Thursday, December 30, 2010

WRITER'S WRITE...WRITING PARTNERS FEUD



We thought this an appropriate post for all should dance as they bring in the New Year.

DANCE
By
Angelica Hart and Zi

There in the frost of offensive silence, he crossed the room stopping, his keen blue beige eyes instantly thawed that chill. She saw in his broad shoulders a champion, in the cut of his shirt a man of style, and from the tint of the musk of his cologne a man who must have haunted the dreams of so many women. He extended a powerful hand toward her, a hand that bespoke hard work, yet was groomed.

"Dance?"

His voice was deep and rich. That simple query managed to release rushes she hadn't felt for so long. It was 1981, when Peter asked her to prom. She had not expected it, wanted it, but felt he should have asked another. Tonight, like that day she hesitated. This man much like Peter confidently waited for her reply. Eventually, her reply was the same as in 1981. "No!"

Back in high school Peter walked away. This night, this man, lifted the left corner of his mouth creating a charming half-grin, and choose not to retreat. "Let's dance."

He bent at the waist, leaned forward, lifted her from her wheelchair, carried her to the floor, and there they spun and swayed, she held safe in his arms. Found herself easily lost in his massive chest, blanketed by his musk, dreaming of him, and washed in his gentle hum, it the guttural groan of a primal urges. The room's din with the band playing, once uncomfortably loud, became insignificant, and in that moment all was marked, meaningful and telling.

Joyce's friends watched and one became teary. They understood just how beautiful she was. They at the time in their lives where mating and pairing was a priority, and hoped for her. None felt she was at risk of being hurt. They knew this man. Knew his heart. Back in high school Peter was a boy, the wheelchair seemed daunting, but today Peter was a man and could not walk again from the girl who warmed his soul.

We try to touch emotions. We hope we do.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at angeliahartandzi@yahoo.com and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS
SNAKE DANCE
CHASING YESTERDAY
angelicahartandzi@yahoo.com
angelicahartandzi.com

BOOKS can be purchased at
Champagne Books
http://www.champagnebooks.com


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Getting to Know Author Scotty Cade

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?

I started my life in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, better known as the Big Easy and was raised along with my two sisters in a very small neighborhood along the mighty Mississippi River.  I was undeniably a momma’s boy and enjoyed a lot of alone time with my stay-at-home mother before my younger sister was born, while my older sister was at school and my Dad was at work.  I spent fun days doing chores around the house riding on the back of her vacuum cleaner singing Etta James songs.  When the chores were done, we settled down for story time.  I truly believe that my love of reading and eventually writing was born.  But all that came to a horrible end when my baby sister was born and I no longer had Mom all to myself.  Then another horrible incident almost ruined my life, my sixth birthday and the first grade.  Oh Boy, did I hate going to school.  I went, but I went kicking and screaming literally every morning until I was seven, my poor mother.  Having to share my mother with my newborn sister and having to attend school left us very little time together and I truly felt deserted, but I really showed her, I jumped ship into my Father’s world.  I was the only boy, so it was the logical next step.  Happy again to be the center of someone’s world, I soaked it up every day.

My father raised quarter horses as a hobby and some of my fondest memories surround that time in my life.  When we were older, on weekends the entire family would pack up the horses and head to local horse shows where, my father, my younger sister and I would compete in barrel racing and cutting.  But my most cherished memories are of my father and me taking long horseback rides along the levies of the river enjoying sandwiches and snacks prepared by my mother.  We spent long summer days of riding and jabbering about this or that or just enjoying a comfortable silence.  It wasn’t really the conversation or the silence that was important to me, but the interest he took in my life that thirty five years later, still makes my heart swell.  After a brief marriage, one of those special moments is where I found the nerve to come out to my Father, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.   He did much better that I did and in the end wanted only my happiness.  He’s been nothing but supportive and non-judgmental of my life and I will remember that as long as I live.  Unfortunately, the lights in my life got a little dimmer when my loving mother died five years ago of colon cancer and dimmed yet again when my Father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago.  Fortunately, he still lives in our family home near my sisters and they act as his primary caregivers, but he has really good days and really bad days.  He does his best and that’s all we can ask of him.

Okay, enough of the sappiness.  I attended Louisiana State University, majoring in Marketing, but unfortunately never graduated.  I was lucky enough to be offered a job to manage a very large well established furniture store in my hometown and went for it.  I stayed with company for five years and started making my way up the corporate ladder.  I joined high-tech company in New Orleans, and was transferred to Atlanta, GA where I met the love of my life.  Kell and I have been together fourteen years now and we’re still going strong. 

I’ve worked for a total of six companies throughout my twenty-five year career and ended up as the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Public Relations for a very large company based in Atlanta, GA.  Throughout my career I focused my writing capabilities on Marketing materials, Annual Reports, Press Releases, radio scripts, broadcast media, and the likes, but always had novels running around wild in my head.  Kell and I both gave up the corporate rat race and bought a small hotel and restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Can you imagine two southern boys ending up in New England?  I should think not, boy what a culture shock.  But after six years, we managed to find our way and are healthy and happy in our environment.  About three years into our venture, we hit burn-out and hired a general manager to run our business while we took a year off.  That is when I started my first Novel, Final Encore, and the rest his history.  After that first year off, Kell and I enjoyed our freedom so much that we purchased a forty-two motor yacht called “One Mo Time,” which is now where most of my writing is done.  We travel the waters of New England all summer long with our Shetland Sheepdog, Mavis and in October we cruise down south to Charleston, SC for the winter.

I write in the M/M Romance Genre because the ideas for books keep coming and I have so much in my head that wants to come out, but my fingers are just not fast enough to get it all down.  So I dance the dance between my fingers and brain on a daily basis and can only hope for the best. Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of my characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there.  I believe that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.  After all I got mine.
boy should always get the boy. After all, I got mine.


What comes first for you when you sit down to write a book? Plot or Characters?

IN my first book, Final Encore, the characters came first and the plot developed as I went along.  However, with my next several novels, the first being Wings of Love, the plot came before the characters and I loved the characters so much that they are all recurring in the following three, Treasure of Love, Bounty of Love and Foundation of Love.

Do you "cast" your characters using pictures or actors to help inspire you when you're writing?
In some cases I always know what the main characters look like in my head as I writing about them, but for the secondary characters, I sometimes use faces I’ve seen in magazines or people I k now in real life.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to finish?

Usually about three months if I get to write a few hours every day.  Sometimes the research takes up a good portion of that time, but the story is already developed and the actual writing goes very quickly.

What are you working on now?

In September I finished my second novel, “Wings of Love” and it is about to enter the editing stage and I’m currently finishing up “Treasure of Love,” which is the second book in the “Love” series.

If there was a soundtrack to your latest novel, what genre/songs would be included?

Once you’re read Final Encore you will immediately know it would be country music.  I’m in the process of developing a playlist on iTunes readers can download if they like the music referenced in the book.

Which of your characters would you most likely fall for if they were real?

It would be without a doubt, Billy Eagan from Final Encore.  He is a good man that loves with all of his heart and would anything for anyone.

What do you feel are the benefits of the new electronic readers such as Kindle 2 or Sony Digital Book Reader to the environment?

Speed and convenience.

What character (s) in any of your books is most like you?

I think Jack Cameron from Wings of Love is most like me.  He’s a proud man.  He’s real, stubborn, impulsive, gentle and loving.

What is the most ridiculous thing that you have thought about doing to any of your characters but never did?

I came very close to killing a character off recently, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.  He just wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do, so I almost did him in.  Then I listened and let him do what he was supposed to do and everything worked out in the end.

What is your favorite Ice Cream flavor?

Vanilla

If you could have been the servant to any famous person in history, who would that be and why?
John Steinbeck – I so enjoyed his books and would have loved to have had the opportunity to get to know him and soak up whatever knowledge he was willing to share

Where can we find you on the ‘Net?

Face Book
Twitter
www.amazon.com

Sneak Peek into Final Encore
Dreamspinner Press
Buy HERE
M/M Contemporary

When hunky aspiring country singer Billy Eagan heads to Nashville in search of his big break, a relationship and love are the furthest things from his mind. Taking a foreman's job at the Lazy H ranch and not knowing how he will be accepted, Billy decides to fly under the radar and stay as closeted as he can without denying who he really is. It's immediately confirmed that he made the right decision when he discovers that homophobia is still alive and well in Tennessee.

Then Billy gets his break and meets gorgeous record label executive Ian Dillon. Their worlds collide both professionally and personally, and Billy falls hard. But Ian is still haunted by the mysterious betrayal of his one and only lover, and knowing Billy possesses the power to emotionally destroy him, Ian decides to cut his losses and simply walk away. Determined not to give up on the man he loves, Billy secretly starts to unravel the past and quickly finds that it's not what it appears. Can Billy rescue Ian’s heart, or will bigotry and hatred win over love?

Excerpt:

BILLYS drive from New Orleans to Nashville was long and uneventful. The uninterrupted hours of interstate, with country radio stations fading in and out, gave him a great deal of time to plan a strategy, at least a short-term strategy. The first day he arrived he would find a hotel, look for a day job to help with expenses, and then look for a more suitable place to live.

As the first few days passed, he missed his family terribly but was nonetheless energized with the infinite possibilities of the unknown. Nashville was his new home, and for as long as it would have him, he was happy to be there. The first week, as planned, he searched the want ads for a position that would sustain him financially. He answered several ads and, within a few days, had a great lead.

The position was for a foreman at a large horse farm in Mount Juliet, just outside of Nashville, called the Lazy H Ranch. He set up an appointment to meet the owner at ten o’clock the next morning. It wasn’t his dream job, of course, but it would pay the bills until he found something in the music business.

When Billy turned in under the large iron arch etched with “The Lazy H Ranch,” he looked down at his watch to confirm he was right on time, nine forty-five. Billy drove down the dust-covered road, and after a half mile or so, he saw two large barns on either side of the drive with what looked like an old farm house that he assumed was used for command central. When he got out of his truck, he was looked over, more than greeted, by a rough and unfriendly looking sort. The man was short and stocky, carrying about thirty extra pounds on his frame. His skin was scarred from years of acne, and his teeth were stained from what appeared to be chewing tobacco, as indicated by the Styrofoam cup he spit into. Hoping this wasn’t the owner; Billy introduced himself and learned the man was a ranch hand named Buck Stevens. Buck directed him to wait near the east barn and someone would be with him shortly.

Billy waited around for about forty-five minutes, and no one approached him. He was about to go back and remind Buck that he was still waiting when he saw a tall, ruggedly handsome man walking in his direction. The man, who reminded him of an older version of the Marlboro Man from the old cigarette commercials, walked up and offered his hand.

“Hi, I’m Jules James. I’m the owner of the ranch. Are you William Eagan, by any chance?”
“Yes, sir, but I go by Billy.”

The two shook hands and looked each other over for a few seconds before Jules broke the silence. “I had just about given up on you, son. I thought your interview was at ten o’clock.” 

“It was, sir,” Billy replied. “I arrived at nine forty-five, and Buck told me to wait at the east barn and someone would be with me in a minute. I was just about to go back and see Buck when I saw you walking over.”

“That’s funny,” Jules said. “I told Buck to have you meet me at the west barn. I have a mare about to foal and I want to be there in case there are any problems.”

“I’m sorry about the confusion, sir,” Billy said. “Would you like me to come back?” 

“No problem,” Jules answered. “Why don’t you walk with me to the west barn and we can have a chat along the way.”

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guest Author Shirin Dubbin

Pissed Off and Lovin’ It
by Shirin Dubbin

It’s the day after Christmas and my mind is fried. Or maybe baked. Heck, I don’t know, higher brain function is beyond me right now. Which makes what I’m about to say funnier than it might’ve been. I don’t know whether it’s the toasted state of my grey matter or the fact I’m on the downside of a romance but I’ve been thinking a lot about breaking up and…how to put this delicately? Aw, I ain’t got pretty words today, let’s call it what it is: angry sex. It’s so much fun! Haven’t you ever antagonized your sweetie so they can get all puffed up and pissed off, resulting in the two of you going at it—in a good way? Ah, the joy of the little things. ^_^

In my new release, Dreams’ Dark Kiss, I have a scene that goes there. After a night of fighting off corporeal nightmares bent on her destruction Ciaran, my heroine, gets mean with my hero, Keoni. They have a spat, leading to glorious body-rocking. I can’t share the entire scene but here’s a taste:

Excerpt from Dreams’ Dark Kiss (an angry prelude to getting groin-y)

She stared back at him. Dark emotion swirled inside her aura, clouding her thinking, and she said what she supposed she must to protect herself. “Fuck you.”
The man growled and reached for her. She snatched the frying pan from its place on the stove. Keoni knocked it aside, sending it sailing across the room so fast she could only gape at her empty hand. Bang. A cabinet door dislodged and slid to the floor, crushed by the rocketed pan.
She screamed and rushed him. He took her by both shoulders and lifted her off the ground while she kicked and screamed a stream of expletives cruel enough to gut punch him in a one-two combination.
She knew the words wounded him. She didn’t care.
Keoni managed to set her down on the countertop and push himself between her legs, putting an end to her barrage of kicks. Ciaran pushed against him until he imprisoned her arms by firmly pressing them to her sides.
She heaved with the exertion, making the mistake of meeting her man’s gaze. Hurt darkened his eyes.
Agonizing moments passed before Keoni spoke.
“You testing me? Huh? ’Cause you can stop now. I’m not gonna hurt you, hit you, curse you, belittle, demean, or do anything to make you even a little uncomfortable. None of it. I’m a man, tita. A real one. And I know it’s not what you’re used to, but you better get acclimated real quick. Unless you’ve decided to live a half life, cut off from one another in a warped version of what life mates are meant to be, you’re gonna have to cut this shit out.”
He walked a furious path around the granite island and came back around. Placing his big hands on either side of her, he leaned in. Ciaran opened her mouth, then shut it, her eyes filling with tears.
“That choice enough for you? You wanna keep this up? Fine. We’ll live in separate houses, neighbors with visitation rights. ’Cause I won’t live my life fighting with you. No matter how much I need you.”
“Fine,” she said.
“Fine?”
A humorless snort punctuated the question. “Fine.” Keoni turned away and stared out the window above the sink. Without warning, he whirled back to face her. “No. Not cool. Why’re you so angry with me?”
“Because.” Her jaw trembled, and she lowered her eyes, unable to face the intensity of his gaze.
“What?”
Because I’m not good enough. Because I’m rude. Because it’s always my fault. Be—
“’—cause you’re too perfect, and I’m scared.”

Now what man wouldn’t let a woman have it—in a good way—after that? =giggle= So what do you think, any thoughts on why angry sex is such a treat?

Find out more on Shirin at the following places:

Newest release: Dreams Dark Kiss now available at Carina Press
Buy HERE




Monday, December 27, 2010

Get to know Sloane Taylor


Hi Dawn, thank you for having me out today. I’ve been looking forward to being grilled, er, I mean interviewed by you.:)

To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
CLAIRE DE LUNE is my newest release and is co-authored with the amazing Robert Appleton. Rob is a brilliant sci-fi author and I’m thrilled he wanted to work with me.

Here’s the blurb to entice everyone:

You’re invited to the galaxy’s most prestigious beauty pageant. Clothing optional. Romance and danger…fully provided…

Cocky young detectives Gerry Rappeneau and Sebastian Thorpe-Campbell arrive at the premier lunar resort expecting a week of eye candy and long massages. With a half-billion-credit purse up for grabs, this year’s pageant is the focus of a hundred worlds. And beauty isn’t the only thing in the eye of the beholder.

One contestant, Evelyn Lyons, is attacked and her assailant killed. Surely a simple case of a stalker gone mad, as nothing bad ever happens at the Selene contest. So the brochure says.

The closer Gerry gets to Evelyn, the more he is convinced she’s hiding something. His meticulous character sparks with her wild, sassy nature, and they embark on a torrid affair. Their forbidden romance isn’t the only thing set to ignite in Pont de Reves.

Sebastian’s infatuation with demure Claire Villiers, another contestant, threatens to put all four of them in harm’s way.

A deadly trail of corporate conspiracy, monstrous assassins and hot bikini wax is more than anyone bargained for in this incendiary erotic mystery. Get ready for some serious heat on the dark side of the moon.

What makes a book great in your eyes?
Most important is a plot that grabs me and won’t let go. I want to be a part of a book, firmly implanted in the story as if I’m one of the supporting characters.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Absolutely! After a hearty Italian dinner I must have whopping amounts of chocolate. Unfortunately, I eat a lot of Italian food. groan.

How much of the book is realistic?
CLAIRE DE LUNE is sci-fi without green or purple people. Our heroes and heroines are human and indulge their carnal pleasures in very realistic ways.:)

What is the hardest scene you have had to write (published or not)? Why?
The hardest scene was in my first book, TEDDI TURNS ON. Teddi had to explain her husband’s death to David, the hero. As a widow it was heart wrenching to go through it all again. My editor later told me that scene made her cry. She wasn’t the only one.:)

If you had a reporter follow you around for the day, what would the readers get to see in your daily schedule?
Hmm, that I’m the world’s greatest procrastinator and live in my ratty green bathrobe for the better part of the day. I think the damn thing’s become my security blanket! But – I start work at 6:30 am after Studs leaves for work and continue until 5:00 pm with two breaks and lunch. Yep, I treat my writing and all its side parts like a fulltime job.

When you begin your stories, do you go with the flow, or go with an outline?
An outline which is really more a synopsis. At first I need the structure, which includes a collage of all the characters and important items particular to them, then as the book evolves I go with the flow.

Is it hard coming up with titles or characters names?
Titles and character names are easy. It’s the plot that gets me. LOL

What does your workstation look like?
Does pig sty send a bad message? LOL. I’m fortunate to have a dedicated room with plenty of natural light and space. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, my desk always looks like a file cabinet threw up on it. There’s notes, reference books and stacks of printed WIP pages from one end to the other of my desk. My only saving grace is that after each book is turned into the publisher, I clean it all up and start again.

Are you the type of individual who gets weepy at the end of a good movie, or a sad movie, or do you just stay neutral through it all?
The older I get the more every tender situation chokes me up. Even some of those romantic commercials get me. I ought to run for the Senate. I’d fit right in with those weepers. lol.

Is there any books coming that you are itching to read (either electronic or print) from your favorite authors?
Absolutely! For my birthday I received James Patterson’s Cross Fire, but won’t crack the cover until I finish my current project. It’s my carrot to not procrastinate.:) In March Melissa Bradley has a new e-book, Byzantine Provocateur, releasing which I’m looking forward to.

If you were to replenish your cabinets with one junk food, what would it be?
This is a tough one. Do chocolate syrup and French vanilla ice cream count as one thing? No? How about potato chips and garlic dip? As you can see, I like duo indulgences.

What is one thing scientists should invent?
Mercy, woman, you do ask hard questions. Several things run through my brain, but the one thing is to eliminate cancer in the world. I’ve had too many loved ones suffer and not survive during my lifetime and fear for our future generations.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
Every weekday I bounce out of bed at 6:00 to fix Studs’ lunch and see him off to work. On the weekends, I sleep in until 7:00 and think I’ve wasted part of my day. You think I need professional help?

Do you like thunderstorms?
You bet! The more thunder and lightening, the more it fascinates me. I sit by the window and watch Mother Nature regain control of an insane world and marvel at her power.

Where can readers find you on the ‘Net?

Thanks, Dawn. It’s been fun and you’ve certainly made me think today.:) 

CLAIRE DE LUNE
Robert Appleton & Sloane Taylor
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-011-5 (Electronic)
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-995-8 (Paperback)
Amber Quill Press – Amber Heat

Genres: Science Fiction / Futuristic / Action / Adventure / Mystery / Detective / Voyeurism
Heat Level: HOT
Length: Novel (70k words)


EXCERPT:
Evelyn’s self-esteem soared like a rocket as she gazed into Gerry’s eyes. All the need and desire that filled him shone through. She liked him, maybe more if she were honest, and had wanted him from the moment his pompous ass walked into her hotel room. Being with him and initiating sex tonight was the right thing for her to do.
Gerry wrapped an arm around her waist, tugging her closer. Damn, his hard chest felt good against her achy boobs, but not as good as his rigid cock nestling into her belly.
“Evie—"
“Don’t talk.”
He nodded and traced his index finger along her bottom lip. She nipped the tip, then sucked it in, tonguing the pad until he groaned.
“Ah, Ev—” He caught her face in his hands and kissed her with a passion that ignited her.
His tongue toyed against the seam of her mouth, then delved in, a beautiful taste of wine and herbs, lapping and swirling until her knees trembled. With a regretful sigh, she pulled away.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“No talking. It’s my little quirk.” She tapped his mouth, then took his hand and led him to the sand. After she stooped, she patted the ground, inviting him to join her.
Evelyn rose up on her knees and combed her hands down his chest, flicking his nipples until they sprang to life. Intrigued, she swiped her tongue over her dry lips and leaned into him, licking and sucking the copper-colored discs.
She continued lower to the blond tuft cradling his cock. Gently, she glided her thumb over his swollen head, teasing the drops of pre-cum from the slit to the sensitive underside. Her other hand cupped his balls, rolling the tight sacs with her fingers, taking pleasure in her teasing.
His hips jerked with each touch. Through hooded eyes, he watched, but did as she had requested and maintained silence.
On a rush of air, she gave his lips a quick peck and eased over him, holding her thighs tight against his frame. Heat emanated from his body, soothing and stimulating, a new awareness she longed to experience more than once.
Her breasts swayed close to his mouth. He stretched up and tweaked her pebbled nipples with his thumbs and index fingers. Cuddling them together, he licked and suckled the sensitive tips, first one, then the other. A deep shiver rocketed through her, increasing the ache low in her belly.
She teased his cock along her nether lips, loving the feel of his hot flesh grazing against her clit. In slow motion, she edged onto his shaft, savoring the inches that penetrated her wet vagina.
He rocked into her, clutching her hips, holding her in place. She locked her hands around his wrists and pulled them away, the need to set the pace paramount.
“This is so sexy I don’t want to come,” he bit out through clenched teeth.
“I do.” She slapped his hip. “Again and again.”

LINKS:
Robert Appleton www.robertappleton.co.uk

Sloane Taylor www.sloanetaylor.com

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to one and All

Have a very Merry Christmas to all my friends and followers. May you get all you wish for this holiday season.





Thursday, December 23, 2010

WRITER'S WRITE...WRITING PARTNERS FEUD



Today we'd like to share a short Christmas story as a gift to all our readers.

ONE SWEET COOKIE
By
Angelica Hart and Zi


The air snapped with cold, enormous faux candy canes bracketed the city streets along with various wreaths of garland while a festive din dominated in snatches of chatter that could be overheard yet not understood. Jeffrey Bains' jovial step mirrored the sentiment all around him. It was the season that spontaneously stirred, and he anticipated it with the zeal and delight of a child despite his thirty-some odd years. Once the turkey crowned the dining table at Thanksgiving until that baby new year let out a squeal, Jeffrey was well-bitten. But why? Or perhaps more appropriately phased, ready to bite. It was cookie time!

Only during the holidays did Jeffrey let go of his rigorous dietary routine, why, the sojourn to find, yes, the perfect, most decadent, aromatic, Santa pleasing, tummy satiating Christmas cookie. Friends, especially Eric, his bright, inventive, young accounting apprentice understood cookies replaced something deeper. That deeper something Jeffrey missed around the holidays more than at any other time was a family.

He was the last of his linage and oft filled his time volunteering in every capacity possible. Giving back to his community was either subterfuge or displacement to hide his loneliness, but as good as he felt, service to humanity didn't trump children, siblings, parents, or... His perpetual smile never revealed the secret ache of longing to find the her, the she, the one. But many knew, and many tried the ole set-up game. He heard do I have a girl for you, to the point of cringing. Jeffrey was good-natured about it, despite not have bad-date insurance, but after so many ill-timed, ill-suited, ill-looking, ill-gotten, ill-fated dates, most friends eventually savored the bitter taste of discouragement.

Eric walked with his boss to the parking lot after work and suddenly announced, "I know where the best... the best Christmas Cookie can be found."

Jeffrey's face was slapped with befuddlement. He quipped, "No way!" He asserted, "I've eaten cookies before you knew what milk on Santa's beard looked like."

"Seriously," he reflected sincerity, "I've heard about this place from my dad's Uncle Sal twice removed."

"Huh?"

"He worked for a bakery and ate so many cookies, he was removed, hired again and, yes, once more removed."

"Ah, a connoisseur."

"Go to Maria's Christmas Café by eight o'clock tomorrow morning, talk to the owner and ask for One Sweet Cookie." Eric slapped his shoulder.

Jeffrey securitized Eric, considered his seriousness, for no one was ever serious about his seasonal cookie obsession. Alas, maybe, he found in this young apprentice, a comrade, one who understood man did not live by over-iced cake alone.

The next morning, Jeffrey arrived at the café early, identified the owner by her nametag, made eye contact and repeated what Eric had instructed.

Eyes bright as sugar sprinkles, she pointed to a counter stool. "You wait right here," she said with a twinkly wink.

About to order coffee to go with the anticipatory treat, he was distracted by a woman with outlandishly wild, near black, curly hair, a delicate expression and a decisively lilting laugh, it oddly prompted by a nearby rambunctious child tripping and then splattering a chocolate éclair on her expensive looking winter-white skirt. "You're good," she said, righting the little girl, anticipating concern.

The young one looked at the ruined skirt and lost chocolate and custard treat, forlornly. "Sorry."

"Awwww, thank you, Sweetie," the woman said and handed the child her over-sized oatmeal raisin cookie. "My skirt ate your treat, might as well eat it's cookie." She jostled the fabric and growled.

The child giggled and dashed back to an unaware mother.

Jeffrey handed the fetching lady who waft of cinnamon a wad of napkins, wishing he was of the handkerchief generation, more gallant, but it was flu season, maybe not. "You took that well," he said, noticing her seasonal red high heels, ankle bracelet set on shapely calves and a skirt a tad hiked, triggering the rakish boy. He sniggered as would an adolescent, thinking cream all over her.

One corner of her mouth rose, noticing his eyes and with fluffy tones she said, "Skirts can be cleaned!" Then she hesitated acquiescence, "but that cookie was my favorite."

"Buy you another?"

"No... No... Okay." Infested by child-like mannerisms.

They both laughed, and neither knew why.

"Although, " she continued while waiting in line with him, "that could have been the one."

"The one what?"

"The best Christmas cookie of the season. It had a nice delicate scent, not too much cinnamon, and it was the perfect size, big enough to fill but not stuff. I might not find another like it."

Astonished, another cookie bon vivant, he grilled her about cookies unable to help himself, and her responses were quick, intelligent, a woman of cookie cunning. Attractive, charming, adaptable, and cookie sensitive. Yes, she stole his imagination and for one brief fleeting moment, dare he hope that this woman was the her, the she, the one?

"Jeffrey Bain," he finally introduced himself.

She tilted her head. "Eric's boss?"

"You know Eric?"

"He's my cousin, twice removed."

"From the bakery?"

"No, that's Uncle Sal. This is his sister Maria's café."

Jeffrey now understood Eric's previous serious look, now identified as one of stealth, he admired that, but flashed to pondering from where and why he had been fired.

"Eric spoke of you." Her eyes held admiration. "The good guy... is handsome." She swung her shoulder in that way all women have opening to him.

His modesty and humility eclipsed her doting. "Eric!!!" That red hue of unexpected embarrassment on a strong man was charming. He glowed with a meaningful purpose and adoration for life and its abundance. She held out her hand, and he folded it in his own, warmth unlike that he had ever known engulfed him, it wasn't the heat of just sensuality but of budding romance. "And I'd like to get to know you... ummm... What is your name?"

She smiled that smile of fantasy and magic. "Cookie."

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at angeliahartandzi@yahoo.com and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
KILLER DOLLS
SNAKE DANCE
CHASING YESTERDAY
angelicahartandzi@yahoo.com
angelicahartandzi.com

BOOKS can be purchased at
Champagne Books
http://www.champagnebooks.com


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Review for His For The Holidays Anthology


His For The Holidays
Josh Lanyon, LB Gregg, ZA Maxfield & Harper Fox
Carina Press
Contemporary M/M Holidays
4 out of 5


Four stories of families, Christmas antics and the magic of the season as these talented authors transport the reader when reading HIS FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

First up is author L. B. Gregg’s Mistletoe At Midnight, a charming tale of first love revisited, forgiveness and magic all within the confines of a family who enjoy meddling. Can a man find a way to have his first love in his life again this Christmas?

 I have to admit, this author’s contribution had me in stitches. I loved the dynamics between Owen and his family, who all seemed to want to meddle in the poor man’s love life. The characters fairly stepped of the page and within a matter of minutes I was drawn into a story that had me flipping the pages with eager abandon, looking to see what would happen next for Owen and Caleb. If you haven’t read on of this author’s books, try the latest novella from LB Gregg and get ready to grin your way to a wonderful Christmas.

Next up was Harper Fox’s Nine Lights Over Edinburgh and one that I found a little too heavy for this anthology. Don’t get me wrong, it was a well written story but it felt out of place with the other books and light-heartedness of the stories in HIS FOR THE HOLIDAYS. The characters were well written and the story flowed nicely. I haven’t read one of this author’s books before and plan to check out the backlist to see if there are any more to read over the holidays. 

Third up is I Heard Him Exclaim by Z. A. Maxfield and found it utterly charming. The story was well told, the characters well written and the romance between Steve and Chandler was sweet and at times, so very hot I thought the computer screen was going to melt. I haven’t read one of this author’s books before but found the novella in this anthology to be a perfect introduction to this author’s writing. I am eager to see what else I can find to enjoy in the backlist of titles by this author.

          Finally, author Josh Lanyon delivers Icecapade, a story of a jewel thief turned novelist and his nemesis, FBI detective finding love after a decade of being apart. Just one teeny problem…the detective thinks he is the one who is robbing houses and is determined to put Noel behind bars…for good. Can Noel show Robert that he is a reformed thief?

          Josh Lanyon is a master at creating complex characters and making them completely lovable. Noel and Robert is a perfect pair together and though Robert comes after Noel, convinced he is a thief still, Noel finds a way to melt his icy heart. Vulnerable and sexy, the way this author creates his books leaves the reader with magic from beginning to end. I am hoping the author comes back to Noel and Robert again in the future. I would love to read more about them.

          HIS FOR THE HOLIDAYS is a perfect mix of fun and lightheartedness within the magic of Christmas. Each author delivers a wonderful novella that will keep you highly entertained from beginning to end. If you are looking for a sweet anthology to explore, then grab HIS FOR THE HOLIDAYS and settle in for an afternoon of reading fun. I look forward to finding out what these authors have in store for their readers in the future.

Happy Winter Solstice to you!

Happy Winter Solstice/Yule everyone........Winter is here (or summer in other parts of the world).

A few facts on Winter Solstice/Yule:

1) It's the shortest day of the year.

We receives less daylight on that day than on any other day of the year.

2) The Romans honored the Winter Solstice with a festival called Saturnalia. During this celebration, slaves ate with their masters. 

Servants would feast with their masters, and a Mock King would be elected to preside over the festival. During this time, all schools would close, no prisoners would be executed, and people would parade about the streets dressed in masks or blackface.
3) The Scandinavian barbarians held a festival called Jiuleis to celebrate the solstice. The burning of the yule log came from this. 
 
It is believed that the term Yule comes from this festival. The Norsemen would burn a log to repel the cold and darkness and the wood was thought to bring good luck to each household. Their King Hakon thought the festival should coincide with the Christian winter holiday.

Did you know that many of the ancient ruins we visit were built to celebrate solstices? The temple Newgrange in Ireland was built to honor Winter Solstice.
Newgrange was erected to celebrate the Winter Solstice. At 10 a.m. (when the sun is the brightest) the sun shines through a passageway and illuminates an engraving on the wall called the Triple Spiral, drawn to celebrate the arrival of the sun.

4) In Norse mythology, Balder, the god of the summer sun, was killed by an arrow made of a now popular Christmas leaf. The leaf was Misteltoe.

It's mistletoe. Loki, the god of evil, made an arrow out of mistletoe and gave it to Hoder, the god of winter. It was he who killed Balder. Frigga, Balder's, mother restored him and cried tears of joy that turned into berries on the mistletoe branch. She was so happy she kissed everyone who passed under the tree.

5) Many of the traditions associated with Christmas actually come from the pagan worship of the Winter Solstice. Sigillaria, the Roman holiday after Saturnalia involves the custom of giving presents.
 
To celebrate Sigillaria, the Romans would give their children gifts of earthenware (sigillaria), rings, and seals. Often times, their homes would be decorated with green plants.


Information found HERE on these facts of Winter Solstice.

Meet Author Lori Toland

To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?

I’m hugely excited about my release today “Home For The Holidays: A Replacement Guitarist Christmas” from Dreamspinner Press. I also have several stories coming in 2011, including “Trust in Me” from Loose Id.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Besides watching sexy men touching each other? Actually my guilty pleasure is brushing my teeth in the shower (no joke) because I feel like it’s wasting water. 

What is the hardest scene you have had to write (published or not)? Why?
Oooh. That’s a secret but it is going to be in an upcoming book of the Replacement Guitarist series. It deals with a loss Jason experienced that haunts him always.

If you had a reporter follow you around for the day, what would the readers get to see in your daily schedule?
Readers would see how harried my schedule is one day and the next day, I’m sorta twiddling my thumbs and busy for a couple hours. It makes for a bad writing schedule but I do plan to always have my laptop with me.
When you begin your stories, do you go with the flow, or go with an outline?
I often start with just an idea for one scene and expand it from there. Sometimes scenes from another story I started fits in well with the book I’m working with. Sometimes there is this one scene I feel that makes the book and once I wrote that scene, I have a full outline and I know where I’m taking the book. Or, it just ends up being a scene kind of broken and left out.

Is it hard coming up with titles or characters names?
Yes. I always tell my editor, “I am NOT married to the title.” However character names often become embedded in my DNA.

What does your workstation look like?
I have an old oak desk my grandfather got me for my 12th birthday and an oak hutch my mom got me for my 14th birthday. My dad rebuilt the hutch when it was destroyed in a move so I love it. I do however write in bed or out at a diner or coffee shop and it ends up being kind of a change of pace.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do to just kick back and have fun?

I live a few minutes from Disney so I go there at least once a week with my husband. I also try to catch up on movies and TV when I’m not working or writing.

Do you ever experience writer's block? If you do, how do you cope with it?

I do experience writer’s block but it isn’t for lack of being able to put the words on the page. Usually it’s because of some other thing going on in my life, like maybe trouble with a crit partner where I don’t want to hand my work over to him/her. Or writing exhaustion (where I need a break from my keyboard, period)

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I loved The Vampire Diaries when I was a teenager (when the original books came out). I remember when I was waiting for The Fury to be released and my best friend got it early somehow for my birthday. I’ve loved romance for a long time and I never actually thought I would be writing it today.



Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

Well, my latest book is Home For The Holidays and it’s the sequel to The Replacement Guitarist. Blaze and Jason are back, taking a vacation from the energy sapping schedule of touring with a pop star.

Their vacation starts to go south when Jason’s family announces they are coming to his place for Christmas. Family feuds threaten Jason and Blaze’s new relationship and when a surprise trip to Hawaii is thrown into the mix, it may be more than their budding relationship can endure.

I wrote the story and used a lot of scenes from my own family holiday celebrations. Coming from a blended family that’s multicultural and different religious backgrounds, there was no set recipe for an exact celebration. We just went with what came naturally. It was always crazy and fun and no one knew what to expect. Most of the time, all the kids escaped the parents and called our friends from my private phone line (no cell phones back then)

Is there any books coming that you are itching to read (either electronic or print) from your favorite authors?
Oh yes! Mary Calmes, anything by her and Cat Grant’s latest book, Appearing Nightly. 

If you were to replenish your cabinets with one junk food, what would it be?
Christmas fudge cookies. They are amazingly yum.

What is one thing scientists should invent?
Something to make the words in my brain appear on my word docs lightning fast. That would make me happy.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
I am both. My schedule changes so much, sometimes I’m working in the early morning, sometimes I’m working late at night. It depends on what needs to get done.

Where can readers find you on the ‘Net?
Wow, I’m a lot of places. You can check out my website and I have links to all my social networking there. 

And that’s at http://loritoland.com

Thank you Dawn for having me by and have an awesome holiday season!


Blurb for Home For The Holidays

Jason Stockton and Blaze Shinozuka are looking forward to escaping their hectic
rock and roll lifestyle for a relaxing holiday. Their plans seem promising, and
the passion between them burns hotter than ever as they keep each other warm
despite the icy temperatures. Then a surprise
Stockton family get-together
threatens to reveal what Jason would rather keep hidden, and an impromptu trip
to Blaze's home in
Hawaii makes the cultural, financial, and social differences
between them more obvious than ever. Thanks to two chaotic family holidays and a lot of painful secrets, Christmas could end up being more than their budding relationship can endure.



Monday, December 20, 2010

Meet Sarah Madison


Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

How far back do I need to go to set up the prologue?  I’ve been scribbling down stories since I was a very small child, drawing pictures to go with them, and binding them into books.  When I was seven or eight, television shows were often too intense for me to watch and I would turn the program off at the halfway point and write my own endings for the story. 

I remember very clearly watching Captain Kirk battle the Gorn captain on Star Trek and deciding that Kirk was in serious trouble and needed me to rescue him.  I turned off my grandmother’s television set and went outside to compose my own alternate ending to the story.  Almost a decade later, I came across Arena by Fred Brown in a science-fiction anthology.  I fell on it eagerly to find out how the story really ended.  By that point I was already a voracious reader—I read sci-fi, murder mysteries, non-fiction science and natural history, and just about anything else I could get my hands on.  I preferred stories with plot—romance was an added fillip—but stories that were solely romance-based tended to make me roll my eyes and invent some drama for the main characters to overcome.

As I grew older, I continued to make up stories in my head.  If I loved a book or a movie, I wrote myself a role so that I could also take part in the adventure.  I spent hours inside my head ‘filming’ scenes in loving detail when I should have been studying in school or doing my chores.  I tried my hand at some fan fiction—dreadful stuff for which I am relieved no hard copies exist.  I never submitted any of it anywhere.  There was no Internet back then and I was too shy to contribute to the fanzine mailing lists.

I do remember reading an anthology of fan-written Star Trek stories and thinking they were some of the best short stories I’d ever read. 

I graduated from high school and moved on to college.  I told myself I needed to put the ‘games’ of youth aside.  I concentrated on my studying and my career.  I put my entire creative being in stasis.  I told myself I’d grown up and moved beyond such things.

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to a new sci-fi show and the fanfic that went with it.  What an eye-opener. There were literally thousands of people, just like me, who wanted more stories about their favorite characters and if they couldn’t find the story they wanted to read, they wrote it themselves.  Fanfic became my new obsession, and I spent hours reading and absorbing it.  Eventually, I began writing and posting my own stories.

Writing fanfic for me is all about the characters—making them stay as true to themselves as possible within the context of the story you choose to tell.  I write fanfic because I enjoy those characters and want to spend more time with them and their world.  I want to continue their adventures beyond the material we’ve already been given.  I can think of no greater compliment than to hear that my characterization is dead on target or that the story I wrote would have made a terrific episode.  That means that I got it right and that the voices and characterizations ring true to the reader, even if I place the characters together in ludicrous situations or pairings never meant by the original creators.

I joke sometimes that writing is an addiction and that I wish there was a 12-step process to kick it.  The reality is that, if I have a choice between writing and doing just about anything else, most days I will choose to write.  It’s hard for me to believe now that I let decades pass in which I refused to acknowledge this joy, this passion.

Original characters are yours from the ground up.  They introduce themselves to you and before you know it, they’ve moved in with you.  They share your meals, reaching over the newspaper to snag the jam.  They ride with you to work and explain why they refuse to follow the plans you’ve laid out for them.  They speak from the heart and reveal things about you that you’ve forgotten or issues that you thought you’d resolved long ago.  They remind you that everything you’ve ever experienced is grist for the mill.  Even while you are in the middle of an emotionally painful event, they will whisper in your ear how this would be the perfect scene for a story someday and you just know you are going to use it. 

Writing original fiction is one of the most intimidating, yet fulfilling and satisfying things I’ve ever done. 

The characters from Unspeakable Words, John Flynn and Jerry Parker, hold a special place in my heart.  They marked my first real departure from fan fiction .  It was fascinating to watch them evolve and grow from a mere concept into the reality that they are today.  They began as flat, two-dimensional characters and grew into people as I spent more time with them.  I learned that Flynn punishes himself in small subtle ways on a daily basis because he can’t forgive himself for his role in his sister’s disappearance when he was a teenager.  Jerry finds the rituals of cooking soothing and an antidote to the stresses of his work.  I’m not sure how that happened, to be honest.  I’m a dreadful cook myself!

 I’m already planning to tell more stories about them.  There’s so much in Flynn’s past to explore, as well as the progression of the relationship between him and Jerry.  I have plans for them, she says evilly, rubbing her hands together with ill-suppressed glee.

I love stories with a hook.  So while my stories are usually about relationships and character growth, I like putting my characters in unusual situations and seeing how circumstances stretch them.  In Unspeakable Words, I take two men who would normally be antagonistic to each other and force them to work intimately together due to a bizarre situation.  They are forced to depend on each other and this brings them closer together in unexpected ways.  I love the juxtaposition of the everyday with the unusual, but you have to know how your characters would behave normally before you can know how they would behave under stress.

What are you working on now? Anything you want to tell us about?

I recently complained that I have too many hares and only one hound.  Normally I work in a very systematic plan: one story ready to submit, one work-in-progress, one story in the planning stages.  That seems to have gone by the wayside recently.  At the moment, I’m preparing a novel for submission about a Vampire who is tired of the Life and seeking to make a new existence for himself.  He longs to be normal, even though he knows that’s just crying for the moon.  He’s friends with a pack of misfit werewolves (another black mark against him), has an old lover who might not take no for an answer, and is trying to quell his attraction for his sexy new neighbor.  I’m particularly attracted to Tate myself for that matter, so I can see his dilemma.

I have another WIP about a gargoyle statue that comes to life every night.  A chance meeting with one of the tenants of his building turns into an unlikely friendship and more, as the gargoyle manages to teach the human about life and love while daring to seek the same for himself.

I’m planning a story about a would-be author with a bad case of writer’s block, whose car breaks down in a town where time has stopped in the 1940s—and he has to find the person who is stopping time and convince him to start living again.

While working my horse the other day, I came up with this idea for a story in which an ad exec inherits a horse farm from his estranged industrialist father.  He sees it as an intentional slight on his father’s part—as close as he can get to being cut out of the will without actually being disinherited.  However, Andrew discovers his true calling (and his true love) out there in the stables.  The story laid itself out for me as I watched my horse trot on the lunge line.  I love it when those moments happen for me and they happen most often when I am walking the dog in the woods or doing mindless barn chores.

I’m also planning a sequel for Unspeakable Words, in which Flynn and Parker seek a solution to the strange powers Flynn has developed, only their attempts to return Flynn to normal make things much, much worse (insert maniacal chuckle here).

If one of your books were to be made into a movie, which book would you choose and who do you see playing your characters and why?

Oh, that’s a fun question!  In fact, it’s so interesting that I asked my friends to tell me who they’d cast for Unspeakable Words and why.  I also asked them to supply me with pictures to make their case.  It was terrific fun to see the answers they came up with—especially because I think they made better choices than I would have made myself! 

The leading contenders for the role of Special Agent Jerry Parker were Colin Ferguson (Eureka) and Robert Sean Leonard (House).  Colin Ferguson physically matches my mental vision of Jerry, and his character on Eureka is often out of his depth as he deals with freaky occurrences.  Robert Sean Leonard was nominated because a) he looks good in a suit and b) he does uptight and long-suffering so well.

I got some interesting suggestions for John Flynn.  My favorite choices here were Gerard Butler (rawr!) and Dylan McDermott (Dark Blue).  Both men have that dangerous edge to their looks and I believe they have the ability to carry off that sense of tightly controlled vulnerability that we get from Flynn as well.  I have to say, I think Dylan McDermott comes a bit closer physically to my mental image of Flynn here.

Oddly enough, Michael Weatherly (NCIS) received nominations for both roles.  I can see it… the actor can do both comedic dorkiness and dangerous sexiness very well.  I suspect that I would cast him as Parker over Flynn however.   

I think this is a game I’ll have to play again in the future!


What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Ah, pizza.  I knew thee well.  At the moment, pizza is on a Do Not Touch list while I try to figure out some food allergies. Cheese.  Tomato sauce.  Bread.  Pepperoni.  These are the four food groups, right?


Which do you prefer: Mac or PC? 

Now this is tricky because I have no recent experience with any Apple products other than my iPod.  I had an Apple II E back in the day, and had to get special permission from my college professors to submit papers printed out on a dot matrix printer.  Today’s Mac seems so hip, so funky, so desirable in many ways.  I find myself craving an iPad and an iPhone, despite having a perfect serviceable Blackberry.  I don’t know that I want a Mac so much as I want their advertising and marketing firm.


What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?

I emailed everyone who had read it and encouraged me to submit it for publishing.  Then I bounced around in my chair a little and wondered who else I could tell that would get it, who would really understand why this was such a big deal for me.

What do you read and why, especially if it's different from what you write?

Recently, someone asked me what two books I’d take with me on a desert island.  I chose Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I added as an aside that anything else I wanted to read, I’d write myself.  Cheeky answer, I know, but given that I spend so much time writing stories in my head, it is the truth.

Two books… only two books.  I had to narrow down the choices.  Gaudy Night is a masterpiece of writing.  Sayers involves you deeply in Harriet Vane’s return to her old college to solve the mystery of a Poison Pen within the community.  We soon realize that the nasty prankster is not the only dilemma she faces, as Harriet is at a turning point in her life.  She must choose between a life of scholarly research and cloistered study verses the life of a worldly novelist with all its messy complications.   One of the choices Harriet also faces is whether to accept the next (and last) offer of marriage that Lord Peter makes. 

It just so happens to contain one of the most intensely erotic moments between two characters that never actually have physical contact together in the scene.  I try to remember that when building sexual tension between characters.  Hot isn’t always about physical contact.  It is about the emotions and tensions created between the two characters in the scene.

Pride and Prejudice is simply fun.  It is my comfort book; the book I turn to when the world is proving to be a bit too much for me and I long for a simpler time.  Austen’s observations are pithy, cutting, and deliciously devastating.  I love reading about the trials of the Bennet family and Austen’s keen, understated commentary on the idiosyncrasies of humanity that still hold true today.  Cleverly told, well-written stories never, ever get old. 

I grew up reading all the writers from the Golden Age of Mystery: Sayers, Christie, Tey, Marsh, Allingham, Wentworth.  I read every science fiction book I could get my hands on: Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, and so on.  I’m a huge David Weber fan—I love his Honor Harrington series.  I love the Harry Potter books, the Belgariad by David Eddings, The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series, Sue Grafton’s mysteries, the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters… I could go on endlessly here.  My idea of the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon is to take the dog for a hike in the woods and stop by the bookstore on the way back home.  I think it is fundamentally necessary for an author to be a reader as well.  Reading gives you an inherent feel for dialog and sentence structure, as well as storytelling itself.

I love stories of adventure and mystery, with kick-ass heroines and heroes with issues.  I believe in heroes, however.  My heroes might be flawed, but in the end, they will do the right thing, even if it is the wrong thing for them personally.  My own stories tend to be a quirky blend of humor and angst, with a dash of emotional and physical trauma (as well as some hot sex!), but they generally turn out well.  I recently read a description of a novel (not mine) that ended ‘hopefully ever after’.  I really liked that concept.  Because if things end all neat and tidy with the principles riding off together in the sunset, then where is the scope for future stories about them?  I like the idea that I can revisit my characters at some future date and still find they have stories to share with me.

Which of your covers is your favorite?

To date, Unspeakable Words is the only story that has an individual cover, as my other published works are short stories.  What I love about this cover is that it captures one of my favorite scenes in the novel—when Jerry is making breakfast and Flynn comes wandering in barely wearing a towel.  At that point in the story, the characters don’t know each other that well and are still testing each other in various ways.  I think that comes across in this cover, from the Jerry’s surprise at the sight of Flynn and Flynn’s deliberately casual state of undress.  I love the way that Flynn is in the act of wrapping the towel around his waist and how low it is slung on his hips.

I only recently learned that the artist who illustrated my cover is Paul Richmond.  When I went searching online for his work, I discovered that he’d made a video for the “It Gets Better” project and in it, he talks about his art and how various pieces reflected how he felt at certain times in his life.  His work is amazing and his story very moving.  I’m honored to have had him illustrate my cover.

  
How do you world build?

That’s a good question.  I can tell you that though I adore research and believe in researching a topic thoroughly, I am not a big fan of detailed outlines—the more I outline a story, the more it seems to suck the life right out of it for me.  I used to diligently prepare outlines and by the time I’d finished, I’d felt on some level that I’d written the story already and never jotted down a single word.  Without an outline, my mind is free to scroll through scenes and images, until the bits and pieces suddenly coalesce to form the whole of the puzzle.

Most stories start with a single image or idea in my mind: a character leaning against a World War II Spitfire, a vampire who wants to be ‘normal’, a character sent to an alternate reality where he must live up to the reputation of his other self.  Often the entire scope of the story will lay itself out for me in great, broad strokes (like the barn story I mentioned before).  I’ll jot down those ideas—just enough to remind me what I was thinking, but not so much as to smother my will to tell the tale.  If the idea takes hold, a title usually comes to me shortly afterwards—a good title is my best indication that I have a decent grasp of the story I want to tell.

I also love to start from the standpoint of ‘what if?’  What if my protagonist got stuck in a time distortion field… and didn’t know it until someone from outside showed him how much time had passed?  What if my hero never lived up to his potential… until he was pulled into an alternative reality and he had to play the role of himself as a better person?  What if you force two characters that don’t really like each other into a situation where they must depend on each other for survival?     

Before I started writing fan fiction, I used to get bogged down in minutia.  My characters would get stuck for hours in the bathroom or kitchen.  I believe in adding a wealth of detail; I want the reader to be able to see what I am picturing when I write the scene.  There is a difference, however, between rich descriptive background and taking the character minute by minute through his day!  Fan fiction taught me the mechanics of storytelling.  I learned that I did not have to tell my stories in a linear fashion—that I should write the scene that I saw vividly in my mind at that time—and worry about stitching together the scenes in the correct order later.  It sounds most haphazard and dysfunctional, doesn’t it?  I swear to you though, before I learned I could do this, I never finished a story.

If I can see it, I can write it.  If I can’t see it, I can’t make it work.  Quite often, when I get an idea, I take great care not to read similar works by other authors in order to avoid being unduly influenced.  I recently tried my hand at a Vampire novel.  I haven’t read anything in the genre; what I know is strictly what I’ve gleaned from watching horror movies over the years.  I have to admit, at one point I was sorely tempted to run out and read some Anne Rice to make sure I wasn’t too far out in left field, but I decided as long as I had a plausible explanation for why everything worked in the manner I’d described, there wasn’t a problem.  Who’s to say that one person’s view of a mythological being is more ‘right’ than mine?

I spend a lot of time in my worlds.  I re-read what I’ve written repeatedly, so I can pick up the threads of an idea or theme (sometimes not even previously recognized by me) and weave it further into the story.  I think about how rooms look, how things smell, and the play of light and shadow.  My goal is to write that one sentence that makes you not only recognize on some visceral level what I have described but also makes you see the entire scene in Technicolor detail.  When you tell me that you love my characters and you could clearly picture them, you have made me one very happy camper indeed.


Tell me about some of your heroes and heroines:

Oh goody!  I mean, who doesn’t want to talk about their characters?  They become friends that you invite into your homes, after all.  Where to start…  Well, I like my heroes a little damaged, so I usually hurt them in some way.  Um, that sounds bad, doesn’t it?  I guess I think that people tend to be more interesting with baggage.  So there’s Jeff Hawkins, who witnessed the murder of his family at a young age and has been protecting himself against emotional attachments ever since.  Special Agent John Flynn also fits that description, having lost his sister to a serial killer that has never been caught.  Rodney the Gargoyle reads Dickens and the Bible, and knows more about living than the human tenant in his building.  Peter is avoiding his sister because she disapproves of his lifestyle, not because he’s gay, but because he’s a werewolf.

I like my heroines to be clever and independent.  They don’t play games; they say what is on their minds.  Paige decides she’s going to take advantage of that chance encounter with her favorite actor, despite having been rude to him initially.  Tish stands up for herself as the only woman in Nick’s misfit pack, ignoring the unwritten rules governing werewolf behavior.    

My characters often find themselves faced a choice: remain as they are or live up to their full potential.  I like seeing my characters grow and evolve within a story.  I’m all for passionate, explicit sex, but I like to know how my two characters got to that point and what is in store for them afterward.  That means I have to know them as people, and if I am going to spend that much time with them, they have to be people that I like.  


Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

Yes, I do.  I’ve always liked the name Sarah (much better than my given name).  My parents did not give me a middle name when I was born.  Madison is a common family name and I chose to use it as my middle name when I was in high school.  It was the first name that came to mind when I thought about writing under a pseudonym.  It wasn’t hard to put the two names together when I needed a pen name—only I wish now I’d googled it first.  Apparently there is an American actress by that name, which makes it a little confusing when you google me. 
 
Where can readers find you on the ‘net for more information on you, your books and other fun stuff?




You can find my stories at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php

 


Story Excerpt from Unspeakable Words:
Available on Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=55_305&products_id=2058

Special Agent John Flynn is everything Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult. When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and the sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn... and the two men must learn to trust each other before a killer strikes again.


He sensed Flynn’s presence behind him before he heard him speak.
“Something smells good in here.”
Jerry turned to say something offhand but then completely lost track of what he’d intended to say. Flynn was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, wearing a towel slung low around his hips so that his hipbones showed. The hair on his chest was not too much, just right in fact, tapering down his long torso until it disappeared beneath the towel. He was drying out one ear with another towel, his hair standing up in startled spikes. On the chain around his neck, he wore a simple, tiny silver cross, the kind that a preteen girl might wear. His left shoulder bore the ugly, puckered mark of a bullet wound, the shiny scarring of skin suggesting that the wound wasn’t all that old. Jerry knew from his record that Flynn had been shot in the line of duty about six months ago, but the record didn’t say much more than that.
Flynn had shaved, but his jaw still held the suggestion of a beard. It was probably as close as he ever got to being smooth-cheeked. A hint of soap and the smell of clean, damp skin and aftershave wafted in Jerry’s direction before being lost to the smell of coffee and bacon. The combination of odors struck Jerry viscerally with a little bolt of lust that surprised him.
“Breakfast will be ready in a minute,” Jerry said tersely, turning away to get a second mug down from the cabinet.
“You didn’t have to go to all this trouble,” Flynn said, slinging the towel in his hand around his neck.
Jerry shot him a look. He wondered what kind of game Flynn was playing here. He obviously was aware that Jerry had checked him out; it was evident in the little smile that played around his lips. Was this his way of saying he was so secure in his sexuality that it didn’t bother him? Jerry suspected that was the case.
“Oh. Right. Never mind. This is how you always start the day. What’s in the oven?” Flynn looked amused, something subtle in his eyes that suggested it was at Jerry’s expense. He also looked completely comfortable there in his stupid towel with his hairy legs and his bare feet.
“Frittatas,” Jerry said crisply. He blamed the heat of the oven for the flushing of his face.
“That’s some egg thingy, right?”
Jerry found his gaze drawn to a single bead of water dripping from one of Flynn’s sideburns, making its way in a crooked line over his collarbone. He swallowed before speaking. “Philistine. Yes, some egg thingy. Best eaten hot. You’d better get dressed.” He cleared his throat.
Flynn gave him a little half smile and left the room. Jerry watched the way the damp, soft terrycloth of the towel clung to his ass as he walked away. He took a sip of coffee and made a face as he realized he’d forgotten to add cream. Yep. It was going to be a long day.







 

















WRITERS WRITE... WRITING PARTNERS FEUD - CHEESECAKE?

Z:  So whatja writing? A:  (Flattens herself against the computer screen) Nada. Z:  (Wily, wooly brow lift to the ceiling)  This is ...