Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Wishes with Author Lisa Pietsch

I was interviewed earlier this year and in that interview I was asked which author I most wanted to work with on a project.  My answer was a toss-up between Heather Long and Kellyann Zuzulo.  A few months later, Heather approached both me and Kellyann about doing a shared world anthology together.  (And I hadn't even burned a candle yet!)

Of course I was thrilled my little wish was coming true.  Kellyann and I both jumped on board immediately.  The enthusiasm we all had for the project was inspiring and energizing.  Something big was happening and we could feel it.  In one weekend, we put together a synopsis based on an idea Heather had, and a query was born.  Within a week, Sapphire Blue Publishing offered us a contract. 

It is so exciting when authors you love to read want to work with you.  Add to that the excitement of knowing a good publisher believes in you.  Roll it up into a ball and you've got some powerful magic.

So powerful it can be intimidating.

I'm writing a 20,000 word story and it has to be my best yet.  Heather and Kellyann are going to bring their A-games and I don't want to be the slacker on the team.  (I’ll be honest, I read Heather’s first chapter and it blew me away!)  I need to produce something brilliant or forever hang my head in shame for passing up a marvelous opportunity.  I’ll rise to the occasion if it kills me.

  • I wished for this. 
  • I wished I could write a novel.  I did.
  • I wished I could get published.  I did.
  • I wished I could do a story with Heather & Kellyann.  I am.
  • I sure hope I'm not out of wishes!

The moral of this story:

Be careful what you wish for - you just might get it.  That's when the real work begins!

Feel free to follow my progress on “Frozen Hell” at

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heartstone with Author Lynda K. Scott

Some friends and I were discussing book covers the other day, There are all kinds: The Cartoon, The Rose Garden, The Theme (or Story), The Brawny Lad, The Headless Lovers and The Clutch. The last two come in a couple of sub-varieties determined by the amount or lack of clothing they wear.

Since the genre began garnering readers (to become the most popular genre ever), the marketing departments dictated the kinds and looks of the covers. Usually, these were the infamous (and loved by many) Clutch covers depicting a man and woman in a passionate embrace. Way back then, the clutch might have had a glimpse of the gentleman’s chest via an open shirt. Likewise, the heroine’s dress might be sliding off her shoulders. Over time, the hero’s shirt opened wider, then vanished as if thrown to the floor. The heroine might be in her undies or covered by a sheet...or, ahem, by the hero.

Then came The Cartoon covers. These were usually drawn in a style similar to cartoon pictures hence the name. For some books, they were perfect. For has to suppose the publisher might have been trying to save cover model money. I do like these covers on the more humorous or snarky types of books. Why? To me, they bring to mind a lighter element. So they help me decide whether I want to buy or not.

The Rose Garden covers were the answer for those who complained about the Clutch covers. There could be a vase with flowers, a bouquet of flowers, a single flower...They didn’t all have to be roses, by the way. Any lovely flower would do. The problem with the Rose Garden, for me, was I had no idea what to expect when I opened the book. Would it be highly passionate? Or sensual? Would the story be historical? Or contemporary? The Rose Garden, while undeniably lovely, simply gave no clues.

Similar to the Clutch covers, we have the Headless Lovers covers. No, not really headless. We just never see their heads. All we see are their torsos. These covers are so close in design to the standard Clutch they’re almost the same. I’m guessing the idea behind this was to allow the reader to use their imagination to fill in the hero or heroine’s face since a lot of us complained about the cover model bearing no resemblance to the hero as described in the book.

Last, but not least, we have the Theme or Story cover. This may or may not have the image of the hero or heroine. They will, however, have elements of the story. For instance, in my novel, Heartstone, you’ll see a wolf looking at a woman’s hand as she holds a glowing stone. That’s pretty descriptive of the title...except for the wolf. But as we open up the book, the first scene tells us the heroine notices a wolf-like dog across the street from her shop. So the wolf on the cover does give a hint as to what’s inside. I have to confess I love Theme covers.

Oh, yes, I missed one type of cover...The Brawny Lad. This cover simply shows a muscular, bare-chested male (with or without the head) from shoulders to hips. Now...I have to admit, a muscular, bare-chested man will get my attention Every. Single. Time. I am not dead, after all.

What are your favorites? And why?


Heartstone Excerpt

Opening day.

On the sign hanging over the door, the Old English letters spelling out The Treasure Chest gleamed in the morning light. The dark green awning that would prevent the hot afternoon sun from entering the windows added to the quaintness of the store.

Keriam Norton sighed happily. She treasured the old, well-worn and well-loved items in her inventory. They had a history, a past, a connection to earlier times, and now, with her help, they'd have a future.

She wished she could say the same. For all she knew, she and her mother, Meredith, had dropped out of the sky twenty-six years ago. As for the future, she would be satisfied with the store.
In the window, her cousin, Janna, fluffed the skirt of an old ivory wedding dress. Keriam smiled, remembering how the young woman had held it up to her body and admired it in the oval mirror. A true romantic, Janna fantasized about her wedding day constantly.

At least one of them had a fantasy.

In three hours, people would come into the store and browse through the collection of lovingly worn antiques.

People. Strangers.

She swallowed and rubbed suddenly damp palms against her pants legs. She took a deep breath. Released it slowly.

She and Janna would chat with them. Point out the eighteenth century armoire, the Art Deco or the kitschy collection of farm implements gracing the walls. Everything was going to be just fine.

Her stomach took a queasy roll.

Facing people she knew, and ones she didn't, was going to be hard. It hadn't always been so, just since her parents died. She inhaled raggedly at the surge of grief. So much had changed for her since then. But today was going to be a good day. It was, she repeated.

Janna backed out of the window. A moment later, she trotted through the front door to stand at Keriam's side. Her cousin's excitement poured off her in waves.
"Well? What do you think? Is it fantastic?" Janna asked.

"Oh, yes. Seriously fantastic."

"Are you sure?"

"It's beautiful." Keriam focused on the display, on the wedding dress with its yards of lace, fighting the rush of anxiety and joyous anticipation Janna was feeling. It would be worse if Janna actually touched her, she knew, and kept a careful distance between them. "Now. Let's get ready for hordes of customers to make us filthy rich."

"In your dreams," Janna said, laughing. As she passed through the door, she added, "Mine, too."

Keriam stopped as the weight of unseen eyes danced over her skin like thorny little ant-feet. She whirled, taking in the entire street with a sweeping glance.

Roseberg’s small business district, composed of ancient brick storefronts, would soon be bustling but now was serenely quiet. And yet...

Someone was watching her.

Across the street, a large black dog sniffed a reproduction coach lamp near the curb. Keriam dismissed the animal, letting her gaze move toward the intersection. A shadow, long and sharp in the sun's slanting rays, moved and vanished before Keriam could identify it. No faces pressed against the glass of the shops lining Main Street. There was no traffic.

Her attention returned to the dog. It sat, tongue lolling, tail idly sweeping the sidewalk. It had a feral tilt to its pale eyes that made her think wolf. Which was ridiculous, there weren't any wolves in this part of Michigan.

Then...expectancy flashed through her body, heightening her perception. From the east came the scent of the pig farms and the rendering plant, faint but distinguishable to her acute senses. Automobile fumes from the highway drifted, mingling with the occasional perfume of green, growing things from the surrounding farmlands. A silent call hung in the cool, morning air and she let the door close without going inside. She shut her eyes, fighting the urge to follow the call, to abandon Janna and the store.

A single, deep bark cut through the wild sensations and, as if a door slammed shut, the scents were gone, the call silenced. Her heart skipped a beat, then skittered like a wild thing. These episodes were coming far too often. And too powerfully. How long before she could no longer fight them?

How long before she lost her mind?

HEARTSTONE is available in both print and ebook format from Mundania Press. If you buy Heartstone through the Mundania site, you can use the code LSCOTT10 at checkout and receive a 10% discount on your total purchase)

Heartstone is also available from Amazon

To get or stay in touch with me:

I’d love you to go to my website and check out the prologue for Heartstone. My editor and I decided that the novel was just fine without it but I thought readers might enjoy reading it for free.

Something is Coming

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Hero the Alpha Male

Check it out!
I have some fabulous guest bloggers for you this week, so be sure to make them welcome and chat them up. Today, author Sheniqua Waters talks about her hero -- the Alpha Male!

When you read a romance novel and you’re introduced to the hero, what kind of male do you expect him to be? Do you prefer a male who is kind and gentle? One who is debonair with lots of money? Or do you prefer an alpha male with muscles and a brash attitude?

I must admit my taste in heroes has changed over the years. When I started reading inspirational romances in my teens, the temperate type who was handsome yet tame, who knew how to waltz, liked the symphony and could recite a pleasant poem made my day. Now, I am at a different place when it comes to what I want in a hero. For now, it seems, when it comes to reading about the hero…the more alpha the male the better. The more muscular and macho…let me read more.

I don’t know when the alpha male wormed his way into my literary heart. I guess it was some time while I was writing my first two romance novels Slave Girl and Something to Hide. In Slave Girl, Kudar al Numan, the hero, is not like the heroes I grew up reading. He’s handsome…and knows it. He’s rich…yet cocky. On the subject of women…he is presumptuous. But, somehow, I like him. In my second novel, Something to Hide, Brock Cunningham is a struggling rancher with a chip on his shoulder. He’s brooding and moody. You know, the strong silent type who’s not one to sit around and navel gaze as he discusses his feelings.

When I was in the midst of writing these books, I remember hearing someone say that romance readers wanted to read books with strong women but not alpha males. I didn’t realize the heroes in my novels were alpha men until it was bought to my attention after the stories were published. Now, I must admit, I like to read and write about alpha men. What about you? How do you feel about alpha men? Do you like alpha men? Are they “back in style”? Did they ever go out of style? Tell me what you think.

Blog by Sheniqua Waters

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Bloody Sisterhood Take on Social Networking

Last Monday, Angi blogged about her first book signing and mentioned Social Networking (big bad scary words, I know.) That mention combined with a few messages I've recently gotten via Social Network sites inspired this blog.

I'm one of those people who is on Twitter and Facebook. I chat on yahoo groups. I blog. Sure, I'm a bit of an overachiever, but I know people who are way more places than me. It's a fact of the job we claim as writers.

Like Angi said last week, start early. Even if you're just an aspiring author at this point, think about starting. If you think social networking is overwhelming now, waiting until you contract that first book to start will make it all the more overwhelming.

So, here's a little breakdown to help make it easier - hopefully.

~ Twitter and Facebook can talk to each other. What this means is that you can use one network to update the other. I personally go from Twitter to Facebook and then log in to Facebook to respond to any comments and such.

~ To make Twitter easier to manage, I use Tweetdeck. It's a program I've downloaded to my PC. It allows me to put the people I follow into groups, so I can more effectively manage my time. Example, people I know personally or have gotten to know online are in my Personal Faves list. I have a list for all the Samhain Authors, so I can help spread the word about their new releases, and their just a fun group of authors to chat with. Agents and Editors can have their own list if you're trying to research who to submit to. And so on and so forth.

Tweetdeck also allows me to pull Facebook updates in, which can make keeping up easier, but I personally find it easier to just log in to Facebook.

~ To make sure I'm keeping up with Facebook, I have it set up to email me whenever someone requests to be my friend, confirms my friendship, or comments on something I've said or posted. It also emails me if someone sends me an email via Facebook, because I am admittedly horrible at checking that email box. Getting the email updates helps me know I have something to pay attention to.

Does your head hurt yet? Because trust me, I've only scratched the surface. This could be a regular post topic for quite some time, and if you want it to be, just comment and let me know. :) There are so many things you can do with Social Networking - feed them into each other, feed blogs into them, and the possibilities are endless.

In the meantime, I leave you with a few other tips:

~ Make sure to check your privacy settings. If you don't want your phone number shared with every person you friend make sure it's not been entered into your profile and if it has so you can do Facebook from your phone, make sure the setting is changed to not share it.
~ Change the setting that allows people to check you into places. What this means is that if I see you at a conference I could go into my Facebook and tag you as being wherever we are. This is essentially a broadcast to let people know you're not at home. I don't mind saying I'm heading out of town, but I want the decision of how much information to share to be my own. And often, I will post about events after the fact.

~ Unlike Facebook you don't have to approve who follows you.
~ It's super easy for people to take your message and retweet it, which essentially sends your tweet to all their followers and on and on and on. This is a great way to get word of something going viral. For example, you can quickly share news of contests and special events and book releases.
~ There are also things like #FF (Follow Friday) where people just list their favorite Tweeps and suggest their followers follow them. It's a pretty cool referral system.

I don't consider myself an expert on this by any means, but if you have questions, shoot them out and I will try to help you as best I can. And again, if you want more of this in future posts, just say so.

Now, if you're curious what Social Networking can mean for you, I leave you with this. Just a few days ago I was contacted via Twitter with an invitation to join a multi-author book signing. We're still working out the details, and I hope we can get it all put together because this could be a cool thing for me, but I think my chatter on Twitter is just one reason I was invited. If not, Twitter was the tool to my being contacted.

Heart stopping puppy chases, childhood melodrama and the aborted hangings of innocent toys are all in a day’s work for Nikki Duncan. This athletic equestrian turned reluctant homemaker turned daring author, is drawn to the siren song of a fresh storyline.

Nikki plots murder and mayhem over breakfast, scandalous exposes at lunch and the sensual turn of phrase after dinner. Nevertheless, it is the pleasurable excitement and anticipation of unraveling her character’s motivation that drives her to write long past the witching hour.

The only anxiety and apprehension haunting this author comes from pondering the mysterious outcome of her latest twist.

Visit Nikki at to learn more about her books and her quirks.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Desperate Choices with Kathy Ivans

Available September 27!
Heather has graciously allowed me to guest blog while she’s away.  My first instinct is, of course, to do a Rah! Rah! post about my book release.  But, since I’ve been blogging all month about that, I decided on a bit of a change of pace here.  I’ll still give you all the pertinent details about the book and where you can find it at the end of this blog, so you can immediately rush over and buy your copy.  J 

Instead, I thought I’d talk about inspiration.  People often ask me where I come up with my story ideas.  It’s hard to explain; just about everything around me can be a story.  From a conversation I happen to overhear, maybe a snippet of a news broadcast, a movie or TV show.  I have to admit, I love to watch all of those news-type shows like 48 Hours Mysteries, 20/20, etc.  I am also a “Snapped” junkie.  For those who might not have heard of it, Snapped is a television show on the Oxygen Network.  It profiles cases of women (and occasionally a few men) who have been accused of or have committed murders. 

I find the entire program fascinating.  They profile the person, their trial and the outcome.  Sometimes the strangest things can be the impetus for someone’s death.  While watching the program, my mind will begin the “what if” game and story ideas grow.  You’ll find the reason each person kills is unique and different, yet the underlying theme runs true.  Even with the protestations of innocence, which they always swear they are, the bottom line is always the same.  Death.  

Sometimes the reason is adultery.  Sometimes jealousy.  Sometimes its money.  Or abuse.  Or family.  Whatever the reason, whatever the provocation, the end result is always the same.  Death. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a proponent of murder.  I’m a fairly happy, cheerful person.  That said, I find the psychology surrounding murder particularly interesting.  When writing suspense, there’s always a Who Done It.  With me, along with who done it, I really want to know WHY.  Why Did They Do It?  I write romantic suspense, so blend in the who and why along with the love and sex and you have a completely enthralling story for me. 

What about you?  Do you just like to know who done it or are you equally fascinated by why?  I like to see the complete picture.  We can sometimes have a fully realized and wonderfully written story but that single puzzle piece can be missing.  I love adding that extra layer, delving the psychological intent, whether it’s a murder, a kidnapping, or a paranormal element that is the cherry on top the sundae.   Writing romantic suspense means I can always give the reader a happily ever after ending.  That light at the end of the tunnel.  The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  After I’ve tortured the characters and put them through emotional and physical hell, to give them a satisfying and happy ending makes the storytelling worthwhile and fulfilling. 

Okay, now about the book.  Desperate Choices is a romantic suspense with paranormal elements.   

Here’s the back cover: 

When psychic Theresa Crawford’s former beau walks into her New Orleans New Age shop, she senses trouble. Big trouble. Max Lamoreaux hasn’t come to discuss their relationship—the private investigator is on a case, and he needs Theresa’s help.

Max’s godson is missing. The police have declared Tommy a runaway, but Max’s gut tells him otherwise. While he’s highly skeptical of Theresa’s abilities, her visions provide the only clue as to who’s taken Tommy. The longer Max works with Theresa, the harder it is to resist his desire for the sexy woman.

As they inch closer to finding Tommy, Max and Theresa also discover that time hasn’t diminished their powerful attraction. But Theresa harbors her own dark secrets from her past. Secrets that broke them up before—and could drive them apart again, unless Theresa can learn to trust Max with everything….

There’s also a book trailer for Desperate Choices at my website:

Desperate Choices is available from Carina Press on September 27, 2010.

Thanks for having me here today.  As I always say, love what you write and write what you love. 

Kathy Ivan

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vampire DIaries Post Mortems

I am heading out of town for a week, but don't think I've forgotten the wonderful residents of Mystic Falls and last night's lore heavy episode "Bad Moon Rising" - stay tuned for the Post Mortems to resume the first week of October.  So save up your comments for a marathon when I get back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Genie, a Witch and a CIA Agent Walk Into a Bar...
Well, OK, the genie seems to float more than walk and the witch seems to slide in the door and away from the bounty hunter a little. Of course it could be because the CIA Agent suggested the witch consider a job in the super secret goat-staring branch of the CIA. (Law enforcement types aren't known for their tremendous wit. In fact, they rarely have much opportunity to whip out their wit what with the bullets and knives getting thrown at them willy nilly.)

The genie orders a drink but the bartender spills it when she notices his toe curling smile. Being so hot (he is a fire elemental after all), he accidentally set the spilled drink on fire when he leaned in to make his move on the bartender who had forgotten her own name.

The witch puts the fire out with her tea and waits for the bartender to remember her name and eventually her job.
When the smoke clears the CIA Agent has already snatched the top shelf tequila, tossed it down and lit a cigarette off the genie's ass to celebrate open bar night.

Want to know what happens next?

Stay tuned. They're coming soon.

In the meantime, keep reading the new releases at Sapphire Blue Publishing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The War on Free Thinking

We've had a few discussions lately about censorship and how it affects readers, particularly young readers. First it was Ellen Hopkins being gracelessly uninvited from the Humble ISD Teen Literacy Festival and then it was the protests against the Speak novel because it addressed issues of teen rape and trouble.

Today's story is a little more personal.

I work really hard to provide my daughter with a great education, access to knowledge and multiple world views so that she can make her own determinations. We emphasize that we want her to think about what she is doing, what she is saying and what she is thinking about. My husband and I believe it's important for her to be able to think and the only way she can do that is through education. Education that provides her with multiple viewpoints…

Enter the Problem

Two weeks into her new school year at a school invested money to send her too, her teacher informed the class that no books with paranormal elements would be counted towards the yearly reading contest the elementary hosts. Two days after that, my daughter got into trouble for discussing Harry Potter with a classmate on the playground. She was told it was inappropriate. I protested both and was told that the Bible informed them that anything involving demons or the glorification of demons, vampires and other preternatural creatures was wrong.

Now this is a private school with a religious affiliation so it's not a free speech or freedom of religion argument. But at the same time, this was not an issue in any grade previous and apparently none of the grades after. It's just this one narrow-minded teacher. When I countered with the psychological metaphors found in most Young Adult books, including those with paranormal elements, about the isolation most mid-grade and young adult readers feel, she responded with the secularism promoted by these novels were too broad of a world view and were not wise choices for impressionable young children.

My brain began to hurt.

Two days after this conversation, my daughter was told not to open or remove her books from her backpack at school or they would be confiscated. Needless to say that despite speaking to the administration (who informed me that it was the teacher's prerogative in her classroom), my husband and I were confronted with the difficult decision of what to do.

We want our daughter to think.

Her teacher wanted her to not think.

We want our daughter to have open access to multiple ideas, viewpoints and more.

Her teacher wanted her to have access to one viewpoint.

The advantages of her school were completely undercut by the teacher's seeming desire to stamp out independent thinking, exploration and a world view that such education provides.

Education should be unlimited.

Education should blow the lid off a limited world view.

Education should expose kids to different viewpoints and ideas.

Education should not be censored.

And if someday my daughter decides she agrees with that teacher's assessments of a  limited viewpoint – it will be her choice, because she had the freedom to think about it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Authors Get By With a Little Help...

Saturday, I experienced my first book signing. I’ve wanted to be on the ‘pen-holding’ side of the table for so long... And I realized two days before I had no idea what to do. Thank goodness I wasn’t signing alone. Two really great chaptermates (and friends) led me through the steps.

What makes a great book signing? Well...starting with 46 books and selling 43 tends to make you smile. But our book signing was successful because of the readers and those who promoted our book throughout the store.

FIRST-- a great book seller and store are essential. Promotion through the store and their website helps your book signing look professional and reaches readers that frequent the store instead of the author’s website and circle of friends. Our chapter has developed a relationship with a centrally-located bookstore that LOVES romance. They continually work at their relationship with the community and their romance readership is very large and supports local authors.

SECOND-- promotion through your chapter, USE your social media outlets, author newsletter, and any other friends you have to distribute information about the signing. Asking your friends to forward the information is always good and twisting arms of your friends to come works. Our chapter has a very good support system. Even if we’ve already purchased the book, we show up to be the cheerleaders, the gophers, and the sales people who talk about the book.

THIRD-- be prepared. Ahead of might want to know how big the table is where you’re signing. A small table limits how much you bring to display, or if you need a small table or crate (which can store your book signing materials) to use at your side. You’ll need bookmarks and ‘autographed by author’ stickers. (Totally forgot those--thanks Nikki & Wendy.)

FOURTH-- have free food. My chaptermates suggested that we have free cupcakes which were a huge hit. I also had a bowl of chocolate kisses.

FIFTH-- have door prizes and advertise them in advance. Have periodic drawings throughout the signing and collect contact information (either by small registration slips, or a clipboard).

SIXTH-- have fun. Of course, it’s great if you’re sitting next to friends, especially ones you can cut up with. About an hour into the signing, when we had a breather, our store rep came by and said that the customers were mentioning to the cashiers how much “FUN” they’d had talking to us.

AND LAST BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT-- readers. Having friends and family there for support is a must. But the point of a book signing is to introduce new readers to your books and to have the opportunity to meet readers. Getting to know the people who keep us in business is a wonderful opportunity.

My husband attended my first book signing. He summed up the experience over dinner: When performers want to get in touch with their audience, they perform live. Singing, acting, comedians...a live audience energizes them and must give them a great deal of pleasure when the performance goes well. Authors have a very limited time to connect with a live audience. Book signings give them a window into what their readers think and feel.

He’s right. Without readers...there wouldn’t be a need for writers. So thank you for continuing to support our stories. And thanks to everyone who made me have a fantastic signing. It was awesome meeting some of you for the first time. I hope it was the first of many experiences.

QUESTION: When you see an author signing a book at your local store, do you ask them any questions? Volunteer information? Or just tell them your name for a book?

Til next time,

Angi is running a month-long contest. Please send a picture of yourself Holding the Cover of her September Harlequin Intrigue. You’ll be registered in a drawing for several prizes. Visit for all the details.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vampire Diaries - Bad Moon Rising

By the pricking of my thumbs, some werewolves it would seem this way comes ....

Episode three: Bad Moon Rising, airs Thursday, September 23rd on The CW.  Post Mortem here at the Daily Dose on Friday, September 24th,

Nikki Duncan, Angi Morgan and Wendy Watson Book Signing

Romance University Lecture Schedule for Sept 20-24, 2010

Save the dates!

Drop in on us at Romance University this week and see what we have in store for you. Kim Castillo discusses the benefits of a personal assistant, Tessa Dare talks about her trilogy and Elizabeth Boyle shares The Plan. You won’t want to miss it!

Mon, 9/20 – Crafting Your Career – Freelance Assistant Kim Castillo of an Author’s Best Friend joins us to discuss the benefits of having a personal assistant. Don’t miss this informative post and a chance to win an autographed book from Eloisa James, Courtney Milan, Vanessa Kelly, or Anna Campbell.

Wed, 9/22 – Anatomy of the Mind – Multi-published author Tessa Dare gives us the scoop on how she developed the concept of her Stud Club trilogy.

Fri, 9/24 – Special Feature – New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle shares The Plan. A device that streamlined her writing process and saved her career.

All Romance University lectures are generously provided by our Visiting Professors. RU is a tuition-free zone!

Best regards,

Kelsey Browning, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, Carrie Spencer, Jennifer Tanner & Heather Long

PS  - Want RU’s weekly lecture schedule in a cool new email format straight to your in-box? Sign up on RU’s homepage or any of the lecture posts!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Never Judge a Witch by Her Leather

What image does the word witch conjure? Do you see a green-skinned, hooked nose Margaret Hamilton with her black dress, black hat and too white teeth? Do you see the pink-festooned ball gown with her too tall crown ala Glenda? Do you see a blonde woman in a mini-skirt dress and apron who wiggles her nose? These witches are all valid images harvested from our popular culture. I am a huge fan of witches in all their many colors, adjectives and spell books from San Francisco’s Charmed trio to the Salem witch trials version of Gossip Girl.

East Coast Witches
PrimeEvil_LgWebIn my soon-to-be-released urban fantasy: Prime Evil, I introduce another image of the witch to the pop culture lexicon. Chance Monroe is a hedge witch. I use the term hedge because she is not a witch in the sense of owning a grimoire, casting spells in a cauldron or brewing potions. Though arguably, Chance does have the family almanacs (much like a farmer’s almanac) that details weather history, growth cycles and various supernatural phenomena that can be a problem.

Chance lives in Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg is located in the northern portion of the state. It is the perfect combination of rural majesty and urban sprawl. Just thirty-five minutes from D.C. (on the Greenway) and closer still to West Virginia, it is mystic and modern, provincial and polished, and rusty and recent. Nature can border your portion with the National capitol just a few minutes away.

Virginia is both East Coast sophisticate and southern belle charm, combining revolutionary and civil war history with the corridors of technology. I chose Virginia as the setting because it is one of the first states to be settled, it does have that southern charm and numerous battlefields and because I know and love the state very much.

Witchy Women

Prime Evil features two prominent and distinctively different witches. Chance, the hedge witch, works with the Earth, helping clients who have fairies in their gardens, grafters in their fields and even imps in their homes. She works in concert with the Earth, submersing her consciousness with it, pulling energy and restoring balance. Her magic very much tethered to the earth, a tether that binds her to the area of Northern Virginia. She cannot travel from it without going mad with the need to return.
She is a hereditary witch as are most of the witches portrayed in this world. She inherited her abilities and her responsibilities from her grandmother, who in turn inherited it from her mother and so on. The gifts are Druidic in nature, tied very much to the family’s origins in Western Europe prior to settling in the colonies and marrying the natives. When druid married shaman, they produced the first hedge witch and forged the symbiotic relationship family and land.

Her best friend, Sydney is a witch of an entirely different sort. Her family possesses clairvoyance, uncanny psychic clarity of the future. She is capable of brewing up a mean potion and hexing a man’s balls blue, but like Chance – she has rules and family traditions that curb her powers. The women complement each other, but Sydney has a large and sprawling family where’s Chance’s family seems to have dwindled with the spreading urbanization.

Sneak Peak

Here is a taste of Sydney and Chance from Prime Evil:

I stole another long drink of coffee while the phone rang and was not at all surprised when Sydney answered the phone with an exasperated tone. “It’s about time you called me back.”

“Good morning to you, too, Syd.”

“Oh, sorry, Chance. I thought it was John. He was supposed to call me back this morning to make a date, and I haven’t heard from him,”

“Well, I’m sure your charming ways will bring him around,” I teased her. John was the current flavor of the month. Sydney’s on-again, off-again romantic woes were often a topic of conversation over a pair of chai lattes when we’d get together. John just seemed more stubborn than the rest, sometimes on for six months, but often off for longer, and in the five years of their tempestuous relationship, I’d never heard Sydney threaten to find someone else.

“Don’t be a nit.” Sydney laughed over the phone. “And it’s about time you called me. I’ve been worried for days. I heard from Millie who talked to Jenna and she heard from Betty that Jack was back in town.”

“Been and gone,” I quipped, flopping back in the chair and propping my foot on the desk.

“Really? Well that’s a bummer. I was thinking I’d ask the two of you over for dinner. It’s been years, but I think Jack liked the quesadillas I used to make.” Sydney’s voice held an undercurrent of coyness, and I imagined the thoughts running rampant through her head were the wild and dirty variety.

“Syd, I’m pretty sure you didn’t leave me the ominous mojo message because you wanted to invite me and Jack to dinner.” I couldn't keep the smile. Only Sydney. She could crack a mime.

Elemental Nature of Witches

As you can see, the two women are great friends and very different. For me, the best part of witches is not their spells, their black hats, or their leather jackets – it is their elemental connection and sisterhood beneath the skin. What do you love about witches?

This blog originally appeared on Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblers as a guest blog in November, 2009.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vampire DIaries Post Mortem - Brave New World

(c) The CW

It's week two for the Salvatore brothers, Elena, Bonnie, Caroline and Matt and the fallout from Katherine's return begins to ripple through Mystic Falls.  The episode, aptly titled "Brave New World" opens on Caroline waking in the hospital.  For those who tuned in last week, Bonnie convinced Elena to let Damon give Caroline his blood.  The traumatic accident at the end of the first season left Caroline hovering near death, but Damon's blood helped her injuries to heal rapidly.  Unfortunately, Katherine arrived with a message for the brothers Salvatore: "Game on!"  She then smothered Caroline.

Post Mortem after the jump.  Beware of spoilers if you haven't seen the episode.

Teen Vampire Angst

Caroline awakens in the hospital and it is a new world for the fledgling vampire. It's late at night. She walks out into the hallway and asks the nurse where everyone is. The nurse tells her it's late, everyone went home (except for Katherine who posed as Elena to visit a few hours before). Caroline is hungry and she can't figure out what the smell is. She slips into another patient's room and steals the blood bag hanging over the IV.

The nurse shoos her back to her own room and Caroline obeys, but once back in her hospital bed. She looks at the bag of blood and then can't stop herself from drinking it. Caroline's transition to a vampire is in stark contrast to Vicki Donovan's transformation in the first season. Vicki was a train wreck before she became a vampire whereas Caroline is a composed, focused and an overachiever. She quickly learns that sunlight hurts, she can move fast, she needs the blood and when she and nurse face off, she can compel.

Not bad for a girl who didn't even realize she was being turned. But the best is yet to come - because as vampires transition, they begin to remember all the times they've been compelled and Caroline was compelled -- a lot. She leaves the hospital to head to the school for the carnival and one of the first people she encounters is Damon.

And yes, Damon.

Caroline remembers.

The Mystery of the Lockwoods

(c)The CW

Damon is obsessing about the Lockwoods. In part, he is doing it to distract himself from Katherine and her revelations. He is even amused by Stefan's walking on eggshells around him. So far, though, Damon does not appear to blame Stefan for Katherine's choice ... but the key phrase there is so far. Damon's got his emotions under tight reign.

While sharing tea with Carol Lockwood, it was near laugh out loud funny that she wanted Damon to step up and lead the Council. But of course, Damon is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect the town. While at the Lockwoods, he's listening to Mason and Tyler talk. They've just run miles and miles and both are hot and sweaty, but not exhausted. They discuss Tyler's "episodes" - his black moments of pure fury and the memory lapses. Mason is pushing him to see if there is a pattern.

Mason obviously knows what is going on and is fishing to see how much of it Tyler actually understands. Since Papa Lockwood was a control freak, it's obvious Tyler knows nothing about the family "curse," but the episode avoids naming what they are.

During the carnival, Damon sends Stefan over to "arm wrestle" uncle Mason. He's a bit disgusted when Stefan loses and says, "You could have at least put some effort into it."

Stefan retorts, "Actually, I did."

The boys share a look. Despite Stefan's earlier mocking, he too now believes something is up with the Lockwoods. Unfortunately, Damon sends the handsome carnie out to pick a fight with Tyler so he can "observe" what happens. Stefan doesn't like it, but again, Stefan doesn't really stop him either.

Caroline versus Damon

In the school hallway, Caroline confronts Damon.  She's got this empowered, sexy aura going on that is very unlike Caroline's insecure, sex kittenish ways.  She tells him she remembers.  She remembers everything.

Puzzled, Damon knows that's impossible - unless she's becoming a vampire.  He knows he gave her his blood, but she was alive and the blood should have passed out of her system.  Caroline then drops the bomb.   Katherine says, "Game on!"  She then sends Damon flying across the floor and storms off.

Damon heads off to find Elena lickety split.  It was an intense moment as he loomed up to her and quietly, but forcefully stated that he needed to talk to her - RIGHT NOW.  Elena resists, but it doesn't take her long to realize just how serious Damon is.  So she goes with him and learns what Caroline has become.  She is horrified.

Determined to stake her and be done with it,  Damon is amused when Stefan agrees with Elena that they won't. Stefan knows it's a bad idea, but he wants to do what he can for Elena.  Damon argues with them and is determined to stake her anyway.

It's a powerful moment when Damon finds Caroline next to the dead body of the Carnie he incited. She attacked and killed the man and is now devastated by her own actions.  Damon promises to take care of everything, he comforts her and then arches back the stake to drive through her heart.   Stefan saves her and though the brothers argue, Stefan tries to take Caroline away when Damon rushes forward.

Elena puts herself between the stake and Caroline and Damon halts the thrust just inches from Elena's heart. 

"She's my friend, Damon."  Elena's plea does not fall on deaf ears, but unlike Stefan, Damon doesn't sugarcoat it.

Fine. She can live. But whatever disasters follow her will be on Elena's head.

Bonnie Inferno

(c)The CW
Bonnie encounters the bloody messy scene and her heart rends when she realizes what Caroline has become. After all, it was Bonnie who pushed for Caroline to have the blood.  Stefan takes Caroline away, but Bonnie's temper frays and when Damon comes back, shovel in hand to deal with the dead carnie, she lashes out.

Damon collapses in agony, gasoline spills, ignites and floods toward the vampire, burning his legs and arms horribly.  Elena finally gets Bonnie to stop - this wasn't Damon's fault and she drags Bonnie away before the witch can finish what she started.

The Lockwood Showdown

This is a little out of sequence, but before Caroline killed him, the carnie picked a fight with Tyler and Mason interrupted the knockdown drag out.  When the carnie brought the smack down on him, Mason leapt across the car on all fours with glowing eyes and pounded the poor guy.  Tyler was stunned by the transformation, but Mason avoided explaining what was going on.  So what's a teen to do, he takes the moon stone that Mason is looking for and pockets it.

Elsewhere in Mystic Falls

This jam packed episode was full to the brim with excellent storytelling, compelling character moments and long-term story arcs.  Notable standouts were the Jeremy and Damon scenes.  Jeremy's smart mouth earned him a threat from Damon, who put the little boy in his place and even took his "magic  ring" away.  Later, at the end, Damon comes home and pours himself something to drink.

>Jeremy is sitting in a chair behind him and tells him not to drink it, because he's laced it with vervaine.  When Damon asks him why, Jeremy says because he brought a stake and he was going to kill him.  Damon's bemused, after all, he's warned Jeremy off twice now and just last week Damon snapped his neck.

But Jeremy is lost and he needs someone to be there for him. He can't trust Elena, Jenna's in the dark and Uncle John is the dick who staked his girlfriend.  Damon tells him he's lousy at the big brother thing and when Jeremy starts to storm off in a huff, Damon calls him back.

Like Jeremy, Damon's father also hated vampires. He understands Jeremy's dilemma and in that moment, a small, but tangible bond formed between the two.  While Damon may not care for the soppy moments, he's the kind of guy to keep Jeremy in line and to be a "good big brother" and it may go a long way to repairing the damage with Elena.

But we'll see.

Other Stand Out Moments

It's hard to imagine that they packed all of this into just a one hour episode, but they did.  It seemed just as we caught our breath with one thing, another happened.  In no particular order, here are five of the stand out lines or moments.

  • Stefan taking Elena for their ferris wheel ride
  • Caroline being stung by the "vervaine-laced" necklace Elena gave her
  • Caroline's delight with the compelling - even though she wasn't sure how or why it worked
  • Stefan explaining to Jeremy how to kill a vampire and reminding him that if he thought Jeremy wanted to kill him, it would be an entirely different conversation
  • Elena and Bonnie trying to manage the carnival for Caroline and being overwhelmed by just how many details that Caroline can handle

The second episode has really laid the ground work for this season. Katherine's presence is felt, even if she isn't seen and I think I really like Caroline is a vampire.  But I feel terrible for Sheriff Forbes -- if she ever does find out, this will kill her.  She's hunted vampires for so long to protect her town and her daughter -- that I don't think she could take the knowledge that Caroline is a vampire.  It is indeed, a brave new world,

What did you think of the episode?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's the Romantic Moments

Letters to Juliet
Letters to Juliet is romance.
I got to watch Letters to Juliet yesterday when it came out on DVD. It's one of the films that I really wanted to watch when I came out, but sadly, I just didn't get to the theater. But I can say honestly, about this film, it was so worth the wait.

The Little Moments

Romance isn't always about the great grand gestures. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's about those little moments, the little things that take your breath away. Not too long ago, my critique partner gave me the most wonderful compliment. She told me that she could see my couple falling in love, she could taste the differences in their interactions and that their love story made her heart beat a little faster.

It's those moments that we remember when we think about the people we love. I remember my husband's first words upon seeing me - to this day they make me laugh. I remember his goofy proposal. I remember how hard he worked to "show me" that I mattered. And after nearly eleven years of marriage and fifteen years together, he still manages to take my breath away.

Those are the moments we look for when we watch films and read romance novels. Those moments that take our breath away, that make us sigh and as my friend Nikki Duncan says, remind us why we love the ones we're with just so very much.

I've never tried to categorize what it is about the romance genre that I love so much, but Letters to Juliet encapsulated it perfectly.

Love is about:

  • Hope for the future, for your relationship, for each other
  • Never giving up
  • Believing in yourself and someone else
  • Forgiveness
  • Acceptance
  • Romantic moments that leave you breathless

The premise in Letters to Juliet is that there is a wall in Verona where the lovelorn women leave letters that they have written about their husbands, boyfriends or loneliness. They share these deeply, personal moments of heart break and a group of women employed by the city gather the letters each evening and write responses to send back. Behind a brick in this wall, Sophie discovers a letter that has been hidden there for fifty years.

Claire wrote the letter when she was just fifteen years old. She wrote to Juliet because when Lorenzo asked her to runaway with him, to love him and marry him, fear held her back. She wanted Juliet to tell her what to do and fifty years later, Sophie answered that letter.

The journey in this film is in every way about love from the love families share to the love friends share to the romance of falling in love to rediscovering love once more,

Letters to Juliet simply made me sigh. If you have not had a chance to see this wonderful film and you love romance, I urge you to get it today. For me, it's an instant classic and love story that I can watch over and over again.

What makes a tale a true love story for you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Perfectly Captivating with Kris Cook

Perfection [Eternally Three] (Siren Publishing Menage Amour)
Perfection [Eternally Three]
I have a special treat for you today, author Kris Cook sat down to chat it up with the characters of his Eternally Three series. This is a smoking hot and passionate series written by one of my favorite people.  Check out the interview and the chance to win a copy of the first hit book in this series: Perfection!

Hey Daily Dosers!

My book Captivation released last week. It’s the second book in my Eternally Three series. Rather than me droning on and on about the book, I thought DDers might enjoy an interview with the characters in Captivation. Conducted by none other than Mr. Archangel, David. LOL! Let’s see where this goes.

I’m waiting for them all to arrive. Characters that have no sense of time can really be bothersome to an author. The studio reminds me of my days when I worked in radio. Three swivel chairs are on the other side of the table from me. Next to me is another chair. I sit in a comfy wingback. Hey, being the author has some benefits. Eve walks in, sipping on a can of root beer.

Eve: Hi, Kris.

Kris: Eve, it’s good to see you again.

She’s wearing black jeans and a white silky top. Her auburn hair is up, which unusual for her. She sits down in the middle chair across from me.

Eve: Thanks. My guys should be here in a minute. They were starving, so they’re hitting up the vending machine in the hallway.

Kris: Hungry from after a battle with demons, I bet.

Eve: Yes. We also went to the Ether. Micki showed me how to open a portal. That place is nuts.

A flash of blue light fills the studio. David appears. His wings are extended to the max. Per usual, he wears glasses… for looks only.

David: Why am I here?

Kris: Don’t make me go all badass on you. You already know. Do your job?

David: My job is to protect North American humans from evil, not conducting silly interviews.

Eve: Arguing with our author? Not very smart, David. Remember, he can make you suffer.

Kris: That’s telling him, Eve. David, stop sulking and get this underway for the readers of Daily Dose.

David shrugs, and his wings disappear. He’s still impressive looking but not so otherworldly now. I motion him to the seat beside me.

Nash and Kronos enter through the door. For those who are meeting them for the first time, Nash is a jinn commander and Kronos is a warrior angel. They are munching on vending machine burritos. They wave at me, and continue eating. Nash sits in the chair on Eve’s left, and Kronos on the one to her right. I decide to sit back and see what happens. Might be fun—or a disaster.

David: Fine. Where do we start?

Nash: Tell them about how immortals get energy to survive.

Eve: It can be really quite wonderful.

Kronos: If you’re with your true loves.

Eve: I know.

David: Please, may I finish? Immortals need to triple with humans in order to receive the life energy they need to continue to exist on this plane. It’s like the laws of electricity that needs three things to operate… positive, negative, conduit. Or better said, a tripling consists of an angel, a jinn and a human.

Eve: You make it sound so clinical.

David: Isn’t it?

Nash: For you? Absolutely. For me, Kronos, and our little one, not at all.

Eve: I love when you call me little one.

David: My former second-in-command spouting sentimental crap. Not like the soldier I knew for centuries.

Captivation [Eternally Three]
Nash: Before Eve, it wouldn’t have ever happened.

He grabs Eve’s hand and pulls it up to his lips.

David: (Smirking) Whatever. Tell us about how you lost Eve, Kronos.

Kronos: (Glares at David) I made a mistake. That won’t ever happen again.

Eve turns to Kronos and places her hand on his shoulder.

Eve: That wasn’t your fault. We’ve talked about this, honey. I ran off. I may only be human, but I’ve got some street sense that comes in handy even with you immortals.

Kronos: I know. But knowing that the demons captured you and could’ve—

Eve: They didn’t. I’m fine.

David: Thanks to me.

Nash: You’re so arrogant.

David: Really? Who sent you out to find her? Me.

Nash: I’ll give you that. But you didn’t want Kronos and I to triple with her. That clearly was an error in judgment. Or do you disagree?

David: (He glares back at Nash) Given the outcome, how can I? Still, you wouldn’t have activated her bloodline power if I hadn’t assigned you to her detail.

Nash: Her power was activated because I disobeyed your orders.

David: Perhaps, or perhaps not.

Eve: Wow, you always have a way of twisting things. If Nash and Kronos had followed your instructions, we’d still be at square one… (frowning) and I would be alone having to screw every warrior in your army per your orders.

Kronos: (He kisses Eve’s cheek) Whatever David did or didn’t do, sweetheart, we are together now.

Eve: It was tough though, and David didn’t make it any easier for us.

David: (Stands up) I resent that. I have a job to do. How was I to know that you were so different than your cousin, Micki? Her power came online the minute she saw Jared and Bradley. (Turning to me) This is a waste of time. I have a rescue operation that needs my attention. May I go?

Kris: Of course.

He vanishes in a flash of blue light.

Eve: We were a bit hard on him. With Brooke missing and… (A tear falls from her eye).

Nash puts his arm around Eve’s shoulders.

Nash: We’ll find her, my love. I promise.

Kronos: (Nods) We should go, too.

Kris: You’re right. Thanks for spending a little time with us.

Eve: Thank you, Kris and Heather.

The three stand. Nash points and a portal appears.

Nash: Kris, could you give us a hint what happens with the war? Brooke? Vincorte? The book?

Kris: No. Go. You have a big job now, Nash.

The three step through the magical door, and I am left alone.
I wish I could’ve answer him, but I can’t ruin the surprises to come.

Kris is giving away a digital copy of PERFECTION: Eternally Three to one lucky Daily Dose reader. Just leave a comment for Kris, questions are always welcome and one lucky commentator will win a copy of Perfection this Friday, September 17!

And thank you Kris for dropping in with your three wonderfully captivating friends.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I confess… I did it. I skipped…

Yes, I know. For some of you it’s a sin. I skipped through part of a book to get to the end.

I wish I could say it was because I just had to know who the bad guy was, that the suspense was so tense I just couldn’t stand it any longer. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

I picked up a book from an author new to me- the first in a series. What I thought was going to be an exciting new paranormal romance, was so disturbing that by the time the black moment was about to occur I just couldn’t read it. In my mind, I couldn’t put these two people through what was supposed to rip them apart and break them down. Even knowing that they would then, somehow, discover that only their love could put the pieces back together for them.

It was tense. It was action packed. It was filled with bad people doing bad things and yes, there was a romance. The hero and heroine had met, were attracted to each other despite being at odds and the characters packed an emotional punch.

Too much of one.

The characters were totally kick-butt kind of people, tough and dangerous to know. As a reader along for the ride I knew the only thing that was left to really bring them low was to start killing people they had finally let in and started to care for. There was no release from the tragic for me. The love growing between the hero and heroine was not enough to lighten the darkness of the plot. At the point that I skipped to the end, the book had become an emotional drain. I was too aware of the “the book” instead of a great story or these two people I want to get to know. It was exhausting to read.

There is the rub.

The characters were obviously deep and well crafted enough for me to instantly get into them and feel the emotion of the scenes as they unfolded. It takes a talented and powerful writer to pull me directly into the head of the characters so completely. As a writer, I want that power! But, even knowing that it was well written, I had to skip to the end. Just to be sure that indeed there would be something of a happy ending before I put myself through any more emotional turmoil.

This was the first time that had happened to me. I’ve been bored into skimming a book. I’ve even been scared into skimming a book- only in horror though. I know when I am reading a romance that whatever happens, whatever the hero and heroine go through, love will find a way in the end. I’ve never been pulled out of a romance because the love story, as epic as it was, just couldn’t triumph over the characters’ misfortune. Even with them overcoming their emotional walls, admitting their love, defeating the bad guys and getting to be together in the end, I wasn’t satisfied. I couldn’t envision a future for these two. I’m hoping that in the next book of the series, which I will read to give the author another chance, will give me some hope for these characters.

What about you? Have you ever been too emotionally involved in a story that you had to let it go?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vampire Diaries Post Mortem – The Return

And after far too long it seems, The Vampire Diaries returned for their sophomore season last night and wowza – what a return!

Where We Left Them

For those that don’t remember, at the end of season one, Uncle John along with the Mayor knocked out Sheriff Forbes and handcuffed her to the radiator in her office. Then they set off the device in Grayson Gilbert’s medical office.  The device, imbued with Emily’s magic created a sound so high pitched and excruciating that it incapacitated the vampires – and the Lockwoods.

The Mayor found himself in the Cellar with Damon, Anna and the rest. Uncle John staked Anna (guess he didn’t like her booty calls with Jeremy), but failed to stake Damon (thankfully).  Gotta love those Gilbert men, despite all his protestations John doesn’t give a crap about Elena. He just cares about his little war.  Damon and another vampire took out the Mayor while Alaric and Elena saved Stefan.

Stefan and Elena went after Damon to save him and Bonnie helped because she didn’t want Elena to get killed.  I adore Bonnie, but sadly a lot of what occurs in the next couple of episodes can be traced back to her lie to Elena – not that I blame Bonnie, she’s got a lot of reasons to hate the vampires, Damon in particular.

Tyler had a bad accident because of the sound and Caroline was near death.  Damon revealed his caring for Elena and kissed her – only it was Katherine who accepted Jenna’s invitation into the Gilbert House (forever to be known as Vamp Central) so that she could attack John.

Upstairs, Jeremy downed Anna’s blood and a jar full of pills because he wanted to become a vampire – note to Jeremy, the emo transition is so 1985.  This is a boy that needs goals.

Fair Warning, Spoilers Ahead. If you have not watched The Vampire Diaries, 2.1: The Return, and you do not want to be spoiled, turn back now.

The Return

To say that I have been anticipating the return of The Vampire Diaries all summer is an understatement.  I’ve watched, dissected and enjoyed the first season several times (thank you iTunes) and picked it up on DVD so that I could convert others over to the Mystic Falls side (and it worked), but now the show is back and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation …

What will happen next?

Short Form Reaction:

Holy Shizzle; I have to say these are writers who do not want you to spend too much time attached to any one given situation and no one is safe. I think our big three are “somewhat” safe, as in they can be tortured unmercifully, but no one else is.  And the end actually had me tearing up, not necessarily because of what happened – but because of the raw pain in it.

Long Form Reaction

We, the fans, knew that Katherine was in the house when Elena went in. We watched with concern as she discovered John.  Elena has every reason to hate John, but she tried to save him.   When she grabbed the giant butcher knife, dripping with his blood, I had that initial “police procedural” reaction – as in they were going to think Elena did it (thank you Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson for not going there).  It was interesting to watch Katherine watch Elena. 

Katherine is fascinated.

This is not a good thing.

Elena finds Jeremy, but thankfully baby bro’s attempted vampicide is a bust – Anna’s blood prevented the pills from actually killing him (oopsie!).

At the hospital, Liz is a wreck and it was very touching to watch Damon comfort her. I think Damon actually likes Sheriff Forbes a bit more than he has admitted too. He’s a good friend to her (despite the lies).  He can save Caroline and he tells Elena and Bonnie as much.  Elena doesn’t want Damon to give her his blood, but Bonnie says he should (dude, I love that she’ll use Damon if he’s useful, but beyond that she would happily stake him out in the sun). No waxing back and forth for her character – bravo.

Damon wants to talk to Elena about their kiss and shared feelings (ut oh), but when Elena “plays dumb” because she has no idea what he’s talking about, Damon’s confusion deepens. His mind also goes into overdrive to puzzle it out.  But when Jenna shows up and swears she talked to Elena earlier and Elena denies it – Damon realizes what’s up.

His very understated reaction was hysterical.

Kat and Mouse

Flash over to the Gilbert household where Katherine walks in, trying to play the part of Elena. Too bad for Kit-Kat, Stefan’s not buying.  Was anyone else cheering his Damon-esque flare when he turned on Katherine?  I was.  It made me like Stefan a lot more (and he needed that injection of anti-whine). 

Unfortunately, I have a concern – Katherine is considerably older than Damon or Stefan.  We’ve seen that age for vamps in The Vampire Diaries equates with strength, Katherine didn’t really even bother to fight back. She was amused that Stefan recognized her immediately, when Damon didn’t.

Seconds after she exits, Damon and Elena arrive.  Okay – for those who are confused, the bigger the hair, the more likely it is to be Katherine.  Elena favors the sleek, close to her face look, Katherine is the 80s big hair girl.

The episode becomes a game of cat and mouse between the Salvatores, Elena and Katherine.  Bonnie figures Katherine out and nearly gets her neck broken for her trouble. I did love it when Bonnie blew open the doors forcing Katherine to retract her claws so to speak and Stefan’s polite, yet firm “Let her go.”

Damon’s Pain

Damon’s emotional roller coaster, unfortunately, went off the rails.  Katherine, forever may she be known as The Bitch, toyed with him until she finally hooked up with him in the Salvatore boarding house.  The passion sizzling in Damon’s cold fury led to a few brutal kisses, but he wrenched himself away and wanted to know whether she’d ever loved him – because he was willing to forgive her for all of it, the abandonment, Stefan – everything.

Then she dropped the bomb.

She’d never loved him.  Poor, innocent Damon.  She’d used him. She’d enjoyed herself with him.  But it was always Stefan she’d wanted.

You could hear the heart shredding in Damon’s eyes.  I knew Damon would go to Elena – because Damon genuinely cares for her, he genuinely likes her and maybe even respects her.  But Damon drinking, hurting and twisted in knots by Katherine is not a good Damon.  This is the Damon that hated for 140 years.

Damon crowded Elena, he wanted her to not lie to him about her feelings.  I think Damon’s right, I think Elena does care, but she’s placed Damon squarely in the “not-boyfriend” category and unlike the bitch-ancentress, she doesn’t play one boy off another.  But when she unconsciously echoes Katherine’s declaration …

… sigh. Damon’s sanity jumped off the cliff along with his heart.   Jeremy’s arrival, seeing Damon all over Elena, was ill-timed. I do not think Damon would have hurt Elena, but Jeremy was a great target for him.

  • Jeremy who treated Elena badly.
  • Jeremy who waxed poetic about how bad life was.
  • Jeremy who had already tried to become a vampire

So Damon struck out at Elena, at himself and at Jeremy by snapping his neck.  It was a heart-stopping moment.   Damon wouldn’t have done it if not for Anna’s blood and as later Stefan asserts, Jeremy was wearing the Gilbert ring. (Wasn’t that special that John left it for Jeremy? At least the schmuck did one decent thing).

But Damon’s actions were an attempt to put himself as far from Elena as possible and it’s working. She was devastated and Stefan’s attempts to soothe her wouldn’t work.  When Jeremy’s eyes finally popped open – we could breathe.

Kat’s Not Done

Unfortunately, Kat’s not going to take Stefan’s rejection lying down.  She goes to see Caroline in the hospital. Caroline who is juiced up on Damon’s blood.  Caroline who is a hapless bystander in the Mystic Falls shenanigans.   \

Katherine has a message for Damon and Stefan.  She wants Caroline to deliver it.

The message: Game On!

Then Katherine smothers the messenger.

The episode is so jam packed that I know I didn’t cover it all. I didn’t get to dive into the Lockwoods or more about the Gilbert history or even the fact that Stefan and Damon are circling each other over Elena – Damon wants the fight, Stefan is holding back (in part because of Elena’s advice) and in part because he doesn’t want to fight his brother.  Then there’s Stefan’s Damon-esque threat to Uncle John and forcing John to drink his blood.  24 hours to get out of town and away, or John is going to worm food.


I really did miss my show this summer.  My heart is grieving for Damon.  

It’s so not going to be pretty where they are all going.   But the writers, actors and production values delivered.

What did you think of The Return?<

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Soundtrack to Be Released October 16

(New York, NY) – Original Television Soundtrack: The Vampire Diaries serves up a biting mix of exclusive tracks unavailable elsewhere—including songs by Smashing Pumpkins and Gorillaz—plus favorites from season one of the hit TV show, including “Sleep Alone” by Bat for Lashes and “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo. The collection’s focus track is “Obsession” by 18-year-old Internet sensation Sky Ferreira, who’ll release her eagerly anticipated debut CD in early 2011.

The Original Television Soundtrack: The Vampire Diaries is out October 12, while the new season of the hit CW network show—about two vampire brothers obsessed with the same beautiful girl, who are battling to control the fate of an entire town—launches its second season today, September 9 (airing Thursdays at 8/7c). And The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season was released on Blu-ray™ and DVD on August 31. The Vampire Diaries' first season premiere generated the largest audience in network history for a series debut with 5.7 million total viewers, and is The CW’s most-watched show. Based on the best-selling series of books by L.J. Smith, the show stars Nina Dobrev ("DeGrassi: The Next Generation"), Paul Wesley (“Fallen”) and Ian Somerhalder (“Lost”), Steven R. McQueen ("Everwood"), Sara Canning ("Smallville"), Katerina Graham ("17 Again"), Candice Accola ("Juno"), Zach Roerig ("Friday Night Lights"), Michael Trevino ("Cane") and Matt Davis ("Legally Blonde, Blue Crush"). Executive produced by Kevin Williamson ("Dawson's Creek," Scream), Julie Plec ("Kyle XY"), Leslie Morgenstein ("Gossip Girl," "Pretty Little Liars") and Bob Levy ("Gossip Girl," "Privileged"), the series is from Bonanza Productions Inc., Outerbanks Entertainment and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios.

Of the 16 songs on the album, all were heard in the first season of The Vampire Diaries or will be featured in Season 2. Like the hit show, the soundtrack also has a hip yet darkly compelling and sensuous vibe. From cool cover songs, including Placebo doing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and Digital Daggers taking on Tears for Fears' “Head Over Heels,” to the gorgeous vocals of “Sleep Alone” by Bat for Lashes to Sky Ferreira’s edgy dance-pop “Obsession,” The Original Television Soundtrack: The Vampire Diaries proves irresistible. “Obsession,” produced by Dave Tedder (OneRepublic, BeyoncĂ©, Rihanna), is heard in the upcoming season of The Vampire Diaries, and is perfect for the show’s intense visuals and storylines, as Ferreira sings: “Here’s my confession, I don’t just want you to love me, I wanna be your obsession.” Ferreira, an LA-based Portuguese-American singer-songwriter and actress (Putty Hill), is currently working with Paul Epworth, Bloodshy & Avant, Dallas Austin and Linda Perry on her debut CD. “Obsession” The Original Television Soundtrack: The Vampire Diaries is Ferreira’s first international single release.

Track Listing -
The Original Television Soundtrack: The Vampire Diaries

  1. Stefan’s Theme - Mike Suby
  2. Running Up That Hill - Placebo
  3. Currency of Love - Silversun Pickups
  4. Hammock - Howls
  5. Sleep Alone (909s in the DarkTimes Mix) - Bat for Lashes
  6. Bloodstream (Vampire Diaries Remix) - Stateless
  7. We Radiate - Goldfrapp
  8. Obsession - Sky Ferreira
  9. Head Over Heels - Digital Daggers
  10. Down - Jason Walker
  11. Beauty of the Dark - Mads Langer
  12. Cut - Plumb
  13. All You Wanted - Sounds Under Radio featuring Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy
  14. The Fellowship - Smashing Pumpkins
  15. On Melancholy Hill (Feed Me Remix) - Gorillaz
  16. 1864 - Mike Suby