty! Will you please share a short bio with us?
Paty: Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author, Paty Jager, not only writes about the western lifestyle, she lives it. Jager and her husband of thirty years have raised four children, built a house, and now ranch 350 acres.
Jager began her writing career as a freelance reporter for local newspapers. Found RWA (Romance Writers of America) and after eight years of attending many conferences, workshops, and being a finalist in eight contests, she broke into the publishing industry with a new e-book and POD publisher, The Wild Rose Press. She credits the RWA organization for helping her work on her craft to become a published author and giving her the contacts necessary to build her career.
Two western romance historical books were published in 2006. Marshal in Petticoats and Gambling on an Angel. Her third romance novel, Perfectly Good Nanny, a contemporary western romance, won the 2008 Best Contemporary Romance EPPIE. The second book of the Halsey brother series, Outlaw in Petticoats, was released November 2008. Her fourth historical western and third book of the Halsey brother series, Miner in Petticoats was released in June.
To learn more about Paty, her books, and to enter her website contest, go to www.patyjager.com.

Cate: Readers, Paty will be giving away a copy of Miner in Petticoats. Paty, please tell us about Miner in Petticoats and where it's available.
Paty: Miner in Petticoats is the third book in the Halsey brother series. The oldest brother Ethan is hell bent on securing the futures of his brothers and their families by starting up a stamp mill. The problem- the best place to put the stamp mill is on the Widow Miller's place, and she isn't about to give up an inch of land or let another man abuse her. The clash of two strong wills, bigotry, and familial devotion all play into the conflicts and ultimate passion between the hero and heroine. This book can be purchased in e-book at www.thewildrosepress.com and in print at www.amazon.com or you can order through any book store.

Cate: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Paty: As a child I rewrote poems into plays for my brother and I to act out with stuffed animals. Then I wrote "racy" stories with my friends in junior high. I had an aha momrnt in high school when an English project was read to the class and they all were silent after it was read and I realized my words could have an impact on someone. I took a writing class from the local college and using the confidence it gave me became a freelance reporter for the local paper. I didn't start seriously pursuing a writing career until my children were teenagers. I joined RWA and worked at honing my craft and networking. I finaled in a contest with nearly every ms I wrote, but never won. I had an agent tell me readers would love my stories, but I was a hard sell to editors because my stories are edgy or different. She suggested I try e-books and build a readership. So when a friend told me about the newly forming Wild Rose Press, I submitted and they contracted Marshal in Petticoats. I have since contracted four western historicals and one contemporary western with them.

Cate: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Paty: Nope, I am the only writer in my family. Not sure where it came from.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Paty: Engaging, Character driven

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Paty: Yes, I get up make my dh's breakfast send him off to work, then I hit the computer and answer e-mails, write my blog and read blogs while drinking hot chocolate. Two hours later, I get breakfast, feed the animals and some days go for a walk or ride my horse. Then I write until noon. Watch news while I eat lunch, then work on my freelance job in the afternoon. If my dh doesn't have anything for me to do in the evening, I'll do research and catch up on blogs.

Cate: How many hours a day do you write?
Paty: Two to five. Depends on the day and what other things I have to do.

Cate: How do you pick the character’s names?
Paty: Sometimes a name will come to me before the character fully develops and sometimes the character is revealed and I look into their background to come up with a name.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Paty: The most challenging aspect of writing a book for me is keeping the conflict strong. The easiest is coming up with a premise and characters.

Cate: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Paty: The most rewarding aspect is having someone say they enjoyed reading one of my books. It made them laugh or they loved a character and didn't want the book to end.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Paty: Yes, my characters are always in my head as I write a book and while I do my stew and brew process. This is when I get a character or an idea for a book. They swirl around in my head for a month or two before I start writing down things about the characters and their story.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Paty: Well, a 70+ male I've known for a long time told my husband he was a lucky man! LOL This was after the man called me and told me my book kept him up until 4 in the morning reading.

Cate: That's a great tribute! So which authors or books keep you reading? Who are your favorites, and what are you reading now?
Paty: Some of my favorite authors are LaVyrle Spencer, Linda Lael Miller, Lauri Robinson, Kathy Otten, Karyna DaRosa, Alice Sharpe, and Agatha Christie. I like any book that is western, mystery/suspense, or humorous. At the moment I'm in between books. I'm trying to get a project done and am writing, writing , writing. I usually read books when I'm beginning a project or am in between projects. I don't like to read when I am on the downhill side of a project.

Cate: What's next for you?
Paty: I am currently working on a co-project with another author, Christmas Anthology, and I hope to have a historical paranormal contracted soon.

Cate: Ooh, that sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to hear more about it.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Paty: www.patyjager.com

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Paty: What makes or breaks a romance book for you?

Cate: Thanks for being my guest today, Paty!
Readers, Paty’s giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting! She'll pick a winner on Sunday, June 14 around 8 pm EST and announce it here.