Saturday, October 31, 2009

Welcome special guest author Linda LaRoque!

Cate: Please welcome Linda LaRoque. Linda, will you please share a short bio with us?
Linda: I’m a Texas girl, but in my early teens a horse tossed me in the road dislocating my right shoulder. Forty years passed before I got on another, but it was older, slower, and I was wiser. Plus, my students looked on and it was important to save face.
I’m a retired teacher who loves West Texas, its flora and fauna, and its people. My stories paint pictures of life, love, and learning set against the raw landscape of ranches and rural communities in Texas. I’m a member of RWA, my local chapter of HOTRWA where I serve as president, NTRWA and Texas Mountain Trail Writers.
Today I live in a small community outside of Waco, TX with my husband and dog Molly. We have two grown children and a grandson. You can visit me at and read about the books I’m working on now.

Cate: Tell us about Flames on the Sky and where it's available.
Linda: Flames on The Sky, book two of The Turquoise Legacy, is now available in paperback at and, and

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Linda: The Anasazi whispered of this evil and of the woman who could defeat it.
Fire, sky, and stone must unite to fulfill an ancient prophecy.
Madison Evans inherits a turquoise locket, travels to New Mexico, and discovers the stone dates back to the Chacoan Anasazi. When she's attacked, parks ranger Lonan Stone, of Chacoan ancestry, fears Madison's turquoise is a missing twin of the revered Fallen Skystone, an egg size piece of turquoise on display in Albuquerque. The mystical stone is missing two slivers – one’s in Madison’s necklace, the others whereabouts unknown, but if united by evil they can destroy.
Madison and Lonan are part of a 1000 year old prophecy to save Chaco Canyon. Thrust back in time, they meet a witch, solve a murder, fall in love, and imprison a 1,000 year old evil spirit. Their mission complete, can these two people from different cultures blend their lives as the prophecy predicted?

Cate: Wow, very intriguing! And congrats on its listing in the top twenty of Amazon's bestselling new and future releases in Time Travel! Here's the trailer:

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Linda: Flames on The Sky is set in Chaco Canyon of New Mexico. This story is the second in The Turquoise Legacy, and I wanted the heroine to discover where the turquoise originated. I’d visited New Mexico and the Cerrillos mine area several times. After some research I discovered the Anasazi in 1000 AD held a monopoly on the turquoise trade and it came from the Cerrillos mines. I knew the hero and heroine would travel back to 1000 AD in Chaco Canyon, but with my research ideas grew. I had a wonderful time researching and writing this story.

Cate: I love research too. Any specific inspiration for your characters (an actor/actress or personal hero)?
Linda: No, no one in particular.

Cate: How do you pick the character’s names?
Linda: Picking names for me is difficult. I struggle but with Madison Evans, since she’s just earned her PhD in Shakespearean literature with a minor in music, I decided she needed a classy name. Madison seemed to fit. With Lonan Stone, I changed his name about half way into the story. I can’t tell you the significance of his name as it will reveal too much about the story, but being he’s a rugged park ranger and Native American, his name needed to fit his character.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Linda: Though I do spend a lot of time thinking about my stories, I can’t say they haunt my dreams or live with me as they’re part of my OTHER life.

Cate: What's next for you?
Linda: I’m about finished with a futuristic story with the working title, Born in Ice, set in 2155 when earth is living with the after effects of global warming and a little ice age.

Cate: Great topic. Very timely.
At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Linda: I remember writing a short story in 9th grade English class and how much I enjoyed it but didn’t consider writing until the early 1990s. At the time I suffered with depression and had difficulty sleeping at night. An avid reader, I couldn’t concentrate on my reading or sleep at night. To help me go to sleep I decided to write a story in my head about a woman suffering from depression. It helped me sleep and when I was better I decided to put the story to paper. Seventeen years later, in 2007 after many workshops, rewrites, critique groups, and the advice of a mentor, When the Ocotillo Bloom was published by Wings epress. It’s now been republished by Champagne Books.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Linda: Warm, realistic, emotional.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Linda: I wish I did, but tend to waste a lot of time browsing the internet and procrastinating. Once I get started I can work many hours. I like to think of that wasted time as perking, building ideas in my mind.

Cate: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Linda: For me the most challenging aspect is the plot, making sure all the holes are filled and there are no loose ends. The most rewarding aspect is when I’m writing and the characters and/or story speak to me and the words flow onto the page.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Linda: “There is realism to the story that only a few time travel authors can bring to the page.” Gail of Night Owl Romance. Comment about A Law of Her Own, a short time travel with The Wild Rose Press.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Linda: I grew up on Phyllis Whitney, Anna Seton, Victoria Holt, Gwen Bristow, and others. I love Dorothy Garlock, Steven Hunter, Nevada Barr, Diana Gabeldon, Stephen King, and a variety of romance authors. I just finished reading Ciara Gold’s Julia’s Golden Eagle and am now reading Terry Spear’s To Tempt the Wolf.

Cate: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors? Or in people/the environment in general?
Linda: Though I love paper books, I read mostly via my Ebookwise reader. It’s so convenient to use and holds so many books. My husband prefers to read on his Palm phone and I have books on my Palm also. Ebooks save trees. For me they’ve opened up room on my book shelves. They allow me to read all I want and have room keep copies of keepers.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Linda: Check out the news page for the contest I’m hosting to celebrate the release of Flames on The Sky. I give away an ebook every month on my blog. A winner is drawn from those who leave a comment.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Linda: Is there a theme, subject, or setting you feel writers have neglected and would make a good story?

Cate: Readers, Linda is giving away an ecopy of the first book in The Turquoise Legacy, My Heart Will Find Yours, to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 1.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Almost NaNoWriMo time again

Well I missed National Writing Day on October 22, probably due to a lack of national advertising on its part. Had I known the Senate would pass S.R. 310, I would have put pen to paper that day come Hell or high water (and lately, it's been Hell, but that's another story).
Hell notwithstanding, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo again. Yep, I enlisted in the ranks of those who'll write fast and furious starting November 1, aiming for that golden 50,000-word bar. I may not make it this year, but I'll at least try. I've had a contemporary gelling in my head for awhile, clamoring to get out.
Last year, I finally wrote the historical novel I had in my head since visiting Key West in 2003. Freya's Bower will release Angels, Sinners and Madmen. I'm currently in first edits, so have no date yet, but likely it will release in early 2010.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Welcome special guest author Lynn Romaine!

Cate: I'm happy to have Lynn Romaine as a guest. Lynn, will you please share a short bio with us?
Lynn: I live in southern Indiana, a university town, and entered the world of fiction writing very late, seven years, at the age of 58. I’ve written three books, had all three published, the most recent with The Wild Rose Press, and I just recontracted my 1st book, Leave No Trace, with TWRP. I have a fantastic daughter, a great family and friends who support me in many ways and just did my 1st book signing with TWRP book at Barnes & Noble. A great success!

Cate: Tell us about Long Run Home and where it's available.
Lynn: Long Run Home was released by The Wild Rose Press 09/18/09. It’s romantic environmental suspense, about a woman who is abandoned by her mother at 11, joins an ecoterrorist group at 18 and goes underground for 12 years, hiding from the FBI. When she finally emerges, she meets a man, has an brief affair and discovers he’s FBI and out to betray her. The book is available at The Wild Rose Press in ebook and print, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Cate: Wow, what an intriguing plot! And so timely. Fantastic cover too!
Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Lynn: Here’s a brief sexy excerpt:
The bedroom was cold, with only faint light seeping in through the single small window. He led her to the bed and stopped beside it, turning to her. The heat from his body pulled her forward; and she leaned into him, her arms encircling his waist. He put his arms around her, one large hand cradling the back of her head.
He bent down and kissed her slowly. She could feel the sharp edges of his lips against hers. Even the shape of them felt sensual. He tasted of coffee, with a tang of smoke about it.
Pulling away from the kiss, she looked up at him in the skimpy light. The smile she gave him was reassuring but his pupils were narrowed.
Her heart pounded. He slid his hands around, palms down, running them slowly down the front of her sweatshirt, skimming lightly over her breasts. He reached about her waist and drew her up against him, letting her feel his erection pressed to her belly.
He bent forward again, this time he kissed her neck. She could feel his tongue flicker over the small dent below her ear. As if on a signal, the game suddenly turned desperate. They were holding each other tightly, her kisses covering his neck, her fingers working at his back, digging into his flesh.
A hand here, another there, as clothes came off. Greedily they tore at clothing until they both stood bare and trembling. The last barrier was his jeans and he pulled them off, leaving her gasping at the feel of him against her.

Cate: Very sexy! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Lynn: I write about women who have to confront impossible circumstances that contradict their entire lives and are forced to redesign themselves and their reality. I was inspired for these themes by losing my older sister suddenly in my teen years and committing myself to young woman living fulfilled lives.

Cate: What a great tribute to your sister.
Any specific inspiration for your characters (an actor/actress or personal hero)?
Lynn: Probably all of Tami Hoag’s recent book characters. Tough women who make it in life on their own terms at the expense of opening their hearts.

Cate: How do you pick the character’s names?
Lynn: The names are the most important part of writing after the book title to me. I can’t write a book until I have the main character names. I search and listen – searching other books, eavesdropping on people around me, and news stories (my recent WIP I got the last name from the news piece on Ingrid Betancourt who was taken hostage for six years in Colombia).

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Lynn: I revisit my WIP MS every night – where I compose and refine my story in my head. They don’t haunt me – I snoop on them!

Cate: It’s good you can keep them in line! What's next for you?
Lynn: Moving up to best selling author, maybe an agent, maybe not but a wider audience and many more readers!

Cate: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Lynn: As I said above, I never wrote fiction until seven years ago at the age of 58. I wrote my 1st book, Leave No Trace, in four months, signed a contract in one month and the book was published a year later. It all seemed easy and I had no idea how much more work I’d need to put in by my 3rd book to make it a better written book.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Lynn: Gritty, sparse, scenery/mood driven

Cate: Ooh, I love that!
Do you have a writing routine?
Lynn: When I’m in the full-tilt bogie writing mode, at least 1-2 hours a day – I write very fast. But editing can take me a year or more since I do 6-8 edits on my books now.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Lynn: Challenging aspect would be keeping on when no one wants a book. Most rewarding is meeting the readers and having them say how much they love a book.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Lynn: “I can’t them down!”

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Lynn: Tami Hoag is #1 with me in contemporary writers – Dark Horse, Alibi Man, Thin Dark Line – her suspense rather than romance books. I aspire to be her! I’m not reading much these days – can’t seem to find anything to read – I think I’m in the midst of shifting genres and finding it hard to pick a genre to read. I believe I have Lisa Jackson sitting on my bookstand.

Cate: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors? Or in people/the environment in general?
Lynn: I know electronic books are the wave of the future but I’ve been having my books published in both trade paperback and ebook form for six years and I don’t believe anyone I know has ever read an ebook – or purchased a download of my books (of course, I can’t be sure but no one has ever contacted me who read my book in ebook version).

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Lynn: and my blog

Cate: Love your tag line: Empowering young women to lead created lives.
Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Lynn: Tell me what makes a great book.

Cate: Readers, Lynn is giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner tomorrow night. Be sure to leave your email address so Lynn can contact you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Voting closes today - please vote!

Voting closes today at You Gotta Read for its October trailer contest. I'd love for you to vote for my trailer for One Soul for Sale.
All it takes it two quick clicks! First click on Entry #12, then on Vote. Thanks so much!

Here's the trailer again:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lucky seven

Do you believe in luck? According to legend, seven is a powerful number.

It's been pretty lucky for me. I'm the seventh child of two parents of families of seven each. Among ancients, the seventh son of a seventh son was believed to be born with supernatural powers, a boy who would become a wizard when he grew to manhood. Likewise, the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter was believed to be born with gifts of prophecy and healing. Hopefully, in my case, it bestowed great writing powers upon me. :)

So it's no wonder I named my TWRP Vintage Rose Seventh Heaven. Set in my hometown of Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, Pa., the story follows Lilah and James through good luck and bad. Like me, Lilah believes in making her own good luck.

(Actually, I named this story after a 1937 Jimmy Stewart film called Seventh Heaven, a really romantic old movie.)

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Seventh Heaven. I'll announce a winner tomorrow night.

The legends continue...

Breaking a mirror, everyone knows, brings seven years of bad luck, a belief dating back to the Romans.

Seven years of bad luck will plague anyone who kills a black cat on Halloween.

Superstition holds that if you sing before seven, you will cry before eleven.

To some, seven represents the day on which success will greet any special venture.

Believing seven to be the perfect number, the ancient Greeks considered seven lucky.

Goths worshiped seven deities, and the Japanese have seven gods.

In olden times, many lovesick would practice certain tricks on Halloween to aid them in divining who their true love would be, or end their search for love:

The first guest at a Halloween party to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry.

The first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Single girls who scatter hempseed in a field on Halloween night will dream of their future husband.

Women could also bring a lantern to a fresh spring at midnight and see their true love's face in the reflection.

I can't help you see into the future, but I can give you a glimpse into the real Lambertville/New Hope area with the Seventh Heaven trailer:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Demons and muses and contests, oh my!

Duendes are the dark side of muses. Akin to demons, duendes mercilessly drive people to creativity rather than using inspiration, sometimes resulting in the person's insanity or death.

In my Wild Rose Press short fantasy, The Duende and the Muse, a duende and a muse team up to inspire a lackluster poet. It's all about balance, the yin and yang.

Since ancient times, people believed they could work against evil forces with certain practices. If you're superstitious, maybe you'll want to try one of these:

To ward off evil on Halloween, walk around your home three times clockwise and three times counterclockwise.

Hide all knives on Halloween night so that returning spirits won't come to any harm.

Place a turnip on your gatepost on Halloween so no evil spirits can harm you or your home.

Lock up your cat on Halloween to prevent an elf from entering your home on your cat's back and creating havoc.

Ring a bell (not a doorbell) on Halloween to ward off evil spirits for the entire year to come.

Keep your windows closed so no bats can fly into your house and bring death.

Dress up in masks and costumes to deceive spirits who may be seeking you out.

Appease the spirits of the dead and feed the souls of any visiting ancestors by leaving food outside.

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Duende and the Muse! I'll announce a winner tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reflections of Halloween

According to legend, All Hallow's Eve is the one night of the year when the barrier between two worlds of the living and the dead dissolves, allowing visitors from The Other Side. I wove that notion into my Halloween-themed short, Reflections, released this month from Shadowfire Press.

For a chance to win a PDF of Reflections, comment today or tomorrow. I'll announce a winner tomorrow night in the comments section.

But first, more spooky Halloween lore:

One myth holds that the image in a mirror is our actual soul. If the mirror breaks, the soul could stray from the body. To prevent it, some would pick up the broken pieces and bury them outside in the moonlight after first waiting seven hours.

Girls who carry a lamp to a spring of water on this night can see their future husbands in the reflection.

Staring into a mirror at midnight on Halloween will show someone his or her future spouse.

Gazing into a flame of a candle on Halloween night will enable a person to peer into the future.

By placing fresh rosemary and a silver coin under her pillow on Halloween, a girl could glimpse her future husband in a dream.

A person born on Halloween can see and talk to spirits.

If you hear footsteps trailing close behind you on Halloween night, do not to turn around to see who it is, for it may be Death himself. To look Death in the eye, according to ancient folklore, is a sure way to join the ranks of the dead.

To cast a headless shadow or no shadow at all is still believed by many folks in the United States and Europe to be an omen of death within the next year.

If you'd like to meet a witch, wear your clothes inside out and walk backward on Halloween night.

According to an old British Halloween superstition, Satan was a nut-gatherer, so on Halloween night, people used nuts as magic charms.

For more thrills and chills, check out the Reflections trailer:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Soul for Sale trailer contest

Beginning today, You Gotta Read opened voting for its October trailer contest. I'd love for you to vote for my trailer for One Soul for Sale. All it takes it two quick clicks! First click on Entry #12, then on Vote. Thanks so much!
Here's the trailer again:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Soul of Halloween

Halloween's my second favorite holiday. Its traditions and mystery intrigued me when I was a girl, and even moreso now. Halloween legends, superstitions, myths and beliefs provide an endless wealth of story material!

To celebrate this ancient holiday, I'm be giving away PDFs of my two Halloween-themed stories this week: One Soul for Sale and Reflections. I'll also give away a PDF of my fantasy, The Duende and the Muse, and finally next Monday, a PDF of Seventh Heaven.

Here are some of the spookier superstitions and beliefs about death:

According to an old saying, if a candle's flame goes out on Halloween, then a ghost is visiting you.

If you see a spider on Halloween, it could be the spirit of a dead loved one looking out for you.

Ancients believed ghosts could be weighed down, so used tombstones to keep them in place.

Because some believed spirits could only travel in a straight line, mazes found at the entrance to many ancient tombs may have been intended to keep the spirit of the dead from returning to the world.

Some people believed that a person's soul remained for 24 hours after death. Members of the family, or friends of the deceased, often sat with the body of their loved one to prevent the devil from stealing the soul.

If a dead person’s eyes are left open, he’ll find someone to take with him.

If you touch a loved one who has died, you won’t dream about them.

If you look at your shadow in the moonlight on All Hallows Eve, death will find you.

Thunder following a funeral means that the dead person's soul has reached heaven.

If you see an owl diving on Halloween night, it's coming to take your soul away.

Comment today or tomorrow for a chance to win a PDF of my novella, One Soul for Sale, one of Eternal Press' Top 10 Bestsellers! I'll announce a winner tomorrow night in the comments section.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here and there

Melinda Elmore kindly invited me to her wonderful blog today. Come on over for awhile!

Tonight at 8:00, I'll be chatting with several other authors at Night Owl Romance and giving away a copy of Picture This, my romantic women's fiction from Eternal Press. I hope you'll come by and say hello!

Beginning tomorrow, I'll be giving away a few ebooks here too, so be sure to stop back for some Halloween fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Basket o'books!

The Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop will celebrate the first national National Bookstore Day with a giveaway basket of books by The Susquehanna Writers, the local writers group I helped cofound.

Publishers Weekly encouraged independent bookstores across the country to celebrate their vibrant culture. Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop patrons will have the opportunity to win a basket full of great reads such as:
Bark of the Tree by Mike Silvestri (mystery)
Thy Kingdom Come by Don Helin (military thriller)
One Soul for Sale by Cate Masters (dark fantasy)
Picture This by Cate Masters (contemporary women’s fiction)
The Greater Good by Susan Kelley (fantasy), plus a jeweled book thong
Summer Lovin’ YA anthology
Diverse Divorce by Lisa Lawmaster Hess (nonfiction)
Acting Assertively by Lisa Lawmaster Hess (nonfiction)
• Plus a $10 gift certificate to Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop from award-winning author Carmen McKee
The Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop has hosted author events for several members of The Susquehanna Writers, including Don Helin, Dennis Royer and Mike Silvestri.
Book store owner Debbie Beamer agreed to host the giveaway to help the listed authors promote their works and to encourage customers to celebrate National Bookstore Day. “The independent bookstore provides a vital service to the community. Residents should take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to support our local writers.”
No purchase is required to enter the giveaway. Visit the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Store at 6 Clouser Road, on the corner of Trindle Road in Mechanicsburg, to enter. The drawing will take place on Nov. 22.
Visit the store online at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome special guest author Arlene Webb!

Cate: Please welcome Arlene Webb. Arlene, will you please share a short bio with us?
Arlene: My writing career as sophomore in high school came to an tragic halt when parents received the phone call urging counseling over a perfectly crafted essay titled ‘How to Kill Your Gym Teacher in 10 Easy Steps.’
In college, Creative Writing was an easy credit, but the thrill remained buried in the excitement of breeding drosophila, abnormal psych, and the stress of writing unique reasons why parents or siblings should send money for vodka…er, school books.
Now, I slave daily in a florist shop counting the seconds until I flip the Open sign around. Rather bored with Hallmark cards and the messages Dick and Jane add to the condolence bouquet when Spot gets run down by a Mack truck, the saner solution over finding a new line of work is to warp reality and thrust full throttle into the world of words.
I grabbed a blank notebook, realized I couldn’t read my handwriting, and progressed to the keyboard. From an inspirational writing class, a star critiquer for over three years on an Internet writers group, I’m really happy Shadowfire Press opened the door for me.

Cate: I couldn’t live without my critique partners either.
Tell us about Love Grows Wild in the Dark and where it's available.
Arlene: A three story anthology available, you guessed it, from SFP.

Cate: Such a cool title! Please tantalize us with excerpts from your anthology.
Arlene: In Lieu of Flowers
Tormented by flowers, stalked by non-existent fiends, will a youth with an overactive imagination ever find happiness?
Hate my mom. Hate my life. Hate my mom.... The words looped in my mind, a mantra of misery. Top of the food chain, a nineteen year old Caucasian male, and here I was thrown back into reliving high school years. Surprised the old bat hadn't made me skip grade school to help for holidays. Come home from the intern gig for one lousy weekend, and it's Joel to the rescue--again.
"The cooler needs restocking. Red carns, alstro, delphiniums. There's another pack of pink roses in the back that aren't done yet."
"Yeah, yeah." I flipped my knife to a path parallel to the stem contaminating my other hand and pointed upward, my elbow braced for liftoff. "If I stab my eye out, can I leave?"
Mom burst out laughing. One thing about the woman, she did appreciate my sarcasm. But I seriously doubted she understood how deranged I was. I loathed flowers, almost as much as I hated running into dolts from my past.
Brad frickin' Norris. The vision of splattering crimson, the clank of enamel teeth hitting the sidewalk orchestrated with the lovely sonata of his girlish sobs and deep grunts begging for mercy--I sighed, my fantasy concerning punching Norris in the face had encouraged me to strip every thorn, and then some, off the rose in my hand.
"Maybe you should check the availability of Braille keyboards first." Mom slapped the final touches on yet another arrangement I'd have to cart across the street. Fingers moving in a blur, she peered up at me. "Forget the roses and take this. Careful. It's pricey, and I'll see you at home, kay? Honestly, son, I'll lose it if you drop that one."

Can an untamed lover distract from the desire to bring down the human race?
It hurts, having your head cut off. I don't care how lovingly the man crooned as he snapped me between his thick fingers. Pain ricocheted through my vascular system. With every fiber of my being, I hoped my fluid burned his fingers.
"Bastard human." My loud curse started a ripple from my cringing little ones. Heads bent in submission, they gulped their distress, murmuring soothing words to no avail. In a matter of hours I'd be sealed, callous formed, on my way to splintering into more suckers for the bipods to torture. I shook, using all my strength to turn from my loving offspring trying to raise their disfigured faces to the light. The devil had pinched them too.
Time to concentrate on settling the score between Plantae and Mammalia. The book lay at my base. I bent my mutilated crown, covered the page, and continued reading where I left off before the monster had stomped in on two horrid legs to mess with me.
When darkness soothed my injuries, blackness cloaked my hungry mind, and I swore again. Not happy with twisting me almost dead, forcing me to branch into a form they found ‘pretty’, lights went out at sundown like I was a simple seedling.
I snickered. Stupid human still hadn't found his bible. Soon, I'd have opportunity to take down his fascist regime.
"Mommy, why does he keep doing this?" my youngest whispered.
"Shh, my love. Someday you'll become so perfect the cruel man will stop." I didn't elaborate. No little sprout wanted to learn about hell day, and I didn't want to upset my offspring this vengeful night. I'd keep them in the dark as long as I could. "Sleep now. Dawn will break, it always does. And I promise you, we'll have a new light for breakfast--soon."

Circle in the Sand
Fallen angels, a handsome blue-eyed officer... How can a female geek concentrate?
I never thought it'd be so annoying being the lackey for a narcissist serial killer, but the angel rising from his chair had me gnashing enamel.
"You lost your marbles?" V growled. Like a trench coat around him, his dark hair flowed past his knees.
"Yes." Despite telling him that six times already, I didn't dare flip him my human backside and skedaddle before he dismissed me. The last thing I wanted was to squirm beneath a fallen one, his fist down my throat. His eyebrows snapping into killer angles encouraged me to elaborate. "Without my balls I can't blast brains to pulp. Searching the office, that's all I was doing."
"Balls? You sure look double X to me." He snorted, jerking his gaze from my chest. "Cease demoralizing your co-workers. Playing the ‘I'm nuts card’ won't negate a contract. If I don't make tomorrow's headlines, Rissa, my love, I'll hunt for lost items in places the sun doesn't shine. Get back to work."
My heart regained its beat as V stopped shaking feathers everywhere and his hands unclenched. It'd be easier to scope that red dot without my eyes swollen shut. I traded my urge to curtsey for a nod and retreated. It'd serve our molting slave master right if I did spread loss of mojo through his minions. With three women including me and five men dysfunctional thanks to the willies, the big oaf would have to do his own retribution. Unfortunately, the angel had me by the short hairs. I'd signed in blood. Two more foreheads to go, a total of seven bodies and he'd leave me and mine alone.

Cate: Those are very cool! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Arlene: The editor at SFP, a good guy whom I’m positive was drunk at the time, said he’d publish the short story, Rebel, if I had something a bit more conventional in the romance genre. So I sent him another short and (gulp) he asked me for a third, which I didn’t have so I splattered blood whacking the keyboard.

Cate: He obviously liked what he read. That’s great.
Any specific inspiration for your characters?
Arlene: My characters are rather unique. I don’t know where they come from, how long they plan to stay, or what torture they have in store.

Cate: Characters with surprises in store make the best kind! How do you pick their names?
Arlene: Word generator, people’s signatures at work, stealing from fellow writers, and sometimes characters step up and label another.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Arlene: God yes. Day is the best. The rare moments I’m driving while daydreaming and no one’s yammering at me, I get a lot accomplished and I even remember some of it when I get to a keyboard.

Cate: What's next for you?
Arlene: Filling the blank page, and starting another. I also have a series to polish and shop.

Cate: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Arlene: I suspect the first writing, inspiring outrage, was my younger sister’s name carved into my older sister’s dresser. I didn’t start getting serious about this path until five-six years ago.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Arlene: ‘Weird and wonderful.’ Quote from a published author and editor who taught a writing class five years past.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Arlene: Whenever people will leave me alone and I can keep my eyes open.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Arlene: The drudgery of forcing the words out, getting past the boredom of polish after polish. The most rewarding would be that first draft done, pages filled. That’s the hardest for me.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Arlene: That my quirky voice comes across clearly. I lose myself in the point of view of the character, human or non, and if I can make someone care about a wolf, plant, photon of light, how cool is that?

Cate: Extremely. Your love of your characters definitely comes across to readers.
So who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Arlene: Harlan Corban. Kurt Vonnegut. Frank Herbert. Tolkein. Bill Patterson (Calvin and Hobbes)…the list goes on and on. Right now I’m reading a work in progress by an exceptional published author in my writing group.

Cate: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors? Or in people/the environment in general?
Arlene: My mom was diagnosed with cancer recently including some vision problems. The Kindle is awesome, with its read outloud feature. The benefit to the environment is a no brainer, and for authors it seems a sweet way to get out there with the publisher not having to spend a fortune to do so.

Cate: I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Glad she was able to get one of the Kindles with audio before they stopped selling them.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Arlene: I sob, am on a blog with three amazing authors and I don’t contribute much at all. I need to get a blog of my own in the works. I’m also on twitter, tweeted twice, but forgot my password and am too lazy to figure out what it was.

Cate: I’m not much of a tweeter either, but I’ll follow you if I find you.
I’m so glad you could be my guest, Arlene. Best of luck with Love Grows Wild in the Dark!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poe gets a Halloween treat

Have a thing for Poe? Come on over to Popculturedivas to find out how you can celebrate Poe and Halloween too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Poetry of Autumn

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus

They're calling for snow flurries tonight. Yes, already. So before all the wonderful color and majesty of fall disappears, I thought I'd share this Yeats poem, which created vivid imagery in my head as I read it.

The Wild Swans at Coole
by W.B. Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodlands paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

The Dancing Cats - A Modern Fable

In the middle of the last century, along the Japanese shoreline, the people of the tiny village of Minamata lived a simple life. Some were farmers, tending animals and fields. Many were fishermen.
Each morning, they set out in their small boats to bring in as many fish as they could catch and haul in from the bay. The villagers sold their fish, and also fed their families with their catches. They were thankful for a good meal. What they did not finish, they fed to their cats. Sometimes the village cats would snatch a fish from the docks. The cats loved the fish almost as much as the fishermen.
One night, after a hearty meal of fish, the villagers heard a strange noise. When they looked out their windows, they gasped at the sight. A tomcat was on its hind legs, hopping and spinning, twirling and flipping, as if dancing to a jig only he could hear. The villagers laughed. The cat danced all night through the streets of Minamata.
The next night, there were two cats dancing, making the villagers laugh twice as hard. The night after that, there were three, and more came to the streets to join the dance each night until all the cats in the village danced, crazy with the unheard music.
One night, a little girl called for her cat. She loved to feel his soft, warm fur against her cheek as she slept, the cat beside her on the pillow. Outside, she saw her cat dancing, and she pleaded with him to come home. Her cat danced as if he could not hear her, only the silent music that made him dance. The little girl’s mother told her to come in, it was late, the cat would tire himself and come back soon.
The next morning, the little girl rushed outside, calling for her cat. She ran through the streets but couldn’t find him. She ran to the dock where her father, a fisherman, kept his boat. His boat was gone. Her father had set out fishing very early, as always. There on the dock lay the little girl’s cat. She shook him to wake him, thinking he’d gotten so tired from dancing that he’d fallen asleep here.
But he wouldn’t wake up, for he was dead. She gently carried him home. As she walked, she saw other dead cats along the dock and all through the streets. All of the dancing cats were dead.
Crying, the little girl showed her mother the cat. Her mother, though almost due to have a new baby, helped her daughter dig a hole to bury their beloved cat.
The next week, the little girl forgot her sadness when she heard her mother’s cries. The midwife helped deliver the little girl’s new sister. But when the baby came out, the midwife gasped, and nearly dropped the newborn. She lay the baby on the mother’s stomach, and the mother began to wail because the baby could not.
The little girl crept in by her mother’s bed, and looked at her new sister. Her eyes grew bright. The baby looked like a new kitten – her hands were like claws, her tiny body curled like her own cat’s used to on the pillow at night. Her mother held the baby closer, and the newborn made some kittenish grunts, and opened her eyes. The mother shed more tears when she saw that her new daughter couldn’t see.
Her mother’s wails were echoed by other mothers in the village when their own babies were born: some were blind, some had legs that would never support them, some would never speak. Like the cats, most of these babies would die before their years should rightfully have ended.
It was not until a stranger came to the village that the mystery was solved. The water was poisoned, the stranger said, and the fish in the water were also poisoned. Anyone eating the fish – cat or human – would likewise be poisoned.
The stranger took photographs of a chemical company dumping its waste into the bay where the fishermen caught their fish. After the stranger’s photographs were published, the company was made to clean up the bay. Toward the end of the century, the water in the bay was said to be safe.
The stranger, who had been beaten by thugs for taking the photographs, eventually died, too, his brain bleeding from too many beatings.
If not for the stranger, the villagers might all have died from the mercury that poisoned their fish. The new century brought new hope for the people of Minamata.


Across the globe in America, the new century brought a new president who encouraged the people of his country to embrace energy from power plants, even though scientists proved that emissions from these plants were harmful to people and animals. This new president favored oil and coal because his family made its money from those industries. The people who ran the factories and power plants cried out to him: “Please, dear president, help us! We can run much more efficiently – and profitably – if you take away these silly restrictions.”
And the president smiled, for these companies gave him campaign money. “Of course I’ll help,” he told them, and bade his environmental minister to loosen the longstanding pollution rules. The factories and power plants were allowed to spew terrible things into the air of America – things that made old people and children sick, so that they had to stay indoors, away from wind that could carry harmful particles, including mercury.  The coal plants spewed more mercury into the atmosphere, where it gathered in rain clouds, then fell into the waters with the rain. The fish in the waters collected it in their bodies. The scientists tested the fish, and warned people not to eat them.
The president did not believe the scientists. He would not read the reports, thinking they were trying to take his profits away.
One night at the White House, the president had invited many guests for a fine big meal of fish. He’d show those scientists, he thought. After the dinner, the president stood on the front steps of the White House in his cowboy boots, waving goodbye to his guests. Among the last to leave was a couple who’d brought along their little girl.
“Come along,” the mother said, “it’s past your bedtime.”
The little girl pleaded with her mother, “Please can we wait ? I want to watch the cat a little while.”
The president walked in his big cowboy boots to where the little girl stood on the lawn, just beyond the porch. He laughed when he saw the cat – it was flipping and spinning, twisting and hopping, as if dancing a jig to music only the cat could hear.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” the president said. And for once, he was right. For on the grass near the dancing cat lay some leftover fish from dinner.

The end

The Japanese chemical company was Chisso.
The photographer was W. Eugene Smith, whose photos of Tomoko Uemura and other Minamata villagers poisoned by mercury forced the cleanup of the bay. He died of a brain hemorrhage.
In Pennsylvania in 2004, 45% of lake fish were found to exceed the safety levels for mercury. [“Environmental group finds mercury in 45 percent of PA's lake fish,” by Dan Nephin, AP, Aug. 3]
By March 2005, EPA is expected to loosen Clean Air Act standards for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. [ “EPA: Mercury plan would help kids and women, avoid coal politics,” by John Heilprin, AP, Aug. 10]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Welcome special guest author Maggie Dove!

Cate: I'm happy to have Maggie Dove as a guest. Maggie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Maggie: Hi Cate! Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. I was born in Havana, Cuba. I’m a happily married housewife and mother of two, who has lived in the U.S. since I was five. As the granddaughter of a famous Cuban writer and publisher, writing is in my blood. My family owned one of the oldest newspapers in the Americas. I’ve had twenty-six of my letters to the editor published in The Miami Herald.

Cate: Very cool history, Maggie! Please tell us about Angel of Windword and where it's available.
Maggie: Angel of Windword is my first novel to be published and the first of the Windword Trilogy. The e-book is available at and the paperback will be available at two or three weeks after the release date of October 7th, 2009.

Cate: Love that cover.
Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Maggie: Evil forces are at play surrounding Angelique Beauvisage, but she has no clue. Sensuous and suspense-filled, ANGEL OF WINDWORD, begins with a murder that takes place four years before and turns into a perilous cat and mouse game played by two reluctant lovers, who spin a web of deception that only their love can unravel. Having traded the blissful existence of her beloved Loire Valley, Angelique Beauvisage finds that Windword Hall has more than one villainous skeleton in the closet.

His thunderous expression softened. “Come closer.”
His eyes swept over her face as he caressed her cheek with the knuckle of his forehand. “I did not see her slap you, but your cheeks look burning hot. Answer something for me, Angelique” he ordered gruffly. “Has that woman ever hit you before?”
Angelique drank in the comfort of his nearness. His touch was soft and soothing. “Never,” she lied. “Victoria has never slapped me or hurt me. My lord, it was really my fault...I provoked her.”
He definitely will have his way with me and my place will be in his bed!
Mon Dieu! A guttural sound escaped her lips when she recalled her own words. She was not certain whether she was more distressed at having thrown those awful words at her stepmother or the dreadful possibility that Nicholas had actually overheard them.
Attempting to sound nonchalant, she stammered Victoria’s original question to him, “H-how long had you been standing there, monsieur? Did you...did you hear anything?” she asked in a faint whisper, her voice cracking with embarrassment.
“Hear what, my love?’ he asked innocuously.
“Monsieur, how long had you been standing there?” she repeated with mounting dread. Then gazing at him, she suddenly wished she had not asked. His dark blue eyes sparkled with complete understanding as he stood casually against the doorjamb, strong arms folded across his chest, a devil of a smile beginning to form on his face.
“How long, monsieur…?”
Nicholas did not wait for her to finish. Without another word, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard on the lips. Then, just as suddenly, he let go of her, allowing her to fall back against the doorpost.
“Long enough to know I’m going to enjoy those willful ways of yours. Not to mention putting you in that bed of mine.”
Her heart pounding fast against her heaving chest, Angelique watched in stunned silence as Nicholas turned on his heel and made his exit. She could still feel his warm lips against hers as his deep, masculine chuckles echoed in the hallway.

Cate: Very intriguing! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Maggie: I have always loved to write, but I never expected to write a historical romance novel. In 1992, I was working for a real estate lawyer in Miami, when he went on a two week vacation. The office was quiet and I brought a romance novel to read. My childhood friend since I've known since high school, Diana Flori, also a writer, came to have lunch with me and, on a dare, we both decided to write a novel. I wrote Angel of Windword and she wrote The Thorn At His Side. Both having very busy lives with our husbands and raising our children, we put our manuscripts away for many years. On a hunch, I took it out of the closet last summer, revamped it, and sent it out to be published. Well, the rest is history and here I am! Diana got on the bandwagon and did the same. Her book will be released by Hearts On Fire in the fall.

Cate: What a great story! It’s so great you both will be published. Any specific inspiration for your characters (an actor/actress or personal hero)?
Maggie: I always loved reading about characters that were bigger than life. My hero is a combination of Sean Connery and Tom Selleck in their glory days. I feel that the actors on the screen these days are not as manly. I didn’t want my hero to appear on the cover. I want my hero, Nicholas Kent, to be what the reader desires in a man and not be predisposed to someone else’s expectations.
Cate: How do you pick the character’s names?
Maggie: Angelique Beauvisage and Nicholas Kent. The names just came to me. Beauvisage means a beautiful vision, which is exactly how I pictured Angelique.
Cate: That’s beautiful. Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Maggie: Live, eat, sleep. They are with me all the time and they are all I think about. I’m always dreaming up situations for them!

Cate: What's next for you?
Maggie: ANGEL OF WINDWORD is my first novel, and the first of the WINDWORD trilogy. At this time, I am writing the prequel to ANGEL OF WINDWORD, titled CALL ME DUCHESS, with two characters from my original manuscript set in 1870 England. I am also plotting my third novel, titled THE ENGLISH MARQUESA set in 1870 Spain.

Cate: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Maggie: I always wrote, but I didn’t know it was what I wanted to do. At 20, I had my first letter to the editor published in The Miami Herald, many more followed, but my novel, Angel of Windword, is my first published novel.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Maggie: Suspenseful, Romantic, Amusing.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Maggie: I wake up early and drink plenty of coffee. I like to write during the week from 9 am to 5 pm. I consider this a full time job. Of course, I get distracted with all my extended family and friends, but I try to keep to the routine. I take weekends off to take a break, but as I said before, my characters are always with me.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Maggie: Most challenging: the blank page.
Most rewarding: When a friend or family member reads my writing and totally loves it!

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Maggie: A friend of mine, an avid reader of romance, read my manuscript before I sent it out to be published and she told me that she has a box in her garage of all the Romance novels that she had loved and could not bear to part with. She told me that Angel of Windword would be in that box. Now that it is published, she told me that she wants an autographed copy in her library!

Cate: How sweet. You have the best friends!
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Maggie: Judith McNaught, July Garwood, Jane Austin…the oldies but goodies.

Cate: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors? Or in people/the environment in general?
Maggie: I think it is a good thing. You have folks who will always want the paperback in their hands, but I feel that with the new generations and their love of computers, electronic readers will more and more in numbers.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Maggie:, Twitter, Facebook, My Space, Writers & Readers of Distinctive Fiction, Eternal Press Writers Blog.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Maggie: I only wish for those who read my book to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Cate: Thanks so much for being my guest Maggie!
Readers, Maggie is giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on Monday evening, Oct. 12. Be sure to leave your email address so you can receive your prize, if selected!