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The Latest Must-Have Fashion Accessory

We’ve had our puppy Bella for about two weeks now. She’s the cutest little thing, but she does tend to be a bit cheeky/naughty. When she gets excited she starts to bite. Since she still has her baby teeth, it feels like needles piercing the skin. We definitely want to dissuade her from this habit.

Author Kimberly Menozzi had an excellent hint in one of her recent Thursday Thirteen posts. She keeps a spray bottle filled with water to dissuade her kitten from biting and clawing. I was immediately taken by this idea, deciding it could work with a rambunctious puppy.

This morning Bella was really naughty during her walk. I was half a block from home and decided to return to get the spray bottle. I didn’t care if people laughed when they saw my giant blue spray bottle. All I wanted to do was get her to stop biting both me and the lead.

The spray bottle works a treat. All I have to do is show it to her now and she stops biting furniture or people.

Blue Spray Bottle

Really, a bright blue spray bottle is the very best of fashion accessories for the discerning puppy owner!

Do you have any puppy (or kitten) tips?

I’m visiting Rhonda Print’s blog today. Rhonda did an interview with me and I’m also giving away a download of A Discreet Affair to one commenter. Here’s the link to Rhonda’s blog

Christmas at My Place

I’m visiting Berengaria Brown today and talking about Christmas. Here’s the link to Berengaria’s Blog.

My husband sprang a surprise on me for my birthday and my holiday ended up a bit longer than I’d planned. Not that I’m complaining. I had a fantastic time. I’ll be back to tell you about it tomorrow. Meantime I have what seems like a million things to do before the family arrive for Christmas lunch.

Satisfying Endings

My special guest today is Victoria Janssen. Victoria writes very sexy historicals for Spice and her new release, The Duke and the Pirate Queen sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it. Today she’s talking about Satisfying Endings. Over to Victoria…

The Duke and the Pirate QueenThough I read a lot, I was never good at articulating what made a satisfying ending for a novel. Over years of writing, I got better at endings, mostly thanks to fellow-workshoppers Ann Tonsor Zeddies and Holly Black and the trenchant comments they made on my first novel.

The main thing I learned from them was that if certain things don’t happen at the end of a novel, the reader won’t be happy (both have a gift for identifying what those things are). It’s not that those expected things are the same from book to book. It’s that you, the author, arouse expectations, and the reader wants those expectations satisfied; in fact, they want to be better than satisfied. They want you to come up with a solution that is better than they imagined.

Remember, you can always go backwards and insert expectations as you revise!

I liken this method of creating endings to Lois McMaster Bujold’s method of plotting, which seems to involve putting her lead character into the worst situation possible for them, continuing to make it worse, yet somehow pulling out success for them at the end, even if the success is tinged with failures…and somehow making those failures even more intriguing than total success would have been.

I don’t think I’m even close to Bujold’s level of plotting yet, but I did experiment a bit with The Duke and the Pirate Queen by moving back and forth between two plotlines, one primary and one secondary. To do that, I made sure that neither plotline dropped out of sight for too long, and I would mention each one briefly within the other so the reader could keep them both in mind. I used questions and cliffhangers to move from one plotline to the other. And both plotlines had to come together at the end. Events of the secondary plotline made the primary plotline possible, so they came together with (I hope) great satisfaction for the reader.

If you read the book, let me know how I did!

General blub:
The Duke and the Pirate Queen is set in the same world as The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom & Their Lover and features characters who appeared in that novel, Duke Maxime and Captain Imena Leung. Captain Leung is forced to abduct Duke Maxime, who is her employer, to thwart an assassination plot against him. He wants her. She wants him. Unfortunately, issues of birth, rank, and their own pasts are in conflict with their desires. And then there are the pirates, the storm, the hostile islanders…not to mention the sharks.

Excerpt, not from the ending because that would be a spoiler:

“Sir. Pirates, sir. Closing fast. Roxanne recognized the rigging on their mainsail. They’re from the Inland Sea, she says. To the north of the Horizon Empire.”

“Bloody flux in a hurricane.” Imena yanked a tunic over her singlet and belted on her cutlass. “Your Grace, you’d better go below. No, go with Norris. Into the cubby, Norris.”

“Sir,” Norris said.

“No,” Maxime said.

“Yes,” Imena said.

“Pirates aren’t after me in particular,” he said.

“You’re a valuable hostage, and you’re wasting my time,” she said.

“They won’t have any idea who I am. I might be able to help.”

And if pirates overran the ship, she wouldn’t want him to be trapped and helpless. She had a moment’s vision of finding his corpse, mangled and leaking blood onto the deck. Imena threw up her hands. “Fine. Don’t cry to me when they slice your ballocks off and wear them for earrings. Norris, get him a cutlass. And some clothes.”

“No pistols?” he asked as they hurried on deck.

“One shot and you’re left with a short club. No, thank you,” she said. “Stay behind me.”

“What if it comes to a fight?”

“Stay behind me,” she reiterated, though she wasn’t sure what she would do if he refused. She wouldn’t order the crew to subdue him unless his life was in immediate danger.

On deck, the crew were being issued weapons. Chetri stood near the prow, feet braced wide, a cutlass on either hip. Imena followed the direction of his gaze and had no trouble seeing not one, but two ships approaching rapidly, hull-up. He said, his voice eerily calm, “They came out of the sun. We were lucky Kiesha and Ailf had decided to seek a little privacy in the upper nest.”

Imena calculated rapidly in her head, changed a few variables, and calculated again. “It’s too late to run,” she said, regretfully. “Chetri? Am I wrong?”

He shook his head. “The wind is their friend today.”

Roxanne slid down the rigging and trotted over. “Oars, captain,” she said. She took a stone from her pocket and began sharpening the tip of her hook. “They keep oarsmen down below, so there’s no chance of being becalmed. Most carry cannon.”

Despite her years of privateering, Imena had never encountered the pirates of the Inland Sea; only once had she heard of them encroaching on the empire’s sea lanes, and the single ship had been quickly routed by the navy. The tales she’d heard about the Inland Pirates had made her glad of her escape, but now she wished she’d had some direct experience of them.

“I’ve fought them,” Chetri said. “I was a boy, but I remember it well.”

“Weaknesses?” Imena asked.

Chetri shook his head, his earrings chiming. “That would depend on the captain. Some are no worse than we might be. Some drink all sorts of potions before they go into battle, so they feel nothing and fear no one. The maddest of them build an immunity to certain poisons, so they may hold poisoned mastic in their mouths and thus spit poison at their enemies.”

Imena said, “We’ll expect the worst. Chetri, you’ll take the offensive fighters, but hold them unless you see an advantage in attack. Roxanne, you’ll command defense.”

Victoria Janssen website
Victoria Janssen blog

Late Harvest by Suzanne Barrett plus Contest!

My special guest today is author Suzanne Barrett. I’ll turn you over to Suzanne since she’s done a great job of introducing herself.

I’ve been writing since 1989, and the book that got me started into thinking I’d like to do this is LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird. In re-reading that well-worn paperback, I can see writing errors we try not to do today, however, I didn’t understand those things then. What stood out for me was that the book drew me in like no other. I went on to read every book Ms. Spencer published, but I liked Hummingbird the most.

As for the writing, I did the usual things: joined RWA, my local chapter, joined a critique group and attended workshops, and of course bought every writing how-to book to hit the bookshelves. Of course none of those things got me published. It was more plain hard work, studying my writing and the writing of people who did it better than me, and making changes where necessary and still remaining true to myself.

I entered contests, and worked myself up to finalist status and winner in some. Late Harvest was a Golden Heart finalist one year. That opened doors but didn’t get me a contract. I continued writing and submitting. Finally, after nine years, I sold to Kensington…and went on to sell three more books before they dropped the line.

So here I am with Turquoise Morning Press and loving the interaction with a small press and its publisher who is herself a writer. Late Harvest is my first release with TMP, however, I have five more books coming out in 2011. It promises to be an exciting year.

Now about the book:

Late HarvestLate Harvest was a difficult sell to New York because it’s not formulaic. Too dark, my Kensington publisher said. “We don’t like Germans,” my editor said. “We might be interested if you change those awful German names.”

I didn’t want to make those changes. Late Harvest isn’t just about wine-making, but about the late harvest wine called Eiswein–made from grapes picked after a first frost. It is, of course, a German wine and German wineries abound in the Mendocino area. So Cresthaven was born, owned by the von Daniken family from Germany’s Rheingau. When the story opens, Otto, the patriarch is bedridden by a stroke, unable to speak, and the key to the artificial method for making Eiswein lies with Glenna Ryan who fled the winery some five years earlier. Kurt, Otto’s nephew, now runs the winery and he’s determined to bring Glenna back so she can facilitate the production of this precious late harvest wine. But Glenna has secrets she cannot reveal and agrees to return by exacting a promise from Kurt: her expertise in exchange for surgery for her son.

An excerpt:

Glenna moistened lips that had suddenly gone dry. “Do I pass inspection?” Her voice sounded a little throaty.

“You look…lovely, Glenna.” Kurt continued his perusal, one lean forefinger tracing his full lower lip.

Glenna found the movement of his hand fascinating. Her own grew moist as her mouth turned dust dry. She moistened her lips with her tongue and realized that he was staring.

Raising her eyes to his, she deliberately blanked her expression. “Why did you do it–buy this dress? I didn’t need a new gown for the ball. My blue dress–”

“Was a made over,” he interrupted gently. “I asked Mags what you were wearing. I wanted you to–” He paused, searching for a word, “–have something more personal.”

Glenna tensed. “I would have looked acceptable even in my made-over dress.” She noted the instant thinning of his mouth, and she pasted on a bright smile. “I’ve grown quite socially acceptable in recent years.”

A hardness crept into his eyes. “You were–are always acceptable, as I suspect you know. God, Glenna. Can’t we just….”

The smile left her lips. Once again she dragged her gaze upward. “Call a truce?”

“No, I–” He slapped the magazine down on the table, then stared intently into her face for what seemed an interminable moment. “Yes, why not? Just for tonight, Glenna, let us pretend we met only this last April, when you came to work for me.”

Glenna found herself mesmerized by the smoky depths of his eyes. Warm and friendly on the surface, but underneath….Underneath lay a deep hunger. She saw it, and felt it as a wave of desire shook her.

In a voice that was little more than a thready whisper she said, “Yes, I’d like that. Tonight is our first…” Her voice trailed off. She couldn’t say it.

“Our first evening together, Glenna. And California’s entire wine community will be watching.”
He made a quarter turn, offering her his arm.

Purchase Late Harvest

CONTEST: Suzanne is giving away a Kindle download of Late Harvest to one lucky commenter. Ask her a question or make a comment and you’re in the draw.

Writing Romance Is Like…Adopting a New Puppy

My guest today is fellow Samhain author, Erin Nicholas. Erin Nicholas has been reading and writing romantic fiction since her mother gave her a romance novel in high school and she discovered happily-ever-after suddenly went a little beyond glass slippers and fairy godmothers! She lives in the Midwest with her husband who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books, her kids who will never read the sex scenes in her books, and family and friends who say they’re shocked by the sex scenes in her books (yeah, right!). Over to Erin.

Thanks Shelley, for letting me stop by on my blog tour!

PhotobucketSince November is the anniversary month of my first published book, I decided to go on a tour and chat and give stuff away!

The “theme” (I use the term loosely) is Writing Romance Is Like…
And every blog stop has a difference comparison that will give you some insight into who I am, how I write and my slightly weird sense of humor. Oh, and you can win stuff! Every commenter gets entered for a chance at a book from my backlist. And if you really want to have some fun: follow me around to all the stops on the schedule (on my website) get the answers to the questions (on the form on my site) and then e-mail them to me by December 15th to get entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or MyBookstoreandMore.com. Come join the fun!!

And now…
Writing Romance Is Like… Adopting a New Puppy:
There are fun, sweet moments interspersed with complete craziness and huge messes

We adopted a puppy once. OMG. I had no idea what I was getting in to. I never had a dog as a kid (insert proper sympathetic groan here—parents were strictly cat people). Puppy was not potty-trained. Puppy also chewed on everything, seemingly never slept and chased my cats… in short he was a puppy. Ugh. He was naughty and soon went to live with our friends who love dogs and have the experience and patience needed to train and raise Puppy into the semi-sweet dog he is today (honestly he’s still kind of naughty but their capacity for tolerating naughty is way bigger than mine!).

But writing is like that. There are those moments when the dialogue turns out perfectly, when the resolution comes together perfectly, when the hero is absolutely perfectly heroic. But then… there are those moments when everything seems out of control, when you write a whole scene and realize it’s a mess (ie: rewrite… yuck), when the heroine’s reaction is flat, when the hero’s dialogue seems stilted. It’s enough to make me wonder if I can just give it to another writer to “raise” :smile:. Some might say this happens because I don’t plot. I don’t think that’s it. Or maybe it is, but I’ll never admit it—or change it.

It’s part of the process for me (I haven’t always been this enlightened, trust me!) In fact, I go into new books knowing that I’m going to write at least two scenes that I’m never going to use in the final book. I go into new books knowing that I’m going to spend at least a week hating it and thinking it’s the worst drivel ever. I go into new books knowing that at some point I’m going to be convinced that I should just scrap the whole thing.

But, even the messy scenes that I don’t use help me work out who these people are, why they are that way, how they react to things—and why. Knowing them helps me—eventually—give them their story. Because ultimately it’s all about who they are.

Just like with Puppy. The messes and craziness taught me who I am: not a dog person (please don’t hate me… I like dogs as long as they live with someone else). Puppy taught me that you can’t change someone else and that a good relationship is about accepting who they are and finding a way to make it work (it just so happens that it worked best for us to live apart — not the ideal comparison with romantic fiction, I’ll grant you! :smile:)

In the end, the messes are okay, the craziness works… the cat-chasing is still not cool.

Join me at my next stop! November 15th at Nikki Duncan’s blog

Just Like ThatExcerpt, Just Like That (a messy scene :grin:)
Erin Nicholas

She quickly turned her attention back to the ceiling fan, which made a lot more sense than the riot of sensations that this virtual stranger was stirring up. “I said that I haven’t been with a man who gave me an orgasm.” She tried to turn the screw but it wouldn’t go in straight, just as she couldn’t ignore the way his touch seemed to tingle up her bare leg and a very specific spot higher.

“Have you had an orgasm with a woman?”

She wobbled, the screw hit the table again, and his grip tightened on her leg. “Excuse me?”

Sam stroked his hand up and down her calf. Slowly. Completely ignoring the screw this time. “If you haven’t had an orgasm with a man, it was an obvious question to ask if you have with a woman.”

She took a deep breath, trying to focus on what he’d said versus the feel of his hand on her. They were talking about orgasms. Right. And women. Wrong.

She frowned. “No, I haven’t had an orgasm with a woman.”

“Too bad.” He gave her a bone-melting grin. “I had some pretty good images going.”

“I’ll bet.” She shook off his hand and bent to pick up the screw where it had bounced.

“But you’ve had one by yourself, right?”

She tossed her hair over her shoulder. What the heck? He knew plenty about her already. Which ensured that she was going to make a point of never seeing him again. “Yes. Several in fact.”

“Good.” He nodded, apparently pleased with her answer.

“Good?”

“No woman should go without orgasms completely.”

She couldn’t say why exactly, but that struck her as funny. She grinned. “If only everyone was so certain about their beliefs.”

He winked at her and it hit her that he was good-looking. And she needed to never see him again.

She straightened and fit the screw back into the tiny hole. Just then she felt the heat of Sam’s hand on her calf again. She braced herself for the stroking that commenced. What she wasn’t prepared for was the fact that his hand kept traveling up. And up.

She narrowed her eyes, concentrating on fitting the tip of the screwdriver into the star-shaped notches on the screw. But when her eyes drifted shut as Sam’s hand passed her knee and continued up, taking the hem of her skirt up with it, it was very difficult to see anything at all.

Move forward. Move out of reach.

Her legs had no idea what her brain was talking about. Why would she move away from such exquisite feelings?

You cannot do this on the dining room table—that’s probably been in the family for generations—of a sweet little old woman who you don’t even know.

Still, her legs pretended not to hear.

When Sam’s lips met the skin in the middle of the back of her thigh, she felt the heat shoot straight up between her thighs and her knees wobbled.

Then his tongue touched the crease at the back of her knee and she melted.

Literally.

She vaguely heard Sam gasp, “Danika!” but the next true sensation she was aware of was the sharp pain from where her knees hit the table, stealing her breath, and the hot knife that was seemingly dug into her right wrist.

She thought about gasping, or screaming, or swearing loudly, but her chest wouldn’t expand.

Holy crap. That hurt.

More on Erin
www.ErinNicholas.com
NineNaughtyNovelists.blogspot.com
ErinNicholas.blogspot.com
http://samhainpublishing.com/authors/erin-nicholas

Researching Cowboys–the things we writers do….

My special guest today is author Sherry James. She’s celebrating her new release, The Cowboy and the Hellcat and talking about cowboys. One of my favorite topics since I’m a keen rodeo fan. Don’t forget to check out the contest at the end of the post.

The Cowboy and the HellcatHey, everyone! I’m excited to be here today at Shelley’s blog home on the web. Thanks for having me, Shelley! This is an exciting week for me since my latest book, The Cowboy and the Hellcat is being released Wednesday, Nov. 10th from the Wild Rose Press.

Since I’m a writer it’s a good thing I love to do research, especially research that involves talking to real live, in the flesh, sexy cowboys. What a hardship! ;-) I know a lot about rodeo, bull riding, and the western way of life, but it’s always nice to talk to other folks who also live and breathe the life to get a fresh perspective.

I also love to write about cowboys and I always strive to make darn sure I’m depicting the life as accurately as possible for you, the reader. That’s why when my local radio station was giving away tickets to a dinner/meet & greet with PBR (Professional Bull Riders) bull fighters, stock contractors, and bull riders last December, I put three phones to work. My insane efforts paid off and I was the correct caller and got my name put in for the drawing. And by golly, luck was really on my side. My name was drawn out for the big package, including tickets to the bull riding. Yee-Haw! So, I called up my critique partner and good buddy, Julie Miller, and asked if she’d like to go. All in the name of research, of course! ;-) Even though Julie writes about cops in Kansas City for Harlequin Intrigue, she jumped at the chance to experience something new. I mean, what better way to talk bull riding, rodeo, and goin’ down the road then over a nice dinner and a few drinks with handsome men! Handsome men are always good inspiration for us romance writers!

Bull fighter, Cody Hollums of Midland, TX, was gracious and answered my slew of questions. He even asked me if I was going to write a book featuring a bull fighter as the hero. You betcha, Cody! And I can guarantee he’s going to look a lot like you. Keep an eye out.

Stock contractor, Chad (Bubba) Berger of Mandan, ND was a lot of fun, too, and I wish I would have had more one-on-one time to talk with him. Thanks for the beer, Chad!

Sherry & Cody

Then I sat down with bull riders, Markus Mariluch of Elko, NV, and Skeeter Kingsolver of Mclouth, KS. These two were so down-to-earth, just good ‘ol boys, and were more than happy to answer all my questions. We talked about the lifestyle, the travel, and if fear ever enters their minds before they climb onto the back of those 2,000 pound bulls. Markus knows all too well what it’s like to be stomped on by a rank bull. In 2008 he rode a bull who tried to make hamburger out of his face. Amazingly, Markus was back in the chute a week later and ready to take another out for a spin. Now that’s tough. Cowboy tough!

Sherry with Markus Mariluch of Elko, NV, Bart Miller of Oshkosh, NE, and Skeeter Kingsolver of Mclouth, KS

As for Skeeter. Well, what can I say? Skeeter is just as cute as a bug’s ear. I mean this guy is young enough to be my son, but he’s as sweet, polite, and common as they come. I just wanted to squeeze him! And keep your eye out for Skeeter. He’s a rising star in the PBR. Maybe you caught him in the reality TV show, The Posse, which aired on CMT late last year. The film crew followed Skeeter and other pro bull riders around for a summer to give fans a glimpse into the world behind the bucking chutes. Skeeter said it was fun doing the show, although at times he did get a little weary of the cameras being right there all the time.

After chatting with the cowboys that night, I went back the following and took in the bull riding. The bulls were rank, too. Big time. One bull was so rank that after he dumped his rider he decided to take on the outrider and his horse. That cowboy suddenly found himself on an intimate date with the fence, and his horse took a hard ride on the bull! Fortunately, neither the horse or cowboy were hurt, but it sure looked ugly. On a positive note, one young cowboy who’d brought his girl to the bull riding had worked it out to bring her into the arena. Much to her surprise, he got down on one knee in the dirt and proposed! Now that’s romance the cowboy way. And you can bet that’s going to show up in a book someday. To me, that epitomizes the cowboy. He’s a gentleman, shows respect for women and their animals. All the guys we met stood when we stood, offered their hands in a friendly shake, and tipped their hats. To me, they symbolize the honesty and integrity of the American way of life, and showcase the roots of our great country! Long live Cowboys!

So, do you like to read about cowboys? For you, what’s the allure? And do you prefer contemporary cowboys over historical cowboys? Or do you love them both? All of you who comment today will get their name put into the drawing for an electronic download of my new western historical, The Cowboy and the Hellcat. Hellcat is the first book in my Cowboys of the 4 Aces series. Yes, handsome Adam Ford has two younger brothers who have their own adventures to tell! If you’d like to read more about The Cowboy and the Hellcat, or my other books, please stop by my web site, www.sherryjames.com.

I’ll announce today’s blog winner late this evening. And if you want a second chance to win a prize, be sure and check out my T-shirt contest also going on at my web site.

Pix: Bull fighter Cody Hollums of Midland, TX & little ‘ol me!
And me with Markus Mariluch of Elko, NV, Bart Miller of Oshkosh, NE, and Skeeter Kingsolver of Mclouth, KS.

My Evil Scheme by Tia Nevitt

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Tia Nevitt. Not even a stint in the military as an aircraft mechanic could erase Tia Nevitt’s love of fairy tales. To this day, she loves to read (and write) books that take her to another place, or another time, or both. Tia has also worked on an assembly line, as a computer programmer, a technical writer and a business analyst. When she’s not writing, she keeps a book blog called Debuts & Reviews, where she focuses on debut novels. She lives in the southeast with her husband and daughter.

Today she’s letting us in on a secret—her evil scheme. Welcome, Tia!

Tia NevittHi everyone, and thank you, Shelley, for hosting me at your blog. Today, Shelley suggested that I write about book reviewing. So I decided to write about how I got started.

It was early 2007. I had a writing blog with a tiny handful of followers. I was an active participant of Absolute Write. I was querying my second novel, and wishing I had something besides my somewhat embarrassing nonfiction sales to put in my bio.

Fiction sales were hard to come by. I had been writing for roughly twenty years, with some lengthy intrusions of life. It didn’t help that I was very picky about where I would submit my work. I was a submission snob. If I couldn’t be published by a respectable publisher, by gum, I wouldn’t be published at all! It might not make much sense to you, but it did—and still does—to me. So I only submitted to pro and tough semipro markets. And I got rejected. A lot.

So I stumbled across this “Debut a Debut” blog event sponsored, in part, by blog buddy Susan Helene Gottfried. It kindled an idea to start a book blog devoted entirely to debut fantasy and science fiction novels. I figured it would be a good way to network with up-and-coming authors.

But I didn’t do anything right away. A few months passed. And then, on agent Kristen Nelson’s blog, I discovered a debut novel that looked like a lot of fun – Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin. Right then and there, I decided to start the blog featuring that novel, where I would review the book as I read it.

Lisa made it a lot of fun because she kept popping in. I was hooked.

And it did turn out to be a good way of networking with up-and-coming authors. I even made a few friends. But also, I was building an audience, very slowly. By the time I submitted to Carina Press, I had over 300 Feedburner subscribers at my Debuts & Reviews blog. I don’t know if it helped, but I do know that it could not have hurt. Today I have about 10,000 monthly visitors, with around 400 regular subscribers visiting about 8000 times, and traffic from referring sites and search engines providing the rest.

As a blogger, I watch my subscriber numbers much more closely than the number of clicks or visits. I have my FeedBurner subscriber numbers displayed on my site, and I don’t care whether you visit my site or read the posts through a feed reader. I’m just glad you read them! For that reason, I always publish my full feed instead of a teaser.

And for that matter, I don’t care if you use Feedburner or Google FriendConnect—so I track both. FriendConnect is nice because you can actually put a face to a number, but I find everything else about it clunky.

I still love blogging. Since I moved to Debuts & Reviews, I have expanded my focus to all my favorite genres, which includes fantasy, science fiction, mystery, historical, literary, Christian or any combination of the above. I’m picky about the publishers whose work I feature, just as I was picky about the publishers I would submit to. And, I’m not crazy about taking review copies, because I really have to work on my own schedule.

So there you have it—my evil scheme for getting published. My master plan. And along the way, I’ve had a lot of fun.

You can visit Tia at her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

The Sevenfold Spell

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?

Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.

Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?

Purchase The Sevenfold Spell

Vampires, Werewolves or Ghosts…oh, my!

My guest today is author Sloan McBride. Sloan kicked off her tour on 25 October to celebrate her new blog called McBride’s Mayhem. If you follow the rest of Sloan’s blog tour you’ll learn more about her and her books. Over to Sloan…

I’m glad it’s Friday. Halloween is two days away. It’s great to be here with Shelley Munro. Thanks for having me.

I was at a Goodwill store the other day and I met a guy in line who had an arm full of books. He told me that he came to return something for his wife then laughed because he thought he was spending more on the books than he got for returning the item. I laughed too because I know how he feels when it comes to books.

Q: Have you written stories about vampires, werewolves or ghosts?

A: Vampires and werewolves, no, but I love reading them. That’s not to say I won’t be writing one or both in the future. I do have a storyline for a ghost book involving three best friends. I hope to have that one out in the not too distant future, but there are so many stories and so little time.

Please leave a comment today and be entered for the prize. Thank you for tagging along.

TODAY’S PRIZE: COPY OF E-BOOK VERSION OF THE FURY

Interview and Giveaway at Unearthly Musings

I’m visiting Unearthly Musings today and talking about The Spurned Viscountess and other things. There’s also a giveaway. Come over and say hello.

Here’s the link to Unearthly Musings

It’s All In The Characters

My guest today is author Jessica Chambers. She has a new women’s fiction release called Voices on the Waves available from Red Rose Publishing. Today Jessica is talking about characters and why she thinks they’re so important.

Voices on the WavesFor me, the most important part of any novel is the characters. This is particularly true of women’s fiction—one of the reasons I love both reading and writing it so much—but I believe it applies to all genres. Why do we continue turning the pages, if not to find out how things work out for the individuals involved? Is there any way for them to disentangle themselves from the mess they’ve gotten themselves into? When will the hero and heroine overcome their problems and find love? Will the protagonists ever emerge from their adventures alive?

This doesn’t mean that a strong plot isn’t also vital. However vivid and memorable the characters, if they don’t have a goal to achieve, a problem to solve or some kind of obstacle to overcome, the novel would simply be a random sequence of events and interactions. However, I don’t feel a writer should ever rely too heavily on the plot to hold the reader’s interest. NO matter how gripping and action-packed the storyline, if readers feel nothing for the characters, why should they care whether or not they reach the end unscathed? In R. D. Wingfield’s novels, we follow Detective Inspector Jack Frost’s bungled investigations under the ever disapproving eye of Superintendent Mullet. Naturally we want to solve the mystery along with him, but if we didn’t like Frost as a character, we’d have no interest in whether or not he succeeds.

Of course, the characters don’t necessarily have to be likeable. They simply have to be real enough for us to feel a connection with them. A prime example of this is Gone With The Wind’s Scarlet O’Hara. There’s just no getting away from the fact that she’s a spoilt brat with far too high an opinion of herself, and who doesn’t give a damn who she hurts so long as she has both the men in her life dancing to her tune. Despite all her faults, though, as the novel progresses and Scarlet discovers within herself a steely determination not to be defeated, we develop a genuine respect for her and end up rooting for her to come through.

So no, characters don’t have to be likable. They do, however, need to be believable. We need to be able to look at them with all their flaws and virtues, and recognize someone we could meet in our every day lives. If we don’t believe in these people, if they don’t leap off the page with a life of their own, we’re hardly going to care what becomes of them. I recently read Beach Coma by Josephine Cox. In fact, the plot shows quite a lot of promise—guy coming to terms with the death of his wife and children, meets girl who shows him he can love again, and all the while a mystery figure wants to ensure the hero never finds out the truth of what happened to his family. The trouble is, the hero and heroin are so sickeningly perfect that I just didn’t believe in them, and as a result, was completely indifferent to either the peril facing them or their budding romance.

So, to sum up. A strong plot is vital to give a novel its structure, but without lifelike characters the reader can relate to, the whole thing will more often than not fall flat on its face.

These are my thoughts, for what they’re worth, but I’d love to hear what you think. When you pick up a novel, is it the plot that captures your interest, or is having an instant affinity with the characters more important ? Are there any novels you feel combine these two elements particularly well?

CONTEST: Anyone kind enough to leave a comment here, or at any point during my blog tour, will automatically be entered into the draw to win a $15 gift voucher for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so don’t forget to provide an email address in case I need to contact you. I’ll be announcing the five winners at the end of my tour on October 31st over at my blog so good luck!

Thank you so much, Shelley, for inviting me on your blog today, and for all of you for stopping by. Tomorrow, the Voices On The Waves Blog Tour continues with an interview at the home of Savannah Chase. Hope to see you there!

In the meantime, my debut women’s fiction novel Voices On the Waves is available now from Red Rose Publishing