Beginning January 1, 2013

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

GUEST BLOG: SAPPHIRE PHELAN

Since I write horror, fantasy and science fiction under another name and used the same ideas for my paranormal romances, I want to talk about some of the influences in my life that lead me to write like I do.

I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Madeleine L'Engle, JRR Tolkien, and Ray Bradbury. I had been writing stories by long hand since I was eight. But these authors were the shapers of my imagination and wonder, the building blocks of me becoming a writer.

Darkness and dark things intrigued me. They frightened me, but I wanted to dissect more of the power that rippled beneath the skin of the monsters. Poe had his monsters, but much of his stories were of the mind. Lovecraft wrote of cities beneath the sea and on land that had terrifying majesty. Creatures that if we peeked into the shadows and caught a glance of them, would drive us insane.

Three times I had written Lovecraft stories. All three are horror, but two were love stories of a sort. Unwitting Sacrifice, my upcoming one, is like that, and yet, there's dread and madness too. I keep going back to Lovecraft, as ideas form in my mind. What if that handsome lover is something more? Not a werewolf or a vampire, or a spirit or a demon, but something that came with others from beyond space and time, revered as dark, terrifying gods in our world. Lonely gods. Even monsters fear being alone too.

Why do I keep returning to this world? Maybe it's my way of exorcising these monsters, trying to tame them, and hopefully to banish the darkness that is within them. Maybe to bring a bit of sympathy to them. Maybe it's because they're different from the normal stream of monsters that hover among the pages of books these days.

What authors of horror, fantasy, and dark fantasy inspired you, the ones you keep going back to read over and over?

Sapphire Phelan is an author of erotic and sweet paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance, along with a couple of erotic horror stories. One of them, Being Familiar With a Witch just made EPIC Awards 2010 finalist. She also writes as Pamela K. Kinney, for horror, fantasy, science fiction, and two nonfiction ghost books, Haunted Richmond, Virginia and Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, Ripley and Bast.

She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house and husband sometimes suffers for it!

You can find out more about her and what she has or will be coming out at her website: http://FantasticDreams.50megs.com
www.myspace.com/SapphirePhelan
http://SapphirePhelansPassionCorner.blogspot.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SapphirePhelansParanormalNewsletter

http://twitter.com/SapphirePhelan

If on FaceBook, become my fan there at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sapphire-Phelan/324399690647

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

GUEST BLOG: BELINDA MCBRIDE

DISCOVERING THE ME IN THE MANUSCRIPT

The Writer’s voice

* “I’m so unhappy with my editor. I’m afraid she’s taking away my voice in this piece.”
* “I don’t want to submit my story. It’s a part of me. What if they don’t understand my voice?”
* “My voice will be lost if I worry about the mechanics of writing.”
*+ “Your writer’s voice is so distinct.”



Huh?

These are comments I’ve heard on and off over the past couple of years, and frankly, this concept of voice still puzzles me a bit. What is it? Our style? Our accent? At a writer’s forum I attended recently, several writers worried about their voices. To be honest, that’s really the last thing I think about when I write...if I think about it at all.

Okay, I do believe that every writer has a distinct voice. I don’t think we can escape it. To me, it’s a little like how where you live affects how you speak. Frankly, I’ve always believed that I speak in unaccented American…you know, like the news anchors? But as I’ve traveled around, people in different areas of the US have mentioned my accent.

I’m from Northern California. Not the Bay Area, but north of the Sacramento Valley, and oddly enough, I’ve come to realize that we do have a regional accent. You know the actor Sam Elliot? He’s got that silky, sexy drawl that we love to hear in the beer commercials. He’s from Texas, right? The South? Nope. He was raised in the Sacramento Valley. My brother’s accent is exactly the same.

In fact, my oldest daughter works on a private yacht with an international crew. She’s the chef, and has been known to launch into the occasional verbal tirade when she’s alone in the galley. She says the Kiwis like to come in and listen to her tantrums because of her “redneck accent.”

So what does this have to do with your voice as a writer? Well, it’s there. You can’t really escape it, unless you’re spending a lot of time with technical or academic writing. If an editor wants you to clean up the grammar of your narrative, she’s not asking you to stifle your voice, she wants you to do your job and write properly. As a general rule, your editor will respect your writing and her advice will make your story better without robbing you of your voice.

There are times when I feel that my voice has become stiff and uninspired. I’m not talking about writer’s block. That’s when nothing comes at all. Sometimes I feel like the words are coming out by force, like maybe I’m not the one writing at all.

Perhaps there is stress in the household or I’m simply disconnected from the story that I’m trying to tell. Or maybe I’ve just finished a project and have turned to another, and haven’t captured the new personalities that I’m working with. When that happens, I have a few tricks to loosen up my mind and free that elusive voice.

* I have conversations in character. Okay, that might seem a bit weird. I used to act so walking around verbalizing is something I did to learn lines. If you can’t open your mouth and let your character speak, do it in your head. Go sit in a comfy chair, or lie down on the sofa and ask your characters what’s going on. Visualize the scenario they are in, and watch their actions and reactions to each other. Know your characters! I prefer to worry about the voices of my characters rather than my voice as a writer.

* Listen to music. Music digs into our brains on various levels. You know how a song gets stuck in your head? Music is a great tool for learning, as well as for setting mood. Try listening to the Beatles or Chopin or Barry White. Listen to the mood of the music. Many authors have soundtracks for stories. Belle Starr was written to the music from the Japanese Anime Cowboy Bebop. It’s a wild, fierce jazz number by a band called Tank. I think that single song really shaped the entire story.

* Read poetry. Find a writer that works for you. It might be Bob Dylan or John Donne. Poetry is the height of language and has an inherent flow and meter. You’ll expand your vocabulary and I’ve found my narrative moves better when I’ve taken a poetry break. Right now I’m reading Silky Thefts by Michael Jennings.

* Sing. Dance. That’s taking the music and poetry and moving it to another level. You’re integrating your body into the rhythm of the music and getting your circulation moving.

* Just tell the story. Frankly, that’s a pretty good avenue to take. So it might be stiff and ugly, but if you sit down and hammer out the story, you’ve got the framework finished. That’s the hard part. When you’re feeling more inspired, go back and fluff it up. Indulge in your creativity and play with your characters. Have fun. It’s easier to do when you have the roadmap instead of the roadblock.



Writing is certainly a creative art, but it’s also a craft…a discipline. If you approach it as a job that needs to be done, you will learn to work through the rough times. Your voice is there because it’s the part of the story that is inherently you. If you belabor the idea of your ‘voice’ your writing will become self-aware. It’s like watching an actor on stage who is aware of the fact that they are acting. Don’t act the role, be the role! In writing, don’t worry about your voice or it will become just another character on your page.

So when you sit in front of that blank page with your list of things to worry about, strike “Voice” off that list. It’s there if you let it come out. And no one can take it away. Not even your editor.

Belinda writes erotic romance in several genres, including m/m, ménage, science fiction, paranormal, and whatever else strikes her fancy. She lives in the far north of California with a bunch of Siberian Huskies and a Chihuahua named Squirt. She is published at Loose Id, Changeling Press, and New Concepts Publishing.

Please visit her website at http://www.belindamcbride.com

Her blog at http://www.belindam.blogspot.com

Watch for An Uncommon Whore, which releases January 26 at Loose Id!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GUEST BLOG: LEX VALENTINE

When I decided that Ride the Lightning should be a BDSM book, I started devouring books by other authors in this genre. Of course, I had already read all of my friend Jennifer Leeland’s books. In fact, it was probably her Command series that made me realize that Ride the Lightning would work best as a BDSM story. On Jen’s recommendation, I’d already started reading Joey W. Hill, so I went and got more of Joey’s books. Then I read Sarah Masters’ Domintrix series, Quillia Rain’s Club Diablo Blanco books, and Cherise Sinclair’s Club Shadowlands books. I discovered that I really liked these books and started picking up others like them.

Just this weekend, in a discussion at a Yahoo group, author Tess MacKall reminded us of the capture/bondage themes of romance authors like Kathleen Woodiwiss and Laurie McBain. It dawned on me that I had just traded my long-time obsession with historical romances with these themes for an obsession with BDSM themed books. The discussion came out of my concern that the mating scene in Ride the Lightning might be slightly on the violent side for some women. As a way to assuage my nerves, Tess reminded me of those old romances and how popular they were.

There is something to be said for having a strong mate. In my own life, I’m the breadwinner, but my significant other is a very strong-willed man (he’s German-Irish OY!) So while there are areas of our life together where I am the dominant partner, there are others where he is. And I found that he was very much on my mind as I wrote Ride the Lightning too. It was written in October and November and we had just celebrated our 11 year anniversary in late October. The book is dedicated to him as a sort of anniversary present.

With all of this running through my head, I had no problem crafting the characters of Emily Carrington and Vahid Delrey. Both of them are top executives at the same corporation. Vahid sees Emily as ultra-capable. He doesn’t see the vulnerability beneath her cold exterior. As for Emily, she sees Vahid as a total asshole. She has no idea of his background as an orphan or why he is such an ass-kissing dogsbody to their boss. Vahid is a Dom who uses the lifestyle as an outlet for his emotions and to retain his much vaunted control. Emily is a submissive who must give over control of her body to another in order to release the pent up emotional pain inside her.

This book was a journey for me. A journey through my own past as a reader, my own struggles in life to reach the place where I’m happy with who I am and understand the workings of my own heart, and a journey through my growth as a writer and author. Mary, my editor and publisher, has termed this book as an “emotional rollercoaster of the type usually attributed to Joey W. Hill.” The compliment she handed me with those words is one I hold close to my heart because I admire Joey’s work tremendously. And here I’d been worried that she would think Ride the Lightning a weak story compared to its predecessor, the bestselling Rainbow Awards finalist, Fire Season.

I’m so very happy to be able to give my readers Ride the Lightning. I hope they will enjoy Emily and Vahid and be able to feel the love and care I used when crafting the characters. So many things went into the making of this story and it is my very great privilege to be able to give it to all of you this holiday season.



Lex has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil. A few years ago, she began writing in an online paranormal serial story. When she posted snippets of her work on her blog Sunlight Sucks, author Jennifer Leeland encouraged her to submit her writing to publishers. Not long after, Lex received her first contract. A native of Northern California, Lex currently lives in Orange County, California with her daughter Nikki and Rott, her long haired, tattooed significant other. She loves loud music, builds her own computers, and has a propensity for having very weird vivid dreams about Nikki Sixx.

Monday, December 28, 2009

GUEST BLOG: VICTORIA BLISSE

I believe in Father Christmas.

No, really I do. Now obviously I do know that the jolly, round fella in a red suit doesn’t bring the toys for girls and boys on Christmas Eve because for the last 8 years I’ve been Santa for my little girl but I do still believe in the spirit of Father Christmas.

The reason for the season maybe the birth of the little baby Jesus and I never lose sight of that either but the mythical man with the bushy beard has his own importance too. He personifies the Spirit of Christmas. He shows you the real joy of Christmas. Does Santa receive gifts? No, he gives them away and this giving is what makes Christmas what it should be.

Father Christmas works all year round with his elves to provide toys for the world’s children. He travels the globe in one night, pops down more chimneys than you can count, faces more snarling dogs than your average postman and does it all for a few cookies, the odd mince pie and a few drinks of milk or brandy. Now that is dedication!

We need to be more and more like Santa. No, I’m not saying we should all end up with a ‘little round belly like a bowl full of jelly’ or grow a full bushy beard and wear red a lot. I mean that we all need to realise that the best part of the presents is in giving them at Christmastime. And not only is it important to remember that at Christmas but all year round too. It is more satisfying to give than to receive and when you go into your day wondering what you can give to others instead of what will you get in that day it makes your time far more pleasurable. If we could all think like that I do believe the world would be an all round better place.

I love Christmas and I love writing Christmas stories because of this unique view on giving and loving that comes at this time of year. In my latest release from Total-E-Bound ( Christmas Spirit Warms the Heart -http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=656) Father Christmas has a large starring roll. He brings my two lovers together, awww. I couldn’t resist the idea of Santa as a matchmaker, he does so much good I thought that he probably would help two shy, retiring types to get together and fall in love. You see, Father Christmas is never too busy to use the personal touch!

I hope you had lots of fun giving this year, what was the favourite gift you gave this past Christmas and what was the person’s response to it?

Victoria Blisse

Friday, December 25, 2009

GUEST BLOG: KELLI WILKINS

Greetings, Whipped Cream Readers!

I hope everyone is having a peaceful holiday season.

When I sat down to write this blog, I wondered, “What would readers want to know most about me or my writing? What bits of advice could I share?” I decided to address the most common questions I’ve been asked by interviewers, everyday people, and romance readers.

So here are my “Top 5 Questions Writers Are Often Asked” complete with answers.

I hope you find them interesting.

Happy Reading!

Kelli

1. How do I get published?

“How do I get published?” is one of the most common questions aspiring writers ask published authors. The truth is, you can’t do anything to get published, other than submitting your best work to the appropriate publication. The rest is up to the editor.

But here are three tips to getting published: 1. Write the best story you can 2. Go to the library and sit down with The Writer’s Guide to Novel and Short Story Markets. It contains contact info for hundreds of publishers and publications broken down by genre. (Or you can search for publications online.) 3. Pick the best place to send your story, and then submit it. After you’ve sent your story, forget about it and write something else. It may take months to hear back about your submission.

2. Any advice for aspiring authors?

The best advice I can give to any writer (regardless of what genre he or she likes to write) is to keep writing. It takes a lot of dedication and determination to sit down every day and write something. But the more you write, the easier it gets. Writing classes are a great way to learn the basics of storytelling. (That’s how I got started!) If possible, join a writer’s group or a critique group to get feedback on your stories. When you’ve written, revised, and polished your story, submit it! You can’t get published if you never submit, and you never know when your first acceptance will arrive.

3. Where do you get the ideas and titles for your books?

Ideas are everywhere; you just need to find them. I tend to be a bit nosy and I like to explore, so I come up with ideas just by noticing my surroundings and observing what’s going on around me. I also have a vivid imagination, which helps give me ideas. Once in a while, a story idea or character will come to me out of nowhere. Sometimes I take two ideas and combine them into one, or I take an idea and ask myself “what if” to invent new scenarios and plotlines.

Sometimes, titles are harder to come up with than the whole book! In some cases, I’ll have a title in mind before I start writing the story (such as The Dark Lord and A Midsummer Night’s Delights), but many times I don’t have the title until well after I’ve finished writing. I try to find a theme or a line in the story to use in the title or as the title. (A Most Unusual Princess is a good example.) If that doesn’t work, I’ll brainstorm about the characters or related words, then mix and match potential title ideas until something clicks.

4. What are some of the public misconceptions or myths you’ve encountered when people discover you write romances?

The first one that jumps to mind is that the authors of erotic romances are basing the love scenes in their books on their own private lives, and that we “act out” the love scenes. Not true! The stories are fiction, not confessionals. Another misconception is that writing romance is “easier” than writing stories in other genres because there’s no “real” plot or characterization. Again, not true! Writing good romance (at any heat or sensuality level) is just as difficult and as labor-intensive as writing horror, sci fi, or mystery.

5. How long does it take to write a book? Do you spend a lot of time researching?

Once I have a genre or time period for the story, I do research for details and/or ideas for setting, clothing, occupations, or even the food that people ate. I like to weave little details into the stories and blend them in as naturally as possible. When I’m writing fantasy romance, I try to make the details believable, even if I’m making them up! Believe it or not, I did a lot of research before writing Beauty & the Bigfoot. I had to know everything about Bigfoot so I could create the quirky characters and give the story an extra boost of realism.

Depending on the length of the story or the scope of the book, it can take anywhere from a week to a month to write the first (very rough!) draft. Shorter stories like The Dark Lord and The Sexy Stranger took a week to make it onto paper. Full-length books such as Dalton’s Temptation and The Pauper Prince took a month. I write all my stories in longhand, so after the first draft is finished, I edit it as I type it. I love the process of writing. Creating characters and telling the story of their adventures is a lot of fun. It’s interesting to see what the characters do, to watch them fall in love, and to learn how they overcome their troubles to have a happy ending.

I hope you enjoyed this guest blog! To learn more about my romances and other writings, visit my website at: www.KelliWilkins.com


Author Bio:

Kelli Wilkins has published several contemporary, paranormal, historical, and fantasy erotic romances for Amber Quill Press. Her most recent release, Beauty & the Bigfoot, is a paranormal comedy that puts a unique twist on the legend of Bigfoot. Kelli is currently working on several new projects and invites readers to visit her website www.KelliWilkins.com to catch up on all her writings and sign up for her newsletter, Kelli’s Quill.

Kelli’s Links:


Look for Kelli’s blog posts archived on the Amber Quill Press author site: http://aqpauthors.blogspot.com/

Check out Kelli’s Facebook page: facebook.com/kelli.wilkins1

Kelli also has pages on:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/profile/KelliWilkins
Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/KelliWilkins
Manic Readers: http://manicreaders.com/KelliAWilkins

Author’s Den: http://www.authorsden.com/kelliwilkins

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Guest BLOG: SAMANTHA GENTRY

What's Up With Santa?

Here we are, Christmas Eve. How about some miscellaneous facts about Santa? I hope you find these slightly offbeat items interesting. Then I'll tell you a bit about my upcoming release, DÉJÀ VU.

First, there's the Santa Games held in Sweden where Kris Kringles from around the world compete for the title of World's Best Santa. This is a different event from the Santa race held in Las Vegas. This year's winner of World's Best Santa is Jim Chan, a magician from Hong Kong. Although he doesn't speak English, he wished one and all a Merry Christmas in his native Cantonese. He defeated the other competitors in events such as Present Wrapping, Chimney Climbing, and Porridge Eating.

And continuing the international theme, in Northern Ireland Santa and his elves locked themselves inside their 'grotto' at an East Belfast store and staged a protest sit in. It seems the residents in the surrounding area complained that the music was too loud and sounded too much like Christmas rap. Santa and his elves were hauled out of the store and given a new location across the parking lot where they could make all the noise they wanted. Since a percentage of each 'grotto' admission was donated to charity, the store decided to put the Grinch mode aside and let Santa pump up the volume.

And here at home let's take a look at those staples of the season—the Mall Santa. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone to find out that Santa is big business.

At the amateur end of the spectrum, local Santas rent well-worn suits with less than spectacular cotton beards. These non-professional Santas work for peanuts (or perhaps reindeer feed would be a more appropriate term).

At the professional end are the RBSs (Real Bearded Santas). These men take their role as seriously as any actor and are paid top dollar. There are corporations whose business is to place Santas in malls and other locations all over the country. They provide training at Santa Universities, make sure their RBSs have their beards properly groomed and trimmed, and provide custom tailored Santa suits that can cost upward of $2,000. As I said…big business.

Here are a few things stand-ins for the real Santa need to remember.

Be Jolly. Make sure you always smile and say Ho Ho Ho to everyone, even if you're walking through the mall to go to your car at the end of your shift.

Learn A Few Details About Santa. At the very least, you should be able to name all eight reindeer.

Don't Promise Anything. You could be making a promise that the parents aren't able to keep. Tell the child you'll see what you can do.

Take Plenty Of Breaks. You'll sweat in your Santa suit inside a heated building, your voice will get hoarse, and you'll need plenty of water breaks.

Have An Extra Pair Of Santa Pants. You never can tell when a child will wet your lap.


****

And just between you and me and whatever Santa might be listening, what could be a better Christmas present (or birthday present or Valentine's Day present or…) than finding Mr. Right? Especially if it happened in the last place you'd expect, at a time of life threatening danger when just doing your job required all your attention with searching for Mr. Right the farthest thing from your mind.

Take a researcher who is hired by a reclusive author of horror novels to dig into the details of a thirty year old disappearance of a newspaper tycoon and his wife. Put her on the privately owned island where the disappearances occurred. Hand her the problem of dealing with the island's current owner, a man with a magnetic sex appeal and a past as mysterious as the case she's researching. Then add in frightening psychic visions of danger and death. Put all of that together and what do you have?

DÉJÀ VU by Samantha Gentry. A romantic suspense novel scheduled for release in three weeks, on January 15, 2010, from the Crimson Rose line at The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com). Following is the opening scene of the book:

Alexandra Caldwell shivered, hunching her shoulders against the stiff ocean breeze as the boat pulled up to the dock at Skull Island. Even the name left her uneasy…Skull Island. It sounded like a sinister place inhabited by pirates, thugs, and other undesirables.

She glanced up at the angry storm clouds darkening the sky to the point where it seemed more like evening than eleven o’clock in the morning. Another tremor of apprehension washed through her body. Ever since she was a little girl, thunder and lightning had frightened her. But as much as she wanted to blame the approaching storm for her uneasiness, it wasn’t solely responsible.

She forced her attention to the tall man standing dockside as he grabbed the line thrown to him and secured the vessel. He extended his hand to help her out of the boat. The instant they made physical contact, a potent arc of energy raced through her body followed by a moment of panic. The hair on her arms stood on end. Her mouth went dry and her throat tried to close.

The vision exploded in her mind. Mud…a wall of mud sliding down an embankment toward her. A fleeting glance of an out-of-focus face that turned into a human skull. Then a skeleton. And a second skeleton. She jerked her hand from his grasp while trying to force a calm to her momentary panic.

She didn’t know how to control her psychic abilities and didn’t always understand what the strange images, feelings, and dreams meant. However, she did know when they tried to tell her something important and this was definitely one of those times.

The man cocked his head to one side. A slight frown wrinkled across his brow as he stared at her with a quizzical expression. “Is something wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

She quickly recovered her composure, at least outwardly, and extended a businesslike smile. “No, nothing is wrong. Just a little spark of static electricity, I guess. It must have something to do with…” she glanced up at the threatening sky as a shiver of anxiety swept through her. “…uh, this approaching storm.”

She returned her attention to the man, her demeanor all business. “I’m Alexandra Caldwell. Mr. Talbot is expecting me.”

“I’m Gable Talbot.”

“You’re Gable Talbot?” She couldn’t hide her surprise. This man whose touch had sparked a disturbing sequence of frightening images was not at all what she had anticipated the owner of Skull Island would look like.

****

I'm currently living in Kansas, but have lived most of my life in the Los Angeles area.

For 20 years I worked in television production before becoming a full time writer. For many years photography was my avocation and that's what started me writing—non-fiction magazine articles to accompany my photographs. The writing eventually segued into fiction and novels.

As Shawna Delacorte, I have 21 novels published with Harlequin. My first Samantha Gentry ebook was published in January 2006. In addition to writing, I also teach an 8 week fiction writing class at the state university twice a year.

Stop by my website to read more about DÉJÀ VU and my other books currently in release. www.samanthagentry.com

And don't forget my blog. I do a new post every Sunday morning. http://samanthagentry.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GUEST BLOG: PIPER DENNA

Feel the Burn?


What is it about firemen? The world over, they turn women to (flaming) mush.

Is it the built-in hero factor? Maybe it’s all the sturdy gear they wear—uniforms tend to score big with women, and a fireman’s equipment is probably the hardiest of all. Or could it be the prime physical condition firemen have to maintain?

Personally, I think those fireman photos where our hero is tenderly holding an infant are the hottest. So maybe it’s just the pure rough-n-tough bravery we like.

In any case, I couldn’t resist using a fireman in one of my stories, and it just debuted at Cobblestone Press. A Fireman for Christmas is an erotic novella (long enough for a nice break during the holiday hoopla and spicy enough to warm up a cold winter’s eve):

One more Christmas lusting after her older brother’s best friend? Timi might lose her mind. Fed up with family holidays, she rents a cabin for one, planning a Christmas escape with her drawings. But after numerous sketches turn out to be her rendition of Clay in the Hottest Firemen Calendar poster, she realizes location is just a technicality.

Fireman Clay can’t imagine spending Christmas without Timi around to ogle. Hearing she’s holed up in a lovers’ retreat, he can’t resist seeking her out. This year, he’s determined to start a fire and claim the gift he’s always wanted.


Drop a comment and share what you think is hottest about firemen.

Happy holidays!

Piper Denna

Romance is sexy. And often funny, and sometimes tangled up with suspense. Let’s face it: all sorts of things get mixed up with romance in real life.

Piper Denna’s stories are not cut-and-dried romance. She wants her characters to deal with issues female readers can relate to: independence and trust, empowerment, inhibitions, an unfaithful partner, motherhood. Sometimes her characters make mistakes and often her “bad guys” are not 100% bad. Mostly she wants to take the reader on an emotional journey to a happy ending (with a few enviable sexual encounters along the way!).

When she’s not writing, she edits, raises two “tweens” along with her husband, and has an evil day job.

She enjoys books (or movies) with a comedic twist and hopefully a love story, too.

Sexiest parts of a man in Piper’s opinion? The hands and eyes. Shoulders are nice too, and of course, great pecs are never amiss…

Visit Piper’s website at: www.piperdenna.com

And her blog at: http://piperpatter.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GUEST BLOG: ANNE KANE

From the Cat’s Journal

The author says that journaling is good for the soul, so I thought I’d give it a try. My name is Jeffrey, and I am a gorgeous seal-point Himalayan cat, from a long and distinguished bloodline that dates back centuries. Due to a series of unfortunate incidents, I ended up at the local animal shelter where the powers-that-be adopted me out to an author. Not just any author; Anne Kane, an erotic romance author! The indignity of it is crushing.

Not only am I forced to live with an author, but a Jack Russell terror resides in the house as well. And no, that is not a typo; she’s a terror all right. She seems to have the idea in that tiny little head of hers that she is more important to the author than I am. She makes me sleep at the bottom of the bed, and she insists on having the best seat on the sofa, complete with her own little blanket. It’s disgusting.

Right now, I can tell that the Jack Russell is up to no good. Her furry little muzzle is twitching and her ears are pointed straight up. She thinks she’s being clever, but you can’t fool a cat by making puppy dog eyes. I bet she knows where the author hid those liver snacks. To think that I’ve been reduced to competing with a dog for treats!

I can tell that the author is aware of her bad breeding and untrustworthy nature. When the author goes to work, she leaves me in the house, secure in the knowledge that I will behave myself and respect her personal property. She takes the dog with her at all times, and who can blame her? Would you trust a dog alone in your house for hours on end? I think not.

While my captivity is irksome, I have come to accept my lowered station in life. The author obviously needs me to set an example of breeding and decorum for her and the dog. She treats me well enough. I have a nice rug on top of a heating/ vibrating device that massages my fur. I quite enjoy the massage setting. I believe the device is called a dryer although that term does puzzle me. I avoid swimming and bathing at all times, so unless I misjudge the weather I’m rarely in need of being dried.

The author has no such aversion to water. I am intrigued by her habit of creating mounds of bubbles in the large cleaning tub when she bathes. The tub has a wide edge that I patrol to make sure the dog doesn’t interrupt her while she is in the tub, and I can see no useful purpose to these bubbles. They pop and disappear as soon as I touch them with my paw, and yet there are so many that you can’t tell when one or two are missing. Very puzzling.

When the author first brought me home with her, I kept to myself, hiding under furniture and plotting ways to escape and seek out a home more in keeping with my status, but as time went by, I realized that the author truly needed me.

I sit on her desk and make sure she stays awake with well-placed swipes of my paw. I listen to her mumblings as she types, and I’m not shy about vocalizing when I disagree with a plot point. I also help free up time for her to write by exercising the dog. I drop random toys on its furry little head from one of my many perches, causing it to jump up and down. Good exercise! Overall, I am a vital and cherished part of the author’s household. Now if I could just figure out where she hid those liver snacks!

Postscipt:

To find out more about the Jeff’s author, visit here at one of her online homes listed below.

Anne Kane

www.AnneKane.com

http://annekane.wordpress.com

http://twitter.com/annekane


Sci –Fi and Fantasy with a sensual twist!

Monday, December 21, 2009

GUEST BLOG: ANGEL MARTINEZ

Copyright Issues in Fiction

Recently, I had a young friend ask me some specific questions about what can safely, without fear of legal issues, be included in a story. Could one use another author’s character names? If one was inspired by another author’s story, could one use some of his/her concepts?”

My first response was ‘ye gods, don’t do that!’ especially since the author in question was a well-connected, powerful one. But as the questions took more twists and ‘what-if-I’ turns, I realized just how tricky the line fiction writers walk can become. So, that said, a few words about the basics of copyright and trademark infringement for the fiction writer.

Characters and Created Worlds:

We all know plagiarism is wrong, is prosecutable, and will ruin your reputation. But what if you borrow a setting, a character, or a well-known story to rework it? Gregory Maguire does it in Wicked, and no one sued him, right? So why can’t we use Roland the Gunslinger from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series? The answer lies with something called ‘public domain’. If a work has passed into public domain, there is no longer an active copyright and anyone can use it (properly attributed, of course.) Anything published prior to 1923 is in the public domain, anything after that falls under different copyright acts, so check first. Current copyrights are good for the life of the creator plus seventy years. So Stephen’s got a way to go before he falls into public domain, especially if he lives to be a hundred. While the name ‘Roland’ can’t be copyrighted (it’s an old name, still given to young men today) the use of Stephen’s plot concepts, settings or character attributes in any substantial way can be viewed as infringement.

Song Lyrics and Poems

Once again, everything in the public domain is fair game. Robert Browning will not rise from his grave if one of your characters talks about ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’. Well, probably not. I suppose it depends on whether he’s in a haunting mood. Even lyrics and poems and other works not in the public domain can fall under the ‘fair use act’ which allows for limited use of a copyrighted work without permission, as long as the creator is credited. The key word here is limited, as in no more than a line or two, and the practice must be used judiciously and carefully. With all the file-sharing and bootlegging issues, artists are much more sensitive to their work being used without permission, and rightly so.

Real People, Places and Things

You may, of course, use real cities for your settings in fiction. It would be difficult for a lot of PI’s to exist without their respective cities, or for Somerset Maugham to write Tales from Some City on the West Coast. Using recognizable landmarks, streets and establishments creates a more realistic atmosphere, puts the reader on scene. If you’re going to use an existing place, no need to recreate the whole city, though you can add fictional streets and businesses if you so desire without fear. Where you need to be careful is not to cast an existing business or establishment in a bad light. If one of your characters goes to a famous restaurant in Philly and becomes deathly ill, you may find yourself facing a lawsuit – you know it’s fiction, the owner knows it’s fiction, but such things tend to stick in your audience’s minds. The owner has every right to sue you for potential harm to the business. Same goes for people – casual references won’t bring you any trouble (your character mentions that she loves Colin Firth, fine, no problem.) Disparaging remarks or unflattering portrayals could cause issues. Use fictional people in unflattering ways to be safe in that regard.

Brand name products are covered under trademark rather than copyright law – but again, the fiction writer needs to be cautious. Trademarks do fall under the ‘fair use’ and ‘nominative use’ acts, which allows a non-trademark owner to use the trademark without permission. There’s a lot of legal stuff attached to this, but it means that the author can use a trademarked name as long as there is no confusion over who owns it, the author only uses what’s necessary and the mention is brief, and there is no suggestion in the work that the trademark owner is in any way endorsing the author’s work. So, saying your character ate a Twix? Perfectly fine, if you feel it’s necessary. As long as the mention is incidental, non-disparaging, and does not cause confusion or dilute the owner’s brand. (A tissue is a tissue, but Kleenex is a specific brand and should not be written ‘kleenex’ or ‘kleenexes’, for example.)

Copyright Registration

If it’s not registered with the Copyright Office, it’s not protected, right? True in the past, but not since the Berne Copyright Convention, April 1, 1989, which states that any new, original, privately created work is protected under copyright, with or without notice. Just something to keep in mind.

The final conclusions? Keep your writing as original as possible, whenever possible. Works prior to 1923 are past copyright but don’t lean on them to the point of jeopardizing your own creativity. Use trademarks sparingly and, if you must, correctly. Avoid portraying real places and people in damaging ways. If you’re unsure, look it up, ask your publisher (Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a copyright attorney!) or make something new up to take its place. It’s fiction. As long as you’ve created it, you can do whatever the heck you want.

Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author's head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

You can find out more information about her and her work at

Red Rose Publishing - Finn and Finn's Christmas both available now

or her website:Erotic Fiction for the Hungry Mind

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcome to our Brand New Promotional Opportunity

Marianne and Judy here! We are kicking off the new promotional opportunity we're offering -- guest blogging! -- by introducing you to a couple of new things going on in the next few weeks.

The Long and the Short of It is growing! On January 4 we will include under its umbrella not only romance (LASR)and erotic romance (WC) sites, but also a Young Adult / Middle Grade fiction site.

We're very excited about beginning to promote the YA/MG genre and hope you'll join us in our launch of the Aurora site for YA/MG fiction. Aurora can be found at http://www.longandshortreviews.com/AURORA/index.htm

Be sure and check out the reviews and interviews on the new site, and if you have any ideas about what types of things you'd like to see, let us know. We have high hopes for expanding into a few other areas at some point in the future. Let us know what you think.

In order to give us time to finish the preparations for that launch and to give Marianne and Judy a much needed break from the daily chores associated with owning an incredibly busy website, The Long and the Short of It is "closed" for the Christmas holidays. But WAIT! Before you think nothing will be going on here, for the next two weeks you have the chance to hear from some authors who have agreed to guest blog here. AND.. yes, there is more (just like Ginsu Knives!): We're giving stuff away to people who comment on the blogs. WHAT prizes, you ask?

We're giving away two prize packages to two randomly drawn lucky winners (one to a commenter on the LASR guest blogs, and one to a commenter on the WC guest blog).

Each Prize Package includes:
  • A hardback copy of "The Christmas Secret" by Donna VanLiere
    (leave a comment on the review, and earn an additional entry!)

  • A LASR/WC ceramic coffee mug

  • A PDF copy of "Now That We've Found You" by Marianne Arkins

  • A $10 Amazon.com Gift Certificate



  • And remember: beginning January 4, check back here on every Monday and Wednesday for new guest blogs (if you want to make sure you remember, why don't you follow the blog -- the link to do so is over there in the sidebar). Beginning 1/4/10, comments on the guest blogs earn you an entry into our weekly contest. We hope you enjoy this new feature.

    and...Merry Christmas.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Stay Tuned!

    Guest Blogging coming soon! Want to guest blog here? Email us at whippedcream2@gmail.com -- thanks!