Friday, May 21, 2010

How to Write a Book in 10 Days – Truck Stops

Hey welcome to day 2 of my odyssey on how to write a book in 10 days. For my non-U.S. audience, a truck stop is a refueling station typically found on the highways and byways of U.S. roads which also double as restaurants and souvenir shops. They are dubbed this because they cropped up to serve truck drivers who criss cross the United States, hauling goods from state to another.

Anyway, let's take a look at day one. How did I do? The day started off pretty well, I got the outline of the first chapter established, answered my four big questions and then had to dive into the work day. The one drawback of a writer's life is that not all writers get to do it full time. In fact, we often juggle one or more full time occupations that we must "write" around. But with the outline bubbling on a simmer in the back of my brain, I worked hard to get all the other stuff out of the way, then dove into the first chapter sometime after the Bones season finale but before I watched Fringe.

Result, 2,650 words for the first chapter.

I will probably keep about 2200 of them.



Day Two – Truck Stop

So let's kick off day two, how do we do that? First, not oversleeping would be a good plan. I did that today, however! My daughter woke me up at 5:30 asking me why I hadn't gotten up at my usual 4 a.m. I had no real good answer for that. So I swung into a truck stop a little early on my trip, I had a few more miles (words) to go before I really needed a break, but sometimes you just need to get out of that car and stretch.

Since I overslept, I got up; got my coffee and my laptop and now I'm mapping out today's route while I stand in the middle of my kitchen. My daughter is chattering happily because today is her last day of school. I'll be going to an end of the year awards assembly with the laptop in my car so that I can pull it out and write around the events surrounding Field Day.

Today, my characters are rolling full steam into chapter two. I have my four questions to answer: What is the goal of this chapter? What is her agenda? What is his agenda? How do the two collide, conflict and conflagrate?

Tip to Keep It Moving Forward

I learned recently that I am too in love with words. So how do I move it forward without getting too caught up in the froth and minutiae (pronounced me-new-sha, I do love that word)?

Today's chapter will be dialogue only. I'm not going to write what they are doing or how they are saying it. I am just going to let them talk, banter, volley, serve and bat words back at each other. I am literally going to let them tell me what they are saying.

Once I have those visions in my head, tonight, I will go back and add dialogue tags and cues, setting and description and of course, visceral reactions. Sometimes, it's easier to hear the characters if I shut off all the other senses and just listen to them.

Congratulations to commentator Katie from yesterday, your name will appear in this chapter! So how are you doing? What about dialogue really turns you on in a book? What are your favorite parts? What are your least favorite parts? What metaphor or line makes you laugh? Today, a lucky commentator with an amusing line may find that bit of dialogue added to the scene. Give me a challenge, I love those!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Write a Book in 10 Days – Road Map

Good morning! We're kicking off a personal challenge today with a book that I plan to write in 10 days or less. This is a tough goal, one that requires I dig down deep and hard to create the tale I want to create.

So what do you do for the first stage?

Generating a Road Map

The plot is the road map to where I want to go with the story. I actually put the plot down on paper three weeks ago. I pitched the idea to a few friends, then toned the idea down to the basic components that make it a story I want to read. For the purposes of this adventure on paper, the plot is just a fit, 183 words.

The story focuses on two characters; their past, their present and their futures and how they collide, collude and ultimately climax together. Yes – that last word choice was on the deliberate side. This book will also take me in a different direction than previous works as I spice it up with some red hot action between the characters.

The road map includes the 183-word plot blurb and the chapter breakdown. The chapter breakdown is vital to the success because I know that my word count goal is 25,000 to 30,000 words. The word count goal means I need to hit 2,500 to 3,000 word count each day of the 10 days, preferably a little more so that day 10 is the day I trim, nip and tuck.

Chapter Breakdown

Each chapter must be broken down by:
  • Summary
  • Goals
  • Motivation
  • Destination

These details are vital to the success of the chapter. Knowing the answer to each of these helps me create the cleanest copy from the beginning. But and this is an important but, even with all this planning ahead – the day's writing goals comes down to the word count between me and the page. So now, I've done my thirty minutes on the treadmill, covered two miles at a brisk pace to get the blood pumping and we're off – check back tomorrow for day 2 of how to write a book in 10 days.

Be sure to share your story if you're writing too! Oh and one lucky commentator will find their name in this tale!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chat with Heather Tonight!

I'll be a guest of author Kris Cook tonight as one of his weekly authors! I hope you can stop by for a chat and visit about Prime Evil, writing, road trips and more!

BYOQ! Chat starts at 8 p.m. CST!

Bring your own questions and you just might win a prize!

I hope to see you there.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flashback: Princess Bride Quotes

In 1973, William Goldman released a little fairy tale by the name of The Princess Bride. It is a unique story, featuring a grandfather reading a tale to his grandson. The tale is a familiar one to audiences in the form of the 1987 film starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes and many, many more. The story is timeless, as charming in 2009 as it was in 1973 when it was published, in 1982 when I read it for the first time and 1987 when I saw it in the theater for the first time.

Introducing another generation to the film elicited all the right reactions, reactions that aligned with the grandson who was having the story read to him. Santa may very well be delivering a copy of this book because the daughter wants to have it read to her now, too. Goldman’s book is genius, a mixture of abridged storytelling and delightful fairytale. It has something for everyone: true love, swashbuckling, heroes overcoming the odds and dark villains with deep histories.

The story entered our pop culture and our language with fantastic quotes, phrases and exchanges. It is almost impossible to pick out one line and say it is the best, but I will say “Have fun storming the castle!” is a familiar phrase around here.

Enjoy these quotes cherry picked from the most recent viewing:

Grandpa: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you.

Grandpa: That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying "As you wish", what he meant was, "I love you." And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.

Inigo: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.
Buttercup: But how can you be sure?
Westley: This is true love - you think this happens every day?

Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Inigo Montoya: More pursue than study lately. You see, I cannot find him... it's been twenty years now and I'm starting to lose confidence. I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.

Count Rugen: Ah. Are you coming down into the pit? Wesley's got his strength back. I'm starting him on the machine tonight.
Prince Humperdinck: [sincerely] Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped.
Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven't got your health, then you haven't got anything.

Westley: There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours.

Do you have a favorite line?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flashback: Vampire Lovers

My affair with my vampire lovers began in 1987. That was the year I first read Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire and later, The Vampire Lestat. That was the year I saw The Lost Boys a dozen times in the theater. A year later, I would devour The Queen of the Damned when it was released. Over and over I would re-read the trilogy and eventually when I got my first VCR, The Lost Boys would be one of the first movies I owned.

Awaken My Children of the Night

In 1990, one of my favorite authors: Mercedes Lackey, got in on the vampire action when she introduced Diana Tregarde to Andre. Andre was just delectable and dark and compelling. He also protected the Romany. He wasn't a saint, but he wasn't completely a sinner either. In many ways, Andre was the ancestor of the vampire who would become Angel right down to the Romany.

The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith appeared in 1991 with The Awakening. Like the heroine Elena, we were torn between Damon and Stefan. I always did have a thing for the bad boy in the story. This was also the year I read Tanya Huff's Blood Price and met Henry Fitzroy and Vicki Nelson for the first time. Imagine my delight more than fifteen years later when I discovered their television series Blood Ties.



In 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer hammed it up in theaters and despite the bad acting (and wow was there a lot of it), the film was amusing even if Rutger Hauer phoned in his performance. Not long thereafter in 1993, we met a little lady named Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Jean-Claude was a right bastard, but he was fun to read about in those early books when he and Anita played cat and mouse.

By 1996, vampires were definitely the thing. The White Wolf role playing game inspired the short-lived series Kindred: The Embraced which looked at the five clans of vampires scheming, loving and fighting in the city of San Francisco. Unfortunately, the show didn't last long and the death of lead actor Mark Frankel meant that it probably wouldn't come back. But vampires never go without a fight.

1997 brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer back to life on television complete with a vampire love interest, Angel. The show would run seven seasons, spin-off after the third season with a show just for Angel that lasted five years, numerous novels and even more academic works focusing on the appeal of the show. Some of the better vampires to come out of the series: Spike, Drucilla and Vamp Willow from The Wish.

Vampire Lovers and the New Millenium

By the beginning of the 21st century, vampires were heavily featured in almost every new series of urban fantasy. Some good. Some bad. Some suave. Some knaves. Some almost human. Some mostly monsters. But vampires were here to stay. A new generation of vampire lovers have encountered fairy tale vampire Edward from Twilight or Eric and Bill from True Blood. The Vampire Diaries is about to be made into a series (which looks pretty interesting) and still we're meeting more vampires from Morganville, Toronto, New York, London, Paris and of course, the most popular vampire capital in fiction: New Orleans.

As much as I love vampires, though, I've never written one into a story of my own. One would think they would be the first thing I wrote about, yet they are not. I love my vampires. I love them when they are Dark Hunters, when they are possessed by demons, when they are cursed by lost love or by gypsies. But I haven't met the vampire that I am ready to commit to in fiction.

When did you meet your first vampire lovers?

Ed Note: Since I wrote this blog originally, I have since watched the entire freshman season of The Vampire Diaries on the CW and I have to say, LJ Smith's novels and the series based on it remain in my top favorites!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Flashback: Paranormal Romance versus Urban Fantasy

It's a wonderful thing to run around all day and come home to a friendly discussion about paranormal romance versus urban fantasy. Essentially, the core of the debate is what separates the two genres? What makes a story paranormal romance and not urban fantasy? Or the reverse?  I discussed my definition of urban fantasy in mid-July 2009.

Paranormal Romance versus Urban Fantasy

That day, however, I logged onto Twitter (You can find me on twitter at @HVLong, by the way)  to see a question from my fellow writer and very good friend Shirin Dubbin (you may remember me applauding her book the Keeper of the Way last year). She was reading a post that discussed urban fantasy versus paranormal romance.

For many writers, what one author deems to be the definition of UF is not always the definitions others ascribe to it. The key sticking point, it would seem is the issue of sex. For some as for Shirin, urban fantasy is fantasy in a modern setting, usually a city—featuring mythic creatures: elves, dragons whether it comes with romance or not.

For me it's not about the sex (although arguably books with a high sex content lean more towards erotica, which is yet another sub-genre) or whether the characters fall in love: it's whether the goal of the story is about the characters falling in love.  If the goal is for the characters to find love with each other or in spite of each other, then it's paranormal romance.

Twilight is paranormal romance. It has a vampire as the male lead and a human girl as the female. They are both living 'normal' lives and meet each other at 'school.' That the man is a vampire is an important element in the story, but it's about their love story, how they fall in love. So the goal is love, that makes it a paranormal romance.

In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Harry is a wizard working in Chicago. He has a P.I. license and works with the Chicago PD. He's getting pulled more and more into the Wizarding world, particularly with his work as a Warden, his apprentice and the war with the Red Court.  Harry also has relationships, he has sex and he has great friendships. But the goal of the Harry stories is not the romance. Most often it's saving the world (or at least Harry's piece of it) before it can all go to hell.  With the supernatural elements, the magic and the modern world, that makes it urban fantasy.

Meeting in the Middle

So what does that make Sherrilyn Kenyon? Her books have a lot of paranormal, supernatural and mythic elements. In nearly every one of her Dark Hunter series, the Dark Hunters fall in love with their true love. Even Acheron eventually does. So are her books paranormal romance or urban fantasy?  I think her books sit firmly on the fence with one leg dangling on either side. But if I were forced to choose -- yep, paranormal romance.

Patricia Briggs Mercedes Thompson series: urban fantasy. Despite the romantic triangle between Sam, Mercy and Adam, the goal of these stories is not where does Mercy's heart lie -- it's where is Mercy's destiny taking her. That may change, but I'm still pretty convinced it's UF.

Kelley Armstrong? Urban fantasy with definite elements of paranormal romance. Why? Because although characters do hook up (Clay and Elena, Paige and Lucas, Jeremy and Jaime), their romances are only part of the overarching mysteries and adventures. With the characters constantly recurring, we keep dropping in on their lives and their adventures, that's more urban fantasy than romance, too.

So tell me, do you have an opinion on what really separates paranormal romance from urban fantasy?

Quick Note:
Be sure to stop by Romancing the Blog for another look at this debate. I'm telling you, it's hot stuff!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flashback: Southern Comfort

Gone with the WindWelcome to a little southern comfort as we continue our exploration of passionate love stories this week. Today's passionate love story involves Margaret Mitchell's unorthodox, though now classic romance between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler set against the backdrop of the Civil War, a turbulent coming of age for the spoiled and pampered Scarlett as she struggles to find love and survival as her world crumbles around her.

Southern Comfort

From the first words Margaret Mitchell wrote in her 1936 novel, you knew that you found something that defied conventions:


Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it

This willful, spoiled and head-strong sixteen year old girl would dominate perceptions of Southern Belle's for the next 90 years. Scarlett is the eldest of three O'Hara daughters. She and her sisters live with their beloved mother Ellen and their Irish father on a beautiful plantation in Northern Georgia called Tara.

Their nearest neighbors are the Wilkes family at 12 Oaks. Scarlett longs to make Ashley her beau and she makes her intentions clear during a barbecue at Wilkes plantation, when Ashley rejects her, Scarlett by seeking love with Melanie's brother Charles Hamilton. Despite the looming war, Charles suffers a most inglorious death -- he dies of the measles, but not before impregnating Scarlett. Her son is named Wade Hampton Hamilton and he loves his mother, but often fears her as well. During the war, hardships drive Scarlett to marry her sister's beau Frank Kennedy for his money. She gives birth to his daughter Ella Lorena Kennedy.

Throughout it all though, is Rhett Butler, the rakish gambler who enjoys Scarlett's tempestuous ways. He's not proper company, so she sets her sights higher. He's also not so taken in by her charms that he won't give as good as he gets. When Scarlett finally marries Rhett, she tells herself it's for the financial security, but in quieter moments, she admits to her love for him.

Published in 1936, Mitchell's novel would win a Pulitzer prize and be made into one of the most romantic movies of all time with the 1939 release of the film Gone with the Wind starring Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as the tempestuous Scarlett O'Hara.

Library Scene at 12 Oaks

At 12 Oaks, Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley only to be rebuffed. Her humiliation is deepened when Rhett reveals that he overheard her indiscreet behavior.




You Need Kissing Badly

The passion between Rhett and Scarlett always simmered beneath the surface and this scene captures their incredible chemistry.




Passion

Probably one of the most controversial scenes filmed because the previous scene indicated that Rhett was about to rape his wife, Scarlett wakes up, feeling quite good about having been so thoroughly ravished the night before -- perhaps for once giving up on her games of power and position and just enjoying her husband.





Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn

The couple shared a beautiful daughter Bonnie, but Bonnie's unfortunate death left a rift in this passionate couple's relationship that neither was willing to bridge. The infamous scene where Rhett walks out, leaving Scarlett behind is powerful because Scarlett does not give in -- despite the heartbreaking loss.



In the end, Scarlett is alone save for her children, her friendship with Ashley (a man she no longer pines for) and Ashley and Melanie's son, a child she loves well for himself. It is a stunning contrast to see Scarlett fight so fiercely for the milk-faced Ashley, the man who was simple, dull and old-school gentleman, but who could never stand up to Scarlett's fiery desires versus battling her own feelings for Rhett.

Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler would come to life again in a sequel written with the Mitchell family permission allowing these lovers to finally be happy. But it does not diminish the power of the initial relationship nor the strong punctuation point an unhappy ending gave them --because Scarlett and Rhett were so strong-willed and like-minded that they couldn't see the forest for the trees where their relationship was concerned.

And frankly, my dears, we do give a damn.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Flashback: Paperback Heroes: The Soldier

Romantic men with military backgrounds are a very old tale indeed. Some of the first characters I can remember crushing on, on television, were military men: The A-Team, a military team wrongly convicted of a crime that go on the lamb, but still help people who can't help themselves. Stringfellow Hawke is a former military man and so was MacGyver. Military service builds strength of character, determination and helps boys become men. It should come as no surprise then that many paperback heroes come straight from the ranks of the services: Marines, Navy, Army or Air Force.

Paperback Heroes: The Soldier

Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar features Heralds who are more than soldiers, but are still the Arrows of the Queen. Skif and Kris are two Heralds that leap to mind romantically. Skif is the reformed thief who makes use of his light fingers and devilish thinking in service to his country while Kris is the child of nobility, who enjoyed teaching younglings and serving. The military unifies all classes to one class: brotherhood.

John Paul Renard from Julie Garwood's Killjoy served as a Marine. From the bayou, his own natural survival skills enhanced his training. He was soon one of the best snipers in his division, but mission after mission for the CIA hammered away at his humanity and he left. Yet, John Paul Renard remains a deeply loyal and honorable man who is hunting down the assassin who tried to kill his sister.

In Jennifer Morey's The Secret Soldier, Cullen McQueen saves his future lady from terrorists in Afghanistan. In Minette Meador's The Centurion and the Queen Marius must choose between his duty to Rome and his love for Breton Queen Delia. In Lisa Pietsch's The Path to Freedom, Vince Hennessy sets the bar for the rest of his team and his determination, dedication and skill makes Sarah Stevens heart hitch.

In the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs both Adam Hauptman (Mercy's neighbor) and David Christensen are savaged by a werewolf when serving in Korea. Each man handles his transformation differently, but their military training shapes their values, morals and ethics. John Jakes took a long look at brotherhood when he introduced readers to George Hazard and Orry Main. One from Pennsylvania and the other from South Carolina, these two men had very little in common when West Point bonded them in a friendship that would survive a divisive war tearing their country apart.

The soldier is powerful as the romantic lead. He's got all the great qualities of loyalty, honor and fidelity. But he's also a man who will go where others fear to tread. Loving him can be hard because he may not come back. Women who love soldiers should never try to compete with their love of country.

The Soldier in Film and Television

"Michael Biehn ROCKS! He was great in Navy Seals, The Rock and Aliens too! Check him out in my Hot guys with Guns Blog!" The Path to Freedom author Lisa Pietsch said. Michael Biehn's turn as Kyle Reese in 1984's The Terminator granted him iconic status. He was a soldier from the future who came back to save the woman who would give birth to their rebellion. (Hot Guys with Guns is a weekly blog on the Sapphire Blue Bombshells).

In the mid-80s, Jeff Kober and Brian Wimmer would bring to life Staff Sgt. Evan "Dodger" Winslow, U.S.M.C and Cpl. Boonie Lanier, U.S.M.C. on China Beach. Dodger enlisted time and time again, despite the wearing down of his humanity because he didn't want to leave anyone behind. We mourned with the KC when Boonie died during the course of the war in Vietnam.

Josh Duhamel as Captain Lennox in Transformers is serving with his men in a desert location, longing to be home with his wife and baby daughter (whom he's never met). Leroy Jethro Gibbs (he fits both the lawgiver and soldier archetype) as a senior NCIS special agent and former Gunnery Sergeant and marine sniper. Major General Jack O'Neill (Kurt Russell, Richard Dean Anderson) is an Air Force special forces operative who led the first mission through the Stargate and so many more, almost too many to enumerate.

Toy Soldiers

From a time when children are young and can play with toy soldiers to when they grow up to be our sons, brothers, fathers and husbands serving their country: the soldier remains one of the most steadfast and powerful archetypes in romantic literature.

Even soldiers, it turns out, enjoy a romantic happy ending, and just check out Operation Happy Ending for one such great story about romance writers supporting real soldiers.

Who is your favorite soldier romantic hero?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: Founder's Day - Counting Down

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First SeasonAre you counting down the days to The Vampire Diaries season finale? I am. For two reasons, one this show has been constantly delivering and ramping up the tension all season. Two, it's got Ian Somerhalder's Damon and Nina Dobrev's Elena. I freely admit that years ago when I first read LJ Smith's novels, I rooted for Damon page after page and since this series kicked off, well - yes, I am definitely on Team Damon for this one.

Maybe it's the affection for the bad boy or maybe it's Somerhalder's smoldering performance or maybe it's that we've really had a chance to see Damon and how driven he is by love, affection and the heart. Whatever the reason, his friendship with Elena has hit a lot of potholes - most of his own creation - but the two have become friends, truly cementing that relationship when Stefan went around the bend. Now, his affection has been outed by Isobel (of all the vamps that came to town, they let her leave? Really?)

First Damon warned her off in a smoking hot slap down where he reminded her that yes, you can indeed kill the messenger - to send a message. Later, Isobel tells Elena that Damon is in love with her, right in front of Damon and Stefan. Stefan looked like he just had his concerns confirmed, but Damon looked mildly embarrassed. I don't think he wanted Elena to know how he felt. Either way, The CW has posted the following two clips to whet the appetite for next Thursday.

The first scene takes place at the Mystic Grill with an amusing exchange between Damon and Elena, followed by a nastier, more petulant moment with Elena and Jeremy. The second scene is between Damon and Jeremy with the former calling the latter on his wallow in self-pity not to mention his nasty attitude.

Check it out.





Are you ready for the season finale?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Paul Wesley: The Supernatural Trifecta

Oddly enough, Paul Wesley has been around for years, but I never took much note of him before The Vampire Diaries. Odder still, it wasn't until I was looking something up last night that I realized Paul Wesley is one of those actors that I have seen around for years and in multiple supernatural roles. The actor, who currently portrays the tortured vampire brother Stefan Salvatore on the CW's The Vampire Diaries has also played an angel and a werewolf.





The Fallen

In 2007, ABC Family aired a two hour movie followed by a very short season called Fallen based on the novels of one of my favorite writers Tom Sniegoski. Wesley portrayed an 18-year-old Aaron Corbett who struggles to come to terms with his newly discovered identity - that he is a half-angel. It seems that Aaron has a gift to redeem fallen angels, allowing them to return to the source, but not everyone wants him to do that and the battles between the angels can get pretty intense with Aaron even taking flight on occasion.



Wolf Lake

Turning back the clock to 2001, a then actual teenager, Paul Wesley portrayed Luke Cates, a werewolf living in a woodsy small town called Wolf Lake where most of the citizens harbor a secret – they are all shapeshifters. Amusingly enough, Mia Kirshner (currently portraying Elena's vampire-turned mother on The Vampire Diaries) played Luke Cates' older sister and reluctant shifter on Wolf Lake. While the writing and the story pacing was sketchy on this series, it is a concept that would likely do better in today's supernaturally hungry television than it did in 2001.



But as for Wesley, hats off to the young man who's done a little bit of it all in the ultimate urban fantasy trifecta!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sex, Fists and Barnes & Noble

Check it out, I am guest blogging today at the wonderful Lisa Pietsch's blog! Be sure to come by!

Truth is stranger than fiction and clichés are clichés because they are true. So here are some truths that I find when it comes to writing. Writing and developing an action sequence or a fight scene is a hundred times easier than writing a believable, sensual, earthy sex scene. Why, you might wonder? I mean, how hard can sex be to write? After all, sex is a basic, raw, biological function engaging two or more bodies in some pleasurable action.

Absolutely true.


But…



Continue reading at Lisa's blog ....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Discover Persuasion in the Scent of Seduction

Discover persuasion today with Nikki Duncan's sultry, smoking hot Scent of Persuasion released from Samhain Publishing.  The second in the delicious Sensory Ops series focuses on Breck Lawson and Kami Evans.  You might remember Breck from Nikki's release last year, Sounds to Die By.  If you missed that, now you have two great books to read.  Sounds to Die By will be released in print in August, 2010.

Five Reasons to Seduce Your Senses

Checking out an author or a book, new or familiar, means opening yourself up to being seduced.  Scent of Persuasion will seduce all your senses.  Want five great reasons to pick up this book?

  • The sight of Kami in her drop dead red dress is enough to make any man's blood pump.
  • The feel of Breck's arms is enough to make even the most determined woman forget her mission
  • The sound of throaty laughter and masculine chuckles shiver the skin
  • The taste of champagne and burgers never mingled so sweetly
  • The scent of persuasion drifts off every page
Seriously -- if you need more, just check out this blurb and excerpt and pick up your copy of Scent of Persuasion, a new romantic suspense from Samhain Publishing. 

About Scent of Persuasion

Actress Kami Evans is tackling the biggest role of her life—as an escort. There’s definitely something going on in Madame V’s mansion, but Kami has to prove herself trustworthy before she can dig deeper and prove her stepbrother didn’t commit suicide.

Her first assignment: seduce a CEO and, oddly, steal his hair brush. He’s everything she avoids in a man: suave, sexy, suited. She plays her role all the way to the bedroom…and finds it stunningly difficult to walk away.

Breck Lawson’s undercover assignment, posing as a replacement CEO, is yielding zero clues as to why his friend tried to kill himself—until Kami comes on the scene. She’s everything he likes in a woman: safe, sexy, temporary. She also arouses him just by walking into a room, a sure sign it’s time to push her away.

Then he connects the dots she unwittingly shares, and realizes their investigations are linked by delicate strands of DNA. Keeping her near isn’t wise, but he has to know her secrets and keep her safe.

Unless they trust each other and come clean, those dots could lead to death for both of them…



Excerpt


This is a necessity. This is not promiscuous. This is not immoral or degrading.

Kamille Evans swiped her tongue across her scarlet-fever-red-painted lips and tucked the thick, coordinated streak of hair behind her ear. She’d gotten used to long hair, but the shoulder-length, tapered cut Madame V had forced on her actually suited her face better. Studying herself in the elevator’s black, glossy wall, Kami took a deep breath, rolled her shoulders back and straightened the most amazing red gown she’d ever slipped on.

Seduction.

The silk slithered and shimmered with every move. She turned and studied the back—or rather her back, as the dress had only two crisscrossing straps that were barely thicker than strands of thread.

Repulsion rippled beneath the dress, coating her skin in shame. Telling herself she hadn’t stepped onto a degrading path was a lie. Staring at her misshapen reflection, she shook her head.

Madame V would filet her, but she could send someone else to play date-the-CEO. Donning an elegant dress and using a soft word like escort detracted nothing from reality. She was whoring herself for truths that might not be found.

Reaching out, she pushed the button for the lobby. The twisted chain decorating her neck distorted and became a strangling rope. Her eyes bulged. Breaths gurgled in her throat as she clawed free of the golden noose. The shiny walls closed in. Shrinking. Suffocating.

The elevator doors slid open.

Gasping in untainted air, she stumbled into the glamorous lobby decorated in more black marble and varying shades of cream.

No! Turning back, unable to move forward to the assignment, she reached for the doors as they whisked shut with a dismembering finality.

Behind the double glass doors separating upper management’s inner sanctum from mundane comings and goings, a handsome man a few inches shorter than her stood from behind the mahogany assistant’s desk. He quirked an urbanely waxed brow and waited, judging her as below his station.

It was the same judgment she’d seen on the faces of the cops who’d worked Channing’s crime scene. The cops who’d negated her claims that he’d been murdered.

Demeaning methods aside, her brother deserved justice. Resolve wove through the hollow spaces of her spine.

Glancing heavenward, she sent up a silent prayer. If you’re real, find me a way out of this with my soul intact.

Reassured she’d made the right choice, that she was on the right course for achieving her goals, she crossed the sumptuous foyer. Her stilettos struck the marble floor with decisiveness.

Huge photographed landscapes printed in black and white and hung in simple black frames added a welcoming warmth she hadn’t anticipated, while making it evident that powerful people made powerful deals where she now stood.

The depravity behind the purpose of her visit in the lushness surrounding her reminded her of Julia Roberts walking through that glorious lobby she hadn’t belonged in. Kami no longer belonged in this moneyed world, but she would not fidget.

This night is no different from the thousand others. Well, except my reason for being here. The staff at Elegant Entertainment knew how to perfectly wrap the merchandise.

Tonight, she was the merchandise.

Monday, May 3, 2010

5 Reasons Silver Borne Rocks

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5)Not that Patricia Briggs fans will need this ringing endorsement, but her latest Mercedes Thompson novel: Silver Borne, delivers on the drama, the angst, the adventure and the mercurial relationship between Mercy and Adam's pack. It seems hard to believe that this is the fifth book in such a terrific series, it seems like just yesterday we were hooking up with Mercy as she rescued Adam and carried him to Montana and the Marrok's pack for help. She returned with Samuel, the werewolf she once fancied herself in love with.

For a time, Samuel led Mercy to believe he was still courting her even after Adam had declared Mercy his mate to the pack. For three books, we watched and learned as Mercy did that Sam wasn't in love with her and that Adam's fancy was quite real, finally allowing the couple to begin moving in that direction after the third and sealing the deal in the fourth novel Bone Crossed.

Mercy's journey has certainly not been an easy one. She is a coyote raised among werewolves and while she gets werewolf politics, she doesn't like to play them. Her relationship with Adam is refreshing, because he respects her as much as he wants to protect her - which can lead to some seriously tense times, but for any in doubt, Silver Borne definitely sells why these two are definitely a well made match.

The following reasons may contain some spoilers, so be wary! I will do my best to keep them to a bare minimum.

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson)

5. We learn a lot more about Sam and Samuel in Silver Borne. I have a tender sport for Dr. Cornick and his struggles. He is a very old wolf and Briggs has long established that very old wolves do not always do well and we've been watching Sam struggle for some time, but Silver Borne truly reveals the depth of his despair.

4. Adam backs Mercy's plays. Despite not always agreeing with how Mercy does things, Adam has her back and he demonstrates his support and respect more than once.

3. Mercy may not like werewolf politics, but girl knows exactly when to bring the smackdown in and it's all the more potent because she doesn't do the posturing.

2. The Fae are always fun to explore, they are mysterious, vain and truly a capricious lot. We also get lots more Zee which is always a treat.

1. Magic has an unpredictable effect on Mercy and when you throw in a Faerie Queen, unstable pack magic and a sabotage attempt or three -- unpredictable takes on a delightfully edgy feel.

If you've never read the Mercedes Thompson books be sure to start with Moon Called and work your way through the series. Briggs writes in a delightfully conversational and engaging tone sure to leave you wanting more.

Do you have a favorite character in the Mercedes Thompson world?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

10 Reasons Blood Brothers Didn't Favor Stefan

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First SeasonYes, I am a fan of The Vampire Diaries; it's one of the first shows in a long time where I am actually eagerly awaiting the next episode.  So far, despite some risky decisions on whom they kill off (seriously, Lexi? Bree? Pearl?) and who they keep.  The show continues to haunt my Thursday nights.  So it's a sad moment that the most recent episode left me scowling at my screen and not because the episode ended and not because I would have to wait a week, but because Stefan will now forever be known to me as Whining Turtle.

Stefan Salvatore never wanted to be a vampire. Despite sleeping with one and letting one feed off him regularly (and with the knowledge that she was doing his brother – can you say eww?) – he is the victim of Katherine's compelling powers.  She force-fed him her blood for weeks.   Okay, find.  Nevertheless, it wasn't Katherine who forced him to try to break her free. He didn't want her taken.  Like a happy little pleasure addict, he wanted his piece of tail unharmed.

He teamed up with Damon in the most transparent attempt to get Katherine out of the locked cage (speaking of which, were they just tossing them in there like kindling?) by leading off the mob and leaving just one or two behind.   They get Katherine out, get her free and then boom – Damon is shot, then Stefan is shot.  The mob comes back and carries her off, leaving Stefan to gaze after her in pained realization that he is dying.

Queue the next day when he wakes up, in the sun, wearing a ring.  His WTF moment is quickly summed up by a calm Emily, who tells him he is transitioning.  The ring he wears is one Katherine commissioned for him weeks ago. When he insisted he never drank from her, Emily clued in the doe-eyed boy to the truth – Katherine did as Katherine pleased with him. 

So what does Stefan do? He goes to talk to Damon, who is disconsolate.  Damon wanted the change. Damon wanted to be with Katherine. Instead, he got shot in the back, woke up in the woods and all he got for his trouble was a trinket and his whiney younger brother – it's interesting how broody and fresh Damon was then – but anyway, back to my ten reasons here that Stefan's character sucked wind in this episode.

10.    Stefan drinking human blood is a lot like an alcoholic hitting the sauce, he is suddenly guiltless of his actions.

9.  It's only when he comes face to face with Elena, wild with his lust for blood and has to be dropped by a Witch (seriously sweet moment for Bonnie there) that he runs away.

8.  He's desperate for Elena to be away from him, but instead of just leaving himself, he throws himself at her – luckily, Elena is armed with vervain.

7.  Broody boy wakes up in the basement, but refuses to talk or drink.

6.  Brooding goes to a whole new level as he just sits there and sulks about his past choices. 

5.  Stefan was always a Daddy's boy, that's obvious from his faith in his father, right up to the moment he discovers it was Daddy Dearest who shot Stefan and Damon both.

4. Stefan doesn't think through his actions and choices.  He revealed his feelings about Katherine to his father, he kept his secrets from Elena and despite everything that's come out, I would bet there's even more to the story than we know.

3. After everything he went through, he actually asks Damon if he feels guilty? Damon's right, guilt or not, it's Damon's to own at this point.

2.  Stefan was going to walk into the sun and burn to a crisp.   But it was the same choice he had a 150 years before – and this time he would have been leaving Elena with Stefan (boy really doesn't think things through)

1.  So he's human blood free, he's got his ring back and the girl forgives him – that's good for Stefan right? Because I don't believe this experience really cost him a lot personally and even worse, I don't think it's changed him one iota.

Maybe I am being too hard on Stefan.  Maybe not.  But after this episode, I actually believed Stefan was a 17 year old boy – emphasis on the boy – for the last 150 years. As reckless as Damon is, his impulses are a little more controlled and he actually does clean up his own messes.   So what did you think?