Monday, November 30, 2009

Daily Dose Holiday Blog Giveaway: Going Green with ARe Bucks

Think Green this holiday season in more ways than one as author Kellyann Zuzulo is giving away $25 in ARe bucks. All Romance eBooks is an online bookseller who deals exclusively in eBooks. You can find all of Sapphire Blue Publishing's authors listed there, moi included. This is a fantastic gift for readers of romance who also enjoy ebooks.

Djinn in the Box
A journalist by training, Kellyann has worked as a writer for Yankee Magazine, Cobblestone magazine, and national consumer and health magazines; as a book development editor; as a media relations representative; and as a director of communications for a non-profit.

Her novel, A Genie in the House of Saud, draws upon her experience as a former managing editor of two publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC. Her second novel, The Third Wish is available in eBook from Sapphrie Blue Publishing.

Kellyann is a smoking hot writer and a terrific storyteller. So enjoy the chance to go green this holiday and nominate a friend or family member to win. As always, the rules are:

1. You comment on the blog in order to be entered into the drawing.
2. You must include whom you want to give the gift too. You do not have to name names or post their email information, just a short blurb about what they mean to you or why it’s important they receive it. You can be a real secret Santa as well.
3. Each drawing will last 24 hours unless otherwise noted. (7 a.m. to 7 a.m. CST)
4. Winners will be notified by email so make sure I have that or access to it via your profile. Upon notification, you let me know whom the gift is going to.
5. You may only win one giveaway, once you win one you cannot enter into anymore.
6. Spread the holiday cheer for everyone celebrating Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Christmas and more.

Let Kellyann Zuzulo and the Daily Dose be a part of your holiday plans and enter to win this gift for someone you love. Entries close at 7 a.m. Central on Tuesday, December 1.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daily Dose Holiday Blog Giveaway: Joss Whedon, Spike and Candace Havens

In lieu of our traditional Sunday Snips and Clips feature, welcome to another holiday blog giveaway. Today, I am offering Joss Whedon, The Genius Behind Buffy by Candace Havens. You may have read Candace’s books featuring Bronwyn the witch or the Carruthers sister, but this is a totally different kind of book.

Candy takes you in depth with the genius mind that created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. His creativity is a modern day legend, creating rabid fan bases wherever he goes. The man’s comprehension of zeitgeist and pop culture is unmatched. It is a great way to dig deep and get to know him better.

Sample Passage

As any fan of Buffy knows, Joss loves anguish. Each season the characters suffer from traumas of every kind, from impossible love to hopeless addiction. The majority of Whedon’s characters come from unhappy or broken homes. Buffy’s father left, not even returning at her mother’s death. Angel’s father was demeaning and cruel. Xander’s household was a drunken brawl while Willow’s mother was cool and aloof.

So what was Joss’s childhood like? Was it terribly traumatic? Was he beaten and tortured? Did his parents lock him in his room where his lonely mind began to generate the fantasies that would some day make him famous?


Autographed Book and Photo

Just to add a little icing to this holiday giveaway, the book is autographed by the author and I am including an autographed photo of James Marsters! So our Sunday holiday giveaway includes this fantastic, fun and interesting look into Joss Whedon’s mind (autographed!) and a simply sexy picture of Spike. What more could you ask for?

Oh, the rules!

1. You comment on the blog in order to be entered into the drawing.
2. You must include whom you want to give the gift too. You do not have to name names or post their email information, just a short blurb about what they mean to you or why it’s important they receive it. You can be a real secret Santa as well.
3. Each drawing will last 24 hours unless otherwise noted. (7 a.m. to 7 a.m. CST)
4. Winners will be notified by email so make sure I have that or access to it via your profile. Upon notification, you let me know whom the gift is going to.
5. You may only win one giveaway, once you win one you cannot enter into anymore.
6. Spread the holiday cheer for everyone celebrating Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Christmas and more.

Let Candace Havens, Joss Whedon, James Marsters and the Daily Dose be a part of your holiday plans and enter to win this gift for someone you love. Entries close at 7 a.m. Central on Monday, November 30.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Smack Down: The Hollows vs. Future Atlanta

Today’s Saturday Smack Down takes on a different twist as we pit world against world, colorful existence against colorful existence and the rich characters that populate both. In this corner, weighing in with over a half-dozen books are The Hollows by Kim Harrison and in our opposing corner are the lands of future Atlanta by Ilona Andrews. Each world is so vivid and real, it is easy to imagine walking around the corner and right into the pages of these wonderful novels.

As always, your vote decides which one you would most like to visit? Which one could you see as a great vacation destination? In honor of our holiday giveaway, I want to give a gift of my own. This week’s winner will receive a $10 Gift Certificate to Barnes and Noble.



The Hollows

Imagine a world where cracking the DNA code lead to genetic manipulation of everything from food to animals to people. Now imagine that one genetic mutation in an altered tomato crop wipes out over a quarter of the human population. As a result, all genetic engineering is outlawed and humans develop a very real aversion for tomato products including ketchup and pizza.

The weres, witches, pixies, fairies, elves and even vampires came out because of so many human deaths. They were unaffected by the virus wiping out the human population. The outing of the “Inderlanders” became known as the Turn, changing society and laws across the nation. The Hollows is a region of Inderlanders near the city of Cincinnati where the runner Rachel Morgan lives. Rachel has her own set of issues, but she shares a business with Ivy, a hereditary vampire and Jenks, a pixie and his family in an old church.

Future Atlanta

In a future version of Atlanta where magic dominates, cars stall and guns fail in one moment and in the next it’s magic that collapses, leaving homes defenseless against monsters. Were creatures prowl the streets and necromancers thirst for knowledge. It is a world where everyone has an agenda from the packs to the covens to the councils and the mercenary guilds. Kate Daniels lives in this world where magic is in her blood, she can use a sword or a gun and she is a target. She also has a beast lord for a romantic interest.

Like Rachel Morgan, Kate’s blood makes her special and makes her hunted. Like Rachel, she has got a smart mouth and a penchant for trouble. And like Rachel, she wants to do the right thing – most of the time. They live in two very different, but colorfully populated worlds.

Future Atlanta or The Hollows?

You decide.

Comment for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble.

Last Week’s Winner

Angelus wins hands down over Damon Salvatore. It seems that our readers find a great deal more sympathy in the Salvatore brother who hides passion and love in his heart versus the demon Angelus who revels in cruelty and abuse for those around him. Our winner has been notified via email!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Daily Dose Holiday Giveaway: Gift Certificate to Amazon

Let’s kick our holiday season off right here at the Daily Dose. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Daily Dose is going to be hosting a giveaway of some kind everyday between now and December 19, so make sure you stop by regularly. Before we get to the giveaway, let us go over the rules:

1. You comment on the blog in order to be entered into the drawing.
2. You must include whom you want to give the gift too. You do not have to name names or post their email information, just a short blurb about what they mean to you or why it’s important they receive it. You can be a real secret Santa as well.
3. Each drawing will last 24 hours unless otherwise noted. (7 a.m. to 7 a.m. CST)
4. Winners will be notified by email so make sure I have that or access to it via your profile. Upon notification, you let me know whom the gift is going to.
5. You may only win one giveaway, once you win one you cannot enter into anymore.
6. Spread the holiday cheer for everyone celebrating Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Christmas and more.

Example Entry: I want to nominate a dear friend from my office. She and her husband are always struggling to make ends meet. They never buy anything for themselves, even at the holidays, but they give everything to their kids. I just want to treat her to something special for her.

Pretty simple, huh?

Holiday Giveaways

Today is Black Friday in the United States! So what better way to kick off our holiday giveaway than with a $25 gift certificate to Amazon from author Michele Bardsley. Michele writes the fabulous and fun Broken Heart vampire series. Ever wonder what a soccer mom would be like as a vampire? Michele as an answer for you as she explores the paranormal PTA for the local school.

The author published her first book in 1998, an e-book – and has since published several novels in e-book and print form. In 2003, she won the Grand Prize from the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, beating out thousands of others with her short story “A Mother Scorned.” The recipient of many awards, Michele’s work engages you with a multitude of emotion that can make you cry even as you laugh aloud.

Let Michele Bardsley be a part of your holiday plans and enter to win this gift for someone you love. Entries close at 7 a.m. Central on Saturday, November 28.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of North America and Americans around the world, Happy Thanksgiving. I am very thankful for my family, my friends and all of you.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Character Assignations

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Buffy met Edward and the Cullens? What about Adam Hauptman would think of Jacob Black and his shifters? Would Bella and Elena have a lot to say to each other? What would Lt. Eve Dallas make of Sgt. Murphy? If so, then you are going to love today’s game – I call it Character Assignations. What characters from what series would you like to see interact? I am going to share my top five. Feel free to chime in with your ideas!

Werewolves on the Prowl

I think Elena Michaels (Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld) and Anna Cornick (Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega) would have a lot to say. Though they are different kinds of werewolves, but I would love to be a fly on the wall for any conversation those two were-women would have. After all, they were both changed against their will, but Anna’s experience as the brutalized woman in a pack is one Elena has fought against with the Mutts for years. They can also share notes on loving the two very strong men in their lives.

Angels and Wizards

Remy Chandler from Tom Sniegoski’s Dancing on the Head of a Pin would be a riot hooked up with Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden. The angel is a detective just like Harry, but they are both outsiders among their own and have an uncanny ability to trip right into trouble. The snark alone would be fun in conversation. Who knows, maybe Remy could take up one of the Knight of the Cross swords that Harry seems to be collecting and wouldn’t it be hilarious to see what Mouse is really thinking? Remy can talk to animals!

Vampire Cat and Werewolf Kitty

What would happen if Jeanine Frost’s half-vampire Cat hooked up with Carrie Vaughn’s werewolf named Kitty? The characters have a lot in common, including their gift for landing right in the middle of a bad situation. Vaughn’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour blew me away a few years ago and the series continues to follow the ‘day to day’ life of this werewolf on the run turned reluctant alpha. Frost’s Night Huntress series is wildly similar in appeal.

Singh “ing” Supernatural

Supernatural already has their own version of Raphael (and Castiel made him his bitch in a recent episode), so I would love to see what Nalini Singh’s Raphael would make of the Winchester boys and their angelic guardian Castiel. Would it be war? Would it be allies? Would it be punctuated with more punch lines than a bar fight? I don’t know, but I’d pay to see it.

Demonically Themed

Rachel Morgan (Kim Harrison) and Casey Schwartz (Dakota Cassidy) have a demon or two that they could discuss. Particularly since Rachel’s ex used her to dial up demons and get more control and Schwartz’s boyfriend oopsed and turned Casey into a little bit more than human. Like an earlier pairing, it’s the snark I’m interested in seeing – not to mention how do you strike up a conversation about demon marks? “Smokin’ demon mark! Can I buy you a drink?”

What characters would you love to see “crossover”?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Margie Lawson's DUH Plan

Good morning all! It's been crazy busy in my neck of the woods, and we're just six short days from the end of NaNoWriMo for this year! I hope writing is going well, I know some people have already achieved their goals and others are still working! At the beginning of November, I attended the North Texas Two Step writer's conference where Margie Lawson lead us through a day long workshop that was just out of this world. Margie graciously accepted my request to guest blog today with tips for you, the writers and more. I encourage you to check it out and to comment for a chance to win one of the lecture packets. I am working my way through one currently, delving deeper into the emotional reactions and the work enriches the writing! So without further ado: Margie Lawson!

DUH Your Way to Success

KUDOS to all the intrepid NaNoWriMo warriors!

If you are writing every day and meeting your goals, I’m impressed.

If you are writing every day and not meeting your goals, I’m still impressed.

If your goals are DOABLE, your motivation is strong, but you are having trouble staying focused, try my DUH Plan.

Margie’s DUH PLAN:

1 -- Do it first -- or as close to first as humanly possible
2 -- Understand that it will be inconvenient and/or difficult and do it anyway
3 – Hurray! Celebrate! You did it!

See? It is a DUH plan. DUH – You will succeed.

Duh – if you exercised first every single morning . . . you’d always exercise. There would not be one day that you went to bed verbally berating yourself because you’d PLANNED to exercise. It had been REALLY important to you to fit exercise in your day. And still . . . you never got around to it.

As basic and “duh” as my DUH Plan is, it works.

If you set a goal of writing X number of pages FIRST THING in the morning and you commit to meeting that goal before you eat lunch, you will write those pages. You’ll have those pages written sometime before dinner, maybe before lunchtime.

You do not let other things fill that time. You do not answer the phone. You do not alphabetize your books. You do not check e-mail. You do not play computer games.

YOU DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO SUCCEED.

Remember the NIKE slogan? JUST DO IT.

The “DUH Plan” has several advantages over Nike’s JUST DO IT slogan.

1) DUH tells you when to do it. DO IT FIRST.

2) DUH addresses the COGNITIVE and the BEHAVIORAL:

-----Cognitively, it’s understood that the task may be difficult or inconvenient.

-----Behaviorally, there’s no choice but to do it, like it or not.

3) DUH reminds you to Celebrate! To REVEL IN YOUR VICTORY, reinforcing your success.

Celebrate the little wins in little ways and the big wins in big ways. Congratulate yourself on meeting every goal. Set yourself up for success by building on manageable goals.

Celebrate with the meaningful things in life: laugh often, hug more, go to a movie, take a walk, chat with a friend, listen to music, do the Snoopy dance.

A lot of writers have day jobs or other daily life responsibilities – like child care and parent care. They can practice the DUH Plan by shifting it to as soon as they get home from work, after dinner, or after kids are in bed.

If you have a day job and your DO IT FIRST time is later—then it’s later. DUH!

Some writers get up at 4AM – to WRITE FIRST. If you can go to bed early – and you’re a morning person – that’s a fabulous idea. No distractions at 4AM.

If those early morning hours are not your power hours, do not try to write then. Write later.

Take charge of each day, and take charge of meeting your NaNoWriMo goals.

DUH your way to success!

CHIME IN:

Share how you have set yourself up for success!

Anyone who posts a comment TODAY has a chance to WIN a LECTURE PACKET from one of my on-line classes.

1. Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors

2. Empowering Characters' Emotions

3. Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More

4. Digging Deep Into the EDITS System

5. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist

6. Powering Up Body Language in Real Life: Projecting a Professional Persona When Pitching and Presenting

I’ll post the LECTURE PACKET WINNER tonight, at 8:00PM Mountain Time.

In January, I’m teaching Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors, a power-packed on-line course that helps writers access their strengths—and empower creativity and productivity.

Please visit www.MargieLawson.com and click on Lecture Packets to read the course descriptions.

Margie Lawson—psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter –developed innovative editing systems and dozens of deep editing techniques. Her deep editing tools are used by all writers, from newbie to multi-award winners. She teaches writers how to edit for psychological power, how to hook the reader viscerally, how to write page turners.

Over four thousand writers have been introduced to Margie’s psychologically-based deep editing material. In the last five years, Margie has presented fifty-one full day Master Classes across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. She was also honored at both the Australia and New Zealand conferences to present their Keynote speech.

Visit her web site to read about her newsletter, contests, 3-day Immersion Master Classes, six on-line courses, Deep Editing Analyses, and presentation schedule: www.MargieLawson.com

Monday, November 23, 2009

Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon

A new moon hangs high above the dense cloud cover in Forks, Washington where Bella Swann turns eighteen, her birthday goes all wrong and Edward, who swore never to leave her, does. The contrived separation of the central couple feels as forced in the film as it did in the novel, yet from the moment of Edward’s departure, the film picks up the pace with snappier dialogue, interesting cinematography and the story of Jacob Black, Bella’s best friend who has a secret of his own.

Be wary of spoilers following the jump.


New Moon has Teeth

Young Taylor Lautner has earned many labels over the last two years. He is Sharkboy (from “Sharkboy and Lavagirl”). He’s a kid. He buffed up and put on thirty pounds of muscle to hang onto a role that takes Jacob from being a boy to a man in a short span of time. In the meanwhile, like his co-stars, the gossip rags are full of stories about him and the speculations about who he is dating and what his new sex symbol status is like, you know, since he’s just 17. (Note to paparazzi: He’s not the first 17 year old to garner this much attention).

In the meanwhile, there’s the off-screen are they or aren’t they about Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (For the record, I really don’t care) and splashes on the front covers of magazines ranging from the Enquirer to Entertainment Weekly. You literally can’t go anywhere without smacking into their pretty faces on the covers of books, journals, calendars, pencils, cups and buttons. Like Harry Potter before it, Twilight seems to have inescapably permeated through pop-culture to the saturation point.

Still, all of these thoughts roll away as the film begins. The scriptwriters followed the novel closely, hitting the measured beats that lead to the Cullen exodus from Forks. The swirling camera angles around Bella as October passes to November to December, as she sits in a depressed funk were a little nauseating.

Kristen Stewart put more into her performance as Bella struggles to come out of her malaise, but it’s Lautner who shines as Jacob Black. The young actor’s talent has grown considerably since the first film. Lautner owns every scene in which he appears. His natural charm, boyish good looks and smile inspired smiles from the audience. His affection for Bella is plain to everyone, except Bella, but the puppy dog hopefulness threaded through the story of a man coming of age is very potent.

Parallels

The director paralleled some of Catherine Hardwicke’s choices – particularly when Bella is at the reservation and the wolf is out of the bag, so to speak. She and Jake go for a walk on the beach, to talk in private. Bella leads the way, Jacob shadowing her steps just as Edward did in the first film when she learned of what he was.

How the characters and the actors handle those choices, however, was as different as night and day. Giving credit where credit is due, both Lautner and Pattison own their characters, understanding that Jacob’s face and eyes are a riot of emotion, flashes of anger, jealousy, love and affection while Edward is still, cool and remote with the emotion buried deeply beneath the marble surface. They convey this without description – so job well done.

In the end, Bella chooses Edward and I feel so bad for Jacob and I know that Edward has his fans, but I don’t think Bella chose wisely. Because by the end of the film, I wasn’t watching Sharkboy up there or Taylor Lautner – I was watching Jacob Black and I wanted Jacob to get a happy conclusion.

Great Moments

The CGI for the wolves impressed me. I know some people complained, but the wolves were supposed to be larger than life, looking more like a cross between a wolf and a bear. They succeeded at that quite nicely. The moments when the camera would close in on Jacob’s ‘eyes’ in the wolf’s body – the emotion in them was just exceptionally well done.

The shopping trip with Jessica that turned into watching zombie movies. Anna Kendrick was a scream as she went off on the existentialism of the zombie and how it relates to a materialistic society. Even as Bella fades out on listening to her, it was funny.

When Jacob whipped off his shirt to blot up the blood on Bella’s forehead, the entire theater tittered with a “Whoo hoo” that terribly inappropriate and hilarious at the same time. When Jacob told her she was bleeding, Bella mumbled sorry. Jacob tilted his head, one corner of his mouth turning up and his eyebrows raised a touch in incredulity. “Are you apologizing for bleeding?” Priceless line. Fantastic delivery.

Jacob’s fury at when Mike interrupted them at the theater after Mike comes back from throwing up. His amorous affection for Bella turned to rage, shimmering off him in waves. Excellent move.

Bella’s first encounter with the wolves in the forest as they go after Laurent! I’ve never seen her be so smart as she realized that just sitting there wasn’t a good plan. Smart girl ran away.

Graham Greene as Harry Clearwater. Enough said.

Ashley Greene as Alice, sitting in Bella’s living room, wrinkling her pert little nose and saying, “What is that god-awful wet dog smell?”

Final Thoughts

In the end – Bella rushes off to Italy to keep Edward from doing something abysmally stupid, but the break from her life in Forks to racing to Europe is jarring and seems to rip us out of one story and into the next. Sadly, I wanted to stay in the first one. I give New Moon a high marks for being entertaining and laugh out loud funny, for being scary without being gross and for showing us that Taylor Lautner is definitely the star to watch.

What did you think of New Moon?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Snips & Clips: Thanksgiving, Theater and Thirteen

Happy week of Thanksgiving all! We are now in the thick of the holidays here at home. In addition to NaNoWriMo, the release of a novel, my daughter’s birthday, the American celebration of Thanksgiving happens this week and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. So let’s get to it.

Thanksgiving

I am thankful for my health, the health of my daughter and my husband. I am thankful for James William McCall, my husband’s grandfather who lived on this Earth for 98 years and though he passed from us in April, we are all blessed to have shared his wisdom, his wit and his wry humor for so very long. I am thankful for Murray and Pagan, our puppies who loved us with the devotion only dogs can know though they too passed this year.

I am thankful for Dakota Cassidy, Candace Havens, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Sherilyn Kenyon, Diana Love, Nikki Duncan, Michele Bardsley, Lisa Pietsch, Kelly Ann Zuzulo, Tina Gerow, Darla Grant, Sara Reyes, Grace Ryan, Kendra Egert, Shirrin Dubbin, Debra Kayn, Kris Cook, Margie Lawson and the dozens of other writers and industry experts I have had a chance to meet, talk to, receive support and education from this year.

I am thankful for the Daily Dose, which has given me a creative outlet and for every reader who stops by to hear me chatter on about my various passions. I am thankful to Sapphire Blue Publishing for releasing Remembering Ashby in April and Prime Evil this November. I am thankful to the FASFA and Sallie Mae who helped me get the student loans I needed and for the Bachelor’s degree in Psychology that I finished this year.

Most of all, I am even thankful for Twitter who has expanded my circle of friends to encompass the world and so many of you around it. I wish I could name you all, but it would be such a long, long post. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being a part of my world.

Theater

New Moon opened this week and there’s been lots of chatter about Team Edward, Team Jacob and even Team Jasper (hi Gwen!) My daughter and I will be checking that out today, so be sure to swing back by for my New Moon review tomorrow. I love the story of the shifters and Jacob in the Meyer books. So I am hoping the film does that portion of the story justice – it helps that Taylor Lautner buffed up (although admittedly, I still see Shark Boy when I see him!)

Thirteen

Thirteen moons in a year and soon the thirteenth will be upon us along with the end of the year, the holidays and a time of giving. The Daily Dose is hosting a series of giveaways this year – where you nominate who the gift goes to. You can write in to nominate someone without mentioning names (if you want to keep it a real secret!) But keep an eye here particularly on Friday, a day affectionately known here in the states as Black Friday when holiday shopping and sales begin. I’ll be offering three big giveaways, but they will only be open for 24 hours each. You will have to get your nominations in on time! Each day’s giveaway will be up by 5 a.m. Central Standard Time (if not sooner). I’ll notify winners via email in order to preserve the holiday secrecy and the spirit of giving.

Don’t Miss

Have a fantastic Sunday and be sure to check out :

Geeky Bookworm interview with Heather Long

Never Judge a Witch by Her Leather – Guest Blog and Giveaway I’m giving away a $10 gift certificate to Amazon and entries close tomorrow!

Au Natural in the Digital Age My guest blog over at Nikki Duncan’s blog where I share with you why I am giving away part of my profits to the World Wild Life Fund.

And, last but certainly not least, don’t forget to vote in our Saturday Smackdown between Damon Salvatore and Angelus. Good stuff!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Smack Down: Damon vs. Angelus

In honor of Twilight: New Moon opening this weekend, our Saturday Smackdown is vampire on vampire, bad boy on bad boy, angst on angst. It’s 20th century versus 21st with a whole new generation of teens to angst and swoon over the silken wickedness of these boys.

The Vampires in Question

Damon Salvatore is the creation of L.J. Smith in her trilogy of novels that began in 1991. Damon made the leap from novel to television this year with the debut of the CW’s The Vampire Diaries. He arrived in Mystic Falls with more than one fang to grind. Angelus, on the other hand, is a vindictive, cold hearted villain who debuted in Sunnyvale following a night of passion with Buffy.

Damon Salvatore

For the purposes of the smackdown, we’re going to focus on the Damon from the television series rather than the Damon from the novels. Damon and his brother Stefan loved a vampire named Katherine, They vied for her affections and they were, one after the other, turned into vampires by her. During the Civil War, Katherine and many other vampires were trapped and died. Since then Stefan and Damon have mourned in their own ways, but Damon’s usually involved cutting a bloody swath through anyone and everything that means something to Stefan.

His arrival in Mystic Falls began with the deaths of a couple driving home and including attacks on Caroline, Vicki (subsequently turning Vicki), Logan Fell and more. He attempted to enthrall Elena, but the vervain seems to be capable of blocking a vampire’s mesmerizing abilities. He killed Zach, a Salvatore descendent to escape his prison, set up Stefan’s friend Lexi to take the fall for his crimes, staking her in front of the sheriff and even attacked Bonnie after the ghost of Emily destroyed his key to freeing Katherine from the tomb.

Damon’s not quite into Elena as much as Stefan is, but he did help her brother Jeremy when she wanted to save him from his personal pain. He’s still vengeful, though, vindictive and quick to anger. Through manipulation, Damon’s earned the trust of the town’s council and their gratitude for killing a vampire. The irony is definitely not lost on him. His list of victims is long, colorful and growing by the day.

Angelus

Angelus is another product of the love of a woman – or in this case- the lust. A drunkard and a lout in life, he stumbled into an alley with for the promise of warm lips and found cold death instead. Young, feckless Liam became the bloodthirsty, violent Angelus who cut a bloody swath across Europe. He tortured a young dedicant by systematically murdering her family and on the night she was to take her vows, he killed her and turned her into vampire.

He made one critical error the night he killed a Romany girl and suffered a curse to return his soul, effectively neutering the demon for nearly a century. In Sunnydale, he became involved with Buffy and after a night of passion and true happiness, Angel’s soul was released and Angelus freed. His hatred for Buffy knew no bounds, particularly because he felt love for her. His bloody rampage resulted in the mental torture of Buffy, the death of Jenny Calendar, the vicious physical torture of Giles and by extension, the death of Kendra at Dru’s hands.

Loyalty to the Cause

Damon’s expressed very little loyalty, although he did kill Logan Fell to save Stefan – because he didn’t want anyone to kill Stefan that wasn’t him, He also be spelled Jeremy, although he may done it a little too well as Jeremy’s personal pain seems to have completely vanished. Angelus pretends no such loyalty, outside of a dark and twisted sense of devotion he gives to his victims.

Both vampires obsess on their passions. Damon’s devotion to Katherine stretches across the empty decades while Angelus’ feels no such ties, despite long years spent with Darla and Drusilla. Both are dark, handsome and vicious. But who is the most vicious? Who would you fear most in a dark alley? Who is the most dangerous?

You decide who wins this smack down for you. Comment to win a vampire book for your own. Winner announced next Saturday.

Last week’s winner: Charles Cornick stole the lead from Clayton Danvers and is the first of our smackdown champions! Winner of the drawing: Razlover’s Book Blog.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't Make Me Pull This Computer Over

One of the best things about being a writer is all the stories knocking around inside of my head. One of the worst things about being a writer is all the stories knocking around inside my head. When it is the former, I sit down to write and words just pour out to fill the metaphorical cup created by the blank screen or page. However, when it is the latter …

Ding! Ding! In This Corner, Weighing In at 85,000 Words …

Writing anything is like refereeing a cage match. For example, currently I am working on a fantasy romance, the sequel to Remembering Ashby. But vying for attention are sequels to Prime Evil, Hel’s Belle and a third as yet fully formed novel tentatively titled The Rapture. Like wiggling puppies, if I so much as glance in their direction they dash up to grab hold of my attention and soon, instead of writing, I feel like wrung out, wet rag as the tug-of-war becomes a three or five way battle.

It is enough to make me want to yell, “don’t make me pull this computer over!” Because you can’t get too frustrated. You can’t try to block out all the other stories. Inevitably, when you attempt that, the story you want to hear – it silences the one you want to be talking.

Sifting Through the Noise

Sifting through the noise can be more than a bit of a challenge. I handle it by listening only for the story I want to tell. Whenever any of the others gets too loud or too obnoxious, I take notes. It’s like throwing a bone for the wiggling pack of pups, but they like it. Most of the time, the right story puppies run away to chase the bone while the one I am working on grooming sits like a princess.

And then other times, she knocks over the trashcan and roots around for all the story points that won’t make it to the finished product. But I take them anyway. I can write 5,000 words and only end up using 100 of them, but without that 5,000 I wouldn’t have found the magical 100.

Sometimes it takes talking to another writer to find someone who understands “Jack won’t shut up and wait her turn. James is being too cagey and hard to draw out.” But in writing, as in life, patience and persistence do pay off.

So does pulling the computer over and walking away to let the characters stew. Sometimes five or ten minutes of a time out are all they need to realize that I won’t start typing until they start cooperating.

Happy Friday

Have a great Friday and be sure to check out my new release of Prime Evil available from most eBook dealers. $0.25 of every sale will go to the World Wildlife Fund.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Everyone once and a while, you discover an extraordinary piece of prose. The work captivates your imagination with history, compelling characters, rich, vibrant settings and language so alluring that you cannot put it down. I do not review books often for the Daily Dose, but I really want to share this book with you.

Best Read of 2009

Presumptuous as the statement may be, considering we’re six weeks out from 2010, but for me, The Splendor Falls was hands down the best book I’ve read all year. The first thirty pages captivated me, inviting me in to sit and stay a spell. Because I was only able to read in drips and drabs, I was forever grumbling about having to close the book to work, to drive, to eat and yes, even to sleep.

In three short, crisp pages, we meet Sylvie Davis, embrace her talent and cringe as she breaks her leg on the stage. The visceral crunch of the bones made me wince, the fall made me cringe and referring to the incident forever as The Accident made me sad. I danced when I was younger, I was not a prime ballerina, but I danced pretty well. I tore my knee when I was fifteen and that ended any future in dancing that I might have had because the knee would never be strong enough to take that type of punishment.

When Sylvie Davis stared at the bleak road that detoured away from the bright, dedicated future, she was lost. Her mother marrying a shrink and everyone urging Sylvie to just ‘get over it’ compounds her depression, a natural extension. The loss of dance, hot on the heels of losing her father is more than enough to send a girl into a tailspin. At her mother’s wedding reception, she chased a Vicodin with some champagne, drowning her sorrows and in one, quiet, unguarded moment, she lets herself feel all the pain, misery and loss wishing and hoping that a magical solution could repair what an accident of fate has torn in her.

Preemptive Literature

Enthralled with the story of Sylvie Davis, the plantation of Bluestone Hill and Old Cahawba, I literally couldn’t stop thinking about the book. My own story began to stutter because images of kudzu, Gigi barking and even the smell of lilacs wafted to me from the book. I finally conceded to temptation, stopped fighting the magic and finished the book.

Rosemary Clement-Moore, your work astounds me! Every vivid description, every tense moment, every hand thrown up in frustration and at the heart of it, the history of both the land and the stones … I could go on and on and on. Marketed as young adult, The Splendor Falls is a suspenseful, rich gothic tale ---ageless as Pride and Prejudice and even more engaging. If you haven’t picked up The Splendor Falls, you really have no idea what you’re missing.

A Little History

In September, I met an author named Rosemary Clement-Moore. I picked up her first book Prom Dates from Hell and her most recent release. I devoured Prom Dates from Hell, laughing all the way through the book. The heroine’s plucky, snarky humor was laugh out loud funny even in the darker situations. I did not start The Splendor Falls right away. In fact, the first time I cracked open the book was last Saturday waiting to go to lunch with some friends before attending the Getting Fresh with Vampires panel. I made it about thirty pages before people started arriving, but that was just long enough for the siren to begin calling.

Have you read The Splendor Falls?

CymLowell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tis the Month Before Christmas

'Tis the month before Christmas, and all through the 'Net

Every creature is stirring, including our Vets;

Virtual shopping and wish lists are begun with care

In hopes that packages will soon be shipped there;

The children want everything they see,

While parents wrestle with decorations, stockings and tree;

And I in my pajamas, with mocha for a treat

Settle in for a long winter’s Tweet,

When out in the living room there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the computer to see what was the matter.

Away to the front room, I flew like a flash,

Banging my toes and cursing balderdash.

The kids bouncing on the sofa like our dog the collie

Pointing to the television and the commercial ads and folly,

Santa Claus and his elves hard at work in their shop,

Creating toys and wonders from previous years at the top,

With video drivers, transformers and Barbie too

I knew in a moment just what to do

Sliding on the iPhone I sent text messages too

My husband, he laughed and called me a name

It was funny and jolly and little bit beyond tame

I waved to the kids and back to the computer I went

To share the experience in a tweet and vent

Moms and dad the world round

Nodded their heads at what I had found

For Christmas is coming in shops, commercials and decorated websites

And my credit cards are groaning … now what did I do with the lights!?



With many apologies to Clement Moore!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

We all have our comfort zones. We have stores we like to shop in. We have shows we like to watch. We have books and authors we like to read. So tempt us or tease us with new authors and new genres and we’ll still hesitate.

Discovering New Authors

There are many ways to discover a new author. For example, you may meet them via a book signing. A few months ago, my daughter went to an American Girl meeting at the local Barnes and Noble, a young lady, just fifteen years old was signing a book she wrote about how she and her family came to America. My daughter was fascinated. They spent thirty minutes talking and she autographed the book for her, a book that my daughter eagerly read when she came home.

More than a year ago, I stopped in at another Barnes and Noble where an author by the name of Rick Riordan was signing books. I listened to him talk while I was browsing, the more I listened, the more interested I became. I ended up picking up two of his books – Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief and Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. I gave the books to my nephew and he fell in love. I’ve since read them and love them too,

Similarly I’ve discovered other authors including Candace Havens, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Michele Bardsley and more – just by going to book signings. Funnily enough, I found Dakota Cassidy completely by ‘accident’. My mother-in-law checked out The Accidental Werewolf because the blurb on the back made her laugh out loud.

It made me laugh too!

Recommended by the Ones You Love

My husband is another great source of new authors. He’s picked out Sherrilyn Kenyon, Patricia Briggs , Rachel Caine and Sharon Shinn – all of which he gave me as presents over the years. He’ll often pick up books on a whim, bringing them home so I can check them out and read them. Some are successful, some are not. In return, I’ve introduced him to Kelley Armstrong and Jim Butcher.

The great part of receiving a book as a gift is that you may never have picked it up for yourself, but since it’s a gift, you have a risk-free ticket to visit that author’s vision. In tough economic times, it’s really hard to turn down a free ride on the imagination train

Over the last couple of years, you can add book bloggers, Twitter and Facebook to my book recommendation sources that expand my comfort zone despite the protests of my bookshelves.

What sources invite you to step outside your comfort zone?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting Fresh with Vampires

Saturday, I attended the Fresh Fiction sponsored panel at our local Barnes and Noble. The topic discussed: getting fresh with vampires. No, not that fresh (although Robert Pattinson’s name did come up more than once). Instead, the panel explored the sensuality of the vampire, the appeal of the bad boy and the evolution of the trope that began with vampires as the villains.

Fresh Looks, Fresh Thoughts

Some of the questions asked included why do vampires appeal? Particularly as romantic leads? Does your first experience with vampires color the rest? For example, if you watched the Lugosi vampire films or Langella, would you have a different perspective from the person who may have read Anne Rice’s angst ridden gothic vampires?

Potentially, the answer is yes. In the 80s, vampires were still very much powerful, creatures of the night. It was rare to trust one and rarer still that the vampire would be worthy of the trust. No matter how good their intentions, their blood lust was a biological imperative – they had to have blood. Grief could send them into a tailspin or make them go dormant. Many vampires went to ground or to the sun when they could no longer bear their existence. Yet the bane in those days was not the drinking of blood or taking of lives – the bane was their longevity.

It was the endless nights without the kiss of the sun to mark time and watching civilizations decay while they remained ever the same. It was living as observers in a world where ever-mercurial humans changed in fashion, music, the arts and even religion on whims. Time was the bane of the vampire’s existence. This angst ate away at his or her sanity, driving them to connect with other vampires to assuage the loneliness within and finding that even that was not enough.

Modern Tropes and Incarnations

Time is not the enemy of the modern vampire. While some experience this angst, their need to connect with humans compels them. Stefan returning to Virginia, desperate to connect with Elena because she looks like Katherine, Henry Fitzroy driven to connect with private investigator Vicki Nelson in spite of himself. Angel wanting to love Buffy and be a part of her life, but forbidden because of the high cost. Then there is Spike who undergoes such a metamorphosis because of his love for Buffy, willing traveling to the ends of the Earth for a soul so he could be with her.

The modern vampire longs for the human connection, the connection of a partner or a lover who can share his or her existence. Yet, they do not want that partner to be a vampire necessarily – for some it is a curse, for others it is the competitiveness of the vampire. For others, the act of becoming a vampire leeches away the very essence that attracted their lover in the first place.

Doomed Lovers

Like Romeo and Juliet before them, the concept of the doomed lovers appeals to romantics. A vampire with human lovers is the perfect example of doomed lovers who play with fire. Beyond the doomed lovers is the bad boy/girl appeal. Vampires are the ultimate loner and outsider, they epitomize that misunderstood and hard to connect with individuals. The right person, the right lover, can save them. They can be saved and they can be changed.

I cannot remember where I read the speculation about vampires representing the desire to control ones environment and in a world where we, as a society, confront numerous social and economical challenges, the vampire’s appeal is heightened. I don’t know if I agree with that theory. I think the trope of the vampire answered the psychological need for that which is forbidden, for freedom from time’s constraints. What is recession to a vampire? What is the shifting of ideologies and demagogy? What is disease? Vampires are beyond that. They are a safe bet – right up until Buffy or someone like her sticks a stake through their hearts.

Vampires are a challenge to the modern writer because they have so saturated the pop-culture and modern consciousness. They are a challenge to create for, to write about and to read. Once upon a time, every vampire book that comes out was to be savored – now, every vampire book is weighed and measured – amusingly enough, the greater the difference between the multiple types of vampires, the greater the appeal.

Food for Thought

Love them or hate them, the Twilight novels took a new approach to the vampire trope. They challenged modern conceptions of vampires and embraced a whole new generation to their way of thinking. Now, like the White Wolf game, multiple camps of vampire purists sprout up. Each convinced their particular brand of vampire is the worthy one.

I want to thank Candace Havens, Rosemary Clement-Moore and Gwen Reyes for getting me thinking. I know what my type of vampire is., what is yours?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prime Evil Available!

The highly anticipated Prime Evil is now for sale! Pick up your copy via the publisher. Prime Evil will also be available from Amazon, Mobipocket and more!

Nearly a decade ago, Randall Oakes left hedge witch Chance Monroe for dead. Now he’s back along with her ex-lover, Jack. The FBI wants Chance in protective custody, but Chance knows it won’t be enough to protect her from Oakes. Connected to the earth, Chance must rely on her supernatural senses and her own wits to survive this game of cat and mouse.

$0.25 of every sale will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund! Check it out!

Sunday Snips & Clips: Prime, Panels and Presents

Prime Evil releases tomorrow and will be available from multiple sources including Amazon, Mobipocket and directly from Sapphire Blue Publishing. It’s a thrill to know you’ll be able to buy a copy and read soon! Remember that I will donate $0.25 of every sale to the World Wildlife Fund! I'll be spending some time on the virtual road visiting other blogs, so be sure to follow along!

Fresh Vampires

Candace Havens and Rosemary Clement-Moore joined Fresh Fiction’s Gwen Reyes for a fresh look at vampires in young adult fiction yesterday. The panel was a lot of fun as they discussed the bad boy aspects of vampires, their innate sexiness and whether or not being turned into a vampire was a good idea (Rosemary was firmly in the no category). The consensus, however, was that fresh tropes on the vampire mythos is always welcome, but your vampires must have their weaknesses and not be completely invincible. Great times!

Saturday Smack Down

Saturday Smack Down is a new feature, so be sure to check out yesterday’s showdown between Clayton Danvers (Kelley Armstrong) and Charles Cornick (Patricia Briggs). Voting is open until next Friday at midnight. The winner will be posted next Saturday and one name will be drawn from those who comment to win a book from either Briggs or Armstrong!

Daily Dose Holiday Giveaway

As we go into the holiday season, I have been asking myself what I can do or how I can give to others. It has been a tough year for our family and a tough year for many families whether it is our soldiers fighting overseas, their families waiting at home, death in the families, divorces or economic hard times.

We are very familiar with the choke of the times. At the Daily Dose, I wanted to give something back this holiday season. Years ago, one of our local radio stations used to have write ins for people to nominate families for Christmas or holiday gift certificates. Nominated families or individuals included those who really were not going to have much to celebrate because they couldn't afford gifts or decorations or a big Christmas meal.

Beginning November 27 and lasting until December 19, the Daily Dose will host a holiday give away post featuring the item and author who is giving it away. To enter, all someone has to do is nominate the person they want to send the gift to and post a short reason why. If that person wins, then the gift will be sent to the recipient with a note wishing them a happy holiday season signed from the author giving it away, the Daily Dose and of course the person who entered them.

So far, we have several authors and items pledged to this effort. Stay tuned to the Daily Dose and be sure to visit daily throughout the holiday season and nominate those you love and care about and send them a gift – and yes, I will send them around the world!

Holiday Giveaway Rules

For a chance to win:

1. Nominate the person you want to send that day’s gift to and a short reason as to why.
2. For an extra entry, spread the word about this giveaway: Blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. - leave a link in the comments.
3. Leave your email with your comment ONLY IF it is NOT part of your profile.
4. This giveaway is open to everyone for nominations, however you cannot enter yourself.
5. You may only win one gift to send.
6. Giveaways begin November 27 and run through December 19.

Have a great Sunday! Don’t forget to check for Prime Evil tomorrow!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Smack Down: Cornick vs. Danvers

Bantam Spectra hosts a smack down between characters as diverse as Captain Kirk (Star Trek) versus Captain Mal (Firefly) and more. So borrowing a leaf from his Twitter playbook, I want to have some fun over the next few weeks in a smack down of our own. I will post the contestants and my thoughts, you get to vote and post your own. Commentators are automatically entered in a drawing for a special prize. Also, don’t miss tomorrow’s Snips and Clips where the Daily Dose Holiday Giveaway will be announced!

Saturday Smackdown: Shape Shifters in the Ring

For our inaugural Saturday Smack Down we’re looking at shape shifters, specifically werewolves because there are many other types of shifters out there. First two contestants: Clayton Danvers (Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld) and Charles Cornick (Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series).

The Wolves in Question

Clayton Danvers is the beta of the North American pack. He is a vicious fighter with a feared reputation that he cultivated in order to protect Jeremy, his chosen alpha and father. Clayton is unique amongst the werewolves; he chose to be bitten as a very young child and lived in the swamps of Louisiana, a wild boy. Jeremy tamed him, brought him home and raised him. Clayton will kill anyone who challenges Jeremy.

Charles Cornick is the beta of the Marrok’s pack – which includes all werewolf packs in North America. His father is the alpha of alphas and Charles is his enforcer. Charles is over 200 years old and unique in that he is a born werewolf. His mother died giving birth to him because she used magic to hold off her change for the nine months it took to carry him to term. Charles is gifted with a second sight, an ability to hear the spirits and an unmatched tracking ability. He is also feared because he is a powerful fighter.

Wolves in Love

Clayton met Elena Danvers while she was in college. They dated, they fell in love and he brought her home to meet Jeremy. For Clayton, Elena was everything, the perfect mate. When he feared that Jeremy would send her away (it isn’t terribly usual for wolves to marry the mothers of their offspring, they usually just take their sons and raise them), he shifted and bit Elena – infecting her with the virus and earning banishment from Stone Haven, his home, while Jeremy tended to her. Elena’s transformation from human to werewolf was terrible, visceral and took her years to acclimate, too. It also made her unique because in the Pack werewolves are born, they are always boys and even bitten women do not survive the change that happens to them. However, Elena is stronger than most, Clayton created his mate.

Charles met Anna on a mission for his father in Chicago. Anna is the rarest of the rare, an Omega. She stands outside the pack with all the protective instincts of an alpha but with none of the aggression. Anna’s systematic abuse by her pack sends Charles’ protective instincts into overdrive. His inner wolf takes one look at her and chooses her for a mate. Anna’s adjustment to life with the Marrok’s pack requires healing emotional wounds and acclimating herself to her own abilities and to the passion she feels for Charles.

Wolf Pack
Clayton deals with mutts with Elena by his side. The pair shares twins, including a daughter named Kate who was born like a werewolf, just like her brother. Clayton’s position in the pack remains unchanged, even as Jeremy grooms Elena to be Alpha, a position the Pack confers on someone, not one they take.

Charles and Anna are learning how to be a couple, how to be in love and how to balance their need to protect and Charles’ work as his father’s enforcer with his need to shield and protect Anna. Although Anna can never have children (Briggs’ werewolf females typically can’t), she and Charles are very happy together. Charles will be forever his father’s second, unless Bran dies which would create a vicious power vacuum in the world Briggs has created.

Let the Smack Down Begin

Which wolf is the better wolf? Which wolf is the strongest wolf? Who could take whom in a fight? You decide who wins this smack down for you. Remember, every comment is automatically entered to win a novel by either Ms. Briggs or Ms. Armstrong – so let the best wolf win.

Winner announced next Saturday. Please be sure to note if you have a preference for a future smack down!

NaNoWriMo: Resource Check

Later today, I'll be attending an event at a local Barnes and Noble featuring a couple of my favorite writers. Check the B&N site for local events in your area, get out there, meet other writers and hear what they have to say. Don't be turned off if they are a romance author and you're not or they write hard core science fiction and you prefer mystery. Every author has a toolbox worthy of checking out, you might be surprised by what you learn and what those discussions can spark in you.

If you're local to the DFW area, be sure to head over to the Barnes & Noble near Northpark Mall for:

Fresh Fiction and Barnes & Noble presents...

Getting Fresh with Vampires

Saturday, November 14th @ 5:00 PM
Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park

Join Fresh Fiction’s Gwen Reyes for a lively discussion about vampires in today’s literature & pop culture with Special Guests Candace Havens & Rosemary Clement-Moore

They'll be taking on the Twilight crowd and talking about vampires, Bella, Diaries, Edward and much much more! Special treats available!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th Superstitions

Friday the 13th superstitions are closely associated with the modern perception of Friday the 13th, that it’s funny. Yet, I love Friday the 13th and I have experienced some great luck and opportunities on this day that when it rolls around, I am truly happy to see it. You probably have a general idea of all the things you shouldn’t do on a Friday the 13th, here are some things that I have always made a point to do:

When Shopping: Shop Thirteen

If I buy several of any items, I always get thirteen, the baker’s dozen. I learned this from my grandmother who always believed that having a little too much, was better than having too little. This definitely worked for me when we went to the bookstore. So – if you are going to the grocery store and you are buying a twelve pack of soda, stop at the machine on the way out and grab a thirteenth one. I would recommend not buying really expensive stuff today, unless you can buy associatively – for example – a blue ray player with twelve blue rays works for me. (Retail outfits must love me).

Kiss the Cat

Don’t sweat the black cat crossing your path unless you are driving your car. Go out of your way to be nice to animals today. Pet dogs, pet cats and even let the snake in the grass go back in the grass (though with my fear of snakes, that’s a big one for me). Karma says what you push out into the world will come back to you. Don’t fear the animal that crosses your path and do a little to make them happy to see you. Allergic to animals? Make a small donation to an animal fund, let your money do the petting.

Head to the Bookstore

If you like horror or thriller and suspense novels, today is the day to go to the bookstore. Halloween’s commercial efforts are just a couple of weeks ago, but the holidays were already encroaching. Today’s a day for booksellers to really push some of their more gothic and fun-Friday-frighteners selections.

Watch Scary Movies

Okay, let me preface this by saying I don’t watch torture porn, but I do love a good suspense or monster movie. Consider The Frighteners with Michael J. Fox which ranks as one of my all time favorite films. Fox plays a psychic investigator who makes his money off of exorcisms involving his ‘friendly’ ghosts. He figures no one else will believe him, so he doesn’t try. But he ends up in a raucous end of the world, epic battle with real evil when the ghost of someone seriously deranged starts offing people. What you may not know is that the film, on of Fox’s last big screen efforts was directed by the Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson – so worth the watch.

Watch Not So Scary Movies

For kids, I would suggest either Saturday the 14th which is the very much unheralded Scream and Scary Movie of its day. It lampoons many of the horror films by making them funny. The hijinks begin when a boy discovers a book describing the curse of Saturday the 14th and releases monsters into the world. For more fun, scary movie fun with your kids check out Monster Squad: Count Dracula adjourns to Earth, accompanied by Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Gillman. The uglies are in search of a powerful amulet that will grant them power to rule the world. The Monster Squad is all that stands in their way. Seriously, how can we resist the cuteness?


Travel, Go Out to Eat

In many parts of the world, people won’t go out and even here in the states, people hesitate because of triskaidekaphobia or the fear of the number 13. The last time I flew on Friday the 13th, I got bumped to first class because there was no one up there. You can get great reservations on the 13th and sometimes, you can just walk in to the more exclusive restaurants. So find the fun!


Embrace your inner thirteen and make a list of the thirteen things you’d like to do today. I can’t wait to hear. What do you do on Friday the 13th?

NaNoWriMo: 13 Writing Tips

In honor of Friday the 13th, I wanted to give you 13 writing tips to use, abuse, throw at the wall and see what sticks.

1. Write what you love, not what you know. Unless what you know is sexy and fun, you can often write about what you love and let your research fill in the blanks.

2. Break the glass of the past. Back-story is great for you to know, but your reader doesn’t need to know all of it. So create your great stained glass as Margie Lawson said and then shatter it on the ground. You will need just a sliver at a time.

3. When you start writing a lot of exposition, you’re exposing yourself. Remembering that – exposition – expose – a little goes a loooooooong way.

4. Dialogue tags are great in the first draft, but if you can’t keep up with who’s talking, then you need to look at your descriptors and their choice of vocabulary. You do not want everyone to sound alike.

5. Great dialogue exercise – find your favorite show on television and write down JUST the words your characters say. What makes their word choices unique?

6. Test the boundaries of your genre. Don’t discard an idea because you don’t think it will fit, shoe horn it in and see if it re-shapes itself for you. For example, living parents of heroes are wild – the mom jokes alone are totally worth it.

7. Watch the pop culture references – they can definitely date your writing. However, there’s nothing wrong with using one as a placeholder.

8. Skip scenes. Seriously, if you are stuck on the transition from one scene to the next, skip the transition – that’s why we call it editing.

9. Oh, love your editors. Be sure to thank them – even when you want to yell, scream, and call them unpleasant names. Editors make us better writers.

10. Don’t be afraid to delete. The second hardest thing in the world for a writer to do is hit that delete button on purpose. The hardest is when your hard drive does it for you.

11. Use clich├ęs – but with a twist. Everyone recognizes the medium dry vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. One of my favorite lines from The West Wing is when President Bartlett starts ragging on Bond for his drink – because what he wants is a watered down martini that won’t mess with his aim or his judgment, but everyone thinks it’s sexy because of the way he orders it.

12. Find the funny. Even in the midst of scary stuff and intensity, a moment of levity lets your reader relax, slows down the blood pounding into their brain and entertains them – so find the funny.

13. Finally, when all else fails – embrace a list. Cause you can seriously make a list about anything. Write a list of your characters dos and don’ts, their favorites, the places they’ve visited, the places they want to go. Use what you know about your characters to profile them, psychologically – you may use nothing of the data you collect, but one fact might pop out and you’ll have that light bulb moment (just be sure to use the energy efficient ones please, we don’t want to burn you out before you achieve word count.)

How goes your NaNoWriMo?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Through Love Struck Glasses

I love to read romance to see the hero or the heroine through the love truck gaze of their partner. Romance. Passion. Sizzle. Smoking hot bods. Ripped abdominals. Gentle eyes. Hard jaws. The hot guys of romance all share one thing in common – they’re good-looking charmers who are ardent protectors of the ladies in their lives. Reading Shannon K. Butcher’s Love You to Death I am reminded of why I love to read romance – and it is not just for the hot guys, but they don’t hurt.

Eyes of Love

In Love You to Death, Elise is terrified for her sister Ashley. Ashley’s something of a flighty, artistic type that forgets her car is running or that her front door is open when the next shiny object comes along. But she always calls her sister, every day, she calls and touches base. When two days go by with no phone call, Elise flies halfway around the world to find her sister and check on her. She breaks into her house (with a key) and has to use a flashlight (a fuse is blown) and catches the attention of Ashley’s ex-cop neighbor Trent.

From the moment of their first encounter, struggling in the dark, we learn that Trent is hard-bodied and very tan. He’s damn good-looking, but Elise really isn’t paying that much attention other than to catalog him as the “hot lawn guy” her sister mentioned. She is not looking at Trent with passion or sizzle, she’s looking at him with suspicion despite his obvious genetic good fortune.

When Trent proves that he wants to help and becomes a rock of support for Elise in her search, she begins to see him in a new light – the light muted by love-struck glasses. He’s still good-looking, he’s still ripped and he’s still a fine specimen, but now he’s attractive and handsome and safe and protective and all the things that make a woman’s stomach flutter with a thousand butterflies of anticipation..

That’s what love-struck glasses do.

Romance by the Heart Light

A few days ago, I was reading a friend’s guest blog. She was talking about the different aspects of romance, but at the end she mentioned her husband – the love of her life, the father of her children and how he is in every hero she writes. It made me think about my own husband and yeah, he is the romantic hero in my life. He is not perfect, but I love him and when I see him, I see all those fantastic qualities we see in the heroes in the novels.

He does not have to leap tall buildings, he does not have to solve crimes and he does not have to have a paranormal ability. He just has to be him. That is enough for this love-struck woman’s heart to vault into a double-tuck and stick the landing, every time.

Check out Love You to Death

I love Shannon’s books in general, but check out Love You to Death for the suspense, the hunt and the love-struck romance. Just the right amount of sizzle with a dash of fancy!

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Be sure to stop by Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings today and check out my guest blog: Never Judge a Witch by Her Leather.

NaNoWriMo:Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

I found this note in my email yesterday; one of my spam filters apparently crunched it:

Question

I am a new writer and I am looking for inspiration and suggestions from published writers. I guess my biggest problem is that I have many good ideas for books and have started writing them but I get sidetracked and stop. My problem is to sit down, complete the project and get it submitted.

How do you get it completed, submitted and published within a reasonable amount of time?

Help.

Thanks


Answer

Define the word reasonable. I apologize if that sounds facetious but what is reasonable for Nora Roberts is not necessarily reasonable for me. The problem is not that you have a lot of ideas, it’s the part where you get sidetracked and you’re not finishing them. The hardest part of writing – is the writing. Lisa summed it up earlier this week in her Shut Up and Write post. Sometimes, you have to stop looking at all the obstacles in your way and just write.

In my earliest fiction attempts, I would get distracted by the shiny promise of a new story, but you can’t just stop writing one to start on another – particularly if you never finish the first. It may be that you need to buckle down and develop some discipline tools. So let me turn this question around to you:

Do you write at the same time every day?

Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Are you a member of a writing group online or at home?

Do you have a critique partner?

Are you jumping from story to story because you get bored?


This last question is very important. Every ‘great idea’ that I have never finished has usually been because I exhausted storyline ideas in the first few pages and I grew bored with the characters. Thanks for the question and I hope that I helped. Check out my writer’s resource suggestions and other NaNoWriMo posts for more ideas.

Do you have an answer our visitor’s question?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vampire Love Stories

The thrill of Twilight: New Moon opening is beginning to rev to a fever pitch. I like vampires. I like the story choices that different authors make. I like twists to the legends such as Kelley Armstrong’s vampires that must kill one person a year to sustain their existence. Romance and vampires is hardly a new concept, it has been around since Bram Stoker’s original monster pursued Mina Harker with ardent passion.

In Interview with a Vampire, there were multiple layers of passion – the passion of Lestat for Louis’ depth of feeling and the passion of Louis for Claudia, despite her madness and the hints of deeper stories beyond the fabric of the present. In the Vampire Lestat, we saw more passion – particularly between Lestat and his mother Gabrielle and finally, the passion of the Queen in the final chapter and of each of the vampires for the tassels of their mortality. Rice textured her stories with so many complex layers that it is easy to forget the basic passion at the root of it all.

Great Vampire Love Stories

The best vampire love stories are the ones that leave you aching. They are the tales that summon a tear or a sigh. The passion in vampire love stories leave you aching to see it to the bloodiest resolution and the characters dancing with death.

Buffy and Angel; Buffy and Spike

Two incredibly different love stories, but both involve vampires and forbidden resolutions. For Buffy, Angel was her first love and in some ways, her truest love, pure and platonic because it was forced to be so. For Spike, however, the vampire given to his passions – from his mad love for Dru to his commitment to change for Buffy. Remember, Spike went around the world to earn a soul because he loved her. Unlike Angel, his soul was a blessing, not a curse. Sadly, neither couple got a happily ever after.

Stefan, Damon and Elena

In the original books, the love Stefan felt for Elena began as a reflection of his passion for Katherine. However, once we met Katherine, we saw the shallow depth of the pool of thought. Despite Stefan and Elena’s love, something about Damon remained compelling. He is a monster who embraces his blood lust gleefully. So why did so many of us root for the bad boy? The power of love, redemption and passion are a commitment of the vampire tale.

Andre Lebrel and Diana Tregarde

Ahhh, this takes me back. Diana Tregarde starred in three contemporary, urban fantasies by Mercedes Lackey. A witch, she crosses paths with Andre in the novel Children of the Night. The flirtation is mild, but heats up quickly as the two set out to save the Romany that Andre protects and more from dark evil. It is a classic tale of good versus evil with a playful passion thrown in. I always wanted more of these books to delve deeper into their story.

Vicki Nelson and Henry Fitzroy; Vicki Nelson and Mike Celluci

Vicki is an ex-cop with a disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa. The disorder is gradually eating away at her eyesight, but never say die Vicki makes her living as a private investigator. A series of crimes puts Henry Fitzroy in Vicki’s cross hairs. Henry, the son of King Henry VIII did not die as history reported, but became a vampire. Now he makes his living as a graphic artist. Vicki and Henry’s attraction is very push-me-pull-me until he must convert her into a vampire when she nearly dies. Now vampires in their world are very territorial and instincts force them to drive each other away, Henry is the one who goes, though and it’s Mike Celluci, Vicki’s ex-partner who steps up to protect and be with her. Blood Ties was such a great series that actually made the leap to television for a while.

Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman

Yeah, I know – everyone loves Bill, but I am a huge Eric fan. Eric’s fascination with Sookie gradually evolved into love and not just the possessive, I need to conquer you for status, but genuine love. The series is already tantalizing us with glimpses of Eric’s early obsession and frankly, I hope it does follow the passionate trail blazed by the books.

Do you have a favorite vampire love story?

NaNoWriMo: Writer's Resources

You're writing furiously, that's good. Keep it up. Remember; hold off on the editing as you go. Although I learned from Rachel Caine that she goes back about thirty pages each day when she starts writing. She reads, makes minor adjustments and immerses herself in the work. She tweaks those pages, but the purpose is not to edit, but to write. I wanted to share with you my writer’s resources, sites that I have in my must bookmark list and that I visit regularly for research, inspiration and sometimes just support.

So bookmark these resources and tools:

Daily Writing Tips

FBI Statistics and More

Horror Writers Association

Margie Lawson

Online Thesaurus

Write or Die

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Fictional Characters I'd Like to Meet

I love subjective lists. Lists that let me delve into the worlds that I write or read – particularly those I read, although arguably, I could put down the worlds I watch too. But do I really want to meet the fictional characters in those shows or those books? I love the medical mystery drama House, but I think Greg House is a total ass and I’m not sure I’d want to meet him. I like Wilson, though and I think Wilson could be interesting to talk too – but would I have to go to the part of TVLand occupied by Princeton-Plainsboro? Or would they be here?

Conundrum.

Fictional Characters I’d Like to Take to Lunch

Dr. Mira from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Either the Dr. Mira that works with Eve as a clinical psychologist or her husband, the rumpled yet adorable professor. I think they would be fascinating lunch companions and totally worth talking too.

Ian Cabrera from Nikki Duncan’s Sounds to Die By. He’s got an interesting viewpoint on the world, he’s also got a smoking hot voice. I could imagine better things to do than lunch, but since he’s taken, lunch will have to do.

Sydney from my upcoming novel Prime Evil. Sydney is so over the top, fun and funny, not to mention the kind of in your face best friend an introvert needs. We’re not supposed to have favorites, but I adore Sydney!

Fictional Characters I’d Like to Date

Yes, I freely admit that I’m married, but this is my fantasy and I’m allowed to imagine anything I want. So the fictional characters I’d like to date include:

Dr. Daniel Jackson from Stargate: SG-1. Daniel’s brilliant, thoughtful, compassionate and capable of seeing all sides of the argument. He’s got a wealth of experience and insight, not to mention a great smile and fantastic build. Yes, I have a huge crush on this guy!

Marcus the Ranger from Babylon 5. Yes, I know the character died – I mourned his loss when it happened. But Marcus is another one, a driven man with a wicked sense of humor and a violent need for justice and order. I think, while he was alive at least, that he made terrific date potential.

Rick Castle, author of the Derek Storm and Nikki Heat novels. Tall, gorgeous, creative, jester and fantastic father? Yeah. I’m there.

Fictional Characters I Want to Work With

Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brilliant, eccentric and just a touch dark. Giles is an excellent teacher and he’s got a wonderful work ethic, I would love to spend time working with and learning from him.

Hope Adams from Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld. I love the idea of getting paid to investigate crazy, out of this world news – not to mention the irony.

Eli from Stargate:Universe. No, I don’t want to be trapped on the far side of the universe, but Eli is like a lot of the guys I’ve known and worked with, he’s brilliant if you can nudge him out of his shell.

Fictional Character Bonus

Yep, I know that’s just nine but trying to hone this list down to ten, I found myself suggesting and discarding dozens of characters for various and sundry reasons. I have no specific criteria for this list beyond – I want to meet, know, date or work with them. So the last two characters share this spot because I think they are adorable and I’d love to get to know them better in any capacity:

Samuel and Bran from the Mercedes Thompson and Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs. There’s something really primal about guys who will do anything to protect you and that is their first instinct. Yes, yes indeed.

So what fictional characters make your list?

NaNoWriMo: No More Excuses

My dog had to go to the vet.

My car broke down.

The kids weren’t cooperating.

I didn’t have time today.

It rained.

Someone drove through my fence.

Someone is sick.

Life happens. First and foremost as anyone who works whether you’re a writer, a teacher, a store clerk, a doctor, a policeman or a solider – life happens. It’s messy and it gets in the way. Sometimes we miss out and some days we sweat fifty words out of our pores while other days we can fill the buffers on the word processors to overflowing with ideas.

Do you want to know the difference between the 50 word, 500 word or 5000 word day?
Whether or not you spend time making an excuse about why you didn’t write more. Funnily enough I’ve written over a 140 words right here in five minutes, describing a wealth of excuses. Life happens. Sometimes you can’t write.

That’s okay.

What’s not okay is trying to justify it. Apologize to your muse or yourself. Forgive yourself. Move on to the next day and write.

So commit to it with me.

No.

More.

Excuses.

No excuses. Just words.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Death Rides a Red Pen


In fiction, death is anything but irreversible. Characters that die, can come back to life. In fact, in vampire fiction characters have to die to come back as vampires. Why is death so transient in fiction? Because in real life we can’t bring people back, but under the writer’s microscope men who have been dead for centuries are given voice again. Is it any wonder that writers love to bring people back from the grave? Of course, some deaths receive a really obvious red pen – in the next episode, the next season, the next film or the next book.

Red Pen of Death
What character deaths do I vote the best to be red penned?

Spock

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Spock died to save the Enterprise. He sacrificed himself and died in a scene that had me bawling for days. I was just a little over ten years old at the time. I had no idea that he would be back. For me, character death was irreversible. So a few years later, here comes The Search for Spock and I could hardly believe it – Spock was alive? But was it really Spock? Thanks to his Vulcan mind-meld with Bones, yep – it was going to be Spock. You know, as it turns out, this red pen death saved the franchise. Without the reversal of fortune, Spock wouldn’t have been around to reboot the franchise!

Ellen Tigh
Ellen Tigh bit it on New Caprica after her husband Saul poisoned her for betraying the resistance. She did it for Saul, she didn’t care about the resistance, just about him. It broke his heart, but he did it anyway. The irony – Ellen was a Cylon and so was Saul. Ellen woke up in a goo bath screaming and shocked as she downloaded, assimilating the information of who she really was and who she’d been. Thankfully, she was much cooler after she became a Cylon than she ever was as the shrill, drunk harpy beforehand. Red penning her death may have been an accident of good fortune, but it was definitely fun storytelling.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
I really don’t know which death to choose for Daniel, because he died – a lot. He died in alternate realities. He died in this reality. Heck, he even died in the movie that started it all. In fact, I think the character summed it up in one scene where he is locked in a prison cell, facing certain execution and someone asks him if he ever stops or gives up. Daniel says, “Not until I’m dead. And sometimes, not even then.” At this point, any Daniel death scene must be written in red pen.

Eve Levine
Eve Levine died off screen in Kelley Armstrong’s second novel Stolen She was a very powerful half-demon witch with some rather kick ass magic and a momma bear attitude where daughter Savannah was concerned. She was killed trying to escape with her daughter from the compound that served as their prison. Eve later returned as a spirit – on the other side – helping out Savannah’s foster parents and eventually hooking up with necromancer Jaime Vegas and helping her out. Eve, still dead mind you, soon earned her own novel. Now THAT is a red pen that kept death interesting.

Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf died. He died to save the others, going over the edge with the Balrog, breaking the hearts of millions who mourned him. But when he returned, he was Gandalf the White. So while technically a red pen, he got an upgrade on his way back.

Anna Sheridan
Anna Sheridan died with the crew of the Icarus after they landed on Zha’hadum. Arguably, she didn’t die, die, she was implanted in one of the Shadow vessels as its CPU. She was taken out, woken up and sent off to lure her husband Captain John Sheridan into a trap. Sadly, what made Anna, Anna was dead. But it was definitely creepy to see her come back from the dead and even creepier to see little Laura Ingalls all empty eyed and dark. Shivers!

Jonathon Kent
In the 1970s Superman, Pa Kent was a good man and his death was the catalyst that set Clark on his journey to become Superman. In Smallville, we spent five years with John Schneider as the hard working, earnest farmer who kept his super powered son well grounded. Jonathon was Clark’s stern and firm moral compass. When Lana died shortly after learning Clark’s secret, Clark begged Jor-El to turn back time, to save Lana. But in doing so, he doomed his own father to die. No matter that Jonathon’s death was inevitable, it’s still heart breaking for Martha and Clark, because they were very lost without him. Sadly, it was Lana’s death that got red penned and not Jonathon’s.

What is your favorite red penned death?