Monday, April 30, 2012

Version 294587.0

I've been revising - can you tell? Okay, maybe not that much. But it sometimes feels like it.

I'm excited about the changes I've made to my Key West historical, Angels, Sinners and Madmen. This is the book that flashed before my eyes during a visit to the island, on a trip to the Wreckers Museum. It was a very powerful vision, and for the next two days I copied everything I could in the library and then visited the home of a former wrecker captain which also a museum. There, I bought books about the island history and about the wreckers.

The wreckers blew me away. These guys salvaged ships that sunk off the dangerous reefs beyond Key West. They'd race out to the ships during the most terrible storms and dive into turbulent waters. They could stay underwater for crazy long periods - I think the museum said five to six minutes. They were rascals and heroes, and I knew I had to write about them.

This is the book that my editor (bless you, Chuck) swore would nab me an agent. But a few reviews pointed out flaws with the heroine that neither of us had thought of.

The rights to this story will revert to me in July, so I've been working on a better, stronger version. A stronger story overall, and a stronger heroine. It's been a bit arduous, but I've added some plot points that add more tension and interest too. So I'm excited about its re-release this summer!

The cover was a bit of a challenge. I'm not a Photoshop expert, but none of the images I found depicted a hero who fit the time period - 1856.

Yes, there were hunky guys like this one:

But I decided against him. I really wanted a tall ship in the background, but couldn't get it to work.

Next I found a closeup of the same guy in the water, but it just didn't have a historical feel even with the Blackadder font (which is overused, honestly). And frankly, I've been seeing this guy on lots of other book covers. There's no way to avoid it, these days, but it's disconcerting to see an image on someone else's book.

I knew I had to find two images that meshed together in a unique way. So I came up with this:

I love that it makes them appear to be drowning in a whirlpool of their own making. And I get my tall ship in the background.
This very well might be version 294587.2! Okay, not really, it's version 11. It took a long long time and many clicks to reach this point. I hope you like it. :)

I know I'll go back over the story a few times again to polish here and there before August, but I'm getting very excited for its re-release!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

SSS: Bodie tries to convince Lily she’s a goddess

Thanks so much for visiting! And especially for your comments. You guys rock!
Here's another six from my dark paranormal, Dancing with the Devil (a Kindle romance bestseller! Woot!):

“You don’t need to explain, Lily, ever.” He knew she’d let men touch her, a few with whom she’d been infatuated, maybe even loved. None had taken her virginity, and yet she’d offered it to him. 

Tenderness washed over him as she searched his face, wary and confused. How terrible for her, not to believe herself worthy of complete love and devotion, the same worship any goddess deserved. Someday he’d prove to her she was a true goddess.

Check out Six Sentence Sunday for all the amazing authors! Have a great week.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Western blurb fest at TBR this weekend

All you Western writers, round up your blurbs! It's Western Blurb Fest weekend at TBR.

Lovers of Westerns, lasso a few great stories for your TBR list!

I'm trying to decide what type of blurb fest to have next month and in future months. I've been holding two each month, and so far have had:

SciFi (to date, the most popular!)
and now Western.

Is there any genre you'd like to see for a blurb fest? Toss me some ideas!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Story Elements: A Midwest Summer Night's Dream

The heroes of the Old West always intrigued me, probably because I'd grown up with TV shows like Bonanza, The Rifleman, The Virginian and The Lone Ranger, all rugged men who survived hardships with stoic grace, but who never hesitated to help others whenever needed.

While I never base characters on anyone I know, I do sometimes borrow names for some of my heroes and heroines. My sister Annette's a genealogist, and traced our family history back to a French Canadian fur trapper named Peter LeVert. The Anglicized version of LeVert is Green, and my paternal grandmother's name was Nettie Green. So my hero became Jebediah Greene.

The imprints of the Native Americans who lived on the Eastern coast also influenced me while growing up. Their names were everywhere. The road I grew up on was an Indian name, I believe from the Lenne Lenape tribe though I'm not certain. This story begins in Tipton, Missouri, a major stop for stage coaches.

Several Native American tribes made their homes in Missouri, but for this story, I chose the Osage. The women of the tribe took care of the farming, the men hunted and sometimes fought to protect their people. Men and women alike were storytellers, artists, musicians and healers. Osage artists were famous for their wood carving and beadwork. They seemed like the type of tribe I would fall in love with, so I let my heroine, Winona, fall in love with their ways too. She'd never been particularly fond of domestic chores in Philadelphia, but the camaraderie of the Osage changed all that.

I'd read about the mountain man Jim Bridger who made his living as a hunter, trapper, trader and guide. He was also an illiterate who loved books and hired others to read to him. In this way, he memorized passages from Shakespeare and recited them along the trail.

Shakespeare's provided inspiration to countless writers, too. One of my favorite movie versions of Shakespeare (besides the Franco Zefferelli production of Romeo and Juliet) is A Midsummer Night's Dream with Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christian Bale, and others.

While my story's not a fantasy, both the hero and heroine love this Shakespeare play and make reference to it.

On a side note, I found this Beatles rarity while looking for the movie above. Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Visiting Natalie Owens today

I hope you'll pop over and visit with us, too! I have a bit of spring fever, and am sharing a little background about this month's release from BookStrand, my historical Western, A Midwest Summer Night's Dream.

And I have a fun giveaway to celebrate spring, too, so come on over!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

SSS: Zev's busted

Yay, it's Six Sentence Sunday again. Thanks so much for visiting, and for your comments, which I always appreciate.

Here's another six from Dancing with the Devil, my dark paranormal, in which Lily realizes Zev is actually a demon:

The longer she held the pendant, the more her hand shook. From her glazed, wild-eyed look, she either joined the ranks of the zombies or some deep truth had just hit home.

Her lip quivered. “You’re… a….”

He sighed, then slammed back his martini. Oh yeah, definitely the latter.

Check out the rest of the Six Sentence Sunday authors. Have a great week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Casting Call: A Midwest Summer Night's Dream

As usual, A Midwest Summer Night's Dream came to me with vivid, fully formed characters.

Jebediah Greene is a loner, at first by necessity and later by choice. He takes solace in books borrowed from Doc and Mrs. Wilson, and especially loves Shakespeare.

He's taken solace in the arms of a few ladies, but none have ever struck him like Winona Young.

When I first saw this picture of Gabriel Aubrey, I recognized him right away. Jeb.

Winona Young's intelligent, sometimes too much for her own good. Books are her constant companions, but she's awkward with people. Men especially, who always seem to want their own needs taken care of first. She's feisty and knows how to take care of herself. But when she begins to know Jeb during their trip West, she also begins to learn not every man is like her terrible stepfather or the men he sought to marry her off with.

Rachel McAdams embodies the spirit of Winona perfectly.

Maggie's a prostitute in Tipton who has her sights set on the Western horizon. Often, she sets them on Jeb as well, but Jeb always refuses her. He's polite enough about it, something that appeals to Maggie. He has a sense of honor she prizes more highly than gold.

Helena Bonham Carter is perfect as Maggie. I just love her.

Doc and Mrs. Wilson are one of those couples who've been together forever, and know exactly what the other one thinks, sometimes before s/he thinks it.

I loved the way Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were like that. They'd be perfect as Doc and Mrs. Wilson.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Release day for A Midwest Summer Night's Dream

Yay, release day is here! A Midwest Summer Night's Dream is now available from Book Strand. As the title implies, it's a Western historical with a Shakespearean twist.

I grew up on shows like Bonanza, The Virginian, The Rifleman, and one of my favorites, The Lone Ranger (looking forward to Johnny Depp as Tonto in the new movie version!).  Heroes who withstood harsh conditions with stoic grace.

A few years ago, I read about a mountain man named Jim Bridger who, though illiterate, recited passages of Shakespeare in mining camps and Indian camps alike. It captured my imagination, and so I began this story. It took a few years, but I finally finished!

So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to do the release day happy dance. :) You're welcome to join in!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On book titles and insecurities

Jennifer Egan visited Carlisle a few weeks ago, and read the first chapter of her Pulitzer-winner, A Visit From the Goon Squad. I was thrilled she came to town. I don't know how Dickinson manages to book such amazing authors as her and Margaret Atwood, among others. And to make the events free to the public (exactly what I can afford!).

Afterward, during the brief Q&A session (extremely regimented, actually - only five questions allowed), someone asked how she came up with the title. Great question. It's not exactly a grabber of a title, except for its oddness.

Ms. Egan expained she had come up with the title before the story. Each story that she began, she wondered, is this, finally, A Visit From the Goon Squad? At some point while writing it, a line of dialogue made her realize that her WIP was, indeed, the long awaited A Visit From the Goon Squad.

After publication, the story didn't sell well at first. She kicked herself for giving the book that title. But then, of course, it was nominated for a Pulitzer, boosting sales, and then awarded the Pulitzer, and the rest is bestseller history.

It surprised me that Ms. Egan suffered from such insecurities, being such an established author. Another surprise was the basis for the story - sparked from a real-life incident in which a woman left her purse, with wallet in full view, on the sink in a public rest room while she used the toilet. Crazy, but true. But I found it reassuring that a well-known author did this, as I've done it myself and felt like I'm pilfering, or my muse hasn't quite done her job well enough.

Funny story, though - Ms. Egan told how her own wallet had been stolen more times than she could recall, and had received a call from the credit card representative soon after her card was stolen. Ms. Egan shared more information with the woman only to learn that she was, in fact, the thief herself.

I purchased a copy of A Visit From the Goon Squad after the reading, and the student used one of those handheld credit card machines, sliding the imprinter over the carbon slip again and again. The numbers grew illegible, but I didn't argue. The next day, a woman called to ask me for my credit card number, and I was tempted to ask whether she was really an employee of Dickinson College, or someone who collected credit card numbers for her own gain. But as I'd left my  phone number with the girl, I gave her the number again. I'll be watching my account statements, though. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

I was tagged twice for this last week - thanks to Arlene Webb and DL Jackson -  but couldn't respond till now.

Here's how it works:
Each author is requested to
*go to page 77 of your current WIP
*go to line 7
*copy down the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs as written and post them
on your blog or website
*tag 7 other authors

I don't have a page 77 yet for my current WIP, so I'll  share seven lines from A Midwest Summer Night's Dream, which releases Friday (yay!):

“An old friend of mine is here.”
The voice sounded familiar, but Jeb couldn’t place it. He lifted his whiskey glass and relished its burn going down. On a slow blink, he focused on the next table over, where a friendly face from Tipton smiled back at him.
Maggie sat with an elderly gent. By the looks of it, his hand was working under her skirts. She looked as thrilled as a polecat finding a rotten piece of meat. 
You might surmise, correctly, that Maggie's not the heroine. :)  She is, however, a key character in the story. But you'll have to read it to find out more!

So now, onto the more difficult part of the task - choosing seven authors to carry on the meme (or not, as they choose!). Some Six Sentence Sunday wonder writers:
Jessica Subject 
Melissa MacKinnon
Siobhan Muir
Monica Enderle Pierce
Dianne Hartsock
Zee Monodee
Vivien Dean

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SSS: Bodie clues Lily in

Such a crazy week, it got away from me and I didn't sign up for Six Sentence Sunday, but here's my contribution anyway.

From Dancing With the Devil, my dark paranormal that made it to #38 on the Amazon bestseller list for romance! Woot!

“Seriously, you’re an angel.” On a Harley. Or maybe just a Springsteen fan like her who loved the idea of it.
“You can Google me. I show up as Bodiel, Ruling Angel of the Sixth Heaven. I prefer Bodie.”

Check out all the amazing authors of Six Sentence Sunday. Have a great week!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mystery blurb fest today!

Do you love a good mystery? Come over to TBR for some great blurbs from mystery writers!

If you write mystery stories, I hope you'll share yours.

Coming up on April 28 - the Western Blurb Fest! Stay tuned. :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

April is National Poetry Month

Poetry was my first literary love, I have to admit.  Some people seem to think that poetry's only for the high-minded, those who only read literary fiction. But really, poems are just another means of expressing your innermost thoughts. In grade school, my friends and I wrote poems, shared poems, and collaborated on poems. Yes, most of it was laughable, but at the time, it provided a deep connection between us. More than that, it became the basis for a lifelong love of writing, for me. Playing with words and ideas, putting them together with their own particular cadence and rhythm, was a creative breakthrough. Not surprisingly, we were all also crazy about music. I used to pore over song lyrics, much of which was poetry in its own right.

If you doubt the power of poetry, watch Maya Angelou recite Still I Rise. It will change not only your mind, but it will change you.

Celebrate National Poetry Month! If you're new to poetry, try the Poem In Your Pocket. See if that poem doesn't change the way you look at the world around you. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Story Elements: Dancing with the Devil

I love sharing the background of my stories. It usually takes me anywhere from many months to several years to finish a story. I always have about a dozen in the WIP queue, and work on them as time permits. Research is sometimes a holdup. I love it a little too much.

For my dark paranormals, research involves everything from The Underworld to Greek mythology to goddesses to angels.

Dancing with the Devil was no different. The myth of Persephone and Hades has always intrigued me. The gods and goddesses were a strange and incestuous bunch (Persephone was Hades' niece, in fact). I wasn't about to touch that aspect of it. 

But that aside, Hades is, after all, the devil. The ultimate bad guy. The guy you can never trust, never be friends with, never turn your back on. Yet somehow, he managed to make Persephone fall in love with him. After their marriage, her mother Demeter protested and basically earned Persephone a Get Out of Hell card for at least part of the year. Persephone ultimately chose to return to Hades.

Why? Did Hades have some redeeming qualities? He wasn't a faithful husband. He spent a little too much time with the nymph Minthe. Persephone took notice, and violently murdered Minthe. Maybe a little of her husband rubbed off on the goddess, eh?

Much of the story is set in The Underworld. Not many have visited and returned to describe the setting, but there are plenty of resources to make up for that. 

Hades refers to both the ruler of The Underworld and Hell itself. For the most part, it refers to the ruler in Dancing With the Devil.  Tartarus is the least desirable of the realms, where the damned souls reside, and where Hades keeps his main castle in my story.

As far as the realm being broken into sections, well, that was something I imagined. Each section has its own archduke, chosen by Hades. For Section Six, Zeveriah is archduke, and has fallen into Hades' favor with his financial expertise. Hades is about to appoint Zeveriah as CFO. As an extra perk, he's throwing in his granddaughter Lily.

Carrying on in the tradition of Hades and Persephone, the two arrange the marriages of their offspring with prominent figures in The Underworld. Persephone's daughter Illiana, however, chose to buck that tradition and instead married an angel, Zacharel. Their daughter Lily was kidnapped as an infant and placed into the care of a woman who turned out to be a double agent - friendly to the angels, she secretly worked for The Underworld, and helped set up Lily on her 21st birthday. 

When she steps into the waiting limousine, Lily has no clue she's taken the first step toward fulfilling her role as The Destined One.

It's funny how elements come together in a story. When I first began Dancing With the Devil, Lily's a pole dancer. Not your stereotypical exotic dancer, she just loves to dance. So it seemed natural to include a scene in which Persephone and Hades arrange a performance during Lily's visit. As a starting point, I researched belly dancing and stumbled across information on slave dances, which I'd never heard of, but which fit the story perfectly.

Slaves dance performances tell a story in and of themselves. They might be a woman's personal story, or it might be a traditional dance which relays a part of the culture.

In Dancing With the Devil, the performance depicts the origin of The Destined One, and shows how the woman will fulfill her role. Lily's enamored of the dancing itself, and asks to learn the method. I'd never understood much about it, but apparently using the finger cymbals, or zills, is extremely difficult to master.

Not for Lily, of course. :)

Angels provided another reason for research. I dusted off my copy of A Dictionary of Angels and searched through it for what might be an appropriate angel. The one who caught my eye was Bodiel.

As The Ruling Angel of the Sixth Heaven, Bodiel would seem to be in a position of direct opposition to the archduke of Hades Section Six, Zeveriah. A good excuse to make them foes since the beginning of existence.

Bodiel's also part of the Sixth Order of Angel, known as Thrones. The array of angels is astounding, in fact - one for every month, every day, and every hour of the day. And more beyond that. But that's all for another story. :)

Literally, Bodiel means "The Enlightenment of the Source of the Whole of Existence." For my story, he focuses on enlightening Lily. He understands the risk in becoming personally involved, yet it doesn't stop him. Besides being a warrior angel, he also rides a motorcycle. True hero material.

My research files for this story go on for many, many more pages. I'll wrap it up with Lilith, who's somewhat of a mystery. Apparently much of what was formerly recorded about Lilith was stricken from history. Some referred to her as the first goddess, and the first wife of Adam - in fact, created alongside Adam rather than Eve, who came later to replace Lilith. It seems Lilith was somewhat of a party girl, and liked to keep her options open rather than commit to one guy. She "mated" with the archangel Samael (who became the original fallen angel, or Satan). So some referred to her as a demoness, and she may or may not have been the serpent who tempted Eve with the apple in the Garden of Eden.

It seems to be the general concensus that Lilith was banished. So she became the go-to goddess for desperate Veronica, who's in love with Zeveriah, who's determined to make Lily fall in love with him. But he also is addicted to relieving the pain of waiting for Lily by, ahem, spending time with Veronica.

As I've mentioned before, Dancing with the Devil is a much higher heat level than I normally write. I think I mentioned I stopped writing it a few times because of it. But then I realized the sex was not gratuitous. In Dancing With the Devil, it's more of a power struggle than anything. It made perfect sense, so I stopped trying to limit my characters and let them tell their story.

The most important element of all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mystery Blurb Fest coming up

Do you write mysteries? Or love to read them? Then you won't want to miss the Mystery Blurb Fest at TBR this weekend! Mystery writers, come post your blurbs! Mystery authors, get ready to add to your TBR list.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blogging away today

I hope you'll visit me at Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews today! It's one of many interviews to come, just as a warning. :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Have a wonderful Easter!

Our celebrations began today, early by a day because we're heading East tomorrow to visit our New Jersey family. Yay! It's been too long since we traveled home.

I think we're also celebrating that we're all finally, finally over the virus we've been passing back and forth for weeks. It's good to be healthy again.

Hope you enjoy a lovely holiday with your family!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Two beautiful new covers!

This week, I received these book covers - both gorgeous!

Though the covers are both beautiful, the stories couldn't be more different. Death Is A Bitch is a dark paranormal which Decadent Publishing will release soon, and A Midwest Summer Night's Dream is a Western historical with a Shakespearean twist, which Book Strand will release April 19.

Here's the book video for A Midwest Summer Night's Dream:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dancing With the Devil featured

Thanks so much to Kindle Romance Novels for featuring Dancing With the Devil on their blog!
I really appreciate it.

Authors, if you'd like your book featured there as well, check out their Submit Your Book tab.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Insecure Writers: Multiple pen names?

This probably falls less under insecurity than I'm just casting about for the appropriate thing to do, and could really use some feedback.

When I began writing, I used my maiden name of Masterson, and my first two initials, C.A. I wrote mostly literary short stories then, but a few mainstream/literary novels too.

Then a friend suggested I submit to one of the online publishers which had accepted one of her stories. A romance publisher. I did, but decided to shorten my name so it was a little snappier. So I became Cate Masters. (Seriously, I think of myself more as Cate Masters than anyone these days - a strange identity crisis.)

I'd already put up a Facebook identity as C.A. Masterson, and so had to make a page for Cate Masters, but whenever I post, I show up as C.A. Masterson. (Confused yet? Join the club!) It seems to confuse and/or disappoint some readers who download my mainstream/literary shorts, and find no romance.

I have some story ideas that are not romance, but wondered - as a reader, does it confuse you to have authors you like write across genres? Do you prefer they keep separate pen names for separate genres, or is that more confusing than one pen name?

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for launching the Insecure Writer's Support Group! I need all the support I can get. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Visiting Rachel Brimble today

I hope you'll hop across the pond to merry old England and visit with Rachel and me. Rachel's a wonderful author, and lovely hostess! I'm sure we can serve you up some tea and crumpets while you're there.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

SSS: Zeveriah, Archduke of Hades Section Six

Wow, what a crazy good week! Sizzling Hot Book Reviews rated Dancing with the Devil 4 hearts, and Night Owl Reviews rated The Magic of Lavender, the first book in the Goddess Connection series, as a Top Pick! I am still over the moon, happy dancin'. I hope you grabbed your free copy of Dancing With the Devil from Amazon this week!

So on to the snippet. In Dancing With the Devil, the heroine's family promised her in marriage to the Archduke of Hades Section Six, Zeveriah. Zev's nervous about winning Lily's heart:

His laid-back demeanor belied the intensity beneath, the furious drive to succeed propelling him through millennia.
I’ll woo her. Yes, ridiculous as it sounded, he would stoop that low, charm the girl into loving him as The Prince had with Persephone.
The Prince had no angelic counterparts to thwart his plan, however. Bodiel had been a thorn in Zev’s side for too long. The Ruling Angel of the Sixth Heaven better stay the hell out of this, or he’d meet his counterpart face to face, sword to sword.

Catch up with all the amazing Six Sentence Sunday authors here. Have a great week!