Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

It's my favorite time of the year! Normally. Mother Nature threw us a curve ball this weekend! She sure knows how to keep us on our toes. Hm, or maybe it was her impression of a Halloween witch!

The scariest thing about this weekend was the constant crash of trees falling under the weight of the snow.
I posted more pics on Facebook, but here are a few:

However you celebrate, I hope you have a spooktacular Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six from my new release, Romancing the Hero

Thanks so much for checking out my Six Sentence Sunday post! And thanks especially for your comments, which always cheer me.

To celebrate its release, here's a snippet from Romancing the Hero, my fantasy out now with The Wild Rose Press *throws confetti and opens some bubbly*




“Jody Feather?” The deep voice rushed at her like a hot breeze, reverberated through her, and stopped her where she stood.

“Ye—” Her gaze climbed the long legs clad in well-fitting jeans, pumped torso outlined through his tight tee, to the gorgeous model face. Someone might have stolen a cardboard cutout of the perfect hero and breathed life into it, and that’s who stood on her doorstep.

“Yowsa,” she said on an exhale.


Be sure to check out the amazing Six Sentence Sunday authors! Have a great week. 


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Part of TRS's giveaway

Tomorrow, visit The Romance Studio's Book a Day Giveaway page to enter. I'm giving away a print copy of my Native American historical romance, Follow the Stars Home


Follow the Stars Home came together after meticulous research. Based on the 1879 founding of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Follow the Stars Home weaves true accounts with fictional characters.



Reviewers have described it as: “an insightful and entertaining novel that’s bound to teach you a few things about history.  Kudos to Cate Masters for another winning novel. You won’t be able to put Follow the Stars Home down until you turn the last page.” 

And “Quiet Thunder and Black Bear love each other. But can their love survive them being uprooted from their people, betrayed and lied to by the white man? Will they ever find their way back to their own people? You will have to read this story to find out. But it is a fabulous journey, and you will enjoy it every step of the way.” And “The love story between Black Bear and Quiet Thunder is tenderly told, and well-written.”






Blurb

What’s left for the Lakota when everything around them is changing? Quiet Thunder and Black Bear fear for their tribe’s welfare when buffalo and other game become scarce. A military captain named Pratt promises to teach them white man’s ways so they can become successful. Quiet Thunder follows Black Bear to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to the Indian Industrial School. The school’s rigid schedule allows little time together, and Black Bear grows more distant as his confusion over his identity grows. Can Quiet Thunder make him believe her love is as eternal as the stars?

Here's an excerpt:

Black Bear stared at her, the fullness in her gaze made his breath flutter like the fireflies. “The moonlight lit your face. You’re more beautiful than ever.” Warmth coursed through his face. He must have enchanted himself with the song. Though he’d thought it many times, he’d never before called her beautiful.
Unable to hold back any longer, he knelt in front of her, and she lifted up to kneel before him. Entwining his fingers through hers, he held them against the scar on his chest where the bone tore through two summers ago. With a voice soft as a trickling stream, he spoke. “I welcomed the pain of becoming a man. Do you know why?”
“Because you wanted to be a great warrior?”
His thumbs caressed the back of her hands. “No. The time of great Sioux warriors is ending. I must learn to be a better hunter. To provide for my family.” A family he wished with all his heart to have with her. His insides lurched when she glanced down.
“Black Bear—”
She tried to slide her hand away, but he held it fast.
“Please let me speak.”
His seriousness silenced her. With a nod, she lifted her gaze to his scar, the mark of his love for her. It spoke of his hopes for their future. From now on, he wanted it to be a reminder of this night.
Soft urgency gave fire to his words, and the fire sparked in his blood. “I know now why you are called Quiet Thunder. I didn’t know I could feel such thunder inside. It overtakes me every night while I try to sleep. In everything I do, I feel your spirit with me. I need to know if you feel the same.” He pressed her hand against his scar so she might feel his heart thudding through his skin. It pulsed with his life’s blood as if to mingle with her own.
When she raised her chin, moonlight illuminated her face, her dark eyes ablaze. “Yes.”

Mwahaha! More Halloween fun

I love Halloween parties! I'm part of LASR's Halloween Blogfest celebration on the LASR blog and the Goddess Fish Party Pavilion. I hope you'll pop over and join me for some spooky fun, stories and legends. Oh, and food! No party is complete without goodies. :)

Don't forget - the more comments you leave, the better your chances at winning gift cards and other giveaways.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spookapalooza!

I'm part of The Romance Studio's Spookapalooza today - it should be a blast, so I hope you'll pop on over and say hi!

The word Spookapalooza reminds me of another fun word from my favorite movie for this time of year, Young Frankenstein - Blucher!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Release day for Romancing the Hero!

I'm so excited - release day's finally here! Today, The Wild Rose Press released Romancing the Hero, a contemporary fantasy, as part of its Faery Rose line. Romancing the Hero's a novella, but its 70 pages are packed with fun and romance. And oh yeah, I can't forget mayhem. It's nearly as much fun as the romance!



Here's the excerpt:

“Jody Feather?” The deep voice rushed at her like a hot breeze, reverberated through her, and stopped her where she stood.
“Ye—” Her gaze climbed the long legs clad in well-fitting jeans, pumped torso outlined through his tight tee, to the gorgeous model face. Someone might have stolen a cardboard cutout of the perfect hero and breathed life into it, and that’s who stood on her doorstep.
“Yowsa,” she said on an exhale.
He cocked a delighted brow. “Pardon?”
“May I help you?” Please say yes.
“I believe it’s the other way around.”
“Really?” Thankyouthankyouthankyou! “I mean… what do you mean?”
The timbre of his deep voice filled the space between them. “I’m here to help. Use me.”
Wait. This had to be a prank. “I get it. Mimi sent you.”
His brow furrowed. “Mimi? No.”
Patience waning, she heaved a sigh. “Who are you?”
“I think you know.” He leaned a ripped bicep against the doorjamb in a move that seemed scripted—by her.
“No. Tell me.”
“Jake? Ring a bell?”
She might have guessed. “Oh right. Jake Emerson?”
He clucked his tongue. “The one and only. I knew you’d recognize me anywhere.”
“Even at my own condo. Go figure. So why are you here? As a prop for the signing?” Damn, he fit the role perfectly, too. She couldn’t have picked a better actor. She jotted another note to ask Mimi if he could pose for the next cover. A cardboard cutout would be perfect for signings.
“Is that what you need?” he asked with a hint of disappointment.
She peered past him. “No bags?”
“I travel light.”
“Didn’t she tell you? There are several events. Dinner, the keynote, plus the signing itself. You might want a change of clothes.” Though if anyone could pull off wearing the same outfit every day, he could. She could claim it was Jake’s brand, his image, an intentional move to make him recognizable to conference attendees. Mimi always droned on about the brand, the brand.
Besides, who’d notice his clothes? They only wrapped the prize beneath. And what a yummy prize. She had to hand it to Mimi, the marketing genius.
Musing aloud, she murmured, “Where did they find you?”
“They didn’t. I’m Jake.”
“Right. And I’m Lara Croft.” Not even her Halloween costume could turn her into the sexy heroine.
He chuckled. “You’re better than that bimbo.”
Oh boy. “Let’s not get carried away, shall we? It’s temporary.”
“Why? Do you plan to kill me off?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve read the series.” All that and a reader to boot.
“I don’t need to read it. I live it.”
His devilish smile almost blocked out his words, which hit her like a slap.
Yikes. “Listen, Mr…” Rolling her hand, she prompted him to finish.
“Emerson.”
Method actor, apparently. She’d play along for now. “Sure. Mr. Emerson.”
A car horn sounded outside.
“The taxi.” And she hadn’t remembered whatever she’d forgotten. Too late now. “Give me two seconds.” She hurried to grab her jacket.
“Take all the time you need, baby.”
The endearment brought her to a screeching halt. “Hold on. I get that you’re ‘Jake Emerson’ but when we’re together, address me as Ms. Feather. I am not your baby.” Or anyone else’s, unfortunately. After this weekend, she’d change that.
His mouth curled down in a brief frown. “Pity.”
“Give it a rest.” She’d written this scene in the second novel, when Jake first meets that leading lady. How many scenes had he studied? Hopefully he wouldn’t reenact too many. Sure, she loved her work, but not so much she wanted to live it. Except for certain parts, like the shower scene in book three… You don’t have time for this.
After grabbing her bag, she said a quick goodbye to Frank. “It’s only for the weekend. See you Monday.” She glanced at the man waiting at her door. “Tuesday at the outside.” Never rule out any possibilities. Her parents taught her that. And she’d made it Jake’s motto, one of the reasons fans loved him. Time to make it her own motto as well.
The saying had given her the strength to leap from journalism into fiction. If they only knew what she considered leaping into now… well, she was old enough to face those consequences. And enjoy them while they lasted.
Holding a hand to his sculpted abs, he bowed. “May I carry your bag, Ms. Feather? Or are you too liberated for such a show of chivalry?”
Wiseass. He had that aspect of Jake down pat. “Please. Take it, with my gratitude.” It gave her a chance to follow him down the walkway, and admire his rippling biceps and tight end, made more luscious by his swagger. She paid particular attention. She had to, or she wouldn’t be able to describe it in all its vital deliciousness in a later novel.
Oh yeah, she loved being a writer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Wow - more than 420 blogs signed up for this hop! All with fantastic giveaways. What a wonderful treat!

Thanks to Inspired Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer for organizing this.You can find links to all participating blogs on her site, so hop on over there after this.

 I'm giving away a copy of my contemporary paranormal, One Soul for Sale. Because it's a print copy, the giveaway's open only to U.S. residents, sorry.

It's easy to enter - simply leave a comment on this post, along with your email address so I can contact you after the hop closes.

Easy peasy!

More about One Soul for Sale...

A 2011 EPIC finalist, reviewers described it as “outstanding,” a “riveting read… I couldn’t stop until I hit the last page.” You can read more reviews, the Story Elements and Casting Call, as well as an excerpt here.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Need healing thoughts

Please keep Amy Ramsey of Ramsey's Reviews in your thoughts and prayers. She was in the hospital yesterday. Send her all your good vibes and healing thoughts so she's healthy and happy again soon!

Friday, October 21, 2011

At Ramsey's Reviews

As I mentioned awhile back, Ramsey's Reviews has held a two-month celebration for Halloween. Today and tomorrow, I'm the featured author! I hope you'll pop over and visit me for some spooky fun.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the flow

The past two weekends, I tore up the keyboard. Last weekend especially, when I added 12k to a story I'd begun more than two years ago. Then, this past weekend, I finished up the novella and with my critique partners' help, sent it out on submission.

Why now? How did I manage to jump into the flow of that story, when more than a dozen await my attention?

For me, stories gel at their own rate. Being a pantser rather than a plotter, I'll start a story and sometimes it will peter out, much like wet kindling resisting attempts to ignite it. I don't force the story; I know it will come at its own rate. Finally it hit me, that I needed to incorporate certain elements I had for another story rather than making them two separate stories. Once I did that, I built on what I already had, and was soon in the flow.

The flow is one of my favorite places to be. Reality falls away. There's no time. No worry. Just me and my characters, in their world. I type as fast as I can to keep up with the story-movie in my head.

The flow fascinates me. I wish I could plug into that mode at will, but it doesn't always come when I want it to. On Sunday, for example, as much as I wanted to dive back in, I only spun my wheels and hardly got any writing done. Oh, a few blog posts, and some other tasks, but not the meat of writing. I was disappointed.

Especially with NaNoWriMo coming up. Although I don't plot, I recognize the value of thinking ahead. Storyfix has had some great posts on tips to ready for NaNoWriMo - if you've signed up, you should check them out.

I know I won't be able to write 2k a day, with my crazy schedule. If I can manage to get back into the flow, I might be able to make some real progress on weekends. Not likely to the full 50k, but what I'm aiming for is a good start on a novel - Book Two of The Goddess Connection.

Apparently some have made a science out of "flow."

I found this chart online - interesting how "flow" is wedged between "boredom" and "panic/anxiety/worry" isn't it?

Here's a video featuring Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, who founded the Flow Institute.



Essentially, Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following ten factors as accompanying an experience of flow:
  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
  2. Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
  10. Absorption into the activity, narrowing of the focus of awareness down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.
Yep, sounds familiar. Now, how do I add that switch to myself so I can get there right away?

That's where thought comes in. Maybe it's a way of mapping out the brain ahead of time, but I think simply thinking - or daydreaming - (often called navel gazing) is an important part of writing. Characters live in my head while I'm not writing. Prepping the story for me. Helping it to gel into its final form. They know where it needs to go. So I follow them.

What about you? Any tricks for getting into the flow?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Visit me at Sharon Donovan's!

Sharon Donovan's hosting authors for a really fun Halloween event, and today's my turn! I hope you'll pop over and visit, and check out some of the other great posts. I have a funny Halloween story to share.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Damien bites the hand that gives him sanctuary

Thanks so much to all who visit! And thanks especially for your comments.

Here's another six from Death Is A Bitch, circulating on sub round #1. The daemon Damien was such a hoot to write, I'm considering giving him a spinoff story. In this scene, he's in Paris, tormenting a priest who's granted him sanctuary from the posse of angels hunting him:

Damien revealed his true self to the priest, who grew more horrified as the daemon’s skin charred, the stench of rotted flesh filling the small room. Damien’s nostrils flared above a malicious smile, eyes blazing like a fiery kaleidoscope.
The priest hastily made the sign of the cross, grabbed a wooden one from the wall and held it in front of him like a shield. “Back to Hell where you belong, unclean spirit.”
“You first.” Damien let his split tongue loll past his chin in his best Kiss impression.

Next week will be the last peek at Death, at least for awhile.
Be sure to check out the fantastic Six Sentence Sunday participants! And I have a new poll at top right - what's your greatest fear? 

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Steve Jobs on following life’s twists with faith


Aimed at graduates, easily applies to writers or anyone needing inspiration to follow their dream, even if it appears to lead you off the usual, well-worn path.


As Steve so succinctly said (at some other time): We are here to make a dent in the universe.

What kind of dent will you leave?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward blog hop

What a great idea! Thanks so much to Alex and Matthew for thinking of ways to spread the news about interesting blogs.  There are so many wonderful blogs that I hardly get a chance to visit, it's difficult to narrow it down to three. If you'll notice my blog roll, I have a ton of blogs that I love or that have caught my interest.But here goes:

Susan Gourley fills her Susan Says blog with interesting, thoughtful posts, often focused on the craft of writing, which I appreciate. And Susan's friendly and accessible, so it's always a pleasure to read her posts.

The Paranormalists is actually a group blog to which I belong. With dozens of members, all of whom write paranormal or fantasy, there's always something of interest to find there. And if you're an author who writes paranormal or fantasy, the blog's always open to new members.
Storyfix.com likely needs no new followers, but it's one I visit often because it's completely focused on craft, and always contains useful information. A great blog to follow for serious authors.

As I noted in a previous post, life has become outrageously crazy so I likely won't be able to visit many blogs during the day, but will catch up with you later! Thanks for visiting.

Now go check out the great blogs on the Pay It Forward hop!



Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Seasonal Affair

A flash story originally published in A Long Story Short web zine.



It’s the same every year. After months of no word from him, he’ll come creeping back to her. Just when she’s at her best – her most flamboyant, splendid self – she abandons everything to him.

He’ll swirl in, showering her with glittering diamonds, literally raining them down on her until she sparkles.

But he’s cold – frosty cold! He cares nothing for anyone else’s plans. He can wipe them out like an avalanche with no thought. Yet people love him. He inspires cozy warmth, snuggling.

She can’t resist him. At his best, he’s breathtakingly beautiful. At his worst, he’s ugly and destructive, but she understands that – she has that side to her as well.

They’re not always compatible, but something about them makes them a very complementary couple. He’s nothing, really, without her. She has that power over many of us.

When they’re good together, it’s like magic, and even sometimes when they’re awful – he can turn her to sheer ice, and still, it’s awesome.

Their relationship is not constant, it’s a seasonal affair. Not everyone approves, of course – there are those who can’t stand the combination of the two – they simply move away, where it no longer bothers them, it’s just one of those distant things they can t’sk about.

Their relationship can be so intense – maybe they just need a break, after saturating themselves with one other. Some speculate it’s fatherhood he can’t deal with – just as soon as she’s bulging with new life, he takes off for parts unknown – travels north, they say.

She doesn’t seem to mind, though. She keeps busy, always something new on her horizon. Or maybe it’s all a front – she can get pretty stormy. But she goes through her phases, and then, she’ll just be at her most glorious, and he’ll send his calling card – a tinge of frost on an amber leaf. He ruins her best work – fades her burnished oranges, her ember reds into ash, her sun-tinged golds into grey, filling the entire world with his sepia tones. The air turns crisp, and as a hint of what’s to come, the stars glimmer like diamonds in the sky, until the sky seems to fill up, gets heavy with them, then they crystallize and come showering down on her by the millions. 
If you listen very closely, you can almost hear her sigh as Mother Nature opens her arms to Old Man Winter yet again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Robert McKee's 10 Story Commandments

Robert McKee's Story seminar's on my writer's bucket list.

But until I can get to New York to attend in person, I subscribe to his newsletter. Here's what was in the latest:

Robert McKee's 10 Commandments of STORY:
I.     Thou shalt respect thine audience.
II.    Thou shalt research.
III.   Thou shalt dramatize thine exposition.
IV.   Thou shalt layer a subtext under every text.
V.    Thou shalt create complex characters rather than merely complicated story.
VI.   Thou shalt use neither false mystery nor cheap surprise.
VII.  Thou shalt not use deus ex machina to get thine ending.
VIII. Thou shalt not make life easy for thine protagonist.
IX.   Thou shalt take thine story into the depth and breadth of human experience.
X.    Thou shalt not sleep with anyone who has more problems than thou.
Hm, the last one really had me wondering. If I ever get to the seminar, I'll ask Mr. McKee about it!

Meanwhile, here's a lesson by Robert McKee on dialogue.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Alice Walker on the joys of work you love

I absolutely love what Alice Walker has to say in this video. Go ahead, watch it - it's only about two minutes, but those two minutes will leave you feeling uplifted and satisfied. And ready to write!

Monday, October 10, 2011

All aboard the crazy train!

I didn't think it possible, but life got crazier. Waaaay crazier. And it necessitates my time online growing even shorter than before.

I hate to skim through loop emails, but now even skimming's going to be rare, though I really miss keeping in touch with all the wonderful authors on the loops. And please accept my apologies in advance for not visiting blogs as often as I used to. I'll do my best to keep up, but until the end of the year, it's going to be really tough.

Which brings me to the final boarding stop for the crazy train: should I attempt NaNoWriMo? If I'm going to get any writing done at all, I need to carve out chunks of time dedicated to that, and only that (and if need be, wield that carving knife against intruders! Just kidding... I think!)

Last year, I couldn't participate in NaNoWriMo because hubby and I belatedly and deservedly celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (three years late, to be exact!) by going on a ten-day cruise. As much as I loved it, I really missed writing. And I missed the challenge of NaNoWriMo.

This year, as crazy as life has been, I may just sign up again. It will be with the foreknowledge that I won't make it to 50k, but my philosophy is: nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'll end up with more done than I would have if I don't sign up, so signing up will force me to be more structured with my time. Theoretically, at least. :)

How do you handle time constraints? Share your tricks!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SSS: Death swoons for Azrael

Woot for Six Sentence Sunday! Thanks for checking out my snippets, and especially for your comments.

Here's another peek at Death Is A Bitch. Death can't get enough of Azrael:

Standing at his full height, Azrael’s wings unfolded with a glorious whoosh. His feathers glimmered white as newfallen snow in the moonlight.

Magnificent. Death found herself breathless with admiration, and wishing those wings would wrap around her. Last time, she’d found feathers for eons afterward, stuck in her gown, in her hair. She hadn’t minded one bit.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Six Sentence Sunday authors - they're amazing! Have a great week.


Friday, October 7, 2011

New cover for A Hard Day's Knight!

Decadent came through with another amazing cover for my second 1NS story, A Hard Day's Knight. Isn't it cool? 


I haven't started edits yet, so this blurb isn't official, but here's the general premise:



Some days, it’s best to lay low. Lance Knight finds out the hard way – when he encounters his longtime foe, witch Morgan le Fay, at Medieval Merriment. Her curse kept him wandering the world for centuries. When he also meets Gwyn McCartney there through a 1NS date, he’s struck by her resemblance to his true love, Guinevere.  It gives him hope for the first time in centuries. First, he must face Morgan to break the curse, and he has only one hope: his sword, forged in the fires with Excalibur and imbued with magical powers by Merlin.

Gwyn McCartney’s had it with dating. Her friend’s setup through 1NS with Lance Knight irritates her, especially when Lance acts bored at Medieval Merriment – her employer and greatest fantasy. When a wench threatens Lance – a witch, he says – her fantasy world seems all too real. After Lance kisses her, she knows she has to battle Morgan le Fay. Can she free him, or will she lose him forever to the witch’s curse?