Monday, June 30, 2014

My Creative Process

My sister from another mother, L. Penelope, asked me to come on board a blog hop about the creative process. So here's my whirl!

What am I working on?

I'm currently revising a contemporary romance, fairytale reinterpretation alongside drafting a paranormal shifter romance. I often get trapped in the first twenty pages of revision playing with words and phrases. My solution to this is to limit the amount of pages I'm allowed to revise each week and then move on to writing something new, even if its just writing exercises. I've heard many professionals poo-poo this path noting that drafting and revising exist on two different sides of your brain that should not be engaged at the same time. But I prefer to listen to fitness experts who say that you have to exercise both sides of your body to become stronger.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

In the planned series of fairytale reinterpretations the heroines are all mothers. Statistics show that single mother households make up 25% of today's families. Romance novels are a form of escapism and all mothers need escape from their lives at some point during the day. More importantly they need heroines who look like, smell like, think like and have the same issues as them. The first in this Cindermama series is based on the story of Cinderella. My heroine, whose nickname is Pumpkin, fell for a 'toad.' Years later, when the actual 'prince' comes around, she no longer believes in happily-ever-afters. I hope it'll be out next year.

Why do I write/create what I do? 

I can't not tell stories. If you ask me how my day went be prepared for a diatribe. When you tell me how your day went, rest assured that I'm crafting an adventure plot around your completed To Do List and trying to figure out where to insert the hook! My brain doesn't stop telling stories. I'm finally breaking down and appeasing it by writing the stories down and sharing them with others.
How does my creative process work?

I write like a homemaker. I make an absolute mess on the page. I call this the "dump" stage. I usually do timed sprints of an outlined scene, not stopping until I reach the end of the scene or the end of the time period.

Then I clean up the mess. I'm training myself to just clean the story at this point and not the words. I love a thesauruses and will spend all day picking around connotations to find the best word for my meaning.

Once the draft is clean, I go back and give it a scrub. Here's where I allow myself to look at word choice. The scrub is followed by a good polish where I check my grammar and spelling -or have someone else do it.

Be sure to check out my other sister from another mother, Angela D'Ambrosio and look into how she creates her stories.

Monday, June 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW -A Survey of Shifters

I'm currently writing a PNR shifter serial and wanted to check out the competition. I spent the weekend reviewing some Amazon Bestsellers in the shifter world. Here's my takeaway.

Copper King by Vivian Arend
Three things make billionaire Jim Halcyon's to-do list: women, work...and more women. It's a perfect agenda for a rich shifter who has no problem letting his inner grizzly out to play. From the bright lights of Vegas, to the sophisticated action of New York--he's got the money and the power to do anything he wants.

Anything, except resist the lure of Lady Luck, an ancient copper coin he gambles yearly to possess. Jim is determined to regain control of the pretty penny, and damn if he'll let any bit of eye candy distract him from his goal. Not even the mesmerizing woman in the middle of the casino floor with the shimmering hair and enormous green eyes.

With a life-changing move ahead of her, Lillie's finagled a temporary layover en route to her future. She's got five days to soak in new experiences, and while Vegas is too big and shiny and loud for her shy bear self, she's eager to do this up right. It's the last chance she's got to let her hair down.

Until his challenge begins, Jim is more than willing to oblige Lillie's wish for a final fling. Only Lady Luck has some twists of fate planned for them both...

The hero's setup was very interesting with the winning of the coin mentioned in the title. That drew me right into this book, but then we walk away from that bit of intrigue for the romance. Unfortunately, I experienced no connection to the heroine. I had no clue to her goals or motivations for a long time. Her dual shyness and promiscuity confused me. Her bear was shy, her human was skittish, but she was ready for sex with the hero in a heartbeat. I really needed that connection to believe the love story, which of course takes center stage in a romance, and it just wasn't present for me.

Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley

Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed robber by a giant Kodiak bear who shifts into a large, well-muscled, and fully naked human male. But when it's revealed that the robber is the brother of a dangerous criminal, Elizabeth finds herself the target of a vendetta.

Ronan, the Bear Shifter, takes her to Shiftertown for safety, where Elizabeth learns that the mateless Ronan, alone in the world, takes care of Shifters who have also been left on their own. Having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth can only admire how protective Ronan is.

But Ronan will only let Elizabeth leave the confines of Shiftertown if he becomes her 24/7 bodyguard. Elizabeth chafes at her restriction, but agrees. The trouble is, the sassy human Elizabeth is triggering Ronan's long-buried need to find himself a mate.

I liked the world building with shifters living in Shifter Towns and fitted with Collars made by the fae to keep them under control. But I didn't take to either hero or heroine.

Claimed by the Alphas by Viola Rivard
For Mila Foster, the idea of becoming an alpha wolf’s mate is so tantalizing that she is willing to leave her human life behind to join the Lazarus pack. Their alpha, the handsome and sensual Asch, is more than she could have ever hoped for, and Mila is beyond ready to surrender herself to him—until she finds out that the Lazarus pack has a second alpha, the dominant and primitive Caim.

Caim’s wolf lurks very close to the surface. He likes the lean and taut females of his own kind, women who can handle the aggressive mating he enjoys. He has no interest in Mila, that is, until he gets his hands on her lush curves. 

The plotting was excellent. The POVs short, to the point, moved the story and kept the pages turning. At no point did the world building overwhelm. Rivard gave enough to give readers a firm footing. The heroine was likeable; the two alphas were strong with very different personalities. Her dilemma at the end, which is as close as you can get to a cliffhanger without hanging off a cliff, is intriguing. And it worked. I bought the next installment immediately after the last page!

Put the character goal and motivation up front.
Build the world through action not inner monologue or backstory.
Introduce conflict or complications early.
Sexual tension is great early, but consistency is even better. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Knox Volume 1

...huh? What the hell did I just read? Here's the blurb:

Knox Volume 1 by Cassia Leo
From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a sinfully sexy and suspenseful new series.

Rebecca hasn’t seen or heard from her mob boss father in four years, but she’s about to receive a message from him that will throw her life into chaos. Rebecca thought she left the crime family behind when she went into law enforcement. She never expected to be abducted by a sexy stranger. But this stranger makes an offer too tempting to refuse and soon Rebecca is pulled into one of the most ruthless vendettas of the century.

Knox Savage is the sexy billionaire CEO of Knox Security and a notorious playboy. What most don’t know about Knox is that a large portion of his wealth is made helping high-profile criminals escape justice. He makes no judgments about guilt or innocence. And he doesn’t do it for sentimental reasons. But he’s about to take on a case that is going to get very personal.

I'm torn because Cassia Leo did an amazing plotting job, but I did not like her characters. Becky's Ordinary World is insane! Her father's a mob boss whom she witnessed kill a man when she was a teen. Ten years later, she's left her family and the life for a career in law enforcement -awesome right! But she also left behind her crush. But Becky's put all that behind her and has a stable relationship with a stable man. Until her past comes and literally drags her back to her roots. Becky allows herself to be dragged and makes some truly stupid choices (and she agrees they are stupid choices) because this man, Knox, reminds her of that childhood crush.

Knox is an asshole. Not an alpha hole. An ass. Now, you can tell me what to do, lover. However, if you raise your voice at me and you get up in my face there will be problems. Knox, that ain't sexy and I couldn't muster an ounce for this dude. At every turn I was ready to put this book down, but the way Leo plotted it I couldn't. I wanted to know what happened next, and after that I'd put it down. But then I found myself at the end of the book.

I disagreed with the cliffhanger she used. I don't know how to say anything about it without spoiling it. It was unexpected in an I don't care kind of way. There were so many other plot lines Leo introduced that would have sent me to purchasing the other book. This one she choice was the only one that she hadn't made me care about.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Perfect 10 by Erin McCarthy

"There was no delicate way to say that women were like mushrooms to him. He liked the taste of some and others he did not. It wasn't personal. Some people loved chanterelles, he preferred shiitake. Trina had been shiitake."

And with that Erin McCarthy basically drops the mic...or pen, and waits for our well-earned applause. Here's the blurb:
Katrina’s Lesson in Social Media Disasters or How Technology Can Bite You In The A**

Katrina Phillips is an expert social media manager. But that doesn’t mean she can’t make mistakes. Horrible, hide-in-your-closet-forever mistakes... like accidentally syncing her BootyBook app with her online profiles.

Blammo. Now everyone in the world can see who Katrina has dated and how they rated in appearance, sexual performance, and (OMG) detailed descriptions of their manly parts! Now her phone is blowing up with irate exes—and an out-of-the-blue text from the only guy who came close to a perfect score...

Katrina has had a thing for Drew Jordan since forever ago, even if a booze-fuelled one-nighter did destroy their friendship. So why is he suddenly texting her now—and is it because she rated his Sexy Staff Of Manliness as “magnificent”? Now the only way to satisfy her curiosity is to reunite with Drew... and rate him all over again!
I opened this eBook trying to decide whether to read it or two others. I never got to the two others because McCarthy pulled me in from her first sentence and didn't let me go. At least not until the hero and heroine had sex. After they boinked, they got stupid.

This is a BFF turned lovers story; a trope I love. But I'm finding too many stories of BFFs who understand each other completely when they're in the friend zone, but then as soon as they cross the bedroom threshold they are plagued with BMs and TSTLs.

Don't get me wrong, this book is a DELIGHT. I'm just looking for another take on this trope. A take where the problem isn't a sudden lack of understanding or miscommunications.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Series from Lauren Layne

BROKEN by Lauren Layne Teaser Reveal and Cover Spotlight

Lauren Layne, the author of the hit New Adult romance Isn’t She Lovely, and Random House’s Flirt imprint, are thrilled to share a first look at BROKEN, Lauren’s upcoming New Adult romance, and spotlight her gorgeous new cover!

Lauren became an author to watch for me during the Stiletto series, but she became an autobuy after "Isn't She Lovely." See my review here.

Ms. Layne writes the wittiest dialogue since Sex in the City. I'm excited to get into her new adult series, Broken, this fall.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dark and Deadly Boxed Set

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance Boxed Set is now available worldwide for a special introductory price of only $0.99!

This ebook boxed set of eight hot paranormal romances by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Alpha-male bad boys will fulfill your darkest, most deadliest desires in these stories about shifters, werewolves, vampires, magic, special powers and other realms. I've already read the first two. Find out how many stars I gave them below.

BODYGUARD by Jennifer Ashley
Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed attacker by a Kodiak bear who shifts into a tight-bodied, naked human male. Ronan takes Elizabeth to Shiftertown, becoming her 24/7 bodyguard. The mateless Ronan has adopted a houseful of orphaned Shifters--having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth is touched by his protectiveness. Ronan only wants to keep Elizabeth safe, but the sassy woman is triggering his long-buried need to mate.

Two Stars! I liked the world building with shifters living in ShifterTowns and fitted with Collars made by the fae to keep them under control.

He’s a warrior, hardened by years of protecting his town from vampire attack. She’s a garden witch who sees the world in shades of sunshine and delight. Opposites don’t only attract, they go supernova in this sizzling tale of magic and mayhem.

Two stars! I liked the pacing of this story. All the action took place in one day and one location.

BEWITCH by Felicity Heaton
A vampire with a bloodstained past and a soul tainted with darkness, Payne is perfect in his self-control, never surrendering to his darkest desires. Now a beautiful witch in the shadowy fae underworld reawakens long denied hungers and tempts him with pleasure. When one incredible night of fulfilling their fantasies leads to more than just keeping a promise and saving a friend, will they be able to overcome the barriers that stand between them and forever?

DARKNESS FALLS by Erin Kellison
Agent Malcolm Rook is hunting for people with the rarest of talents—the ability to master dreams. He finds the undeniably gifted Jordan Lane, but she’s wary of mysterious Rook and resists his pursuit as long as she can. Yet the dreamwaters they enter are too exhilarating to resist, and attraction soon ignites electric passions. Delving too deep stirs a nightmare, one they must defeat, or be forever lost to darkness. 

ROGUE’S PASSION by Laurie London
Blaming himself for the death of a friend, Iron Guild warrior Asher Kane vows to bring those responsible to justice. After he’s hurt on a mission and nursed back to health by a beautiful yet mysterious woman, this dangerously sexy bad-boy finds himself falling for Olivia…even as he struggles to stay away. But stalking them on the streets of New Seattle is a cruel and vengeful evil—one that threatens to destroy them both…

Alex’s mission: Kill the hellhounds that have invaded earth and return to his home in the Beyond. But from the start, things go horribly wrong. The hounds are cunning and a human female witnesses their attack—she intervenes and saves Alex’s life. Now he must keep the alluring Lilly alive while fighting his desire for her. When passion flares, Alex risks all to protect her and defend the forbidden life he craves.

THE MATING HEAT by Bonnie Vanak
Werewolf Kara Mitchell fled with her brother Aiden to Montana after their alpha father punished her for kissing sexy omega werewolf Ryder Carrington. Left scarred by her father’s cruelty, Kara believes no one can love her. After killing his alpha to save the pack, Ryder now rules, but needs a mate. His blood runs hot for Kara. Ryder will do anything to claim her, even risk an all-out pack war that could cost them everything…

TRAPPED by Caris Roane
Mastyr Vampire Zephyr, a one-man fighting force, struggles to save the life of a woman who despises his warrior ways. She’s been a thorn in his side, but he has one goal: to keep her safe. For Alesia, however, she just wishes he’d leave her alone since she can never approve of his profession. She broke up with him months ago and wants to start a new life. The trouble is, he’s still the one man who can curl her toes.

Grab the boxed set for just $0.99. Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: