I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TOPIC: World-Building with Pamela Palmer

As a reader have you ever wondered how paranormal authors go about building the worlds their characters inhabit? Or are you a paranormal romance author looking for hints on how to world-build?

Come join some of the paranormal romance world's best known authors and learn from them how they do it!

Today, I have Pamela Palmer as my guest!

Where do you start with your world-building - the world or the characters - and how do you develop your ideas?
Each of my series/worlds has started a little differently. My Esri series came about from a Bk#1 was reading titled Scottish Fairy Beliefs. It said that as recently as a couple hundred years ago there were learned men and women who still fully believed man-sized fairies/elves were to blame for much of the evils that befell people.

I got to thinking…what if they were right? What if there were such creatures in this world at one time, but there aren’t any more? And what if they found a way back? In Bk#1, The Dark Gate, an evil elf, an Esri, finds his way into modern day Washington, D.C. and soon all of human civilization is in danger.

My Feral Warriors series was sparked from a single scene idea. A woman finds a large, handsome stranger in her kitchen—a male who claims she’s not only immortal, but the savior of his race. From there, my imagination began spinning. Who was he? What was he? Eventually, I realized he was a shape-shifter, one of the last nine left in the world. This became one of the first scenes in Feral Warriors Bk#1, Desire Untamed.

Feral Warriors Series
My Vamp City series was sparked by a concept—a vampire otherworld connected to our own. The vampires can travel back and forth at will, but not their human captives or enemies. From there I had to figure out everything else, including where this vampire otherworld was located. When I realized it shared space with Washington, D.C. and would be Washington, V.C., Vamp City, I knew I’d hit on the story I wanted to tell.

Keeping track of details in series seems like a good idea given the complexity and/or length of some series. I like to use a series bible but what notes or methods do you use to ensure continuity and clarity of the nitty gritty?
I’m a very logical person who has no trouble whatsoever organizing my time, my day, my life. But when it comes to organizing stuff, including facts, files, etc., I’m hopeless. I can think of seven different places to file something…anything…and when I go to retrieve it, I’ll come up with seven more. When I put things away, whether in my house or on my computer, I often fear I’ll never see them again.

When I started Vamp City Bk#2, I forced myself to take the time to create a bible. And it’s wonderful! But I’ve never done that for the Feral Warrior series and I regret that every time I start a new book.

At first, I re-read the previous books before I started working on each new one, but I’m a slow reader and as the series has grown (I’m now working on book 8), that task has become increasingly unwieldy.

One thing I have done is taken the time to highlight key facts in each of the books, especially those throwaway facts that come back to bite me later because they weren’t important at the time and I forgot I ever mentioned them. But, for the most part, it’s all in my head. I WILL put together a Feral bible one of these days. Eventually.

Which of your series have been the most challenging to world-build? Have you struck any interesting problems while researching/developing your series?
I’d have to say the Vamp City series has been the most challenging, or perhaps just the most interesting since it’s set in a place that actually existed and does no longer…1870 Washington, D.C. Vamp City is a doppleganger of the Nation’s Capital created in 1870 by a powerful sorcerer, then handed over to the vampires. A land where the sun never shines.

Imagining this place was incredibly interesting. Not only did I have to thoroughly research the D.C. it was created from (a city with dirt streets, a half-built Washington Monument, and acre upon acre of rolling countryside), but I had to imagine what it would have become after 140 years of vampire occupation and neglect. And no sun.

I decided that no sun meant no plants, no trees, etc. In fact, I decided that the doppleganger world would have no living things at all except those intentionally brought in by the vampires—horse and humans.

Then, as I was finishing up Bk#1, A Blood Seduction, I saw the cover art and there were all these wonderful, spooky trees. (Cover artists rarely get a chance to read the books before they create the covers. Usually, we’re still writing them!) And since I still had the ability to change things, I did. I added trees to Vamp City. Lots and lots of dead trees.

Vamp City Series
Most of your series have woven paranormal aspects into a contemporary setting. Is there a sub-genre (ie. post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, fantasy) you haven't tried but would like to develop into a new series?
At this point, no. I like the urban fantasy take on the paranormal—basing my stories in our world. As a reader, I prefer this. I find it far easier to enter a story when the world is familiar. And, ultimately, I write what I want to read.

Pamela, thanks so much for sharing your insights into world-building. It's been wonderful having you here today!

For any reader who's already her fan, Pamela's next releases are available February & June 2013:

Reading order of Pamela's book list:

The Feral Warriors
Desire Untamed
Avon, June 30, 2009

Obsession Untamed
Avon, July 28, 2009

Passion Untamed
Avon, August 25, 2009

Rapture Untamed
Avon, June 29, 2010

Hunger Untamed
Avon, February 22, 2011

Ecstasy Untamed
Avon, October 25, 2011

A Love Untamed
Avon, December 26, 2012

The Vamp City Series
A Blood Seduction
Avon, May 29, 2012

The Esri Series
The Esri Series
The Dark Gate
Silhouette Nocturne, April 2007

Dark Deceiver
Silhouette Nocturne, July 2008

A Warrior's Desire
Harlequin Nocturne , January 24, 2012

Warrior Rising
Harlequin Nocturne , March 20, 2012

Hearts Untamed
Avon, September 18, 2012

You can follow Pamela on Twitter, or sign up for her newsletter here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Seven! (Rapture)

It's Saturday Seven!

This week I've chosen a scene from RAPTURE by Jacqueline Frank. Daenaira has grown up being treated like a slave and betrayed time and again by her family. She's chosen as the new Handmaiden for the head priest of Sanctuary.

During her first meeting with Magnus, he informs her of her new role and the responsibilities that come with being his new handmaiden. She thinks it's just another form of slavery, the rules set just another way of controlling her. They argue...
"We haven't settled this!" she hissed at him. "Don't you dare walk away in the middle of an argument."
"What are you going to do if I do?" he snapped irritably. "I'm done. We'll talk when you are rational and clothed."
"Oh! Fuck you!"
That mouth. Quite the weapon, just as he had suspected. And just distracting enough for her to throw all her kinetic force into a huge shove that sent him staggering back off balance.
Magnus hit the bath with the most satisfying splash Daenaira had ever heard. Uniform, weapons; the whole kit and caboodle. She probably shouldn't have jumped and cheered. She should have been running really fast. Instead she waited for him to surface, hands on her hips and a smug smile on her lips.
"That will teach you to brush me off, you big jerk. And for making me swear at a priest!"
She held her chin up and marched back to her room. She found her blouse on the floor and tugged it on quickly. This time, there was no way he could be silent as he approached her. For one, he was streaming water. For another, he was rip-roaring mad, and there was no mistaking it in his step. Just as he reached for her, she figured they were going to kill each other. They were both so dominant they would end up tearing each other apart to make a point.
The Shadowdwellers live in a realm of darkness and sensuality, where order is prized and sin must be punished. Yet for Magnus, the head priest of Sanctuary, salvation rests with the one woman who will entice him into breaking his every rule…
She was his ultimate temptation... 
Magnus is a man of contradictions—a spiritual leader in a deadly warrior’s body. Rules and order are for enforcing and visions must be followed—even if that means freeing a beautiful slave and making her his reluctant handmaiden. But she isn’t the only unenthusiastic partner. Betrayed once before, Magnus can barely bring himself to trust another woman.
Yet everything about Daenaira’s fiery innocence compels him time and again to cross every line he’s ever drawn for himself.
Daenaira grew up hearing tales of the fearsome priest named Magnus. But no one can convince her that men of honor truly exist. She soon learns that Magnus is very real—every inch of him—and so is the treachery that surrounds them. Beneath Sanctuary’s calm surface, an enemy is scheming to unleash havoc on the Shadowdwellers, unless Magnus trusts in a union ordained by fate, and sealed by unending bliss…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TOPIC: Marketing & Promotion - Bookmarks

APOLOGIES - Joss Ware was scheduled for today but due to deadline commitments she's been unable to visit. We'll catch up with her on a later date.

Having talked to many book sellers over time, one of the promotional items they request from authors and publishers is bookmarks. Readers enjoy receiving and collecting them.

I know I keep those put out by my favourite authors, particularly if they have a picture of the book cover or characters and dates for book releases.

And, if gauging by the number of requests that come over my writing loops, authors are interested in finding places that make bookmarks. So, I'm happy to share what I've done along these lines. 

Most of my promotional items come from Vistaprint. I LOVE Vistaprint! And while they don't have a bookmark product I've converted one of their other products to serve this purpose.

I used their oversized postcards (not the standard sized postcards). With a bit of time and tweaking I can fit three per card.

Prior to designing what I wanted though,  I gathered together some bookmarks from stuff I'd collected over conferences or had sent to me with book orders etc. I picked what I liked from them and designed the features to suit me. A couple of must-put-on's - website, ISBN # & publishing house - that way regardless a reader can find me or my book on the net. I also wanted my back cover blurb.

One of things I discovered the hard way - just be careful if you put something on the back that it's the same direction at the front otherwise it'll be upside down. It does take some fiddling putting in the info, aligning it and making it all fit properly as you're working side-on but it's worth the time you spend on it.

When they arrive you'll have to guillotine them yourself - they cut to 4.5cm x 21.5cm width & length, so make sure the back and front pictures/text all fit in the width. It's fiddly to do but possible.

I chose a solid colour template - back for my design. For the pictures headshot pictures I used on the back I cropped the book covers.
Front Side

Front side - font I used was Humanist 521, size 9 (for the publisher, release dates, ISBN data down the bottom) & 10 (for quotes & book log lines).

Reverse side

Reverse side - font I used was Humanist 521, size 8 (for one of the blurbs) & 9 (for website & other blurbs) & 10 (for the title & book number).

As you can see I used bold and italicised text only on the front and some of the back. Plain text for blurbs. Makes it stand out more than plain text.

Signing up to open an account at Vistaprint is free. And as I said before, it will take some fiddling to set up the bookmark postcard - especially as you have to design it looking at it sideways - but it's worth it in the end as you'll then have it on file in your Portfolio.

Just be aware that uploading the photo's of your covers could cost unless you strike a Vistaprint "free upload" offer. Unless you're in a rush to order bookmarks, wait until those freebie promo's are sent out then order them then.

Previous posts on Vistaprint products I've used:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day!

Royalty free stock image from http://www.123rf.com/

Ahh, Valentine's Day - the romance writer's most favourite day of the year...and for those who love reading romance, this is your day too!

What better way to celebrate it than indulging in a romantic gesture or two for the one you love (or secretly admire).

So, imagine this - you're organising a special Valentine's Day with your Dearest Heart (real or fantasy), complete with venue, meals, activities and things to do - what sorts of plans would you arrange?

For the purposes of this post I'm sure Deborah-Lee won't mind lending me Hugh Jackman as my Valentine's Day DH. :-)

One Valentine fantasy coming up!
OK, let's begin with a destination...hmm, while beaches and coastal views are nice, I tend to favour country settings a little more and Hugh looks like he could handle a mountain bushwalk or two, so maybe somewhere woodsy, perhaps at a place like this...

A little log cabin in the woods...just for the two of you...

Late night canoodling...
And nothing beats a lovely, warm, fireplace.

We could sit in front of it, on a nice soft lounge, or better yet, a nice thick rug on the floor and snuggle, perhaps with our beverages of choice, soft music playing in the background...

And a relaxing soak in a tub for two would also be divine!

Claw-foots and romance...Goldilocks factor - just right!

Your private Eden...
I think though, that we could be craving a little scenery with our water.

Perhaps not too far from the cabin would be this beautiful spot - privacy guaranteed, just in case we chose to get right back to nature and do some skinny-dipping!

And if you're a foodie like me, I'd go all out and arrange a special meal.

Three courses, complete with scented candles. Definitely something chocolate for dessert.

Or maybe an after dinner activity involving chocolate...

Finding a lost love...
And, as this would be a romantic LONG weekend with Hugh, I'd definitely arrange a surprise or two.

I like the idea of getting lost in a garden hedge maze - it'd make finding each other lots of fun and those are privacy hedges, so we could take advantage of each other...umm, I mean of them!

After fun in the maze, and building up our appetites, what could beat a gourmet picnic out in the countryside. A quiet field in the sunshine, near a tree, a good meal, perhaps a snooze after lunch...
Share a picnic...

And to round off the Valentine's celebration a special little something for Hugh. What?

A special gift for a special love...

Well, that's my secret... ;-)

Final gratuitous shot of Hugh Jackman...sigh...
So, what sort of Valentine's Day would you enjoy indulging in?

If you could, would you go all out and paint the town red, would you choose something intimate and quiet, or maybe something beautifully simple?

A kiss?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

TOPIC: World-Building with Larissa Ione

As a reader have you ever wondered how paranormal authors go about building the worlds their characters inhabit? Or are you a paranormal romance author looking for hints on how to world-build?

Come join some of the paranormal romance world's best known authors and learn from them how they do it!

Today, I have Larissa Ione as my guest!

Where do you start with your world-building - the world or the characters - and how do you develop your ideas?
It really depends on the series. For the Sydney Croft books and the Lords of Deliverance series, the characters came first and the world developed from there.

With the Demonica series, the world came first, since the idea was initially for an underworld hospital run by vampires, werecreatures and demons. I've got a new vampire series coming out next year as well, and that one also came from the world first -- an alternate reality in which vampires are enslaved. 

Keeping track of details in series seems like a good idea given the complexity and/or length of some series. I like to use a series bible but what notes or methods do you use to ensure continuity and clarity of the nitty gritty?
Honestly, a lot of it is in my head. It's getting to the point though, with the Demonica/LOD series, that I need to re-read all the books and take notes, because some of the older details are a little fuzzy in my head.

I do try to keep track of characters and plots by transferring main files from one project to another, which is easy through the Scrivener writing program I use. I'd DIE without that! I'll never use Word again.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend using Scrivener or WriteWayPro to write in, especially for anyone writing a series, because it's so easy to keep track of details. Plus, the manuscripts convert easily to Word so you can send to your editor.

Which of your series have been the most challenging to world-build? Have you struck any interesting problems while researching/developing your series?
The Lords of Deliverance series has definitely been the most challenging, in part because it's a spinoff of the Demonica series, but it's SO closely intertwined that it's been hard to hit the right balance of weaving in the old characters with the new ones.

It's also been a challenge to introduce all the new mythology without overwhelming the reader. I'd say that my most interesting problems have come from trying to convince today's modern readers to like characters who are from a completely different world and who don't share the same morals, societal boundaries, and religious beliefs.

It's been REALLY hard to do this, because honestly, I think my characters should be a lot more hard-edged than they are. These are people who have had to do heinous things to survive -- or to save the world.

Regan is one of those who had to make a hard choice to save every man, woman, and child on the planet -- and I lost a lot of readers (and got a lot of hateful mail and comments) over my decision to have her make that choice.

In the real world we have undercover agents, military special forces, spies, etc., who do unspeakable things to keep us all safe, but I'd say most people don't want to know about it. They'd rather close their eyes and let someone else make those choices.

Regan is one who made those choices, and sure enough, a lot of readers hated it. I think that's been my biggest problem with this series -- making characters realistic while keeping enough fantasy in them so readers don't hate them.

Most of your series have woven paranormal aspects into a contemporary setting. Is there a sub-genre (ie. post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, fantasy) you haven't tried but would like to develop into a new series?
I've love to write a post-apocalyptic zombie YA! I've got an idea, but it won't happen for a while. I've got too much going on with my current paranormals. I also plan on writing a Star Trek book, but that's also a ways away!

Thanks so much for having me, Kylie!

Larissa's latest release (from the Lords of Deliverance series):

Jillian Cardiff came to this remote mountain town to forget the demon attack that almost killed her. Instead, she rescues-and falls for-a gorgeous stranger who has no memory of anything other than his name. Handsome, charming, and protective, Reseph seems like the kind of man whom Jillian can trust. But with hints of a troubling history of his own, he's also the kind of man who can be very dangerous . . .
Reseph may not know why he mysteriously appeared in Jillian's life, but he knows he wants to stay. Yet when Jillian's neighbors are killed, and demon hunters arrive on the scene, Reseph fears that he's putting Jillian in danger. And once it's revealed that Reseph is also Pestilence, the Horseman responsible for ravaging the world, he and Jillian must face the greatest challenge of all: Can they forget the horrors of a chilling past to save the future they both desire?
Read excerpt here.

You can find out more about Larissa's books here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterst.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Seven! (Shadow Kin)

It's Saturday Seven!

In SHADOW KIN by M.J.Scott, Lily is a wraith assassin, with the ability to materialize and dematerialize at will, except in full sunlight. She's sent by her master to kill Simon DuCaine, a powerful sunmage. Yet he manages to foil her attempt but reacts in way she doesn't anticipate...
"Have you decided?" I asked, trying to ignore the wary thread of fear rising in my stomach.
"Decided what?"
"What you're going to do with me?" I held my breath, knowing if he chose, he could make a decision that would end my life. I hoped the side of him that healed would make such a decision hard on him. I knew what I'd do in his place.
Eliminate the threat.
But this man was very different from me. Very different from anyone I'd ever met.
"If I turn you in, you'll try to escape. If you're successful, people will get hurt. If you fail, they might kill you."
I nodded, my mouth too dry to dispute any of this. It was all true anyway. His mouth twisted. Then he braced his shoulders as if he'd made a decision that didn't entirely rest easy. He knelt and started to unite me.
Imagine a city divided. On one side, the Night World, ruled by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages. A city held together by nothing more than a treaty-and even then, just barely...
I was born of a Fae mother, but I had no place amongst her kind. They called me "soulless." An abomination. Perhaps they're right...I'm a wraith, a shadow who slips between worlds. I was given into the service of a Blood Lord who raised me to be his most feared assassin. Still, I'm nothing more than a slave to my master, and to the need that only he can fulfill...
Then he orders me to kill Simon DuCaine, a powerful sunmage. In the blaze of his magic, my own disappears. Instead of seeking revenge, Simon shows me mercy. He wants to free me. But that's one thing my master and his kind will never allow.
And even if I thought I could trust Simon, stepping from the shadow into the light isn't as simple as it sounds...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

INDUSTRY: Interview with...My Bookish Ways

I thought it might be of interest to showcase some of the great book bloggers and bookstores that specialise and help promote the romance genre.

I've been lucky enough to be interviewed, hosted or promoted at many of these places and found it intriguing to interview them about their passion and love of books and authors.

Please welcome my next guests - Kristin from My Bookish Ways...

Book Blog:
My Bookish Ways
My Bookish Ways (Kristin Centorcelli) has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).
Web address: www.mybookishways.com
Review preferences: Urban fantasy/Sci-fi/Suspense
Highlights of your blog: I do interviews. Lots of interviews.

What inspired you to begin your blog?
Actually, it’s mostly a “who” that inspired me: Jessica (aka The Spinecracker). I guest reviewed a few times for her blog, and she told me I should start my own.

Since my book pile is actually what most people would call a book mountain, I thought it might be fun to tackle my own blog.

Do you have a favorite part of the job?
I get a huge kick out of interviewing authors. Love it.

What hazards come with the territory?
Review-wise? Deadlines. I now review for Mystery Scene Magazine and Library Journal, and deadlines are the name of the game.

I actually sort of like having deadlines, because I do well with them, and it gets my butt in gear, but it still stresses me out. 

Top 10 books:
Just 10??? But, there are SO many. There may be more than 10 in this list, and I blatantly cheated by adding some of my favorite series (because it’s SO hard to pick a fave out of a series.) I kept it to the supernatural/horror realm, because if I get into suspense, you’ll be reading this all day, possibly all week.
  1. The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner
  2. Watchers and Lightning by Dean Koontz
  3. The Terror (and Carrion Comfort) by Dan Simmons
  4. Spellcast by Barbara Ashford
  5. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
  6. Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs
  7. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
  8. Breed by Chase Novak
  9. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
  1. Charlie Parker series by John Connolly
  2. The Collector series by Chris F. Holm
  3. The Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne
  4. Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
  5. Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter
  6. Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry
  7. Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig
  8. Madeleine Roux’s Zombie series
  9. The Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells
  10. The October Daye series and Newsflesh series by Seanan McGuire (Mira Grant)
  11. Jesse Petersen’s Living With the Dead series
  12. Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series
  13. The Dresden Files, anything by Stephen Blackmoore
  14. The Sirantha Jax series by Ann Aguirre
and the list goes on...

Auto-buy authors:
Oh good! A chance to list more authors :-D See list above, AND…
Rachel Caine, Karina Cooper, Marianne de Pierres, Caitlin Kittredge, James Herbert, Diana Rowland, Suzanne McLeod, Kim Wilkins, Jonathan Barnes, Elaine Cunningham, Richard Kadrey,  Devon Monk, Daniel Hecht, Myke Cole, Teresa Frohock, Sophie Littlefield, Joe McKinney, Vicki Pettersson, Mike Shevdon, Ilona Andrews, Mike Carey…hey, you asked! What’s super scary is this is in NO WAY a complete list!

It’s a wonder that I’m actually able to do things like pay bills and eat, isn’t it? 

Things that make you go "Ahhh" in a book?
 Wow, that’s kind of a hard one. There’s always a feeling I get when I start a book that I end up loving, kind of a fluttery, stomach butterfly sort of thing, where I just know it’s going to be good.

Probably the most important thing for me is that I need to be able to connect with the characters. If I don’t get invested in anyone, a book can fall flat.

Most memorable author interview?
There are two that immediately come to mind (although I love them all). Jonathan Maberry was my first interview, so that one is very memorable, plus he’s a great guy and an excellent interviewee.

Also, really enjoyed Dave Freer, author of The Steam Mole and Cuttlefish. He’s very different, very funny, and very original.

Kristin, thanks so much for being a part of my guest blogger series!