Posts tagged with: Donna MacMeans

April Coming Attractions

Last Temptation of Dr. Dalton

March was an AMAZING month in the lair. Our fabulous Tawny Weber hit the New York Times List as a part of the Lucky 7 Bad Boys boxed set, which features her story Naughty Vegas Nights. And if that wasn’t enough, Anna Campbell won the Australian Romance Readers Award for Best Continuing Series AND was nominated for a RITA award in the historical category for A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS! 

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But never fear that we’ve been too busy partying in celebration of our banditas’ successes. We have an action-packed April for you this month!

 On April 2nd, Robin Giana returns to the lair to discuss whether eyes are truly the windows to the soul.  You can see her inspiration in the cover of her latest release, The Last Temptation of Dr. Dalton.

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 Our very own Thelma and Louise, Nancy Northcott and Jeanne Adams, hit the road on April 4 and 5 and will bring you their latest adventures on a research trip through coastal Georgia. Savannah, Brunswick, and (of course, since Nancy is involved) the Okefenokee are all on the itinerary, and there may be some surprises along the way. Safe travels, Nancy and Jeanne! No cliff-diving now, OK?

 

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On 12 April, Nancy welcomes Alexis Morgan for her Lair debut.  They’ll chat about Alexis’s new release, Immortal Cowboy.

Break out the cabana boys, because Tawny’s full-length paranormal, There’s A New Witch in Town will released on April 14th!  A sexy fairy tale of a witch, a hot hero and a cursed town… and a whole lot of fun!

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On April 15 Trish Milburn celebrates the release of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF LOVE the second novella collection in the Starfish Shores series from MJ Fredrick, Tanya Michaels and (of course) Trish Milburn!

April 16 – Caren Crane hosts Deb Marlowe and various others of the Red Door Reads authors to talk about their exciting new novella adventure. Be sure to Like their Facebook page before April 15 so you will be first to hear all the news!

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April 17 — Elke Feuer debuts in the Lair with her book, Deadly Bloodlines, in which “A serial killer is determined to repeat a murderous pattern that started twenty years ago.”


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On April 18, Lisa Tapp joins Joanie to chat about her debut novel, FINDING BETH.  

April 21 Allie Burton returns to the Lair with Atlantis Dark Tides, book 4 in her YA series, where treachery and spies determine the fate of the underwater world.
 

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April 23rd brings debut author Ursula LaCoeur to the lair.  Learn how the romance of New Orleans inspired her debut, The Willing Widow.

 

CONTESTS/SPECIAL OFFERS

Suzanne Ferrell’s KIDNAPPED is FREE on Amazon, iTunes, and KOBO ebooks.

Susan Sey and Caren Crane will be participating in a huge Red Door Reads giveaway (prize is an iPad mini!) starting April 15. To keep in the know, Like the Facebook page.

Tawny Weber’s There’s A New Witch in Town will be out in the Dangerous Dozen boxed set on April 7th – for a limited time, the boxed set is specially priced for only .99 cents.

Weird Science

One of the best things to writing a book is doing the research.

What!  You say.  Doing research is work.  It’s hard.  It’s definitely not fun…but it is.  The thought of all that hard work researching a time period with which I was unfamilar held me back from writing historical romances for a long, long time.  Silly me.  Once you start doing the research, it’s easy to get lost in the learning and forget about writing.

Weird ScienceBut I’m not researching a time period this time.  I’m researching time and science.

You see, the hero of my work in process – a really fun time travel – is a quantum physics professor concerned with string theory.  In order to protray my hero, I need to learn the buzz words and some of the concepts of his profession.  To help with that, I’ve been watching some of the NOVA science series and other science DVDs and I’ve got to say –  science is uncovering some seriously freaky stuff.  (I had another four letter word in mind, but “stuff” will cover it.)

For example – Did you realize that time is not the same for everyone?  Gravity impacts time.  The closer you are to the center of the earth, the faster time moves.skyscraper  Thus the farther away you are from earth, the slower time ticks by.  That’s one of the reasons it’s said that if you go up far, far away in space, by the time you return, everyone you knew will have aged years while you may have only aged months.  The segment said this change in time works for being on high sky-scrapers as well.  If you live, work, and pretty much remain on the ninetith floor of a building (I choose that floor at random), you’ll age slower than the people on the street below.  Of course, the difference is probably not visible to the naked eye as it’s so small – but, hey, you’ll know and that’s all that counts. :-)

airplaneThe same thing occurs with speed.  The faster one goes the more time slows down.  To prove this, scientists took two precise atomic clocks that measure time to the mega – mega – second.  The clocks registered exactly the same time.  One clock was placed on a jet that flew incredibly fast around the world.  When it returned to the starting point, the two clocks were compared and the one on the plane registered a time that was several mega seconds behind that of the other clock.  Time had slowed for the high-flying clock.  Think about that the next time you squeeze into a tight airplane seat to fly all around the country just to get to the state next door.  This little scientific fact must explain the GR’s youthful appearance.  His constant flights have earned him eternal youth.

Then there’s the whole concept of particle entanglement.  Without going into a lot of scientific explanation, entanglement is when two particles influence each other to do the exact thing.  If one twists right, the other twists left at the same precise moment.  They are entangled.  The cool thing is that if you split these entangled particles and send one far, far away – it’ll still have the exact star treksame arrangement with it’s entangled partner.  One twists right, the other twists left and at the exact same moment they switch.  Cool – huh?  It’s believed that this will lead to a teleportation model in the future.  Star Trek is here, folks!

Even though this next piece of science has nothing to do with time, I thought it was interesting, particularly for lovers of romance.  There is a condition called blindsight whereby once sighted people lose the ability to see out of one eye due to an accident or a stroke, etc.  The connection that takes visual cues to the visual cortex for interpretation is damaged rendering the person blind in that eye.  In an experiment, scientists had blindsighted individuals look in a contraption that had a partition to brainbetween the eyes of the person looking into it.  Thus the test subject would only be able to see the image portrayed in front of the “good” eye.  The image projected in front of the “blind” eye should be lost or not seen – yet it was.  The contraption showed the good eye pictures of faces with absolutely no expression.  Simultaneously, they showed the “blind” eye pictures of people showing great emotion.  The test subject’s face would mimic the emotional faces even though they could only see the expressionless faces.  When questioned, they didn’t know that they had that reaction.  Scans of the test subject’s brain showed that even though the visual cortex never “lit up,” other areas of the brain did – the ones that process emotion.  The scientists felt this would suggest that a sixth sense exists that registers emotion.

I think this must be true because when I read an emotional book, I’m quite certain many, many areas in my brain light up – even though I’m not “seeing” anything but words on a page.  It’s the power of emotion, and as romance is the most emotional of all the genres, in my opinion, romance must be the most powerful of literatures.  At least it is in my world :-) sunshine

Speaking of time – don’t forget that this weekend marks the start of daylight savings time.  We’ll be springing forward on Sunday night.  And if we’re “springing” forward for the sake of co-ordinating our clocks, can the start of spring in the form of warmer temps and flowers and sun be far behind?

I must say that even though I was a bit of a science geek in my early years  (I mean really, who else takes college level Chemistry just for the fun of it?), I sometimes feel that the world is rushing ahead leaving me in the dust.  There is so very much that I don’t know and never imagined.  Do you ever feel like that?  Have you ever encountered some weird science that you’d like to share?  Are you a Big Bang Show enthuiast (I am)?  Are you now or have you ever been a science geek?  What are your thoughts about time-travel?   Are you as anxious for Spring as I am?  Let’s chat. 

 

 

 

Inspiration – Where does it come from?

“Where do you get your ideas? 

It’s the question every writer is asked at some point in time.  The best answer I’ve ever heard was from Sylvia Day who said simply, “they come out of my shower head.”

While I admit that there’s a unique relationship between water and creativity (my daughter bought a pad of waterproof sticky notes to keep in my shower, just in case), that’s not where my books originated.  I thought that I’d share the story behind the inspiration for my various books.

Outlander-blue-cover-198x300My very first manuscript is one that remains tucked under the bed.  It’s an important book in that working on it managed to hook me on writing romance, but like most first books, it was a bit of a learning project.  It would need a lot of work to bring it to publishable standards.  However, it was inspired by reading OUTLANDER, the time-travel that is soon to be seen as a television series.  The story brought together an English modern heroine and a Scottish hero from the Jacobite rebellion.  One of the aspects that I loved is that the heroine was a married woman.  While separated by two hundred years from her husband, she falls in love all over again with someone from the eighteenth century.  It was the memory of falling in love that hooked me, so once I finished OUTLANDER I sought out another romance that didn’t appeal to me quite so much.  I can do better than this, I thought, and so I tried.

THE FLAME OF THE DRAGON is a contemporary romantic suspense based on OUTLANDER.  I used amnesia instead of time-travel to “free” the heroine so she could fall in love with another.  But like OUTLANDER, the heroine has to choose between the two men in the end.  That book was a Golden Heart Finalist, which in my naivety, made me think it would be snapped up by some publisher.  It’s a good story, though, so maybe one day…

My second book, IN A HEARTBEAT, another romantic suspense, was inspired by a talk show.  A cardiologist talked about how he’d performed heart transplants and sometimes discovered that after the operation, the heart recipient had memories that rightfully belonged to the donor.  Wow!  The possibilities!  In my book, I imagined a serial killer also watched that same talk show.In a Heartbeat  He’d gotten away with several murders, but in one of the cases the victim’s heart was transplanted into a woman accountant in a small town in Ohio.  He decides to kill her before she remembers him.  Lots of other things happen in the book.  I drag my poor heroine through all kinds of trouble (sigh).  Samhain published that book under my pen name, Donna Richards, the only one of my romantic suspenses that I’ve published.

Mrs_Brimley_CoverTHE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY was inspired by a contest.  Lori Foster sponsored a contest on her website which required three pages with a lot of sexual tension.  I thought I’d enter the contest with a reluctant striptease scene – the problem being – a striptease in contemporary times really isn’t all that sexy.  For one thing, we don’t wear enough clothes to stretch the scene out to any decent length.  So I decided I should make it historical.  The Victorian time period suited my needs perfectly, not only because they wore a ton of clothes (including sexy corsets) but the morality of the times would add a measure of risk to the scene.  I started asking myself “what if?” and suddenly a full story emerged in my imagination.  I never entered Lori’s contest, but this became the book that truly launched my publishing career.

Of course, that launching was not immediate.  Lots of editors and agents rejected that manuscript.  So many that I figured no one would ever purchase Mrs. Brimley.  So I started another book that became THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT.  I was casting about looking for a viable plot.  I wanted to stay in the Victorian timeThe Trouble With Moonlight period because I loved it.   Movies with super heroes were really popular at that time, and I decided to write a book about a heroine who had a super power.  At first, I thought about flying, but flying with all those clothes would be a problem.  I opted instead for invisibility, but I didn’t want her to be able to turn the power on and off.  That would be too easy.  Instead I made her turn invisible in moonlight – she can’t help it, it just happens.  Out of necessity, she’s become a bit of a thief – but only during a full moon and only when she’s naked.  That book won Romantic Times Historical Love and Laughter award.  It’s one of my favorites.  Before I finished the book, MRS. BRIMLEY sold to Berkley.  While they accepted THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT as a second book, they wanted a sequel to MRS. BRIMLEY.  So I hit the drawing board for an idea involving the hero’s older brother.

TheSeductionofaDukeYou must understand, MRS. BRIMLEY, was always meant to be a stand alone book.  I hadn’t really planned for a series.  The older brother, after all, does some nasty things in the first book – and now he has to become a hero.  THE SEDUCTION OF THE DUKE opens with the older brother in such financial distress that he agrees to marry an American heiress sight unseen.  The story was inspired by a trip I made to the tiny state of Rhode Island for my niece’s wedding.  The wedding took place outside of Newport which was THE summering spot for the Vanderbilts and other rich American families.  I learned the story of Consuela Vanderbilt who was married to the Duke of Marlborough because he needed her money.  It was not a happy marriage. However, in my version, the two fall in love.  I did borrow heavily from Consuela’s life for the book.

As I wrote the epilogue for THE SEDUCTION OF THE DUKE, I discovered that the hero’s younger sister played a role in the arranged marriage.  I had no Redeeming the Rogueclue!  Suddenly, I have an interesting character that I could use for another book in what was becoming the “Chambers” series.  REDEEMING THE ROGUE is the story of the sister.  Certain facts were revealed in Seduction that would affect the heroine’s opportunities for an acceptable marriage.  She had reason to travel away from home a great deal.  My daughter gave me a book about the wives of diplomats in the Victorian era and I discovered that British ambassadors assigned to America required a hostess.  I learned the story of Victoria Sackville who was a highly successful hostess for her ambassador father and decided that would be the model for my heroine.  I wanted to pair her with an unlikely candidate for marriage to maximize the conflict so I created an Irish spy who works for the crown and is assigned to impersonate the British ambassador so as to investigate a murder.  He needs a hostess.  The timing of the novel coincided with the assassination of President Garfield.  I made that an integral part of my novel.

Casanova CodeAbout this time, a friend sent me an article about Victorian personal ads.  These were so cool – men advertising for women, and even women advertising for men.  How could I resist?  After talking with fellow banditas, Jeanne Adams, Nancy Northcott, and Cassondra Murray, we devised a group of women called the Rake Patrol who were determined to investigate the men who advertised for women to see if they were worthy of the women they seek.  I wanted to show that the first heroine in the series was intelligent so I was going to have her do crossword puzzles for fun, but crosswords puzzles weren’t around at that time period.  A friend suggested I consider cryptograms, a game of breaking codes.  When I learned that some of the Victorian personal ads were written in code – I had to use it.  THE CASANOVA CODE was born. 

Unlike the “Chamber series,” the Rake Patrol was planned to be a series from the get-go.  The second book, THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED, features another character from the Rake Patrol.  Thiskilt yum one is a firebrand who champions the evils of alcohol, or Temperance.  Naturally, I figured she had to be paired with a distiller for maximum conflict.  With Scotland so close, it made sense to make her attracted to a Scotch distiller.  Wish I could say this hunky guy in a kilt is the cover for that book :), but Berkley hasn’t given me the cover yet.   When I do get it, hopefully this month, you know where it’ll be previewed first.  THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED is to be released in July of this year.

charm gates signBefore I sold Mrs. Brimley, I had gone to New Orleans for an RWA convention and saw the Charm Gates at the Court of Two Sisters.  These are gates that were blessed by Queen Isabella II of Spain to impart their charm to all who touched them.  Intrigued by these gates, I started playing around with ideas.  I’ve started a time travel called CHARMED that brings a woman from 1855 to modern day New Orleans connected with the gates.  My agent is shopping that story as we speak. 

So you can see that inspiration comes from many places, from history itself, from true life, from newspaper articles, to plotting ideas with friends.  I can’t honestly say that any of my inspirations have come from the shower head, but I’m not dismissing the possibility for future books.  In the meantime, I’m keeping those waterproof notes handy.

     

 

Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future…

One thing I love about January (and no – it’s not the snow) are the new just-waiting-to-be-filled calendars.  I have to admit it.  I LOVE calendars.  They offer such possibilities – all those blank spaces.  They make me feel organized, even when I’m not.  They’re great communicators, reminding me when my aerobics class starts up, and when my various writer groups are meeting. 

Planner padMy can’t-live-without calendar is something called a planner pad.  Here’s what it looks like.  No pretty pictures.  Just lots of writing room.  The planner pad shows one week at a time.  The top third is for listing the things that need to be done for the week.  I allot a bit of time every Sunday, just me and a cup of chocolate mint truffle tea (It smells heavenly!) to sit and think about the upcoming week.  I consider the things that need to be accomplished for the family, for my writing, for myself, etc.  It’s like the old Steve Miller song.  Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.  I feel as if this special time, just me and the calendar, keeps time from slipping away without purpose.

So I schedule my page creation writing goals in achievable chunks.  Sometimes I’ll add under writing the need to check out a research book or watch a DVD.  I’m currently watching science dvds on string theory, black holes, and quantum physics.  LOL.  Quite a difference from my research on scotch distillation…or maybe not.  After a glass of scotch (or a few of those single malt infused pieces of fudge my agent sent my for Christmas), the theoritical possibilites seem to make more sense.  :-)DVDs

I schedule out the family needs – put up the Christmas decorations, take down the Christmas decorations :-) , break out the Valentine’s decorations.  My daughter has a birthday this month so I jotted down that I needed to shop for her – both for gifts and a card – and that I’d need a cake.  Can’t have a birthday Book Cakewithout a cake!  If I could, I’d make one like this – isn’t it beautiful!

I have a section for promo.  Right now I’m giving away a book from my backlist every Friday through January and February to someone chosen from my author page “likes.”  Most of you are on that list so let me take a moment to say Thank You for that (Mwah!)  But I also put blogging reminders in this section, and the need to order swag for The Whisky Laird’s Bed.  It’s a neverending thing – promotion.

Then finally – I have a section for me.  Ever notice how it’s easy to overlook the things you need to do for yourself?  We always put ourselves at the bottom of the priority chain – so it’s good to be able to reflect about the things I want/need to do just for me.  It’s an attempt to keep that time from slipping into the future. 

The middle section of the planner pad is broken down by the days of the week.  This is where I schedule out the days I plan to work on those tasks listed above, plus all those routine sort of things that don’t require planning but still need to be done. I like that there’s a space to check off things as they’re completed.   There’s a certain sense of accomplishment in seeing that nice row of checkmarks.  Plus there’s always those days when nothing has gone right.  When every attempt to finish a task becomes an exercise in kicking over rocks to find more things that need to be addressed first.  On those days I can look at my planner and pull out some simple task then check that one off as complete.  Yeah, I like that.wall calendar

The bottom third of the calendar is for scheduling appointments.  At least until tax season takes off, I don’t need that.  I tried to use the section to keep track of how I used time but the calendar ends at 9 PM and I’m generally working till 2 AM.  :-)  So it becomes something of a note pad.

However, this is not the only calendar in the house.  I keep a pretty wall calendar in the kitchen for the entire family to note their appointments and what not.  It’s the hub for family organization.  I keep the calendar near the phone so we can quickly double check to see if we’re available on a particular night.  I think every family has a calendar just like this on their wall – what graphics/pictures do you have on yours? 

Downton AbbeyBecause calendar prices are always discounted 50% after Christmas, I patiently waited this year till after the holiday to buy another calendar.  This one is the Downton Abbey weekly calendar.  I justified the purchase to myself saying that I’d use it to keep track of the progress of tax returns.  But really, I bought it for the pictures – all those beautiful dresses and funny retorts from the Dowager Countess.

I bought another calendar to give away to someone leaving a comment today.  Here it is – a peacock calendar :-)  So tell me, do you have a fondness for calendars?  What kind do you use? Are they absolutely essential or just pretty decorations.  Any tips for a great way to use them?  Let’s chat.Peacock calendar

Kat Sheridan talks gothic romance

It is my pleasure to introduce my long time friendKat Sheridan to you today.  Kat just released her debut novel, ECHOES IN STONE.  

Kat, you write gothic historical romance. What elements differentiate a gothic romance from a typical historical romance?

Sheridan smallIt has been said that in traditional romances, the girl gets a boy, but in Gothic romances, the girl gets a house. Or a castle. Or an abbey. The ever-popular Regency romance tends to be about manners, rules (and defying them!) wittiness, and the social dance among peers. Gothics are their dark, brooding cousin, drenched in incessant storms, steeped in atmosphere, with a strong suspense element. I once had a contest judge suggest that gloomy castles and rain were so clichéd that perhaps I might have my characters meet at a picnic on a sunny afternoon instead. This is akin to suggesting that fluffy pink bunnies might make appropriate Halloween decorations. Gothics also tend to feature heroines forced to work for a living. Governess is the perennially favorite occupation, but she might also be a music teacher, portrait painter, or secretary. She tends to be plucky and resourceful, although in early gothic romances she also tended to scream a lot and need rescuing. In modern gothics, she fights back and is just as likely to rescue the hero.

Who were your influences?

Like most fans of Gothic romance, I fell in love early with Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Daphne DuMaurier. In the acknowledgements of this novel I also thank Barbarakatsheridan_echoesinstone_200pxWITH_DROP_SHADOW Michaels for writing Master of Blacktower. The font on the front cover of Echoes in Stone, including the “swooshes” on it, are a direct tribute to one of the covers for that book. I also have almost the entire collection of Zebra gothics from the early 90s, the ones with the covers that have ladies running from houses, and a single light gleaming from a tower. I wanted that same concept on the cover of Echoes in Stone. There’s a castle with a single light in the tower, but instead of a screaming lady running, I wanted to show the dark, brooding man she was running from!

Tell us about your writing process? 

My process includes the Write or Die application, a piece of software that times the writing and makes hideous noises at you if you falter. It also involves headphones and a tiara. The headphones are usually blasting Mozart or a favorite meditational piece that includes binaural beats. The tiara, besides just looking terrific, is used as a visual cue to Hubs, to alert him that I’m deep into writing and will toss him over the nearest parapet if he interrupts the muse. The accompanying photo shows me with Donna MacMeans, both of wearing our favorite headgear. Her excuse was that she was doing a book signing on a busy Saturday morning at Barnes & Noble. I had no excuse other than being at Kat & Donnaan age where wearing a tiara in public on a Saturday morning is not yet a sign of incipient senility, but it’s getting close. 

What’s next for you? 

I’m up to my glittery tiara in NaNoWriMo right now, working on another gothic romance.  NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an international event that challenges people to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  That’s actually about half a novel for me, and a pretty steep challenge.  My new novel involves a cursed necklace, seven generations of dead women, three ghosts, and an abbey. The heroine this time is the ward of the traditional dark hero (another classic trope!) , and a marriage of convenience. And lots of villains. I do love a good villain. Or two. Or three.

What’s your favorite drink? Favorite dessert?

 I’m a diehard bourbon girl. Nothing is better at the end of the day than an icy Manhattan, although Hubs has tried for years to convince me that the maraschino cherries in them do not, in fact, count toward my daily fruit and veggie quota. I’m also a fan of coffee and anything coffee flavored. I am easily seduced by the occasional espresso martini. And although it’s probably sacrilegious for a romance writer, I’m not a fan of chocolate. I’d rather have cheesecake. Coffee-flavored cheesecake. Or bourbon flavored cheesecake. Or anything with frosting. Lots of frosting.

Can you share a short excerpt?

Absolutely!

Jessa lifted her gray skirts and ran through the rain, but was sodden by the time she reached the small portico. The heavy wool clung to her body, deepening her chill. She raised her hand to the bell pull, but never reached it.

A bolt of lightning cracked overhead. The horses screamed. By accident or design, the coachman departed at a clattering pace, abandoning her alone on the doorstep of Tremayne Hall. A second flash of lightning followed hard on the first, as the heavy wooden door opened with a resounding crash.

Jessa recoiled, gasping, unable to tell if her racing heart owed more to the sizzle in the air or the figure illuminated in the flash of light.

They stood in a frozen tableau, staring at one another. Towering over her, the monstrous man looked large enough to manage any unwary hound of hell that crossed his path. A wild mane of unkempt ebony hair fell to his shoulders, leaving his face half in shadow. Powerful-looking thighs strained the seams of his black trousers. His knee-high boots, spattered with mud, molded muscular calves.

In that single flash of lightning, his black silk shirt, open to the waist, had revealed a fine mat of coal black hair curled against bronze skin. Nothing disguised the breadth of chest and shoulders.

Jessa raised her chin, drawing a sharp breath. Why am I not surprised to find the devil at the door this night? “I’ve come—”

“You lying, cheating bitch! Come back from the fires of hell to taunt me, have you? I killed you once; why will you not stay dead?”

With the shouted words still echoing around the half-lit room behind him, he seized Jessa’s wrist and yanked her into his arms.

Wow!  Now that’s a tease!

I once had a friend insist you simply can’t have an ugly hero in romance. I reminded her how many women love Erik, the badly deformed Phantom of the Opera. My hero, Dash Tremayne, is scarred both inside and out. He’s described this way: “Slashing through his eyebrow, then curving in a long crescent the length of his cheek to the corner of his mouth, a jagged scar disfigured the rugged face. It lifted the corner of his mouth, lending it a sardonic smirk even now, when there was unmistakably no humor in his shadowed eyes.”

So I’d like to ask your readers – Can a romance novel have an “ugly” hero? How do you feel about less-than-beautiful heros or heroines? 

I’m giving away a copy of Echoes in Stone to one reader. Just comment to enter. One name will be randomly selected from whatever hat I have handy (glancing around, it will probably be my jungle-print baseball cap!) If you are in the U.S or Canada, you’ll have your choice of an autographed print copy or a coupon for the e-format of your choice to be downloaded from Smashwords. International readers, I don’t want to leave you out. If you win and live outside the U.S. or Canada, you’ll be offered the Smashwords coupon, which allows you to download the e-book in any of your favorite formats.

To read more about Echoes in Stone, you can find Kat at http://katsheridan.wordpress.com/

 

Influential People Who Never Lived

My daughter brought home a TIme Magazine publication,  The 100 Most Influential People who NEVER LIVED.

Which got me to thinking.  I imagine there are more imaginary people who influenced me in some way than real people.  We discover imaginary people in every fiction book we read, in most television shows, in most movies.  Our world is populated with imaginary people!

So I was thinking about how they might have influenced our lives.  For example – Did the spunkiness of Scarlett O’Hara speak to you when things got rough reminding you that “tomorrow is another day” and thus Scarlett O'Haraanother opportunity to make things right?  How about the fictional character of Cinderella giving us hope that every woman is beautiful and can rise from misfortune to capture the heart of a prince?  Were you motivated by Atticus Finch to stand up for what’s right, even when others tell you you’re wrong?  I think maybe in a way I was.

I remember watching A Christmas Carol every year at Christmastime.  I never got tired of it.  It clearly depicted that how we live our lives is reflected in how we’ll be remembered, and that our choices have consequences.  Ebenezer Scrooge – I owe you for reminding me that the little things count for good and bad.  Ebeneezer Scrooge

I’d like to say that I was influenced by Harry Potter to believe in magic but I think he came along too late to be much of an influence for me – unless it was to point out the potential of the young adult market but I attribute that  to a very real J.K. Rowling than to her characters.  No, I think the characters that taught me to believe in magic were Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.  I remember seeing a televised stage production of Peter Pan on tv when I was little.  Mary Martin played Peter Pan and a tiny flashing light was Tinkerbelle.  I’ll never forget when the children were sprinkled with fairy dust and they flew – they really flew – right off the stage and into the air!!  How can you not believe in magic when you see that at an impressionable age?

Peter PanSo what “people who never lived” had an influence upon you?  (Perhaps Dracula or Frankenstein given the season :-P ).  I’ll let you know if they made Time’s list – and I’ll drop some of the names on the list as we go through the day.  It’s fun to see the names of the characters and say “Oh, I remember that one!”

I’ll pick a random name from the people leaving a comment and we’ll talk about a prize from my backlist.  So let’s chat memorable characters.

 

 

 

Bandita Booty from Love of a Good Pen

BanditBootyI had such a good time chatting with everyone about pens, penmanship and Illya Kuryakin that I’ve decided to award two prizes.

The winners are :

Shannon and Sue Leech!

Congratulations!   If you can visit www.DonnaMacMeans.com and send me your contact information, I’ll send out a copy of the Casanova Code ASAP.

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by.Casanova Code

The Love of a Good Pen

 

 

Long before there were computers and smartphones, there were pens… and letters…and really nice handwriting!  (Sadly, I lack the latter.)

 Back when I attended Randallstown Elementary school, every student graduating from fifth grade got a cartridge fountain pen.  At that time, fountain pens were fairly common.  Bic ballpoint pens were just finding favor, but they just didn’t have the class of a fountain pen.  For those that are unfamiliar with fountain pens, the early ones were directly filled  from a tiny bottle of ink.  For clumsy people like me – that’s an accident waiting to happen.

 The cartridge pens were much easier to fill.  You’d buy little plastic tubes of ink, break the wax seal with something sharp and then put the cartridge in the pen.  The inks came in all sorts of colors (unlike the Bic ballpoints.  At that time you could only get blue, black and red).  My favorite was a teal blue – peacock blue!  Big surprise there.

 UNCLE penBy the time I went to Junior high school, the television show, the Man from U.N.C.L.E., was all the rage.  Darn, I should have remembered that crush I had on Illya Kuryakin (aka David McCallum) when Patricia Sargeant did her blog on crushes.  He was hot.  IllyaFor those that don’t remember, here’s a stroll down memory lane.  I’m not high-tech effort to embed a video, but if you’re a Man from UNCLE fan – check this out  http://youtu.be/RPf5FkYolS8 .  It brought back lots of memories.Anyway, they had a communicator pen.  At the time I had a gold pen that you could twist to release a blue ballpoint nib or a red ballpoint nib (the nib being the writing piece of the pen).  If I took the top off, the pen looked high tech enough to pretend it was a communicator.

 Lately, I’ve collected “special” pens to use at book signings.  Unfortunately, the one I used most often – a pink plastic pen in the shape of a feather – broke.  So I can’t include it here.  The pen on the left is a peacock pen (you knew that was coming, right?) and the one on the right I picked up in Scotland.  The barrel is made from the stems of heather.  Pretty unique.pens

 

While in a celtic frame of mind, I also picked the pen filled with celtic symbols at Edinburgh castle, but darn if I can find it now :cry:  .  I think it’s buried in my office somewhere which means it might not surface for  years.   

quill penI have a number of pens given to me for various purposes, but I’ve not used them.  The quill pen was a gift from my local Sisters-in-Crime chapter for speaking at one of their meetings.  The quote on the paper holding the pen in place is from Victor Hugo and says “It has the lightness of the wind and the power of the lightning. ”  Love that quote.

The gold pen was a gift from my local RWA chapter to celebrate my first book sale in 2006.  It’s hard to see but there’s a crystal in the top of the pen that sparkles different colors in the sunlight. gold pen 

I have a theory that pens are going the way of horse and buggies as the ability to text and submit applications strengthens and grows.  I think that’s sort of sad.  

What about you?  Do you have a favorite pen, or just one that you grab from the bottom of your purse.  LOL Maybe I should ask if you have a favorite stylus  :-)  Do you believe good handwriting is still important?  Do you have nice handwriting?   Tell me your “ink” on the subject and I’ll send someone a copy of THE CASANOVA CODE.  

Winner of Confession – Abandoned Books

BanditBootyThanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment on Friday.  The winner of a book from my backlist is

Nancy S Goodman

 

Nancy – Please go to www.DonnaMacMeans.com and let me know which of my books you’d like as a prize.  I can send you any one except The Education of Mrs. Brimley as I don’t have any more copies of that release.  But any one of the others is available.

 

 

Confession: Abandoned books

They say confession is good for the soul, so I thought I’d air mine.

I have been carrying around a massive ton of guilt regarding books that I’ve started and never finished.  I’ve always been a “finish what you start” person and always applied that to books as well.  But these days…not so much.  I thought I was alone in this and kept this dereliction of reading responsibly to myself, but a recent facebook post from Trish Milburn got me thinking.  Check out the chart that accompanied the facebook surprising book factspost.

I know – the percentages quoted of people reading at all are depressing, but see that little block that says  ”57% of new books are not read to completion”?  That’s me!  Perhaps I’m in good company.  Now I don’t know if that’s 57% of “all new books published” or 57% of new books a typical reader purchases…but I’m thinking it’s the “all new books” version.

In preparation for this blog, I googled “Reasons for not finishing a book,” and found I wasn’t alone.  I discovered there’s even a Goodreads list of the top books not finished.  While I haven’t found that list (Goodreads is a total mystery to me), I understand that Catch-22 and some books of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy occupy the top spots (I finished both of those in my early years in high school.)  They noted in the article that most finished books result from book clubs and school assignments.  In other words – there are repercussions if you don’t finish.  While that may be true, there are many books that I simply can’t put down.  I’ll stay up all night if necessary, and then mourn a little bit when I come to the end.  Don’t you love it when that happens?

I feel as if I’m abandoning more books in the most recent years than say ten years ago.  I saw an article that said technology such as Kindles, Nooks, and Ipads make it easier to book_stackabandon books.  I don’t know if this concept is true – but I do know that when I abandon a book on my kindle, it’s “in my face” longer.  I see those little percentage of completion dots whenever I access the menu.  If I abandon a print book, I simply slip it into a box destined for the local library and don’t have to see it again :-) .  But books on Kindle are different.

I’ve noticed that I tend to abandon the book about the 25 – 28% mark (Kindle makes this so easy to ascertain) – or, surprisingly, right after I finish chapter six.  I wonder why that is?

For what it’s worth, I ALWAYS finish books that are assigned to me for judging purposes.  It may be a struggle…but I always finish those.

So please tell me I’m not alone.  Are you like me?  Are there books that you just can’t bring yourself to finish?  What makes you put it down – can’t relate to the characters?  Action is just too slow?  The writing style is just too convoluted?  Tell me because I’d like to make sure that my books are ones that you’ll finish to the end :-).  I’ll pick a name from the people leaving comments to receive one of the books from my backlist (except Mrs. Brimley – I’m out of those copies and have to scour the half-price books to find them).

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