Going Where Your Story Takes You

     I grew up smack dab in the middle of the Sunshine state, surrounded by orange groves, woods, and swamps. The perfect setting for a book, right? Why then, you might ask, does my recently published book, Bloodsworn: Bound by Magic, start out in northern California and end up on another world half way across the galaxy? One word: Plot.

     We, as writers, sometime have no control over where the story takes us. The setting has to fit the plot. For instance, Stephanie Myers’ Twilight series would have been another story altogether if set in sunny Florida instead of Forks, Washington. Edward might never have been allowed to sparkle in sunlight since it’s sunny here most every day. Another plot-line would be needed for him to be able to attend school—or maybe he might not have gone to school at all. He would have had to meet Bella on a dark and stormy night, making Twilight more like Midnight. See what I mean?
     Going where your story takes you means being a bit flexible, too. You might want to write about New Orleans, but if the plot calls for snow, you’re out of luck. Sure, you can change the plot line to fit the location, but again we’re talking about changing the whole aspect of the story. Instead of a snowball fight between your main characters ending in a sweet first kiss, they’re tossing sugar-coated beignets at one another and ending up...
     Hmmm. Well maybe that’s not such a bad plot change after all. (LOL) Okay, time to shelve the first story and head off to New Orleans’ CafĂ© Du Monde for a hot-blooded beignet battle. Powdered sugar anyone?


Hot off the Press

WOW! My book is here. It’s actually here, in my house, in my hands. My son laughed as I picked the book up out of the box for the first time. I held the darn thing so tight that if it had been alive I would have choked it. Laying it down for any length of time has been hard. And yes, while I thought I’d read and re-read it enough during the writing and editing phases, I immediately opened it up and started reading it again.

Foolish? Maybe. A bit narcissistic? Who cares? I will say it’s a whole different feeling reading it in finished book form than reading it on the computer. There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment involved. And yes, a sense of pride. Not only did I take an idea and build a 100,000 word story around it, but I managed to find a publisher who felt the story was one other people might enjoy reading. The prospect is humbling.

Release date is September 24th, but you can pre-order your print copy now by going to www.thewildrosepress.com. Print copies are $15.99 and digital copes are $7.00.

The cover, by Tamra Westberry, is great. The back cover—which I’d never seen before—is cool. And if you’ll pardon me tooting my own horn, the inside is freaking awesome! But don’t take my word for it. Get a copy for yourself and let me know what you think. I welcome informed opinions.


Writing: Just one Hot Romance After Another

I was recently on a flight out to Las Vegas. Yeah, Vegas, baby. Sin City, land of the evil slot machines. Thank God it only took one session to cure me of my urge to gamble. But that's another story.

While on the plane, (Delta, flight something-or-other) I started looking through the Sky magazine they stash in the seat pocket. You know, something to pass the four hours from Atlanta to Vegas. Anyway, I got to the very last page and what do you know, there's an article about writing. The article is called "Writing, a Romance" and it's by author Libba Bray. Ms. Bray writes novels for young adults, including A Great and Terrible Beauty, The Sweet Far Thing, and Going Bovine. In the article, she compares the process of writing and publishing a novel to that of a romance. Very insightful.

For instance, in the early stages, an author is star-struck by how clever and special her new bow, I mean, book, is. The romance blossoms, lasting all the way through the first draft as they see each other every day. "My book is so easy to talk to. I'm seeing my book again tomorrow. I can't wait." *SIGH*

Unfortunately, that first rush of infatuation begins to fade when the revisions start. That time in a romance when you realize you've done everything together and you start repeating yourself. The lines of communication blur and the author begins to see a flaw here and there in her book. Nothing major...yet. But as the months pass, things get pretty rough. Phrases like, "I hate you!" and "I wish I'd never met you" start to crop up more and more when author and book are together. Friends become concerned, wondering if they should step in and stop the word abuse.

By the third draft, the author has become completely disillusioned and just wants the difficult relationship to end. With the encouragement of friends (and her editor), she pulls herself together and breaks it off with the demanding book, realizing that there are definitely other fish in the sea.

Days of copy edits pass--brief exchanges of polite small talk that get further and further apart until the author wakes up one morning and realizes she hasn't seen her book for months. She's finally able to put the whole emotional episode behind her with a feeling that she's come out of it a stronger writer. Even when she runs into her finished book in a book store one day, she's able to smile. She might feel a twinge of excitement at first, a touch of pride that she had something to do with transforming a mild-mannered plot-bunny into such a polished book-about-town. They might even spend a nostalgic afternoon reminiscing about the good times, recalling the creation of funny phrases and plot twists that just fell into place. But both know it's time to move on. He has a date with a reader down the street and she's been seeing a cute plot that kept her up half the night last Wednesday whispering sweet prose in her ear. Ah, L`Amore.

Thank you Libba Bray for giving me a fresh perspective on an author's life. Now if you'll excuse me, I also have a date with this really hot story that has the most gorgeous phrases and cutest metaphors you've ever seen. *SIGH* We were made for each other. Really.


Losing a Loved One

I think losing a loved one is a little like child-birth. God helps you forget the pain of the last one so you're able to handle the next one. Since June, 2005, I've lost 4 people very close to me. My husband, my best friend, my mother-in-law, and today, my Mother, Mary Redding. She passed at 9:10am. Quietly, with no fuss or fan-fare, her body just stopped breathing. She was a very strong woman who walked closely with God. Watching over her this morning, I felt like her spirit, her soul, had already gone, having left her body sometime yesterday. I believe those of us left behind are often just caretakers of an empty husk. It's hard, but believing she was already walking with Jesus, talking, laughing, hugging my dad and my brother, Shelton, made it easier to bear the pain. Faith "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1) I'm extremely grateful my mother raised me not only as her child, but as a child of God. One day, I'll see her and all my other loved ones again. Thank you, Mother.


Book Review: Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Wolves, leopards, and bears, oh, my.

Whatever you want to call them, shape-shifters are hot. Between Kenyon’s broody Were-Hunters, Singh’s predatory Changelings, and Brigg’s possessive werewolves, I thought I’d read all the shape-shifter scenarios. Silly me.

Enter Jennifer Ashley and her Shifters Unbound series.

Book one in the series, Pride Mates, isn’t the flashiest book on the shelf. The background is gray and black, the words plain white. The overall image is very subdued. Kind of like a shape-shifter hiding in the trees...you don’t really know it’s there until you see the teeth. And Pride Mates definitely has teeth. Ms. Ashley has created an interesting world where ‘Shifters’ are treated little better than captured and collared animals. The prejudice against them as a race is reminiscent of our own culture in the volatile 1960’s, and just as distasteful.

The heroine, Kim Fraser, is a young junior lawyer in a prestigious law firm. When she’s assigned to defend a shifter-male charged with murdering his human girlfriend, her investigation takes her deeper into the Shifter world than is safe for a mere human.

In her first venture into Shiftertown, Kim meets Liam Morrissey, a strong Fae-cat with a soft Irish lilt, and a protective streak as wide as they come. Liam is intrigued by Kim and her determination to get to the truth in a case everyone else sees as open and shut. Knowing she treads dangerous ground in her efforts to prove a Shifter innocent, he marks her with his scent to protect her from others of his kind. The move backfires, placing Kim in the greatest danger of her life, and making it impossible for Liam to do anything but claim her as his mate.

The attraction Kim feels for Liam seems to grow by leaps and bounds, but being with him, especially accepting him as her mate, could brand her as a ‘shifter-whore’, endangering her job and the career she has worked so hard for. Yet she longs to be part of a family again, and Liam’s close-knit family tempts Kim almost as much as Liam himself. She just isn’t sure if his desire for her stems from love, or his animal instincts.

Teeth and claws, hot kisses and hotter bodies, Pride Mates has it all and Ms. Ashley does a wonderful job of drawing you into the world of her Shifters. I invite you to take a walk on 'the other side of the tracks’ and hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. I look forward to Ms. Ashley’s next adventure in the world of Shifters Unbound.

Question of the week:  What's your favorite shape-shifter book?