Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Snips & Clips: Heart, Hot and Heavy

Can you believe it's January 31st already? It feels like just yesterday we rolled the calendar forward to 2010 and now we are heading into the second month of the year. I have a lot of great things in store for you this February including three spectacular spotlight on interviews with three fabulous authors: Candace Havens, Carrie Vaughn and Nancy Holzner. And just to keep your February hot and spicy enough to chase away the winter chills, we have more than few other surprises to enjoy.

28 Days of the Heart
The Daily Dose is happy to participate in All Romance eBooks 28 Days of the Heart Tour. What is that? Well during the month of love, when everyone's attention is focused on matters of the heart, All Romance eBooks (ARe) is helping to fight the number one killer of women, heart disease, with their 28 Days of Heart campaign.

Beginning February 1, 2010, ARe, the digital bookseller that owns All Romance
( and OmniLit (, will release one new novella per day for twenty-eight consecutive days. All proceeds from the sale of these shorts,which will be offered exclusively on and as individual eBooks, will be donated to the American Heart Association.

The stories cover all the genres, from Gay to Interracial, Paranormal to Historical, Contemporary to Sci Fi. They were generously donated by both best selling and up-and coming authors from some of your favorite publishers including Kensington, Berkley, Pocket, St. Martin’s Press, Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen, Samhain, Sapphire Blue Publishing, Total E Bound, Loose Id, Phaze, Liquid Silver, Torquere Press, Siren, Amber Quill and more!

The stories range between 10,000 and 20,000 words, so they are a perfect sweet (or more accurately spicy) Valentine treat. Each includes a forward by author Charlaine Harris (of True Blood fame) as a show of support for the charity the stories will benefit. Indulge yourself this year for Valentine's Day—enjoy one of each, and know you are helping a worthy cause at the same time.

All this month, the Daily Dose will offer vignettes, interviews and clips of these great works in dedication to a worthy cause and excellent stories. Be prepared to be wowed by some fantastic authors, pick up copies of their novellas and celebrate the heart even as you donate towards saving them. Among our list of great authors are:

  • Ellen Overthrow - February 4th

  • Mari Carr - February 5th

  • Marcia James - February 8th

  • Cat Johnson - February 9th

  • Tilly Greene - February 10th

  • Jackie Kessler - February 11th

  • Michele Hart - February 12th

  • Samantha Sommersby - February 15th

  • Kellyann Zuzulo - February 16th

  • Barbara Hancock - February 17th

  • Cornelia Amiri - February 18th

  • Leigh Ellwood - February 19th

February Hot Spots

If that's not enough for you this month, we're also featuring a few February Hot Spots with some awesome guest authors including Bianca D'Arc and Nikki Duncan. I'm thrilled to have both of these authors guesting this month as they share more about their new releases (including Nikki's fantabulous free short from Samhain this month). So be sure to keep an eye out for those!

Currently Reading: Kay Hooper – Blood Ties
Kay Hooper's most recent book release hit the stores last week and I finally got my hands on a copy. The Blood trilogy began two years ago in the book Blood Dreams continued last year in Blood Sins and will conclude in this year's Blood Ties. What makes this particular series unique is that it is a true trilogy set amongst her series of recurring SCU characters led by the enigmatic Bishop and his lovely wife Miranda. We've gotten to know all the characters over the years, particularly Hollis Templeton who was herself a victim in the novel Touching Evil.
I am tremendously excited to be reading this novel as we also get to visit once more with Quentin and Diana, two characters I absolutely fell in love with during Chill of Fear. The evil they are hunting appears to be connected to someone or something that is hunting the SCU. Will they finally be able to destroy this evil before it destroys them? Or is the cover of Blood Ties of Bishop's headstone with a bloody handprint on it a warning?

Vampire Diaries: Children of the Damned
The Vampire Diaries continues to be wildly entertaining as the action, mysteries and storylines ramp up to expose more secrets in the town of Mystic Falls. In the second episode of the season, Bonnie described the comet as a harbinger of death and destruction. She said after it passed overhead 145 years before, it spawned so much bloodshed that the town was left a hotbed of paranormal activity.

Viewers know that this was the time of Katherine, when she took Stefan and Damon as lovers and eventually led to her near destruction in the old Fell Church and subsequent entombment. Damon is not alone in his quest to free Katherine, other vampires in the town including Anna (Jeremy's friend) are also seeking a way to free Katherine and the twenty-some odd other vampires trapped with her. Who will win the race against time? What will happen when Katherine is freed? These are just some of the questions we have. Here's a great clip of this Thursday's episode: Children of the Damned.

Enjoy a Discount from ARe
By the way if you haven't had a chance to pick up my Prime Evil or Remembering Ashby, head over to ARe books this weekend with the discount code: SBTBARe1 to get 50% off. Remember that $.25 of every sale for Prime Evil is donated to the World Wildlife Fund. The 50% offer is good this weekend only, so take advantage of the code and pick up some fantastic eBooks while you're at it!

What are your plans to heat February?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Paperback Heroes: Law and Order

If you've been missing Saturday Smackdowns, so have we. They will be returning February with a whole new series of Saturday challenges, prizes and more. In the meanwhile, I was digging through my archives and found this little gem about law enforcement paperback heroes.

The Lawgivers

Lawgiver may be a strong term, but it works. It covers all the people in law enforcement (local, military and Federal), judges, prosecutors and the occasional vigilante or private investigator. The private investigator is probably the weakest link in the lawgiver archetype, but since the majority of the heroic private investigators are more the lawful neutral to lawful good types, we're going to lump them in anyway.

The lawgiver is a hero that's hard to resist whether he's the Sheriff of a small western town battling against lawlessness, an appointed representative of the King traveling through the villages of the Middles Ages or the hard boiled big city detective with a case to solve and a pretty dame to protect. The lawgiver thinks of the big picture first, he's dedicated to saving those less fortunate than himself.

Cops do the right thing, even if it means taking a bullet and going down in the line of duty. They have an honor code, a code of brotherhood and a dedication to the law that is unrivaled. As a romantic hero, the lawgivers are crusaders of the modern time. Never is that more apparent than in Julie Garwood's modern series begin with Heartbreaker. Hero Nick Buchanan comes from a family of lawgivers. His father is a judge, two brothers are police officers, a third is an attorney for the Department of Justice and a fourth is in the military.

Law givers are completely alpha males; they will do what they have to protect what is theirs. For Nick, that begins with protecting best friend Tommy's little sister Laurant from a lunatic. For Theo (the Justice attorney), that's helping out a small town doctor who saved his life. For Alec (Chicago PD, FBI) that includes tracking down the nut job killing for hotel heiress Reagan and while Dylan has to save the love of his life Kate from being blown up a third time. All of Garwood's Buchanan men leap off the page; they mix humor, sexiness and edge in a perfect blend. But through and through, these are men of the law and the women who love them.

Lawgivers on the Move

Lawgivers are lawgivers no matter where they go. In Nora Roberts Northern Lights, former Baltimore cop Nate heads up to Alaska to get as far away physically, mentally and emotionally as he can from the death of his partner -- a death he blames on himself. But in Alaska, he finds murder, death and love. In Kay Hooper's books, many of her heroes are psychics who also work in law enforcement like Noah Bishop.

Iris Johansen paired her forensic sculptor Eve with Atlanta police detective Joe Quinn. John Grisham took the lawgiver a different way by tempting lawgiver Mitch McDeere with the best of everything in life; he just had to give up any semblance of control to the Firm and nearly loses his own wife in the process. The romantic hero status comes when he begins to fight his way back to himself.

Another unique take on the lawgiver is the work of Bruce Alexander (Bruce Cook) in his period Sir John Fielding mysteries. Sir John's romantic lead status is seen only through the eyes of the young man clerking for him, yet he possesses strong nobility.

Lawgivers on Television

The lawgiver archetype is ideal for television and films. Criminal Minds is populated by powerful lawgivers (male and female), but it is Aaron Hotchner's (Thomas Gibson) story that stands out. His personal life suffers tremendously at the hands of his dedication to the job.

Lawgivers are everywhere from Bruce Willis' turn as John McClane in the Die Hard films to David Boreanez as FBI special agent Seeley Booth on Bones. On Chuck, the diehard law enforcer is Casey who works for the NSA (though he qualifies for super spy status too) while CSI:NY police detective Don Flack is mourning the loss of his lover and partner Detective Angel who was killed in the line of duty.

Rick Castle isn't quite the lawgiver paperback hero, but his devotion to the truth and discovering why people do what they do can end him in alot of hot water with his heroine: Detective Beckett.

The lawgiver is a powerful figure, he saves lives often at his own personal expense. He can be hard to love, because you have to love his job and accept that sometimes you won't come first with him when the job calls. The lawgiver may be called upon to give his life in the line of duty and he willingly embraces that sacrifice, particularly if it saves other people.

The paperback hero be he a crusading attorney looking to put away the bad guys, the police detective trying to solve the crimes or the Judge who may be forced to let them out again because he must uphold all aspects of the law is dynamic, powerful and utterly male.

Who is your favorite lawgiver romantic hero?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hot Romance Stories

Winter continues its bipolar grip on the south with days of warmth weaving in and out with days of frigid cold. So what's a girl to do when the weather twists into the arctic winds? A comfortable chair in the living room, wrapped in an afghan from my grandmother and warming myself by the fires of hot romance stories is the perfect solution. So what hot romance will be fanning the flames this spring? Not all of the following are available yet, but you should have plenty of fuel to pick up from now until March.

Hot Romance Stories that Sizzle

Wicked Little Game

The Marquis of Vane hungers for Lady Sarah from afar as she braves a disastrous marriage. That is until Sarah's husband makes him an indecent offer: one night with Sarah for ten thousand pounds. Passions explode and lead to a deadly twist of fate that could spell a lifetime of regret-or love.

Take Me if You Dare
For Mariska Stonegate, the gorgeous guy she's now met is everything she's looking for in a man—hot, hot and…oh, right. Hot. And just because every pore of his body screams danger and sex doesn't mean she's getting herself into too much trouble…. But Mr. Thomas isn't who he says he is. In fact, his real name is Jackson—no last names, please—and he's a burned CIA agent on the run. And he'll do just about anything to stay alive…including seducing Mariska one hot, steamy night at a time!

Accidentally Demonic
The devilish new novel from the national bestselling author of The Accidental Human
When mild-mannered Casey Schwartz wakes up in jail, she has no memory of how she got there. But after her sister, Wanda, bails her out, Casey has more to deal with than a foggy memory-like abrupt mood swings and fireballs shooting from her fingertips. But things really head south when a vampire shows up on her doorstep...

Vampire Clayton Gunnersson is seriously hot. And seriously taken-by a demon. In a ritual gone wrong, Clayton tried to get rid of his unwanted bond, but spilled some demonic blood on Casey, getting her possessed in the process. Now, Casey has to share her body and manage to keep her growing attraction to Clayton in check, because falling for her demon's boyfriend just might get Casey killed-from the inside out.

Hot Pursuit

Alyssa Locke is no stranger to dealing with danger. As team leader of the nation’s number one personal security company, Troubleshooters Inc., she’s seen more than her share of action, survived plenty of close calls, and holds her own with the best of them–and against the worst of them. Guarding lives is her game, and no one plays it better. But her toughest challenge will be protecting herself from a serial killer she’s been after for years–known only as “The Dentist”–who is determined to make her his ultimate trophy.

The assignment was supposed to be an easy one: teach self-defense techniques to a newly elected assemblywoman and her chief of staff after a political controversy generates a blizzard of hate mail–including death threats–from hotheads and cranks. But as soon as she mobilizes her squad of moonlighting Navy SEALs in New York City, Alyssa begins butting heads with the hard-case cop who thinks that the Troubleshooters are chasing shadows.

Until they discover a dead body. And then another. Now Alyssa really has her hands full–bodyguarding two independent, busy women, managing a murder investigation, and trying to find time for her husband, Troubleshooters operative Sam Starrett, and their infant son. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be a Troubleshooters operation without romantic sparks and heated rivalries–and any time the SEALs of Team Sixteen are involved, there are plenty of both.

But then, while investigating a suspect, Alyssa is ambushed and suddenly finds herself imprisoned by The Dentist. Cut off from everyone she loves and relies on, Alyssa must call upon all of her strength and skill to survive this final confrontation with the sadistic monster, meanwhile trusting that her Troubleshooter teammates, led by her beloved Sam, will reach her before it’s too late.

Black Jack

The Secret Service can’t control him. The British government can’t silence him. But renegade agent Travis Caine is one loose cannon you don’t want to mess with, so his commanders cut him a break—and cut him loose. His new HQ is America’s top intelligence force, Elite Ops. His new code name is “Black Jack.” And his new assignment is to die for.

She’s smart, sexy, scintillating—and one of Elite Ops’ savviest agents. Lillian Belle’s code name is “Night Hawk,” and Travis certainly wouldn’t mind flying a few midnight maneuvers with her. But when their mission turns into a red-hot game of danger, deceit, and double-crossed signals, Travis begins to wonder: Can he trust her? Can he resist her?


Luc's entire future is planned out-but there is one very sexy obstacle in his path: Alyssa, a strip club owner with whom Luc recently shared one night of wild abandon. It left Luc terrified by his loss of self-control-and Alyssa desperate for more. But Luc is not the only man desperate to have Alyssa...and that's just one of her secrets-secrets as dark and mysterious and delicious as her fantasies.

Let Romance Rock Your World
Keep yourself warm all through February with these hot little gems and stay tuned for an authorpallooza of sorts as Carrie Vaughn, Nancy Holzner and Candace Havens kick off February with the Daily Dose's Spotlight On features next week. The Daily Dose will also be joining in to celebrate 28 Days of the Heart from Are with a wide range of featured authors who donated their time, their creativity and yes, their passionate hearts to the cause.

What stories are you keeping warm with right now?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crazy for The Vampire Diaries Damon

I may not be a vampire fan, but I am absolutely bongo for the CW series The Vampire Diaries. When I first heard that they were turning LJ Smith's novels into a television series, I admit to skepticism. Beyond the doubt associated with doing the story (one I'd read nearly 20 years ago) justice, I was resistant to the idea of yet another vampire show.

But I wanted to give the show a chance so I tuned into the pilot. I liked it enough to tune in the next week and the week after that and the week after that. It wasn't long before I watched the episode first for the sheer joy of watching and then at least two more times after to analyze the character portrayals.

Crazy for Damon

I love all the characters from Stefan and Elena to Bonnie and Caroline and even Tyler Lockwood and Jeremy. I am enjoying the conspiracy of the town elders (may poor Zach rest in peace), but I have to confess -- I love Damon the most of all. The complicated, crazy vampire is blunt, cutting and multi-faceted. He is not a cookie cutter and despite arriving the wicked bad guy, he is becoming so much more.

Damon was my favorite from the book series and Ian Somerholder has more than made him my favorite in this series. Check out the eye candy on the upper right, I picked up this poster for myself at Christmas time. Thursdays are definitely the place to be with the Salvatore brothers leading off the evening and the Winchesters coming up aces in the next hour.

Check out this clip from Thursday's "Unpleasantville."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Literary Monsters

Monsters are hardly something new to novels, science fiction or otherwise. Long before monsters became the alpha male, leading men in paranormal romances or the tortured anti-heroes in urban fantasy, the monsters were just that – monsters. They were monstrous beings or creatures who plagued humans, fed upon them or destroyed them no matter what their "intentions" were. Simply put, the monsters were exactly that – monsters.

From Grendal to Mr. Hyde, monsters pepper our fiction with danger, intrigue and passion. They preyed on humans, slaying them or taking them prisoner. You could argue that these monsters represented the nameless, faceless evils of the world: pestilence, poverty, punishment and more. These allegorical monsters gave storytellers a target to point their finger at and say “This is the cause of your fear – this is what goes bump in the night – this is what you must survive or slay in order to go on.”

Victorian Monsters

Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker contributed to the shifting tide of the monster in literary fiction. These men portrayed the evil that exists within the individual – in some cases like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, very literally and in others, they used fantastic creatures to represent the passions of powerful greed and lust. Sherlock Holmes confronted many criminals and even a fair share of monsters in his time, but most of those were human in origin while Bram Stoker gave his villain a supernatural origin and a charming demeanor – adding insult to injury as it were.

So what caused the shifting perception of literary monsters? When did man become the greater villain over the monster? While I can point to no one single factor, you could argue that a broadening worldview coming late in the Victorian age gave rise to fear of strange people rather than monsters. Science and medicine continued to be developing fields and the idea of monsters waiting at the edge of the world or even the concept that the world was flat were a distant memory. The ever-expanding world, the changing political landscape and even a change in condition with the industrial revolution all added their own measure of spice to the pot.

Initially, I wanted to point to Jack the Ripper as a catalyst, but The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde published in 1886 while the first Sherlock Holmes mystery, A Study in Scarlet published in 1887. Jack the Ripper’s killing spree did not begin until 1888. Is it just strange coincidence or simply a world where news coverage of events, growing literacy among the populace and better record keeping account for both the monstrous actions of real and fictional characters?

Modern Monsters

In our modern age, we are more than well aware of how retched man can be. One need only look at our bloody, tortured history to study that legacy. The 20th century gave us great villains like Hitler, Stalin, the Unabomber, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and more. These were all men whose actions are so heinous and inhuman that history regards them as monsters. If monsters look like people, like you and me, then perhaps those that are different – who look like monsters are not so bad?

Thus how can the vampire, the werewolf, the demon and the creatures that go bump in the night not get the benefit of the doubt? The vampire drinks blood, but does that make him or her evil? Do vegetarians regard carnivores as evil? Werewolves are men and women who become wolves? Does that make them monsters? Or are they simply creatures compelled by primal urges? How do you measure a monster? By what he is or what he does?

Modern society has taught us that the argument of nature versus nurture is not as simple as one might believe. If a werewolf saves lives because he has the strength and the stamina, then his actions make him a hero – so what if he howls at the moon? The vampire who refrains from drinking human blood or only drinks from willing donors without compelling them is only a man or woman surviving rather than pillaging what they need.

Literary monsters can be found everywhere in modern fiction, but the trail of human tears that led to their rehabilitation is an interesting journey. Just look at Patricia Briggs’ Iron Kissed for a great example of how a simple human can wreak havoc.

What literary monsters do you love?

Don’t miss Heather’s guest blog over at Book Lover’s Inc today as she discusses What Books Mean to Me

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rest in Peace Mr. Parker

Author Robert Parker, creator of the private investigator Spenser and author of more than 37 novels about the Boston based character has died. The character of Spenser came to television in the form of Robert Urich years ago. The famed author wrote every day according to his agent and apparently passed from this world doing what he was known for most-- sitting at his desk and writing.

Thank you for many wonderful years with Spenser, Mr. Parker. Rest in peace.

New York Times story.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Welcome Book Lovers, Inc

Welcome Book Lovers, Inc to the blogosphere! The international team behind this charming collaboration offers a fresh and invigorating look to books, the people who write them and the people who read them. Today is launch day for our new arrival on the block, so be sure to drop by and give them a warm welcome! I'll be heading over with a guest blog about what I love about books on the 21st!

In the meanwhile, I was wondering: what do you love about books?

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Authors, New Worlds, New Words, Good Times

Catherine Spangler gave a presentation at the North Texas RWA chapter meeting this past weekend. I’d seen her book covers, but I’d never actually picked up one of her novels. When I heard she was presenting, I read up on her books. Her Touched by Darkness, Touched by Fire and Touched by Light intrigued me. Fortunately, a friend had all three and loaned them to me.

Typically, I don’t read anything while in the midst of writing, but I made an exception to scan the first couple of chapters. I really liked what I had to read. Her writing is intense and fresh with characters that leap off the page. I am already wondering what happened to the characters in the book, so they are sitting on my shelf as a reward for meeting my personal page count. Something of a carrot and a stick:

New Authors, New Worlds, New Words

Good times are to be had in any new discovery -- so check out this fabulous trio of books that has me so intrigued.

Touched by Darkness
Dr. Kara Cantrell settled in the sleepy town of Zorro, Texas, convinced she and her child had escaped the sinister reach of a supernatural underworld. But now dark forces may jeopardize her new life. Her only hope is Damien Morgan, a dangerous, alluring man with superhuman abilities. He and Kara share a mystical link that triggers desires they must ignore. But as they work together to protect her son, and begin tracking the evil stalking them, something threatens to push them toward the edge...of darkness.

Touched by Fire
Since a brutal attack on her sister eleven years ago, Marla Reynolds has been emotionally frozen. But the passion of one man-a member of an ancient superhuman race-could melt her defenses.

Touched by Light
Dr. Julia Reynolds lives a solitary existence. But Adam Masters is determined to draw her into a dark and dangerous otherworld-and make her give in to the stunning sexual attraction between them.

Read the excerpt that hooked me: Exercpt. Frankly, that last line sold me beyond anything else. This is so my kind of book!

Discovering New Authors
I can’t possibly read every book in the world – I used to want to try, but now I am satisfied with the fact that no matter my tastes or desires, books and authors are out there waiting to fulfill my entertainment needs. Catherine Spangler is hardly a new author on the block, but she’s definitely a new one on my book shelf and that makes her fresh and new to me.

When you discover an author, you do more than just discover the book they’ve published. You’ve discovered their backlist and their future titles as well. It’s an all access pass to entertainment and marvelous things.

Amusingly enough, when I went by my mother’s this morning to drop off my daughter I saw the book she was reading. Would you believe it: Touched by Darkness by Catherine Spangler? I cracked up and told her I was reading the same book. What my mother didn’t realize is that there were two more set in that world. Now she and my daughter will be trekking to a bookstore today. Apparently she’s read Touched by Darkness three times and is currently on her fourth pass through the book.

What new authors and series have you become enchanted by recently?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stolen Moments and Short Affairs

Back in September, I guest blogged over at Cheeky Reads, one of my favorite book blogs. I wanted to share that guest blog today for those who may have missed it. Welcome to my stolen moments and short affairs:

I have a confession to make; I love to indulge in short affairs rather frequently. That doesn’t mean I am opposed to longer term relationships, but those short affairs, one night stands, afternoon quickies, those short, brief passionate moments stolen away from everyone and everything else. Yes, I have a problem and that problem is the short story.

Passion for Short Stories

My passion for short stories began as a child. My grandmother used to read to me from her Harlequin romance novels because she didn’t like to read children’s books. I loved the stories, particularly when they were funny or adventurous. When I was five, she gave me a book of Aesop’s Fables. I devoured it. You know Aesop’s Fables right? The Boy Who Cried Wolf? The Dog in the Manger? The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs? The Tortoise and the Hare?

Of course those classics captured my imagination. Short, pithy stories filled with entertainment and a moral. Those were soon followed by books on Greek mythology and collections of tales from mythology with everything from Zeus becoming a Bull to the tales of Hercules. It wasn’t long before I was seeing Encyclopedia Brown and the Two Minute Mysteries.

Is it any wonder that I reached for Cats Fantastic? Horse Fantastic? Villains Victorious? And so many more that drew me in and I couldn’t help but read? I used to think the attraction was the swift read of short story books. I could satisfy my fiction needs in fast, furious bursts of goodness, but not get so sucked into a novel.

The Star

The best short story I ever read was called The Star by Arthur C. Clarke. In the story, deep space explorers are on their way home from a far away star system. During their journey, they found the archaeological remains of an advanced civilization that was ended when their star went super nova. The mission’s lead astrophysicist is deeply troubled by something from their journey. Throughout the story, we learn different things about the destroyed culture.

The planet and its people seemed very Earth-like in nature. The people knew well in advance that their star would explode. They didn’t have the interstellar capabilities to save themselves so they built a large time capsule on a planet with a distant orbit, where it would be safe from the supernova. They stored complete records of their culture, their society, achievements and everything they could to keep the memory of their exceptionally peaceful and advanced civilization alive in memory.

All of the explorers were deeply moved by the vault, especially the Jesuit priest. At the very end of the story, the Jesuit reveals what he has figured out. The exact Earth year that light from the supernova would have reached Earth equates with the year that Christ was born. That civilization was destroyed so that the wise men would know to journey to the Christ child. To this day, that story gives me chills.

Writing, Reading, Loving Short Fiction

This love affair with short fiction continued into adulthood. While I was not necessarily a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer book series, I adored the Tales of the Slayers, the short fiction collection books. I love short fiction because you get to meet lots of different writers. More recently, I’ve read short story collections like Mean Streets, Suite 606, Strange Brew and so many more than I can name.

As a writer myself, I appreciate the opportunities that short fiction provides to readers. Remembering Ashby is a novella, a short novel just under 30,000 words. I wrote two short stories, one that follows up RA called Forget to Remember and another called It Happens. The first is a follow-up to RA while the second introduces a new series that will be coming out this fall from Sapphire Blue Publishing. ( has subsequently been Prime Evilreleased.)

Short stories can give you a window of opportunity into the body of an author’s work. I discovered Jim Butcher in a short story, I discovered Tom Sniegoski in a short story. I discovered Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, J.D. Robb, Simon R, Green, Rachel Caine, Patricia Briggs, Christopher Golden and so many more.

The list of authors could go on and on and on. I’ve gotten letters recently from a handful of people who found my short story on All Romance eBooks and others who found the short story on my website. They wrote to let me know they enjoyed the short stories so much; they wanted to see what else I wrote.

So the circle is complete. I read short stories because I love those moments, the swift introductions and thoroughly passionate affairs that can leave you breathless and longing for more. I love those short stories the best, I can’t wait for the next.

What is your favorite short story?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potent Quotables

As part of an exercise for the Muse Therapy workshop I am participating in (Hey D.D.!), I wanted to share some of the inspirational quotes that give me that kick in the pants whenever I am feeling down on life, writing or just the experience of getting published. You'll recognize the source of most of these quotes. Most of these are the product of late nights at the computer when I get punchy and need to motivate myself to get one more page, another couple of hundred words or to finish a scene that won't end.

I freely admit that I am something of a geek. I pull my quotes from all sources. Sources that make me laugh. Sources that make me cry. Sources that engage me. Sometimes I change them, sometimes I don't. What works for me is that the quote gives me the right kick in the pants when I need it. In the meanwhile, hats off to the Muse Therapy workshop by D.D. Scott who guest blogged for the Daily Dose a couple of months ago. If you're curious, be sure to check it out.

Potent Quotes and More

  • Fiction, the final frontier; these are the voyages of the Authorship of Heather Long, her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new possibilities and to boldly go where only the imagination has gone before.

  • Write long and prosper.

  • Write or write not. There is no try.

  • It's never safe in the car!

  • When I die, I'm leaving the body of my work to science fiction.

  • Everybody lies. Writers lie well.

  • I write you.

  • I find your lack of word count disturbing.

  • When you can't do something smart, do something write.

  • If we write by the book, hours can be days.

  • Once upon a time. That's how it starts. Then comes the screaming and the running.

  • Do you want to tell me what you're writing or would you like to break some more furniture?

  • Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.

These are just a few of my favorite potent quotes and quotables that I keep tacked up around the room. They are good for a laugh, a smile, a momentary inspiration and for keeping me on track when I wonder why I bother – those are the days when writing is tough, the kiddo is interrupting, the phone doesn't stop ringing and the need to pay the bills of the many outweigh the creative needs of the few or the one.

Do you have a favorite quote you rely on to get you out of a funk and to kickstart your creative gears as it were?

Oh and if you can name the sources of all these quotes – I might give you a prize!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Create a Character

One of the questions I hear frequently is how do I create my characters? Where do they come from? What inspired me? This is also the hardest question to answer because characters can come from anywhere. They can spring fully formed from my forehead like Athena did from Zeus or percolate in the foamy waves generated by my sea of imagination like Aphrodite or they can simply take shape over time, like a carefully worn path through the mountains that the river cuts relentlessly.

Where Do Characters Come From?

Ask any author where his or her characters come from and you will likely receive a different answer. One author I met last summer described her character creation process as an introduction. Some of her characters arrive, fully formed with names and introduce themselves. Still others describe the process as getting to know their characters as they write.

One author I know begins with the germ of an idea, a word, a catch phrase or even just a hint of personality and then she writes until that character takes shape on the page. She described her process of getting to know the character like picking out all the right traits on a singles-dating site, but until she took the character out for a spin, she didn't really know them.

Growing Characters

Still other characters are grown, birthed from an idea and nurtured in an author's imagination until they grow up. Some characters grow faster than others, some run before they can even walk. These are most of often the characters that leap off the page whether they are a supporting character, a main character or a villain.

What it boils down to, is that there is no one true absolute method to character creation. One need only turn on the television to look at the wide range of characters. Some characters are very similar, on the surface, but as you get to know them, you find their quirks.

  • Castle – On the surface, Rick Castle is an author, playboy and devilishly charming guy. If you go deeper, you learn he is a wildly curious man who loves to explore the world around him. He's about the fun and the dark. He's a good dad and he's shy about commitment, but only after two marriages. His fascination with the macabre is not because of a childhood tragedy, but more due to his need to understand why it happens in the first place.

  • Chuck – On the surface, Chuck is the kid who had a lot of potential, but he just can't seem to live up to it. If you go deeper, you learn that Chuck is a brilliant guy who had a brilliant future, all of which was robbed from him by his best friend in order to "protect" him. The accusation that he was cheating and his subsequent booting from Stanford University kicked his self-confidence and desire for greater things right in the teeth. It's taken him a long time to build up that confidence again and even now, he struggles with it, no matter how well intentioned.

  • House – On the surface, Gregory House is a miserable SOB who uses his brilliance as a pass for some of the most reprehensible behavior. This season, we've really dug down into the character of House, we know he had a troubled childhood with an emotionally distant and abusive father. We know he was an extremely physical guy who became crippled and lived with chronic pain. He lost the love of his life after she made a decision he could barely forgive her for. The deeper you go, the more you learn.

What sets these characters apart from an author is they are all characters on television that were written and created by writers, but interpreted by the actors who play them. The nuances these actors bring to the roles help you connect to the characters, get to know them and invest in them emotionally.

Where Do Characters Come From?

So where do these characters come from? They come from everywhere. They are the kid in first grade who used to pull your hair, they are the bullies in sixth grade who gave you your first black eye, they are the girl in the front row who knew all the answers, but always seemed sad and the boys on the sports teams that always seemed to live in their own world.

Characters come from the mother who walks her dogs with her babies every morning regardless of the weather. Characters are the people in the sports car who have to zip around you even though traffic is flowing at 20 miles an hour. Characters are the men and women on the news who dish out their reports of what is happening and where.

Characters come from all occupations and all aspects of our own lives. Every author infuses a small piece of him or herself into the characters they create when they breathe life into them. The question to ask though is not where do characters come from – but where don't they?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Do His Enemies define a Hero?

Watching the last hurrah for David Tennant's Doctor last night in the two parts The End of the Time. The film epic detailed the complex relationship between the Doctor and the Master. They need each other --- direct and opposing forces. The Batman had the Joker and many more in his gallery of villains.

Novel Heroes
In Julie Garwood's Heartbreaker, Nick Buchanan is an FBI agent who specializes in missing children, murder and more. His villain is a serial who targets Nick's oldest friend Father Tom and Father Tom's sister. Nick doesn't realize at first that the villain going after them is someone with an axe to grind with him.

For Eve Dallas in J.D. Robb's In Death series, her villain is the father who raped and abused her as a child. She gives him the finger every day she has a moment of happiness and since she met Roarke, she has a lot more of those. Surprisingly, I don't think of the criminals she puts away as the villains for Eve because they are the job, they are the villains in other lives that she stands up for – her father and whoever her mother are the ultimate villains. Little by little, she is overcoming them.

Do You Need a Big Bad?
Does every hero need a "big bad"? I use this term because each season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would focus on one big bad who would be the ongoing storyline for each season. In the first season, it was the Master, in the second, it was Angelus, in the third, it was the Mayor and in the fourth, it turned out to be Adam while in the fifth it was Glory. Willow took on the role of the big bad in the sixth and the First Evil earned the coveted spot for the seventh and final season.

Each villain challenged Buffy in new and terrifying ways. It forced her to face her fears internally and externally. Do all heroes need a big bad of some kind? My example of Eve Dallas would make her father the Big Bad of the overall series.

In Mercy Thompson, the big bad shifts from book to book as she deals with different challenges. The worst of her enemies turned out to be a normal human boy with delusions of grandeur and access to Fae weapons that let him torture and nearly kill her. For Harry Dresden, his big bad has also shifted from novel to novel, but some have remained constant including his godmother, some of the Fae and the Red Court.

In each example, these big bads force the heroes to make a choice - to defend others from their wrath and to take on challenges that could ultimately destroy them. Like Luke Skywalker, the heroes must confront the darkness within themselves as well as the big bad.

Bigger, Badder Villains

The problem with big bads is that as series go longer – the villains become more awful and they begin to look an awful lot like our heroes. Would Buffy be Buffy without Willow or the Master or even Angelus? Would Luke Skywalker be who he is without Darth Vader? Could Eve Dallas be the woman she is without the horror that was her father?

Do their villains define our heroes?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Problem with Formula Romance

Formula romances are a part of the business. Whether you read paranormal romance, historical romance, contemporary romance or romantic suspense – the basic formula is boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl confront and overcome obstacles and then boy and girl lives happily ever after.

The problem with formula romance is that romantic interactions and story development should not be exact from book to book. Unfortunately, I just hit the wall with this in two series that I read on a regular basis.

Books That Disappoint

In the first, the main character confronts craziness and is totally snarky, overcomes the problematic issue the exact same way – by being smarter than the problem and often with a little help from his friends. Nothing new happens anymore, nothing startles or is surprising. The series is just treading water without new developments.

In the second series, the male character is either in law enforcement and he is brought in to help the female character because some lunatic is trying to kill her. The characters are both attractive and have to spend all their time together. They inevitably end up sitting on the same bed about midway through the story and the male is always saying he's leaving even when he's seducing her. They fall in love in spite of themselves, they think they solved the problem and as soon as he leaves her to file paperwork or other item, the threat resurfaces and he must rush to the rescue.

This is a great formula for a fast paced, suspenseful romance that focuses more on the characters than the situations. When the characters begin to bleed one book into another so that the female protagonist seems rather plug and play and the romantic hero changes only by name disappoints me.

The best part of reading to me is meeting these characters, spending time with them and transporting myself into these worlds. The formula doesn't bother me as long as the characters are fresh and original. When the characters become generic and the formula becomes so repetitive as to be generic that I am disappointed.

Formula Romance Works

Formula romance works because fresh authors give characters fresh voices and even well established authors create full-bodied characters that are original and delightful to meet. Your neighbor can have the exact same problems that you do and even the same history, but who they are is different from whom you are. That's why romance novels work. We want to see how these unique and fresh voices tackle these problems.

We want to see them overcome difficulty, fear and other obstacles to be with the one they love. It doesn't matter if we know that in the end they will live happily ever after, it's the journey to get there that we want to see. Formulaic journeys with generic characters lose their magic and that, to me, is unfortunate.

I don't have a problem with formula romance -- just give me fresh voices and people to root for on that journey.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

World Building for a Paranormal Romance

Have you ever wondered about the process of world building for a paranormal romance? Most paranormal romances are set in the contemporary world that looks an awful lot like our own with a few exceptions. The twist in most paranormal romances is the presence of the paranormal. That requires a certain amount of world building.

Understanding the Rules

Readers and writers have one thing in common where new worlds are concerned. They need to understand the rules of that world. In Twilight, for example, vampires are created when one vampire bites a human and injects venom. If the human survives the venom's effects, they become a vampire. If not, they die. No matter whether they transform or die, the process is excruciating and takes about 48 to 72 hours. This is important information for the audience because it's a different take on the creation of the vampire.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the blood swap between vampire and victim is necessary and the victim must die. Then you wait to see if they rise again. Apparently, it doesn't always happen. However, when the victim rises as a vampire, they are not that person as a vampire, instead the soul is gone and a demon moves in. Again, this is important information for the audience to know because it establishes the rules for that world.

Supernatural Out in the Open

In both of those examples, the supernatural elements are "secret" from the world at large. When you bring the supernatural out into the world, you open up a completely new can of worms. For Nancy Holzner's Deadtown this means cordoning off part of Boston as the "deadtown" and giving Massachusetts the "Monster"chusetts nickname as well as making those supernatural creatures fight for their rights.

In Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series, the openness of the fae communities led to new laws and reservations. When the werewolves came out, the subsequent society fall out is also documented. In both cases, their own laws and bodies of order govern each of these "paranormal or supernatural" societies.

In Holzner's work, this is a three-person council made up of a vampire, a werewolf and a witch. In Briggs' world, the Grey Lords oversee the Fae while Bran as Marrok rules the werewolves. While each of these drops of information are not always vital to understanding the actual story or don't impact the direct story being told, they are important to adding texture to the world.

Understanding the Worlds Being Built

Almost everyone can name the President of the United States at any given time if they live in the U.S. Not everyone can name the Prime Minister of Britain. Probably even fewer can name the heads of state in France, Germany, Belgium and Japan much less in other parts of the world. These details aren't "important" to our day-to-day lives. Yet when we are telling a story set in any of these places, those details are important.

When you visit another culture whether it's through a book set in a contemporary world or a fantasy setting, you need to have enough information to navigate that world, but not so much that you drown in an encyclopedia entry. Most writers will eventually create a detailed "bible" of their world – think the guide to the realm of Wizarding in Harry Potter where you learn all the ins and outs of the Ministry of Magic. Small drops of that will appear in the works, the parts the readers need to know to make their way while they are visiting. The more time we spend in that world, the more we learn.

Therefore, when it comes to world building, paranormal authors have a lot to think about and paranormal readers are our best tourists. They don't just read the road signs, they check out the sights too.

What are some of your favorite details in the worlds you have visited recently?

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Movies to Watch

Welcome to the Daily Dose movie watcher corner. I have to confess, I am very excited about this year's list of movies that are coming up. I shared with you the list of films that are coming up in January, yesterday. Today, I am tackling the films that are at the top of my "to be watched" list for February through July. I'll catch up with the back half of the year come June. So kick back with your coffee and check out the films. It is a long list (shockingly long based on years previous) and I've included some trailers where I could.

Hot Movies to Watch
Top movies that I want to see! Be sure to let me know what you think!

*Dear John - "Dear John" tells the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a young soldier home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), the idealistic college student he falls in love with during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by John’s increasingly dangerous deployments. While meeting only sporadically, they stay in touch by sending a continuous stream of love letters overseas--correspondence that eventually triggers fateful consequences.

*From Paris with Love - A young embassy employee (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) hooks up with an American spy (John Travolta) in Paris. The spy is insane but damn effective!

*Percy Jackson & the Olympians - The Lightning Thief - It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they’re not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy's mother. As Percy adapts to his newly discovered status as a demi-god (his father is Poseidon), he finds himself caught between the battling titans of Mt. Olympus. He and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves.

*The Wolfman - Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, "The Wolfman" brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins. Oscar® winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Oscar® winner Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother...and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself.

*Valentine's Day - "Valentine's Day" follows the intertwining storylines of a group of Los Angelinos as they find their way through romance over the course of one Valentine's Day.

*Remember Me - Infused with humor and romance, "Remember Me" tells the unforgettable love story of two young people who learn how important it is to love passionately and live loudly everyday of one's life.

*The Back-Up Plan - After years of dating, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has decided waiting for the right one is taking too long. Determined to become a mother, she commits to a plan, makes an appointment and decides to go it alone. On the day of her artificial insemination, Zoe meets Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) – a man with real possibilities.

*Season of the Witch - The story revolves around a group of knights in 14th century France who must transport a woman accused of witchcraft to a mountain abbey, where the monks will seek to understand and destroy her powers, believed to be the source of the Black Plague.

*The Bounty Hunter - A bounty hunter is hired to retrieve his ex-wife who has skipped bail.

*Clash of the Titans - In "Clash of the Titans," the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing left to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus (Liam Neeson) and unleash hell on earth. Leading a daring band of warriors, Perseus sets off on a perilous journey deep into forbidden worlds. Battling unholy demons and fearsome beasts, he will only survive if he can accept his power as a god, defy his fate and create his own destiny.

*How to Train Your Dragon - Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

*Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Meet the kid who made “wimpy” cool, in a family comedy based on the best-selling illustrated novel "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney, the first in a series that has thus far sold 24 million copies. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" chronicles the adventures of wise-cracking middle school student Greg Heffley, who must somehow survive the scariest time of anyone’s life: middle school.

*Date Night - Claire and Phil Foster (Tina Fey and Steve Carell) are a typical suburban couple whose lives – including their weekly date nights of dinner and a movie – have become routine. To reignite the marital spark, they visit a trendy Manhattan bistro where a case of mistaken identity turns their evening into the ultimate date night-gone-awry. But as Claire and Phil take their unexpected walk on the wild side, they begin to remember what made them so special together.

*Kick-Ass - "Kick-Ass" tells the story of average teenager Dave Lizewski (Johnson), a comic-book fanboy who decides to take his obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. As any good superhero would, he chooses a new name -- Kick-Ass -- assembles a suit and mask to wear, and gets to work fighting crime. There's only one problem standing in his way: Kick-Ass has absolutely no superpowers. His life is forever changed as he inspires a subculture of copy cats, is hunted by assorted violent and unpleasant characters, and meets up with a pair of crazed vigilantes, including an 11-year-old sword-wielding dynamo, Hit Girl (Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Cage).

*Iron Man 2 - In "Iron Man 2," the world is aware that billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the armored Super Hero Iron Man. Under pressure from the government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military, Tony is unwilling to divulge the secrets behind the Iron Man armor because he fears the information will slip into the wrong hands. With Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, Tony forges new alliances and confronts powerful new forces.

*Letters to Juliet - When a young American (Amanda Seyfried) travels to the city of Verona, home of the star-crossed lover Juliet Capulet of Romeo and Juliet fame, she joins a group of volunteers who respond to letters to Juliet seeking advice about love. After answering one letter dated 1951, she inspires its author (Vanessa Redgrave) to travel to Italy in search of her long-lost love and sets off a chain of events that will bring a love into both their lives unlike anything they ever imagined.

*Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - From the team that brought the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy to the big screen, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films present "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," an epic action-adventure set in the mystical lands of Persia. A rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) reluctantly joins forces with a mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton) and together, they race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time—a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.

*The A-Team -"The A-Team" follows the exciting and daring exploits of Hannibal Smith and his colorful team of former Special Forces soldiers who were set up for a crime they did not commit. Going "rogue," they utilize their unique talents – and eccentricities – to try and clear their names and find the true culprit.

*The Karate Kid - Work pressures cause a single mother moves to China with her young son; in his new home, the boy embraces karate, taught to him by a master of the self-defense form.

*Jonah Hex - Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last resort, a tough and stoic gunslinger who can track down anyone...and anything. Having survived death, Jonah's violent history is steeped in myth and legend, and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one on the "other side." His only human connection is with Leila (Megan Fox), whose life in a brothel has left her with scars of her own. But Jonah's past is about to catch up with him when the U.S. military makes him an offer he can't refuse: in exchange for his freedom from the warrants on his head, he must track down and stop the dangerous terrorist Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). But Turnbull, who is gathering an army and preparing to unleash Hell, is also Jonah's oldest enemy and will stop at nothing until Jonah is dead. Based on the legendary graphic novel, "Jonah Hex" is an epic adventure thriller about one man's personal quest for redemption against the vast canvas of the battle between good and evil.

*Toy Story 3 - Andy is now a young adult, departing for college, and his toys, including Woody and Buzz Lightyear, are being sent to storage. Before his toys can be put in the attic, they are accidentally thrown away and are picked up by the garbage men. The toys find themselves at a local day-care center where they must try to survive pre-school children.

*Knight and Day - Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in the action-comedy "Knight and Day". Their glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure is one where nothing and no one – especially the now fugitive couple – are what they seem. Amid shifting alliances and unexpected betrayals, they must figure out whether to be guided by truth or by trust.

*The Last Airbender - Air, Water, Earth, Fire. Four nations tied by destiny when the Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others. A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction. Caught between combat and courage, Aang (Noah Ringer) discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. Aang teams with Katara (Nicola Peltz), a Waterbender, and her brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), to restore balance to their war-torn world.

*The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) is a master sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan trying to defend the city from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). Balthazar can't do it alone, so he recruits Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a seemingly average guy who demonstrates hidden potential, as his reluctant protégé. The sorcerer gives his unwilling accomplice a crash course in the art and science of magic, and together, these unlikely partners work to stop the forces of darkness. It'll take all the courage Dave can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl as he becomes "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Find more new and upcoming releases at The Movie Insider.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Snips & Clips: It's a New Year!

We have a lot to chat about today in our Sunday Snips and Clips as we look at some great books, great movies and more. 2009 was a great year of highs and lows. I released two novels, began publishing the Daily Dose, visited a couple of radio shows and hosted more giveaways than I thought possible. The holiday blog giveaway was a resounding success. Our Spotlight On features have introduced readers to new authors (one of my favorite things to do) and I've read some fantastic novels, too many to account for. So today, we're just going to tackle the last two weeks since Christmas.

So kick back, pour yourself some coffee and enjoy our extra-long, half-café, low fat Daily Dose of your Snips and Clips for the New Year.

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

A virus strikes the heart of Boston and drops every human in the vicinity. They die revealing all the survivors to be supernatural from witches to shape shifters to weres. What is worse than the sudden death of so many humans? When they rise again as a new race, one called zombies. This is the world you enter when you head into Deadtown, the localized area of Boston where the virus struck. This is the world that Vicky lives in.

Holzner creates a dynamic world where supernaturals are fighting for their rights and to be recognized. The truly horrific moments occur when you realize that only in Massachusetts (or Monsterchusetts) is the only place where supernaturals are treated as at least partial people – in other states they are just property. Vicky is a very likeable character who battles demons that plague people in or out of their dreams. She's also coping with a darkness from her past while at the same time fighting with a boyfriend who wants to use her in his crusade. I give this book a solid two thumbs up as a fun and entertaining read into a world where the monsters look an awful lot like normal people and the rest are treated like monsters.

Summary: Vicky's demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw ina foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client and a suspicious research facility that's taken an unwelcome interest in her family and Vicky's love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown's citizens.

Order Deadtown today!

Guns Will Keep Us Together by Leslie Langtry

A good friend recommended Leslie Langtry to me and I have to say, thank you Nikki for the book recommendation. Meet Dakota Bombay, a smart, sexy and vibrant specimen of a man who just happens to work in the family business. His family business is assassination. He is a good family man, calls Mom back when she calls him, helps his sister when he's asked and always comes when Grandma beckons. It helps that when Mom says she'll kill you, she isn't kidding.

This book is laugh out loud funny, even the moments that leave you gaping and wondering did they really just do that? Yes – yes they did! I give this two huge thumbs up and I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in the series.

Summary: Dakota Bombay prided himself on his blond Bond image – bad-guy killer by day, lady-killer by night. Then his life gets both shaken and stirred by an irate grandmother demanding a marketing plan for the family assassination business, a precocious six-year-old son Dak never knew he had and a mysterious redhead who's erased his decades-old preference for blondes. Suddenly, the perennial playboy is knee deep in pie charts and thinking he may have found the perfect mom for his boy. She's smart, funny and directs a funeral home no less – what could be better? Now if he can just take out a team of rival assassins without getting himself killed, they can all live trigger-happily ever after.

Order Guns Will Keep Us Together today!

Editors and Preeditors Poll
I was tickled to see that I was up in the early nominations for science fiction and fantasy novels at Critter World's Editors and Pre-editors Reader Poll. Please Vote for Prime Evil at Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels.


This lush film by James Cameron deserves every accolade it has been given. The story is a classic tale of human corporate mindset raping the landscape for what they want without regard for whom or what gets in their way. The aliens are alien, yet empathetic. They live in complete symbiosis with their world. The story is compelling, magical and horrific all at once. I would add a parental advisory that I don't think this is a movie for young or sensitive children. There are moments of visceral danger, fear and anguish that really rend the heart.

When I walked out of this film, I experienced the same emotions I experienced after Dances with Wolves. I walked out of Dances with Wolves saying "I hate white people" and I walked out of Avatar saying "I hate humans!".

Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey, Jr makes a fabulous Sherlock Holmes – a man whose mind thinks fifteen steps ahead of everyone else – even in physical activity. But for me, it was Jude Law that stole this film. His Dr. Watson was Watson – I didn't see Jude Law playing Watson, I just saw Watson. While I didn't care for some of the script choices, the characters were wildly compelling and engaging. I am looking forward to future opportunities if a sequel is made.

The Princess and the Frog

Disney returns to the cel animation that put them on the map in the first place. The tale of Tiana and Naveen is exceptionally well done and the music is foot stomping. Disney added many nice to the film and story that I enjoyed. In no particular order: color isn't the issue, money is and not wealth so much as the funds to commit to a dream. The empty-headed, wealthy friend is neither as empty headed nor as shallow as she appears. Her love and respect for Tiana was a refreshing change from the predictable. Naveen, the shallow prince, learns he's a lot stronger and more capable than he imagined. Ray – the Cajun Jiminy Cricket – offered an unexpected twist that made this story swoon worthy. Hats off Disney – you did good.

Top January Films
2009 gave us a lot of fantastic movies and 2010 promises even more. Here are my top picks for January films to check out this month.

*Daybreakers - Ethan Hawke will play a researcher who is working in the year 2017. At this point in the future, a plague has caused most of the world's population to transform into vampires. Humans are nearing extinction, and vampires are forced to farm humans or find a blood substitute before it's too late.

*Leap Year - Amy Adams and Matthew Goode star in "Leap Year", a romantic comedy that follows one woman’s determined quest to get married to the perfect guy…despite what fate has in store for her. When their four-year anniversary passes without a marriage proposal, Anna (Amy Adams) decides to take matters into her own hands. Investing in an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on February 29th, Anna decides to follow her boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) to Dublin and get down on one knee herself. But airplanes, weather and fate leave Anna stranded on the other side of Ireland, and she must enlist the help of handsome and surly Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her across the country. As Anna and Declan bicker across the Emerald Isle, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places.

*The Book of Eli - The story centers on a lone hero named Eli (Denzel Washington) who must fight his way across the wasteland of post apocalyptic America to protect a sacred book that might hold the key to saving the future of humanity. Gary Oldman will play Carnegie, the despot of a small makeshift town deficient of standard necessities, services, and most noticeably, laws. Carnegie is determined to take possession of the book Eli is guarding.

*The Spy Next Door - Jackie Chan is set to star in "The Spy Next Door," an action-comedy which centers on a man (Chan) who is called to baby-sit his neighbor's children and winds up having to fight off secret agents after one of the kids inadvertently downloads a secret code.

*Legion - In the supernatural action thriller "Legion", an out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race. When God loses faith in Mankind, he sends his legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse. Humanity's only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in a desert diner and the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany).

*When in Rome An ambitious young New Yorker (Kristen Bell), disillusioned with romance, takes a whirlwind trip to Rome where she defiantly plucks magic coins from a "foolish" fountain of love, inexplicably igniting the passion of an odd group of suitors: a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a street magician (Jon Heder), an adoring painter (Will Arnett) and a self-admiring model (Dax Shepard). But when a charming reporter (Josh Duhamel) pursues her with equal zest, how will she know if his love is the real thing?

Check back tomorrow for the rest of my top movie picks for 2010.

Miscellaneous Wrap Up
Don't miss author Nikki Duncan's series in RT Magazine. She offers you intriguing insights and fantastic advice on finding the right agent for you. Don't forget to check out yesterday's smack down focusing on your favorite companion for David Tennant's Doctor Who. One lucky commentator will win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Be sure to check back later this month for Spotlight Ons with authors Candace Havens, Nancy Holzner, Carrie Vaughn and more.

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saturday Smackdown: The Doctor's Companion

Tonight ends the David Tennant run as Doctor Who. The second episode of The End of Time has already aired in the United Kingdom, but BBC America will air that episode this evening in the U.S. In honor of David Tennant and the magnificent women who served as his companion, we have an extra long Saturday Smackdown for you this week. Up for your choice, this week is which companion is your favorite: Rose Tyler, Martha Jones or Donna Noble?

Billie Piper

Rose Tyler played by Billie Piper is introduced in the revived series as the ninth Doctor's (Christopher Eccleston). Rose is a working class girl who has a job as a London shop girl. She lives with her mother Jackie and her sometime boyfriend is Mickey Smith (no relationship to Sarah Jane). Rose's enthusiastic embrace of the Doctor's lifestyle leads her to fall in love with him. While the series typically refrained from showing the romantic relationships between the Doctor and his companions, Rose works her way under the Doctor's jaded skin, giving him a new lease of life.


When Rose absorbs the power of the Tardis at the end of the first series to defeat the Daleks and restore Jack Harkness to life, the Doctor must absorb it from her to save her life. The act kills him and he must regenerate. Thrown by the regeneration, Rose sticks with the Doctor, taking him home to her mother's to care for him. The Doctor recovers, slowly and helps find off the Sycorax invasion during the Christmas special. Throughout the second series, Rose and the Doctor become very dependent on each other.

Rose and the Doctor meet Queen Victoria during a sojourn in the 1800s where they defeat a werewolf attack. Rose is knighted by the Queen as Dame Rose of the Powell Estate and subsequently banished along with the Doctor by the Queen. Victoria then orders the founding of the Torchwood Institute to deal with alien threats (including the Doctor).

Three's Company

Mickey joins Rose and the Doctor for a series of adventures including a visit to an alternate Earth where Rose's father is still alive. The Cybermen attack brings Mickey into his own as he finds something to fight for. When Rose and the Doctor leave, Mickey remains behind. Rose meets Sarah Jane Smith during one adventure and experiences jealousy for the deep affection that is obvious between the Doctor and his former companion.

Towards the end of the second series, Torchwood Institute opens a portal between realities allowing the Cybermen and the Daleks to invade. In an all out war, the Doctor and Rose fight to defeat them, eventually devising a plan to suck them into the emptiness between universes. Mickey and Rose's father from the alternate come through to help.

As the Cybermen and Daleks are being swept away, Rose is pulled towards the void and saved by her father's teleporting device. The barrier between universes is sealed, leaving Rose trapped in the parallel universe – separated from the Doctor forever. The Doctor uses the power of a dying star to send her a message and say goodbye. Rose finally admits her love and although he wants to say it – the Doctor cannot.

Rose Returns

Throughout the fourth series, Rose appears repeatedly to Donna Noble. The Doctor isn't certain why, but when the Earth is stolen by Davros along with several other worlds. The Doctor and Rose are reunited along with many other companions including Sarah Jane, Jack Harkness, Donna Noble and Martha. Rose and the Doctor are delirious to be together again, but when the worlds are restored, Rose is sent back to her own universe along with his part-human alternate self – a mortal who will age alongside Rose. The bittersweet ending allows the Doctor to give Rose a sense of happily ever after though he is left alone.

Freema Ageyman

Freema Ageyman delivered a pivotal and stunning turn as Dr. Martha Jones during the third season of England's seminal series Dr. Who. When the series relaunched, it was the first time I really got into Dr. Who. I liked Rose Tyler; she was a spunky kid who fell in love with the Doctor. Her exile to an alternate reality devastated both the Doctor and Rose.

The Doctor spent time with Donna Noble during the Christmas special: The Runaway Bride. At the beginning of the third season, he encountered Dr. Martha Jones on the street, a moment that would be pivotal later in the episode after the hospital she worked in was taken to the moon so the aliens could search it for a missing lawbreaker. Martha reacted with calm, intellectual reasoning and action. She was neither headstrong nor uneducated, in fact, it was her very education, and her nose to the grindstone determination and her need to prove herself that ultimately lead her to take a chance on traveling with the doctor in the first place.

Smith and Jones

Martha Jones defied the Rose Tyler model because she was a well-educated, self-possessed woman who did not need the Doctor for vindication, despite her obvious excitement and thrill at exploring the universe. I did not realize it at the time, but Martha was also the first black companion of the Doctor.

What made her unique in that particular capacity is that she was not 'stereotyped' or 'caricatured' in any way. In fact, she played only one type: Martha Jones.

While Rose and Donna followed the Doctor with blind devotion, Martha never seemed to act with blinders on. She loved the Doctor, but she was not in love with him. She was also not blind to his flaws or to his innate weaknesses.

In Human Nature and Family of Blood, the Doctor must hide by burying his personality in a watch. He trusts Martha to look after his human teacher at a young men's school (think Eton). The class difference is played up when Martha works as a maidservant at the school and the Doctor is John Smith, a teacher. As John Smith, the Doctor falls in love, frustrating Martha with his choices because it makes it harder for her to protect him. When his memories are restored, he begs the governess he has come to love to come with them, but he is the Doctor once more and no longer subject to his emotions. Martha sympathizes, but she is very practical in her assessment.

It's the End of the World

The last three episodes of the third season delivered a powerful piece of storytelling. Jack Harkness is reunited with the Doctor and meets Martha Jones for the first time. The trio travel forwards to the end of time where they meet a kindly old engineer who is working diligently to save what remains of the human race.

He turns out to be the Master. He steals the Tardis, leaving the Doctor, Martha and Jack trapped at the end of time. They use Jack's watch to skip backwards in time learning that the voice of the Prime Minister, heard all season, is in fact the Master who has been trapped by the Doctor sabotaging the Tardis. In a showdown with the Master, the Doctor loses and Jack is captured, leaving only Martha to escape. An invasion devastates the Earth, leaving most of the world in ruins. Martha Jones travels, alone across the entire globe telling stories of the Doctor.

She relies on herself and a network of underground aid to survive. Her absolute faith in the Doctor inspires the belief of a world that focuses that belief and helps the Doctor restore himself. The Doctor, Jack and Martha are then able to undo the invasion, turning back the world's clock by a year, restoring everyone and everything -- the only ones who remember are Martha, her family, the Doctor and Jack.

In the end, Martha chooses to leave the Doctor, because she learned during her journey that she was needed on Earth. That she could do so much more for her home and her people by staying rather than traipsing around the universe.

U.N.I.T. Torchwood and Beyond

Martha begins working for UNIT, reuniting with Jack Harkness for three episodes on Torchwood and later with the Doctor during the 4th season. She comes to his aid along with all his companions when the Daleks threaten to destroy the multiverse. In the most recent Torchwood mini-series, fans learn that Martha Jones is married -- most likely, to the young doctor she fell in love with during her yearlong odyssey to save the world.

Catherine Tate

Catherine Tate's first appearance in the series was during the Christmas Special in 2006: The Runaway Bride. Donna Noble appeared onboard the Tardis in her wedding dress. Her reaction is hilarious. She accuses the Doctor of being a Martian, of kidnapping her and of conspiring with some girl as a prank on her wedding day. Donna's arrival is due to being dosed with Huon particles by her fiancé in an effort to help free the Racnoss from the center of the Earth.

Donna is appalled by the Doctor's genocide when the Racnoss Queen will not back off. Though she eventually reconciles herself to the idea of the Doctor, she refuses his invitation to travel with him. A decision she eventually regrets.

Reunited with the Doctor

At the beginning of the fourth series, we learn that Donna's turned her life around and found true purpose. She is investigating supernatural, paranormal and alien activity in an effort to try and find the Doctor again. During her investigation of the Adipose Industries, she and the Doctor make eye contact across a room and the connection is formed. Together they help free the Adipose children and save the planet. Donna eventually joins the Doctor aboard the Tardis.

Unlike her predecessors, Donna has no romantic aspirations where the Doctor is concerned. She and the Doctor become true friends, sharing experiences and learning to see the universe through each other's eyes. The Doctor saves a family at Pompeii at Donna's behest. Throughout her adventures, Donna continues to grow as a person, expanding her worldview and keeping the Doctor grounded.

World Invasions

Donna helps the Doctor fend off several invasions including one by the Shadow Proclamation, the Daleks and the Sontarans. She meets both Rose and Martha. During the series finale of the fourth season, Donna becomes trapped in the Tardis as it is near destruction. The Doctor's hand (lost during the 2006 Christmas special) releases more regeneration energy – combining with Donna's human DNA and alters her.

She becomes the Doctor-Donna and shares the Doctor's memories and even some of his personality traits. She figures out how to use the Tardis and helps rescue the Doctor and his companions as well as the planets of the multiverse that have been stolen. Nevertheless, in the end, the Doctor must wipe her memories and take away all that she has become because she cannot survive as the Doctor-Donna. Just as Rose would have been consumed by the Tardis energies, so Donna would be destroyed by the mind of a Time Lord and the Doctor must make a horrible choice.

In a heart wrenching scene, the Doctor returns Donna Noble to the life she had before The Runaway Bride, a woman preoccupied with the inconsequential minutiae of life. He tells her mother and her grandfather to look after her and to never forget what a magnificent person she really is. The Doctor leaves, once again, alone.

Choose Your Companion

These three magnificent women are indefatigable and fabulous in their own right. Choose your favorite companion and thoughts on the last five years with David Tennant's Doctor. One commentator will win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon!

Which Companion do you choose to win this week's Saturday Smackdown?