Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Morning - The Life of a Writer

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Up till 3 a.m. with a painful manuscript. I need coffee. I used to think having someone else around to make coffee was the only possible inducement for remarriage, but then I discovered those pots you could program. Now my life is complete. Now I can stay up till 3 a.m. without a partner or significant other moaning, “Whacha doin’, hon?” and flicking the lights off and on as a hint. Some people just like sleep too much.

Coffee. Please. I can’t find the pot. My eyes feel like burning gumballs. My tushie hurts from too many hours in the computer chair. I really need some good, hot coffee. And a shower. I could really go for a shower except I know another chapter is just waiting to get out. My muse Persephone says it is. And if I don’t listen to Persephone she cracks that whip of hers and nails me with a stiletto. OUCH!

Laundry. I need to do laundry. Is it really cheating to wear the same underwear two days in a row? Really? Just this once. I mean, I only have a few more chapters to go. How many days is that?

That’s not fit behavior for a diva? I’m not a diva. I’m just a multi-pubbed author if I can get this puppy to the editor by the end of the month like she asked me to. She’s a pussycat compared to Persephone, though. It’s WHAT? No, that’s not possible. It wasn’t that close to the end of the month last time I looked. Of course, that might have been last week.

Bills. I need to pay bills. I actually have a letter from my broker telling me I can take $3,000 out of my account and I haven’t sent it because I don’t want to take the time to check the little boxes. It would take 30 seconds, tops. I also have to sign it? Too much time. The bills can wait. Even the one for $600 for heating oil when it’s not even winter yet. Especially that one.

It’s the phone. God help me, the phone. It’s my 84 year old neighbor calling ME to ask if I’M all right. She says she hasn’t seen me lately. Of course she hasn’t seen me lately. My tushie is glued to the chair with Super Glue. My neighbors act like I’m one of those frail elderly people you should check on when the weather gets too hot or cold. They know. My frail elderly neighbors are going great guns. If it weren’t for them, I might be dead. On the other hand, if my friend Nancy is right and we all reincarnate anyway, I can come back in my next life to see if anybody read me. There’s no sign of it in this life. I haven’t sold a book on Amazon in thirty-eight days. Of course, I haven’t had a new release in a lot longer than that and I won’t if I don’t get back to the keyboard.

Coffee, I need it. Now. Steaming hot and a lot of it.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Marked Book Three: The Unsaid Trilogy by Sally Royer-Derr

Title: Marked Book Two: The Unsaid Trilogy
Author: Sally Royer-Derr
Author Website: Sally Royer-Derr
Genre: Mainstream Romance: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Price: $1.99
Link to purchase

What I liked: My father’s eyes. The only thing he ever gave me.

He had the blood of a murderer flowing through his body and he often wondered if he too possessed murderous tendencies.

I’ll find out soon.

He strapped on his gun and walked out the door.

Cameron Brown is torn between avenging his father’s death and following his heart that beats beneath the life-long hatred for Danny and Amy Lopez. Cameron only met his father, the terrifying Alex Miller, once – and that was when Alex was in prison. Cameron cannot understand why he feels compelled to finish what Alex could not. Is it the only way Cameron can feel loved again since the loss of his mother?

In the third and final book of The Unsaid Trilogy, Marked, Sally Royer-Derr’s suspenseful tale promises more of the exciting twists readers enjoyed in the previous two volumes.

Conveniently, Cameron becomes a police officer and just as conveniently lands a job with the department where Danny Lopez works. Cameron can execute is plan by getting close enough to the Lopez family to destroy them. Until Emily Lopez, Amy's daughter, ruins Cameron’s plans. And why is Marissa Blake, policewoman, so eager to help Cameron? Does Cameron share his father's ability to overpower women and render them useful?

Unlike Alex, Cameron does not possess the same evil tendencies. Cameron knows he should, he must; hate the Lopez family with every ounce of his being. Cameron finds this difficult because he is actually falling in love with Emily. How can he hurt her and her family? How can he not?

Royer-Derr continues her story telling through her multi-dimensional characters and their strong loyalties. Each character must not only fight for what is right but must also decide whether the loyalties of the past are still important in the present.

Book blurb: Cameron Brown, Alex's son, is intent on avenging his father's death. His obsession with Captain Danny Lopez leads him into a career as a police detective working in Danny's precinct. Cameron didn't count on having doubts about his hatred of Danny. Or the romance he would find with Emily who is Danny and Amy's daughter. His sights are marked to destroy the Lopez family, but will love change his mind?

Book excerpt: The tantalizing smells of Italian meats and cheeses filled the small neighborhood deli. Cameron Brown walked up to the greasy, white Formica counter to place his order.

"Hey, Officer Brown," Joe, the owner of the deli, greeted him. "Hot today, isn't it?" He wiped his perspiring forehead with his arm. "What'll it be, the usual?"

"Yeah, Joe." Cameron leaned his tall frame against the counter. He watched him assemble the large Italian sub, extra cheese and mayo, no onions. His dinner of choice, practically every night since he moved over the busy deli, four months ago.

He paid for the sub Joe handed him, wrapped in white deli paper, and proceeded up the narrow stairway in the back of the building. Opening the gray door of his tiny apartment, he walked inside and dropped the sandwich on the miniscule kitchen counter.

Cameron unbuttoned his shirt and laid his gun on the counter as well. What a day. Two murders, and a young boy was one of the victims. It had drained all the energy he had left. All he wanted to do was eat his food and sit in front of the TV. He grabbed a beer out of the fridge, took his sub, and sat down on the frayed, green sofa. Clicking the remote, he surfed through the channels until he found something mindless to watch. A rerun of The Office fit the bill. He laughed watching Michael Scott and the gang struggle through the day.

I wish I had problems like that, easily solved in thirty minutes. Cameron looked around the shabby apartment he inhabited. The same apartment his father called home for a few months, almost six years ago. Six years had passed since his father was killed and Cameron's obsession with him grew every single year. When he got the job with the Reading Police Department, he knew he wanted to find and live in this apartment.

The only recollection he had of his father was in the jail visiting room at seven-years-old. Even though he denied Cameron was his son, Cameron could see in his eyes he knew it was the truth.

The son of a murderer. The title wasn't easy to live with in the city where the most prominent murder took place. Cameron hoped to get to know Alex, his father, when he was released from jail. Maybe get to know another side of him. A side that cared he had a son in this world.

Cameron tossed the empty wrapper on the chipped coffee table. He mindlessly stared at the droning TV in front of him. Danny Lopez took care of any chance I may have had of getting to know my father. He would meet him soon, according to his plan, the man who watched his father take his last breath. The one who took his life.

Tammy Elizabeth Southin

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Retribution Book Two: The Unsaid Trilogy by Sally Royer-Derr

Title: Retribution Book Two: The Unsaid Trilogy
Author: Sally Royer-Derr
Author Website: Sally Royer-Derr
Genre: Mainstream Romance: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Price: $1.99
Link to purchase

What I liked: “He’s going back to jail,” Amy said. She laid the knife down on the black granite kitchen counter.

I wish everything could stay exactly as it is today.

Amy Lopez believes that after 15 years she is safe and secure. Her solid and sizzling marriage to Danny Lopez has produced two beautiful children and the perfect loving home. But with her past in the form of Alex Miller about to hit her square in the face, literally and figuratively, again is Amy really safe or has she been lulled into a sense of false security?

If we had to face the most terrifying event in our lives, would we have what it takes to stand up for what we believe in? Could we sacrifice ourselves to save those nearest to us? Amy is the determined heroine who has to prepare for battle yet again and she will need to draw on every ounce of strength to do so.

In Retribution, the second gripping instalment of the Unsaid Trilogy author Sally Royer-Derr takes us further into Amy’s psychological journey. Unlike so many series that tend to be somewhat predictable, Royer-Derr’s Retribution throws some great twists into the plot to keep readers glued-and on their toes. Alex has an ally and has convinced everyone, save for Amy and Danny, that he is a new and improved man. Amy knows Alex for what he really is.

The tension is mounting between Amy and Alex, leading up to a showdown. But the stakes are higher this time. It is no longer just Amy against Alex because Alex is ready to strike out at anything and everything Amy loves. Alex is bent on destroying Amy’s happiness, her life, and every last family member if it is the last thing Alex does.

Let’s hope he meets his end before it’s too late.

Will Alex succeed in his hate-fuelled and rage-fed revenge quest? Will Amy finally be free of the evil force that has cast a shadow over her life? Retribution keeps us hooked to the end and prepares readers for the extraordinary events in the third and final book of the Unsaid Trilogy.

Book blurb: Alex is back and looking for revenge. His romance with the prison psychologist made him a free man, and once again his sights are set on Amy. The strong love Amy and Danny share continues to grow after fourteen years of marriage, but will Alex destroy their lives in his zealous quest for retribution?

Book excerpt: "This man has been convicted of murdering one woman, kidnapping and attempting to murder me," Amy stated to the parole board in the dingy gray meeting room. "He should not be released into society. The potential violence he may inflict on another woman is too great."

"Mrs. Lopez, I understand your concerns," Melissa Cunningham nodded. "However, as the prison psychologist I have been seeing Mr. Miller for over ten years. It is my belief he is rehabilitated and no longer a threat to society. In fact, I feel he has reached a point where he can start contributing to society again."

Amy struggled to keep her emotions in check listening to this ridiculous woman spout Alex's miraculous recovery every time he was eligible for parole.

"Dr. Cunningham," Amy demanded. "Are you saying you guarantee Mr. Miller will not harm another woman if he is released?"

"No, I can't say that," replied Melissa. "But I can say it is unlikely."

"Thanks for the reassurance," Amy retorted. Looking at the rest of the parole board she pleaded. "Mr. Miller is still a danger to me, my family and anybody else who gets in his way. He is a dangerous man, capable of just about anything. Please keep this in mind when making your decision."

Amy walked back to her rigid folding chair next to Danny. He took her hand, holding it tightly as she stared at Dr. Cunningham, who still pled Alex's impressive rehabilitation. A plain woman with no nonsense light blonde hair pulled away from her face and only a hint of makeup on her bumpy completion. She was thin, uncomfortably so, as her navy blue suit dwarfed her emaciated frame.

Despite her forgettable appearance her pale grey eyes blazed with passion and determination in her plea for Alex's impending freedom, making Amy wonder how Alex could arouse such loyalty from a trained professional. Is it possible she sees a glimmer of a real person inside of Alex? Amy shook her head, knowing Alex only showed Dr. Cunningham what he wanted her to see.

Tammy Elizabeth Southin

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: Never Tease A Wolf by LA Day

Never Tease A Wolf
LA Day
Author Website:
Genre: Erotic Shapeshifter Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Buy Link:

What I liked:
This was a smoking hot, fun to read story. Damianos is a great Alpha male and I loved that when Jenny decided she was going after her man, she spared nothing to get him, even learning how to dance. I’ve never read LA Day before but after reading this sexy romp, I am looking forward to checking out more of her work.

While it was a short story I enjoyed it immensely. For me it was the perfect lunch time read but would easily also be a perfect bedtime story.

Book Blurb:
A harem outfit and a flogger? Sounds like a party. That’s why Jenny chose them as the key ingredients in her plan of seduction. For two years she has worked for Damianos Alexander, but tonight at the costume party she’s determined to become more than his secretary. Tonight, she’ll take that sexy male animal home—to her bed.

Damianos always gets what he wants, and he wants Jenny. She’s half naked, her body undulating in the movements of an ancient dance. Tempting every man in the room, including him. Too bad she doesn’t realize she’s tempting a wolf. Once she unleashes his feral side, there is no turning back.

Interview with Winner Roxanne Rhoads
















Eternal Desire - Roxanne has always been a favorite and there is plenty of reason that I choose her work to be a winner as well. She always has great plots, characters, and very hot scenes. She knows how to write passions and in this case it shows between the characters and of course between the pages!


Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

I live in Flint, Michigan- born and raised here though not in the city area, I live in what used to be farm country. In fact some parts still are.

As an only child growing up out in the country without other children to play with books were my constant companions words my first love. I always wanted to be a writer.

What inspires you to write?

Anything, everything. I write poetry as well as fiction so sometimes a single drop of rain or a silvery thread of moonlight can be the inspiration for a poem. Then sometimes once the poem is complete an idea tells me to take the feeling of the poem and create a story from it.

Other times inspiration may appear from thin air. I may just be sitting around doing nothing and an idea pops into my head.

Do you find that your muse takes over when writing?

Sometimes. My muse is fickle though, there are months when she isn't around and I just have to work and push and fight to get words on the page. Other times when I feel her close the words flow effortlessly.

What inspired this short story? What was your favorite part?

I actually started a very rough draft over 15 years ago in college. A woman who could see ghosts and  man who wasn't just a man- and it was all set in New Orleans. I started it after a trip to New Orleans had me spellbound.

But I never finished the story. Then I found the old draft and made it into what it is today- an erotic romance filled with the magic and mystery of New Orleans.

New Orleans has fascinated me since I was a child. I don't know why, Perhaps it was the books of Anne Rice or something else that just made me feel a kinship to the city.

Do you have any other works in progress that you want to share?

I am currently working on a novel set in Flint, MI- it features a cast of vampires, witches, and demons with a few weres and other paranormal types making appearances as well. I hope to be finished with it soon.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?

Learn the craft, hone your skills, connect with other writers and people in the business and above all else- write all the time.

What are your favorite books at the moment?

I love Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series and any of Annette Blair's magickal fun.

What is your favorite word? Least favorite? them so much  I would not dare choose a favorite or least favorite. That's like asking a mother which child is her favorite.As a writer that could be asking for bad luck- if it got out that I chose one and dissed another- they could all mutiny and I would have no words to write with.

Her Websites:


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview with Winner Phylis Warady

Murder is No Joke - One of the reasons I choose this short story for winning was the unique title and of course the plot. It reminded me a lot of the characters that I grew up reading who thought nothing could touch and little did they know it would. Get to know Phylis Warady!

Tell Us Where Your From?
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, but haven't been back there since age 5. My Mom was born there, too, and thus has roots. But my stepfather was in the Coast Guard, so we were always on the move. As a child I lived in Sandy Hook, NJ; Staten Island, NY; Orchard Beach, MD; Boston, MA; Cape Cod, MA; Oakland, CA; Wilmington, CA. Then as an adult I lived in NYC but visited my family in Solon, ME. Married I lived in Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA; Norton, KS; Simi Valley, CA and finally in Grass Valley, CA. So I'm what's know as a service brat as a child, then a nomad until I married and wanted my three kids to have what I'd never had, namely ROOTS so we stayed in Simi Valley until they were in college and then moved to the Sierra Foothills where I now live in an ex-gold mining town that is blessed with lots of cultural outlets which is why I love it!
In High School I took Journalism (back then there were no creative writing classes offered) and when my kids were toddlers began to write a feature column for the local paper, plus occasional featured articles, but I wanted to write fiction. So I took a correspondent course in short fiction and have been writing seriously for almost 50 years. I wear many hats. I've six published historical novels all set in Regency England; plus a collection of award-winning short stories, most of whom are multi-published. For amusement I write light verse and have many 1st place plaques as well as prize money as a result. And last but hardly least, I write articles dealing with either the writing craft or on career tips. But my dearest love is writing a great short story.
What in inspires me to write?

I started writing seriously with 3 kids under age 5 to save my sanity. In downturns I've often tempted to quit writing altogether, but then realize that I might as well quit breathing because to me writing almost daily is like clutching my 'life saver'. In other words, I must write even if never paid a red cent for my efforts.
Rarely does my muse take over, but when it does, it's magical. But mostly I rely on sheer persistence and that pays off as well.
What inspired Murder is no Joke?
I read an article on a practical joker and that idea fascinated. Trying to get the right blend of the combination of humor and murder took me 18 months. (Could've written an entire novel and half of another in that time span.)
What are you currently working on?
Currently I'm hard at work revising an historical novel circe 1853 set where I live.
Advice to aspiring writers?
Get all the outside help you can. Listen carefully to critiques but only take the advise you understand and agree with. Spend at least an hour a day writing!  If you write first, then everything else seems to fit in. On the other hand, it you do all those pesky chores first, there never seems time to write. (The only exception should be a family crisis.) Write the kind of work you enjoy reading. Faking it never pays. Be yourself. And Be Persistent! It pays dividends.
Currently Reading?

I'm reading 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly. I adore suspense and thrillers but have no desire to write one. I also love Georgette Heyer's  and Jane Austen's regencies. I'm an insomniac. A bad night is 3 novels and its dawn. A good night is 1 novel and 5-6 hours of blessed sleep.
Favorite/Least Word?

I don't think I have a favorite word, but I do adore finding and using one that startles. For instance, in Heyer's novels 'ejaculated' is used as a synonym of 'exclaimed' so I've had fun using it thusly in my own novels, but always have sense enough to delete in before I send in the finished manuscript. It's just too startling a word. I also deplore the shrinking of the meaning of 'gay'. I miss titles like "Our Hearts were Young and Gay". And male names such as Gaylord and Galen unfairly besmirked! 



Review: Afterlife by Naomi Clark


Naomi Clark
Genre: Fantasy
What I liked: If you like fantasy and Urban fantasy like I do, then you are going to love Clark's Afterlife. Clark keeps you wanting more and on the edge of your seat from start to finish with this gem! I absolutely loved Yasmin Stoker's character, a tour guide by day and a hunter by night. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. When you think it's all fantasy, Clark surprises and delights with a cast of characters that you will certainly will not forget. From a vampire to a hot history teacher, Yasmin has her hands full literally! So if you are looking for amazing fantasy with tons of action, this is the book for you.
Book Blurb:
Life in the afterlife is about to get dangerous.

Yasmin Stoker is a ghost tour guide who spends her days showing tourists around Shoregrave’s haunted hotspots. She also happens to be a wraith who spends her nights hunting Revenants, newly-risen flesh-eating vampires. On one of her regular hunts, she witnesses a mysterious ghostly girl pulling the body of a teenage boy underground. Who – and what – is this girl, and why is she attacking men around the city? Yasmin investigates, but it quickly becomes clear that somebody wants to keep her from finding the killer and they’ll do anything – including ambushing her with ghouls and cacodaemons – to stop her.

With only a persistent private eye and a taciturn vampire (one of the Immaculate, no less) to help her, Yasmin must deal with fanatical necromancers, crazed ghosts, and a sexy history teacher in her quest to solve the mystery. And along the way she uncovers some heartbreaking truths about her own existence.
I was so entrenched in my thoughts that I didn’t notice anything was wrong when I unlocked my front door. The smell didn’t hit me until I was inside the apartment.
Rotting flesh. Bile and decay, the perfume of the grave. I stiffened, inhaling that thick, musty odour. I frowned, perturbed but not scared. Some ghosts left a scent, although I’d never come across a ghost that stank like this.
Then I heard it moving. Slow, soft shuffling, as if the walker didn’t have total control over its legs, accompanied by laboured, wheezing breathing. It was in my bedroom, I realised, following that sound.
Tension threaded down my spine. My first instinct was to mist out and roll through the apartment that way. I checked the instinct – misting expended energy and I hadn’t fed properly since the Revenant. I might need the strength to fight the creature. So I picked up the heavy iron poker from the fireplace and crept towards my bedroom. Holding my breath, I peered round the door into the shadows.
It was a ghoul. I should have known from the smell. He dragged himself around my bed, grunting softly at the effort. He had been a young man in life, from what I could see of his decaying face. His skin was a nasty grey, his eyes gleamed red. His right ankle was broken, dragging along the carpet at a nasty angle. An old ghoul then, one who’d seen his fair share of fights with others of his kind.
What the hell was he doing in my bedroom?
I pushed the door open and his head snapped round to stare at me. I stared back. The quickest way to dispatch a ghoul was to take out its brain. I hefted the poker in my hand, hoping it was heavy enough to do the job.
I took a tentative step forwards. The ghoul grunted and lunged towards me, his mangled foot making an awful scraping sound on the carpet. I froze, holding his blood-red gaze. I still wasn’t truly afraid. Ghouls were no more intelligent than dogs, barely capable of more than eating and fighting.
Really I was more confused. How had he gotten in? Shoregrave was a strange city, but not strange enough that the walking dead passed without notice.
The ghoul launched himself at me. He hit me square in the stomach, knocking me onto my back and driving the air from my lungs in a burning rush. I screamed as the ghoul sank his filthy teeth into my collarbone.
Instinct took over: I misted out, turning to vapour beneath the bastard and dropping the poker. Howling, he fell into the space my body had occupied, fingers digging at the carpet, like I still had a solid body for him to cling to.
I drifted out from under him, holding onto my mist form and sweeping across the room in a cloud. The ghoul rolled onto his back, grabbed the poker and swung it wildly at my misty body. I felt it as a rush of air, nothing more. I was safe in this form.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get rid of the ghoul in this form. There was an antique brass candlestick on the windowsill, not as heavy as the poker but better than nothing. I breezed over and pushed myself back into my corporeal body. The quick change was painful, and I felt exhausted the second I was back in my human form. I hadn’t quite managed to change back completely and tendrils of mist rolled off me as I grabbed the candlestick. Bluish ichor trickled down my shoulder where the ghoul had bitten me, weakening me further.
The ghoul was dragging himself towards me, blind greed on his face, poker in hand. He smelled the ichor, sensed my sudden tiredness and was coming in for the kill. I raised the candlestick over my head with some effort, my arms shaking as I did so. My body wanted to turn back into mist - light, effortless mist. I fought the urge.
The ghoul rose up, grabbing the hem of my sweater and pulling me forward with surprising strength. I stumbled and dropped the candlestick. It bounced off the creature’s skull. He snarled and shook off the glancing blow, whacking me in the ribs with the poker. I fell with a shriek. This time I landed on top of the ghoul. Grabbing the advantage, I jabbed him in the eye. My finger sank into the pulpy eyeball with a sick popping noise.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Take it Off, Warrior by Eliza Knight



Take It Off, Warrior

Eliza Knight

Author website:

Publisher: Ellora's Cave

Genre:Time Travel, Romance


What I liked: Knight has a way with writing characters that just come alive and that you fall in love with. In this case, I fell in love with Camden and Valerie. I found that I had a lot in common with the main heroine, Valerie. Her love of books and her love of life makes her such a great character to admire. While planning a bachelorette party for her best friend, she finds herself in a beautiful castle that takes her breath away. With the castle comes more than just scenery and well that's when Camden comes in. Sparks and passions fly between them, but will it be enough for Camden to stay? You'll just have to find out. This tasty treat from Knight is not to be missed.

Book Blurb:

Sixteenth-century Highland laird Camden MacLeod wakes up in the modern world. Confused with his surroundings, he haphazardly throws on his kilt and goes in search of whoever has played such a foul trick on him. What he finds instead is beyond tempting…


Valerie is thoroughly exploring the medieval Scottish castle she’s rented for her best friend’s bachelorette party. Not only does an oddly shaped stone in tower catch her fancy—it somehow brings her dream man to life.




P&M Review: Angel and the Unforgiven

Angel and the Unforgiven
by Melissa Blue

Genre: Historical Romance (Civil War/American)
Publisher: Champagne Books
Cost: $6.00

What I Liked:
I hope I'm not the only one who started humming Metallica when I read this title. Not that it was appropriate for the story (other than, obviously, the subject matter), but it just put me in a good mood to read the book. I love the black album--there's so much to enjoy about the song Unforgiven. And this book, Angel and the Unforgiven, had a lot to enjoy as well.

First, I'll say that I love the setting. I think there are not enough Civil War and post-Civil War romances out there. Post-war in general, if I'm honest. I think that post-war romances could have a lot to say to our country at this time in our history, in addition to having the upside of the ultimately hopeful ending that romance novels are known for. This novel had both: the reality of a post-war culture and the hopeful feeling of a romance novel.

Second, I always appreciate a Captain. Eliza Knight wrote probably my favorite series of Captains ever, and I think that Angel and the Unforgiven gives a similar picture of a man who has been at war and his struggle to understand how to love a woman who doesn't share that experience.

And I have to say, this heroine has one of my favorite unusual heroine names of all time. Love the name "Cadence". It just has such great... well, cadence. And the hero is really quite dashing.

I appreciated the intrigue of having her dressed as a cabin boy, and the scene where we find out that she's really a she (in the eyes of the hero, anyway), is great. Also, although I don't want to give too much away, I appreciated his valor and respect of her. I think Curtis was a good hero. All in all, I enjoyed it.

Book Blurb:
When murder suspect Cadence Jamison disguises herself as a boy and stows aboard the Heavenly Mistress Captain Curtis Langston may find his two past occasions for rescuing her more than he bargained for.

Bitter and Cynical after service in the Confederate Army, Curtis believes himself no more deserving of another’s love than capable of returning it. Content to drift through life free of emotional and therefore romantic complications the once carefree and mischievous rogue may be forever gone. But when Cadence appears in his life Curtis finds himself smiling again, smiling and dreaming and feeling more like himself than he has in five years. Drawn with almost unnatural force to the sweet and innocent goodness Cadence offers, Curtis blunders again and again to resist the pull of what a life with her could be.

Can Cadence show this wounded soul how to love again? Or is he doomed to be forever unforgiven, haunted by the ghosts of his past?

SPECIAL NEWS RELEASE: Premiere novel TEACHING TYLER by Glynnis Ivy arrives August 27th


Review: Gambler


Eryn Blackwell

Price: $2.49

Genre: Historical Short Novella

Publisher: Ellora's Cave

If you've had a rough day and want an hour's diversion, "Gambler" by Eryn Blackwell might be your answer. (Full disclosure: I read it in 47 minutes.) This short novella doesn't waste time with plot, creative dialog or developed characters, but gets right to the heart of what Ellora's Cave aficionados expect: abundant and explicit sex.

While the manuscript could have benefitted by an editor's firm hand, the goal is still accomplished. As for the setting being historical - the only bit that plays is in the initial set-up of the scenario; otherwise, the story could be anywhere anytime.

*Note: The Ellora's Cave website does mention that this story was previously published elsewhere.*

Friday, July 16, 2010

Celtic Hearts Campus Workshops For August

Celtic Hearts Campus Workshops for August.

Registrations open at:
FMI: Contact (CHRW Education Coordinator)

08/01 thru 08/15

Instructor: Cindy Carroll

A good logline can make people sit up and take notice. Whether you write books or scripts the logline is an essential part of your marketing material. Just the facts, Ma'am is a two week workshop that covers what makes a good logline.

Topics covered:

1. Introduction
2. I already have an idea - turning your idea into a logline.
3. Generating ideas - how to generate ideas for loglines.
4. High concept - just having a high concept doesn’t mean you have a logline.
5. Bonus Lesson - The Art of the Three Line Pitch
6. Staying focused - using loglines to stay on track

Feedback provided for student loglines

Cindy Carroll joined RWA in 1992 and started out writing novels but turned to scripts when an idea for one of her favorite television shows wouldn't leave her alone. That first attempt, and her second teleplay for the same show, garnered her honorable mention in the Writer's Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition in the screenplay category. She graduated from Hal Croasmun's screenwriting ProSeries intensive in June of 2008. Her interview with David Rambo, writer/producer for CSI appeared in the summer special edition of The Rewrit, the newsletter for Scriptscene, Romance Writers of America 's screenwriting chapter. Currently working on the rewrite of her second feature, Cindy is also developing two new television pilots.

The Book Factory: Producing Multiple Novels in One Year

Instructor: Kerri Nelson

Is life getting in the way of you completing that novel? Ever think there’s not enough hours in the day to find time to write? Have a full time job distracting you from your real passion of being a novelist? Are family responsibilities weighing you down and interfering with your writing goals?

I’m here to tell you that you can do it all and do it successfully. In 2009, I successfully managed one husband, two jobs, three children, a difficult pregnancy, AND still managed to write twelve books, sell ten of those books (including all the editing and promotion), and coped with other various life challenges thrown in just for fun!

How did I do all of that and still find time to eat and sleep?

I developed a method of writing known as “The Book Factory Method”. It does require commitment and desire to “get it done”. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can produce multiple books in one year.

What’s the benefit of completing multiple books in one year?

The more books you have ready to submit, the more chance you’ll receive contract offers on one or more of those books.

Why shouldn’t you just focus on one book and continue polishing that book all year long?

The cold, hard truth is that you might not ever sell that one specific book. You should always have more than one project “in the works”.

Are you one of those writers who starts multiple projects but never finishes any of them?

Then this class is for you as well. We’ll talk about how to finally see those projects through to completion.

Have trouble with time management or procrastination?

We’ll address methods for getting organized and staying focused. Plus much, much more!

If you want to learn how to get started, stay on track, and get those books ready to submit…this workshop puts a method to the madness of novel writing.

Kerri Nelson has always been passionate about reading books but when she wrote her first poem in the second grade, she discovered her love of writing. At the age of sixteen, she became a columnist for her local newspaper as the high school correspondent for the weekly "Panther Tales" column. She won the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year Award for her efforts.

After an education and career in the legal field, Kerri began to pen romantic suspense novels with a legal or law enforcement theme. She is a true southern belle and comes complete with her dashing southern gentleman husband and three adorable children. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her baking homemade goodies for her family, feeding her addiction to blogging online or designing custom made book trailers. Kerri is an active member of Romance Writers of America as well as numerous Chapters including Gothic Romance Writers, Futuristic Fantasy & Paranormal, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Kerri is a multi-published author of romance in every genre from romantic suspense and paranormal to young adult and inspirational novels. In 2009, Kerri wrote and sold twelve books to multiple publishers using her Book Factory method. Her latest paranormal romantic suspense “Courting Demons” will release from Dorchester Publishing in 2011.

Read more about Kerri’s books at her website:
Come out and chat with Kerri at her blog:
Need a custom made video trailer ad for your novel? Visit the award winning Book Boost Designs page at Kerri's website here:
Need affordable cover ad placement? Or want to play, learn and compete with other authors in the biz? Visit the Book Boost Blog here:
For the latest news and updates from Kerri, follow her on Twitter here:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Locked and Loaded by Samantha Cayto


Locked and Loaded

Samantha Cayto

Price: $4.45

Genre: Romance, Sophisticate

Publisher: Ellora's Cave

What I liked: What didn't I like from this story! I liked everything, it was very hot and sexual. It was a beautiful story about Grace who wants to have more in life and then she ends up meeting  Mark. Grace doesn't expect to fall for him, she figures she would get her fantasy fulfilled. When the two meet they have a lot in common and not all of it in bed. I really liked both characters and the  scenario. There is also some action here as we get to see Mark's friend and how the war affected him. Cayto knows how to add the suspense, action, along with the romance.

Book Blurb:

Former army-turned-ER doctor Grace McKinnon is through with going to bed with nothing more than fantasies and a yearning to resurrect her personal life. She’s determined instead to take the Cougar Challenge with a flesh and hot-blooded younger man. She discovers the perfect opportunity steaming up the curtain of exam room four.


Captain Mark Bennington has been locked and loaded—ready for action—since meeting Grace. He’s on a mission to heat up the Boston nights while on leave. This sexy older woman is lighting his way, fulfilling double-time every sex wish he’s ever made. But it’s going to be the toughest fight of his life to convince her to take a chance on more than just a fling.


Book Review: Bloodmaiden

By: Christine E. Schluze
Published by: Old Line Publishing, L.L.C.
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Price: $14.95

Book Blurb: Zale. Gauthier. Varden. These three dynasties... They all sound like something out of an ancient, oriental myth or fairy tale. The concept of humans and dragons helping and living in harmony with one another, without fear. To me, that's exactly what they are. A distant dream only read of, whispered secretly, quietly yearned for. For, you see, I am the new Quelda of Tynan.

These words echo the mystery, horror, and romance found within Schulze's fantasy novel. Along with her new husband, Chalom, Crislin must choose to embrace cruel tradition, run from it, or stand against it. The young couple's only hope is to rally the help of the three peaceful dragon dynasties of Sulamon - but tradition is not on their side, even outside the realm of Tynan. The dragons outside Tynan's borders have been rumered as too stubborn and proud to believe their Tynan brothers would commit such horrors as inflicted upon the Quelda. Gaining their aid is not a likely hope. Yet any hope at all is valued in Tynan...

If they are to stand a change of bringing cruel tradition to a permanent end, Crislin and Chalom must brave the constant, consuming blizzards of the Ever-white. They must brave the three dynasties and the challenges awaiting there. Together, they must convince the dragon emperors to allow them access to the shrines which house the secred Aria - protective strands of music which may be able to disperse the evil from Tynan and unite the four dynasties of Sulaimon as a whole once again. Their only aid stems from a sprite whose moods are as unstable as her magic, a yough minstrel, and a mysterious fox. Despite the odds, such plans are daring, dangerous, unprecedented, but fully possible - if they can escape the Wall first.

What I thought: I have never read a book like this before, so when these wierd creatures started to change colors I was not sure what to think.

There was not much characterization for my liking, and the dialogue was a bit bland. What I got from the main character, Crislin, she seemed to worry about others, but a little bit not sure of herself and needy.

I enjoyed the action and description. It really brought things together for me because it was exciting and flowed with what was going on. I would recomend the story for a young adult.

Excerpt: In Sulaimon, four kingdoms stretch to the four corners of that vast land, each ruled and guarded by four dragon dynasties.

To the East, across the feathery meadows, upon an island hovering not far from the coast lays the Zale Dynasty. Serpent-like dragons slither through pure ocean waters and fields, slipping so silently it looks like a gentle wind sways the tall reeds. Raised facets glitter like sapphires and diamonds upon smooth, aqua-blue scales. They are the most playful of the dragon families, the gentlest dragon rulers. They catch fish and rabbits for the people of the island and protect them from sharks, wolves, and other fearsome creatures. Serene bynature, the Zale dragons spend much time in meditation, studying peace and charity towards all. Thus, they require from their human inhabitants the lightest of the required tributes. In exchange for care and protection, the Zale Dragons oblige only an annual feast which the people prepare and share with the dragons.

To the West, the treacherous, harshly windy Valther Mountains loom. On top stands the Gauthier Dynasty. Unlike the elegant Eastern palace clad in gold and light silks, a sturdy, stone fortress houses the Gauthier Dragons. They are the fiercest of the dynasties, a warring family. They do not war needlessly, though if the humans of their land were ever threatened, they would brutally defend them until death. Many a time, their strength protects the people from wild mountain beasts. Thick, leathery, long wings battle snow and ice to find those humans who lose their way. The dragons also quarry great rocks, minerals, and precious gems which their human architects build with and the blacksmiths forge into great armor, weapons, all sorts of fine things. Thus, the tribute the Gauthier dragons require every year includes some of their blacksmiths' most excellently crafted armor, weaponry, and jewlry. The Gauthier dragons are great collectors, admiring the humans' abilities to create such magnificent wonders despite their frailties.

All in all, my first try at fantasy has challanged me to be more open minded to the wierd. I will try it again, as a second try.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Golden Claddagh Finalist: Rebecca

Howdy, all. My name is Becca and I'm one of the reviewers here at the Pen & Muse. I recently finaled in the Golden Claddagh Contest for unpublished writers, and Denise asked if I would be interested in writing about my experience in this contest (in addition to the story of my story). As I've been reviewing some great books this year and getting to write about them on the P&M, I figured this would be a great place to share my journey.

I actually finaled with two different manuscripts. One, I'll call "RN" and the other "RS" (to preserve some of my anonymity, haha, as if such a thing exists). They are the two extremes of my writing experience.

One (RS), I wrote almost ten years ago and have been revising over the years. It was the first novel I had ever written, and I finished it when I was 20 years old. I knew absolutely nothing about how to write romance novels. I went on to do an MFA and write literary short fiction for many years, and that novel is very much a product of my training in literary fiction. It was slow, richly detailed, and incredibly complex. In short, it wouldn't sell anywhere as a romance novel.

I'd sent it out to agents in January and gotten nothing but rejections. In a bold move a couple of months ago, after some particularly insightful critiques from a friend, I went through the rewrite process with RS. Changed the genre, beefed up the conflict, added some research detail that I'd taken out in an attempt to make it move more quickly, and got rid of about half of the plot complexities.

The book I have today is a much more interesting, much more well-written book than the one I finished at 20. That shouldn't be a surprise. Given that almost all authors will say that their writing improves over the years, I would expect that. But it still has enough of my inner ingenue that it makes me nostalgic when I read it. I still have a lot of work to do, as per the judges' suggestions. And I don't expect to get a requested full from the agent/editor final judge. It's still way too rough, and way too similar to the neophyte version of my college years.

The RN novel is exactly the opposite. I wrote it in a month. It represents the newest work that I've done, and is probably the project that I'm most excited about right now. Both RS and RN are historical in nature, but RN is a time period I hadn't written in before. Yet one that I have a lot of affinity for. This is my favorite project. It's also the one that I spend the least time with, currently, because it's basically stalled. In order to do my final edit, I have to do some major research work for a couple of the elements in the book, and it's going to take me awhile before I have the time to hunker down in the library for a week or so to work through these research projects.

RN, I also wrote under a pen name. Because it's not a genre I'm publicly writing in yet. I want to see what comes of a couple of contacts I've made. It's possible that I'll continue to use the pen name (and potentially a writing partner who's emerged) to work in this genre. It's also possible that I won't get any kind of traction in this genre, and I'll have to just cut my time losses and return to the genre I'm writing in right now.

The contest itself was a whirlwind for me. I entered three manuscripts because these are works that I'm not getting any feedback about right now, and I desperately needed the feedback. I got some great judging comments that will really help me take these manuscripts to the next level.

In contests that I've entered before, I've had two extremes of judging advice. On one side, I've had judges (published and unpublished) who are obviously interested in giving feedback. Some of it is constructive, and some of it is downright mean. What I've learned (although I didn't have this issue in the GC) is that I need to read the comments and then leave the entry alone for a couple of days before I do any editing.

What happened when I finaled in the Genesis was that I had some really intense feedback, even though I finaled, and I had two and a half days to get my entry back in for the final judges. I didn't take the time I needed to come down from being personally affected by the criticism, and I just jumped right into editing. I ended up editing away all the personality from my entry, and sent in a final entry to the judges that was not at all representative of my writing. Frustrating.

I'm not making the same mistake with the Golden Claddagh. When I got my entries back, I sat with the feedback for a couple of days. Then I came back and read it again about a week later. And now, tomorrow, I'm going to read them again. Only then will I finally start to edit the entries for the final judges. Thankfully, because I have the time, I'm able to take this time. But I think I've decided that I'm going to try to do this with all critiques and feedback from now on. Otherwise, I lose my voice amidst my desire to please others.

Anyway, that's sort of my journey. I hope that's what Denise was looking for. I'm just about to start my final edits on the RS/RN entries for the final judges. If you're interested, you can read more about my writing journey (including my contest entries/finals) on my writing blog or on my foodie romance blog. You can also follow me on Facebook or on Twitter if you are interested in those media. I'll be writing about my novels, my teaching, and life in general, plus reviewing more books. I hope to see you here and everywhere else. Thanks again for all your support!

And thanks for coming to the Pen & Muse. We do love our readers!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Interview With Cathleen Ross

I had the pleasure to interview Cathleen Ross. Check out her website and learn more about her. Don't forget to pick up her new novel, Dirty Sexy Murder.


Author website:
Price: $5.50
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Length: Novel

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Australian. I was born very premature and fought to survive. I think this nature helps me survive in the writing industry. Every time I get a rejection, I look to see if I can improve my submission and then send it out again.
What inspires you to write?
I get my inspiration in several ways, some of them strange. Sometimes I dream them, sometimes I’m semi awake and the whole story comes to me as if channeled from someone who has passed over. One of my recent submissions was a historical, a genre I don’t write in, about a Scottish knight who fought for Robert the Bruce. I had to do the research so I could write the story and found out the knight was a real person who did the things in my story. Now I want to see if it sells.
For Dirty Sexy Murder, my mystery which is released in print July 1 from Lyrical Press, my daughter was being haunted and I had to learn to harness my psychic gifts so I could help her. I think it worried me so much that writing through the feelings of what it is like to be psychic and yet not trusting the visions formed the basis for my heroine, Marina, my psychic Brazilian Waxer who doesn’t believe in psychic phenomena until she is forced to deal with it.

Do you find that your muse takes over when writing?
I never quite know how the story is going to go which is the beauty of writing for me. I know the beginning, who they are and I know the ending. The characters play out their actions as if I’m watching a play and they feel like real people to me. I fall in love with my hero like the heroine does and then I miss him when I’ve finished the book.
Do you have any have any other works in progress that you want to share?
I’ve just received a contract for one of my favorite books, Love, Lust and Lies. It’s a story close to my heart because I come from an Italian background and it is a look inside the chauvinism of the culture. had a strict Italian upbringing and was brought up to believe that a women should play second fiddle to men. I’ve written a strong heroine who takes a lover when she finds out her husband has cheated on her. The book also elaborates on what it is like to live in two cultures: Italian and American. I Love, Lust and Lies  is a book about a woman who refuses to obey convention and takes her culture by the horns.
What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?
Establish a pattern of writing. Join a good critique group, one that tells you how to fix your work so it’s salable. Keep submitting. Learn to become so hard that when you get a rejection, it doesn’t fuss you anymore. Go to conferences and join Romance Writers or an organization that represents your genre so that you are with like minds. Be open to new ideas, target new lists or lines. People will tell you write what you know and sometimes this works, but writing what you don’t know and honing your imagination works well too. Don’t let fear or your internal editor stop you getting your story down. You have to learn to write past it, then let the story rest and look at it again when you are fresh.
What are your favorite books at the moment?
I’m a huge fan of several authors.  I love Nalini Singh,  Philippa Gregory, Linda Howard and Gena Showalter, but my all time favorite book is Gone with the Wind – a heroine who wouldn’t obey convention.
What is your favorite word? Least favorite?
Fecund. Anything that names the female genitalia.

Congratulations to Our Winners!

Congratulations and thank you to all our entrants!

Published Category:

1. Phylis Warady with Murder is No Joke

2. Roxanne Rhoads with Eternal Desire


1. Carlie Angelus with Nearly Wed and Newly Dead

Sunday, July 4, 2010


The Comet, my forthcoming historical set in 1066 England, has been a long work but one close to my heart and I would love to share the prologue with readers. Any comments are welcome. This is the story of a Norman knight and Saxon girl set amidst a violent and history-making era. The war for the conquest of England is hardly more trying for Neel de Jardinier than the one for the heart of Rowena, daughter of a Saxon thegn and his beloved Welsh wife. With both parents dead and her land in flames, Rowena can find safety in Neel's arms if only she can bring herself to trust him, but he is a conqueror and the ghosts of her dead cry out for vengeance.

Coast of Normandy, August 1066
Above chalk cliffs, two knights sat buffeted by streamers of remorseless wind. They had done serious swordplay and hard riding, and they and their horses were sweated. It was the only reason to be glad of the cooling wind blowing hard onshore.
“We cannot sail,” Gilles said.
Neel de Jardinier glanced sideways at his friend. Even with his hair tonsured, Neel looked like a Viking. His ancestry had bequeathed the wheat-colored hair, blue eyes and fair skin of the Northmen who had settled Normandy. All he needed to pose as an Anglo Saxon was the long hair and mustache many of them wore. But those were the men they would be fighting and he stayed carefully clean-shaven.
“Not yet,” he agreed. “God will deliver the wind when the time is right.”
“And do you get this information from God or Sir Hugo?”
“Hugo, of course.”
“Of course.” Blood counted, no matter how it came. Though he had fostered both of them with equal diligence, Sir Hugo du Flaumier would always share things with Neel, bastard cousin of Duke William of Normandy, that he would not discuss with Gilles, fourth son of a minor noble.
But the two young knights were equal in one regard. Across murky, choppy, wind-driven waters lay fortunes to be made and land to be claimed, and neither could obtain them except through service.
“They say the Papal banner has come,” Gilles ventured.
Neel nodded. “Harold is foresworn. Jesu, how can the man think he can swear on the relics of a saint to support William and then steal the crown of England?”
“Easily. There is not a shred of honor in his entire family.”
“William will make them a better king.” Taking his horse’s reins in one hand, Neel freed the other to check his chain mail shirt at the arm. “I am going to have bruises.”
“It is no time for light practice. Get one of the girls to rub you down. They will fight for the privilege.”
Neel flushed. “I was not complaining.”
“I know. Dreaming of some noble’s virgin daughter, are you?”
“Well, there will be many widows in England.”
Neel reached down to stroke his horse’s neck, smoothing tufts where wet patches were drying in the wind. When it turned, that wind would bear him to England and his fate, and he felt it like a second heartbeat marking the days of his life. “The Saxons have no idea what it is to stand up to a cavalry charge. They will break.” He stared across the gray-green expanse of water as if probing the mind of his Duke’s adversary. “We will break them.”

Look for The Comet from DCL Publications late this year or early next!