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What do you do with a character who refuses to do what you want her to do?  Do you force her to fall into line or do you just throw up your hands and let her go the way she wants?

I’m in a down and dirty catfight with one of those right now and it’s driving me crazy.  Not so much the fact that she’s winning, though I’ll admit that has me a feeling just the teensiest bit peeved, but when I read back over what I’ve written each day, I know she’s right.  And damn it, I find it hard to argue with that.   

The thing is…I’ve been told by numerous people, all who know a lot more about writing than I do, that a writer should never, never let the characters take charge of the story.  Yet, it seems with every book I write, there’s at least one character that does exactly that.  And it’s something of a major struggle for me to make that particular character behave according to an outline or the vague guidelines I have in my head and the pithy notes I’ve scrawled on scraps of paper and scattered all over my office.

This character, one Betty Sue Corn–and some day I’ll have to tell you the story of how I got her name, it’s a good one–is a timid, logical, don’t-rock-the-boat kind of woman.  She’s approaching forty, an old-maid librarian at a middle school, and considers herself practical and extremely ordinary.  But when I got her up on Eternity Mountain, the setting for my Eternal Shadows series, and she met Marc, the hero of the story, she turned into a  smart-ass, daring, and at times, flatout bitchy woman.  And let me tell you, I just know she’s not going to be happy if she doesn’t get to be a kick-ass heroine in the end.

But this is a romance.  A paranormal romance, which gives you a bit of leeway with the characters, but a romance, all the same.  The hero’s supposed to rescue the heroine, right?  Well, yeah, but she’s not having any of that!  And given a number of posts I’ve read recently on the romance blogs, and the comments made on them, readers are getting tired of the hero always being the one who saves the day.  So, maybe I should let her do what she wants to do, let her be the white knight, so to speak.  God knows, I did it in the first book of the series, Snow Shadows.  No, I’m not going to give away anything and I hope you’ll forgive this bit of BSP (blatant self-promotion), but the heroine in Snow Shadows, Ellen, doesn’t just lay down and whimper when her happy ending is challenged.  She fights back, or at least tries to.

Difference is, that was my idea, not the character’s!  But Betty Sue has a mind of her own, she’s taking this book in directions I never intended it to go.  And I don’t know whether to be glad that she’s keeping me from the dreaded “midway hump” or flat-out pissed about it.  All I know is the working title for this one, Storm Shadows, is turning out to be the perfect choice for this book because she sure is stirring up a storm of massive proportions in my brain.

<sigh>  I guess I’ll just have to wait till the dust settles to see how this one turns out.

 

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My husband’s out of town on a business trip and when he calls tonight, I hate to have to do it, but I’m going to have to break his heart.  You see, I’ve fallen in love with another man.

And not just any man, the man of my dreams.  A tall, dark, gorgeous hunk of perfection who stepped out of the shadowy  world of my fantasies and into my life.  He’s been with me for a while now, though I’d never met him, never so much as glimpsed his face.  But as winter melts into spring, he emerged from the Snow Shadows, held out his hand, and…well, I just couldn’t help myself.

Don’t judge me until you get a look at him and then we’ll see who’s drooling!  Here he is for your viewing pleasure, but I warn you, I’m very territorial, so hands off ladies!

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His name’s Mathias Tassel and yes, he does have a brother.  Three of them, in fact, and they’re all as delicious as he is!  But their stories are living in my head for the time being.  Right now, I only have eyes for Matt!

Thanks to Linda and Lisa of L&L Dreamspell who gave me the chance to make my dreams reality!

Well okay, not so much here in the mountains where it’s another rainy cold day, but in Florida, with less than a week to go until the first game, baseball is definitely getting warmer because…Manny’s in the house!  For the first time since 2005, Manny arrived on time for Spring training, and from his statements to the press he’s ready to play and looking forward to this season.

Could it be his last as a Boston Red Sox?  I have a hard time believing that and hope it won’t happen.  But then, as everyone knows, I’m a Manny Fan Girl.  I just can’t imagine the Red Sox without him, can’t imagine watching a game where there isn’t the Big Papi/Manny threat hovering over the opposing pitcher’s head, can’t imagine a time when another player will take on the job of taming Fenway’s Green Monster.

The Red Sox without Manny?  Say it ain’t so–ever!

And then there’s Jacoby Ellsbury.  I caught an informative and interesting article about him in Men’s Vogue the other day.  Did you know he’s the first Navajo to play in the Major Leagues?  Just another reason for me to appreciate him.  I’m not an official FG of his yet, but the more I learn about him the more I like him and I can see myself becoming one, especially after reading the article.  Here it is if you’d like to read it:

http://www.mensvogue.com/health/feature/articles/2008/03/jacoby?currentPage=1

Like I said, very interesting.  Put longer hair on him and he could be the cover model for the book I have coming out later this year, Snow Shadows.  Yep, he could be my Cherokee shape-shifter, Matt, especially since he spent his time in the off-season beefing up.

Hmmm, I wonder if he’d be open to posing for a pic of a paranormal romance hero who, in my editor’s words is “SO HOT!”  (hee-hee, I’ve been giggling over that little tidbit for days!)

The thing is…I’m about 50 pages into the next book, Storm Shadows (working title), and now I’m starting to worry about making the hero of this one, Matt’s brother Marc, “HOT!”  Can I do it?  Well, the only thing to do is write the story.  And now that I have a picture in my head of Jacoby Ellsbury, I think that will help immensely because the brothers in each of the four books in this series look very much alike, about the only difference being the color of their eyes and the length of their hair.  Jacoby’s is still shorter than Marc’s, but not by much.

So thanks, Jacoby, for the inspiration!

Yesterday, my editor sent me a PDF file of my upcoming book, Snow Shadows.  It’s not the finished product, we still have a lot of work to do, but the end is coming closer.  I’ve been reading through it this morning and making a few changes, all the while trying to figure out exactly how to describe this feeling running through me…

And failing miserably.  I’m a writer, I should be able to come up with the words to describe it…but I just can’t.  Not that the words aren’t there, they are, in fact they’re tumbling through my mind.  Words like ecstatic, overjoyed, euphoric, gleeful, thrilled, over the moon, and on and on and on.  But none of them expresses how I really feel.

How do you describe the feeling that comes with attaining your wildest dream?  I don’t know, but I know I’ll keep searching, because that’s what I do.  I play with words, shuffle them around in my head, write them down, and try to arrange them in the perfect sequence to express my feelings or the feelings of my characters.

But this time, I’m, well, speechless.

The thing is…this isn’t my first book and I shouldn’t be so utterly dumbfounded.  I’ve had two e-books published and yes, I was delighted when I was offered the contracts for them, and even more thrilled when I downloaded them and saw my words in cyber-print for the first time.  But this book…this book will not only be released as an e-book, this book will also be in print, a first for me.  Which is, I expect, why I’m so overwhelmed. 

And I’m sure the first time I hold this book, this child of my imagination, in my hands, there’s going to be a whole truckload of other feelings for me to try to describe.

The thing that keeps running through my head today is a line from one of my favorite songs by John Mellencamp, Just Like You:

I’m living in my head
Too much life in my veins
Forgetting all of the time
We’re always in motion with angels…

Indeed.  That pretty much describes my life right now.  So, maybe I need to take a break from editing and trying to describe my feelings and move on to thanking some of those earth-bound angels who are always with me.

Like those emotions running rampant through me, my life is overflowing with angels at the moment.

angel-thank-you.gif 

That just about sums up how I feel right now…wasted and without a clue what to write about.  I think I may have done some serious damage to my muse with my latest writing binge–two novellas in two months!–and I don’t know whether to get down on my knees and beg her forgiveness or just leave her to sulk in a dark corner of my mind until she gets over it.  Probably better to leave her alone and let her cool off a bit, she’s liable to kick my ass if I don’t.

So, I’ve been writing, and like I said, I’ve completed two novellas, one a cougar story which needs some serious polishing before I do anything with it, the other a…I’m not sure what to call it.  I submitted it as a paranormal romantic suspense, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I think it’s more of an urban fantasy, with elements of romantic suspense.  It’s not paranormal–I don’t think–and I hope the publisher doesn’t throw it in the trash because I sent it under the wrong genre.  Just another thing to chew on my fingernails about while I wait to hear from them.  Nineteen days and counting…

I do have something to keep me busy while I wait; the first round of edits on Snow Shadows, my paranormal romance that’s coming out later this year with L&L Dreamspell.  But since I haven’t written anything on this blog since shortly after Christmas, I decided I needed to get in at least one or two entries for January before I sink into the mire of rewrites and revisions.

Plus, a couple of things are weighing heavy on my mind right now.

First the owner of the now defunct e-publisher, Twilight Fantasies Publications, which shall not be named, did something I find truly despicable and repugnant, she’s self published a fifty page novella she once offered as a free read on her publishing site.  When I heard this, I had a true WTF moment?  Not the first this publisher’s given me and probably not the last.  Anyway, not only was the book once offered as a free read, it’s now up for sale for over sixteen dollars (hardback) and just under seven dollars (paperback).  I mean, come on, who’s going to pay that kind of money for a book that size, much less one that’s already been released for free?  It is offered in ebook format for under four dollars, but still…

The thing is…this author, who put this book out originally under her pen name, is now offering the same book under her real name.  I guess that’s a case of changing the names to protect the innocent, huh?  Not that she’s innocent in any way or form in my mind.  She’s slapped a new cover on it, listed the publisher as Twilight Fantasies (I assume to make it look like the book was good enough to get accepted by a real publisher), put the original editor’s name on it (who I understand was never paid for her work), and is asking an unbelievable amount of money for it.  Can we all say scam?

I have no idea what this particular vanity press charges to publish something, or if they even charge, could be they take it out in royalties, or something, but if they do, my question to this scurrilous woman is; did the money you owed your authors, editors, and cover artists pay for this?  And if so, when can we expect our percentage of the royalties?  Will you pay them or will you slink off into hiding like you did before, complaining all the way about people being mean to you?

Beyond that, I feel sorry for any reader who purchases your exhorbitantly priced book, they could’ve gotten your fifty pages of nothing (totally my opinion of course) for…well, nothing!  Kind of makes me wish I was vindictive enough to prove your point about how mean people are by posting a message to any readers out there who want to buy your book and offering to send it to them for free.  But alas, woe is me, one of the first things I did when I severed ties with you was delete my copy of the free download.  Oh well.  And, knowing you and your pompous jerk of a husband, you’d probably sue me for copyright violation or something.

Which brings me to the next thing on my mind–Cassie Edwards and her “alleged” plagiarism of various authors.  This one really pisses me off, for a number of reasons, all of which I’ll comment on tomorrow–I hope!

Right now, I’ve got to see if I can coax my muse out of hiding.  I may need her when I work on  those edits!  Hmm…maybe an imaginary trail of white chocolate macadamia nut cookie crumbs will do the trick. 

Oh, and before I forget, Go Pats!  And, sorry Peyton!  You didn’t make it this year, but I’ll be rooting for your brother in the play-offs.  Eli’s coming…

Do you ever have one of those days when your mind can’t seem to settle on any one thing but is constantly jumping around like a jackrabbit on drugs?  Well, I’ve been going through a string of days like that.  Haven’t gotten any writing done to speak of and for the first time in years, I didn’t put up my Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving.  Just wasn’t in the mood.  What’s up with that?  Usually Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I count down the days for months, waiting for Thanksgiving when I can put up my tree and then dive headlong into the season.

Not happening this year and I’m not sure why, but I think perhaps it’s because I submitted my paranormal romance, Unwiling Angel, to another publisher even though I have no idea how things with the first publisher, Twilight Fantasies, are going to turn out.  I just don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I was sick of biding my time while the owners of TFP decide what they’re going to do, so I submitted.  I didn’t try to hide anything from the new publisher and I have to tell you, I was blown away when they wrote back saying they’d like to offer me a contract.

That’s when the doubts started to set in.  I hesitated, worried that I was going to drag them into this mess with TFP and okay, I’ll admit it, also worried that my writing career would be hurt in some way if I signed the contract.  I talked to my lawyer and he advised me not to sign, but to wait a few more months until we know a little bit more about what Twilight’s going to do.  So, I wrote the new publisher and explained why I wouldn’t be signing the contract and…

the owner called me at home!  That one really knocked me for a loop.  I mean, it’s extremely flattering that they were willing to take a chance on the manuscript in the first place, but to call me at home and give me the reasons she thought it was okay for me to sign with her company?  That was, to say the least, over the top pleasing and gratifying!  It also warmed my heart because of all the books and stories I’ve written, this one is my favorite.  I really want to see it published.   Perhaps I was blinded by that, but this morning I followed my heart, signed the contract and sent it back to them.

The thing is…my mind is still worried.  Why?  Well, I’ve narrowed it down to three things:

1)  I had been thinking of putting in some extra work on the manuscript; adding about thirty-five thousand words, taking it from novella to novel length; fleshing out the love story between the heroine and the hero; and while I was at it, spicing it up a little bit.

2)  This is another new e-publisher and I’ve been burned twice–well, actually I was only singed on the first one, but the second one was a full-out, writhing-in-agony, burning-at-the-stake conflagration–and I swore I’d never take that chance again.

3)  I know several authors who will, like my lawyer, think I’ve done the wrong thing.  I’m not looking forward to sharing this news with them.

Okay, I think I hit the nail on the head with that last one–selling a book should be a happy occasion.  Right?  Oh hell, it should be a screaming-from-the-rooftop, champagne-corks-popping, day-long-happy-dance!  That’s how I felt with every book and short story I’ve sold, and the fact that this publisher is interested enough to take a chance on my novella, knowing that if TFP files for bankruptcy, the rights could be held up for unknown amounts of time in a court case, should at least edge that celebration up to a week-long event…but I’m just not feeling it right now.

Hopefully, once I announce it, my friends and fellow authors will surprise me.  I’m pretty sure my lawyer won’t, but hey, he’s a lawyer.  What can you expect?  This was a decision made from the heart and everybody knows lawyers don’t have hearts–oops!  Sorry Paul, couldn’t resist that one! 

All kidding aside, I’m hoping some day I might be able to look back on this and know following my heart was the right thing to do.

…He opens a window.  Sure, we’ve all heard that old saying or a variation of it at some point in our life, and most of us probably smile knowingly or roll our eyes at the banality of it.  I used to be an eye-roller, but as of today, I’ve joined the ranks of those who wear an enlightened smile.

What changed my attitude?  Well, first, I’ll offer up my horoscope for the day:

The good news is that your career is about to take a very exciting turn — the bad news is that it might also take up a lot more of your personal time, at least for a while. Your past problems at work are all water under the bridge, and you have learned some very valuable lessons. 

I usually don’t pay much attention to my horoscope, just read it and move on, but today it couldn’t be more right.  Take the first sentence, “The good news is your career is about to take a very exciting turn…”  Okay, yesterday I was offered a contract from a print publisher on my sensual paranormal romance, Snow Shadows.  I signed the contract this morning and put it in the mail.  “Exciting turn” is an understatement, and the next part about it taking up a lot more of my personal time is yet to be proven, but it’s probably spot-on…and I don’t mind a bit!  

Now, the second sentence.  It starts with, “Your past problems at work are all water under the bridge…”  Well, my ongoing battle with my other publisher is just that, ongoing, but it does seem to be coming to an end.   Then it goes on to say, “and you have learned some very valuable lessons.”  I certainly have.  And for that I’d like to take a moment here to offer my thanks to the other authors and editors who are going through this battle with me.  They’ve been incredibly supportive, unbelievably generous with their knowledge, and an unflagging source of comfort when I needed it most.

The thing is…with all that’s been happening in my life lately, my faith in God has been on a bit of a down-swing.  I hated that, but I couldn’t seem to stop it from happening.  Then yesterday, when I received the contract offer, I’ll be honest and tell you God was the furthest thing from my mind.  Perhaps I was too excited or maybe I was so high up in the clouds that the thin air was clouding my thinking.  Who knows?  But when I read my horoscope this morning and that old saying popped into my brain, I couldn’t roll my eyes…because I suddently realized I was now living proof of its validity.

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.”  Oh, indeed.  The closed door for me was having to fight to get the rights to my book back from a publisher who wasn’t honoring the terms of their contract.  The open window–and in my case I got not just one, but two–is the group of friends who have been so wonderful in a time of need, and the new contract with a print publisher.

God may have closed the door, but he most certainly opened a window…or two.

Yes, I have another song lodged in my brain.  Difference is, this song I actually like–who doesn’t like John Fogerty?  I’m one of his biggest fans, and “Deja Vu” is one of my favorite songs.  Like they used to say on “American Bandstand,” it has a good beat and you can dance to it.  That’s true, but what makes it one of my favorites are the words.  Fogerty took a Yogi-ism, something that most people would chuckle over, and built a powerful anti-war song around it…and it works.  You have to admire a man who can do that. 

So, why am I singing that particular song?  No, I’m not at war…well, maybe I am.  I just spent all day composing an email to my publisher telling them I was taking back the rights to my book.  It was a very hard thing to do and my hands are still shaking, but I know in my heart it was the right thing.  Now, if I can only convince my head and my nerves of that.  

The thing is, this publisher is in breach of contract in not just one, but several ways.  I blogged about this a few weeks ago, back when I first started thinking about asking for my rights back.  I decided at that time to give them the two weeks they asked for to straighten this whole thing out.  I was hoping for the best, but deep down I expected the worse–or maybe I was just burying my head in the sand.  Who knows?  

In the end, I got what I expected, the worse.  And now, I’ve been advised by another author who’s already filed suit against them and pulled her rights that I shouldn’t ask for my rights back, I should demand them–which is what I did–in a long email complete with an attached file which detailed all my reasons.  I’m pretty sure that’s what has my hands doing the jitterbug, I hate confrontations, even when they happen in cyber-space!

Okay, so the email’s been sent and truthfully, I’ll be very surprised if they respond.  God knows a lot of their authors have been trying to get a response out of them recently, but they seem to be ignoring all of us.  So, I’m following up the email with a certified letter and then I’m going to keep sending the email every day until I get a response.

Wish me luck.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be the writer that finally makes them sit up and take notice.  And hopefully, do what they have to do to fix this godawful mess before more authors get hurt. 

On the plus side in my life while all this has been going on, the Red Sox swept the Angels and  moved one step closer to the World Series!  Now all they have to do is win the ALCS against the Indians–whoops!  Strike that, you know how superstitious I am!  Instead, I’ll just offer my deepest gratitude to the Cleveland Indians for taking out New York.  Now I can sit back and relax while I watch Boston and Cleveland battle it out for the prize.  I won’t go so far as to say I’ll be rooting for the Indians, but if they beat us and move on to the World Series, I don’t think I’ll mind as much simply because it wasn’t the Yankees.

Also, I submitted a query to a print publisher for my paranormal romance, Snow Shadows, and they asked to see the entire manuscript–okay, strike that one too.  Arrgh!  I really need to work on ridding myself of these stupid superstitions.

Maybe that would be a good self-improvement project for taking my mind off this war I’m fighting with my publisher.   

Finally figured out how to add images–woo-hoo!  Inserted the cover art for Unwilling Angel on the corresponding page, but I’ll add it here too–just for practice of course!

Unwiling Angel Cover 

Isn’t that fabulous?  The cover artist is C. J. England and I think she did a fantastic job!  Don’t you?

Oh, in case you’re interested, the blurb and an excerpt can be found by clicking on the Unwilling Angel page on this site.  Then, if you think you might want to read it–and I hope you do!–click on Twilight Fantasies in my blogroll and you’ll see me right there on the front page–first place winner in the Zuzu’s Petals contest! 

I can’t think of a single thing to write about right now.  So I’m just going to do my personal style of…um, can’t remember what it’s called…you know, that psychic thingie where you have a pencil in your hand, you clear your mind, and let your pencil write without thinking about what you’re writing, only I’m doing it with a keyboard instead of a pencil–and jeez, I hope my editor doesn’t read this ’cause she’ll probably drive all the way up here from Georgia and shoot me for that run-on sentence.

It’s a ho-hum Tuesday in my neck of the woods.  The sun is coming out, melting away the mist that’s hovering around the mountains and we’re supposed to have a high of 73 degrees today.  It was down in the forties this morning when I got up and it’s almost like being back in Maine.  Except here I have the mountains around me, which is something I really missed when I lived in Maine.  Not that there weren’t mountains there, but we lived in southern Maine, about a half hour south of Portland in a little town called Saco.  You had to drive some distance to see mountains, but I could get in my car and be at the beach in about ten minutes.  That was nice, but I’m not a beach type of person, I much prefer the mountains.  I guess that’s because I was raised in Knoxville, at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. or maybe it’s because my dad’s family is from Black Mountain, NC, and I spent a lot of time there while I was growing up.  We always went to the mountains on vacation.  I never even saw a beach until I was eighteen and went to Florida with some friends after my freshman year of college.

Stream of conciousness–is that what this is called?  Hmm, doesn’t sound right, but what do I know?

Since I got up, I’ve been researching publishers, trying to figure out who I’m going to submit my manuscript to–you know, the one I just got the rights back for?  I’ve got a list of five, one of which is located in the South and is looking for books with a strong southern presence, which Snow Shadows definitely has.  It takes place in the mountains of North Carolina and is based on an ancient Cherokee legend–hard to get more Southern than that.

Next, comes the dreaded query letter–blech!  I don’t even want to think about that right now.

Okay, I’ve got to say this and quit putting it off.  Maybe if I write about it, I can put it aside.  The Red Sox lost last night and the Yankees won, which means our lead in the AL East is down to 3 1/2 games.  There are eleven games left and I’m afraid the prediction I made back in May is about to come true–the Yankees are going to come back and take the AL East.  The Red Sox, well, the way we’re playing right now, we don’t even deserve to be in the wild card race, but we’ll probably make it.  I just don’t think we have a snowball’s chance of going any farther (further–there’s those two words again, I’m going to have to look them up on Grammar Slammer and get them straight in my mind once and for all).

And as Forrest Gump said, that’s all I have to say about that.  It’s too painful to talk about.

So, this ho-hum day is going to be spent in the worst possible way–well, okay, maybe not the worst possible, but it’s pretty bad in my book–drafting, and hopefully polishing, a query letter to be sent to the publishers I’ve chosen to submit to.  I probably should read over the synopsis again, I’m sure it could benefit from a bit of polishing too.  I should probably get busy on that right now…

The thing is, there’s this side of me I call the Procrastination Slut and I have a feeling she’s going to come to the forefront today.  Which means I probably won’t get a thing done, at least, nothing of any value.  

Oh, well, that might be the best thing considering my second book is coming out tomorrow, and I’ll be busy all day with promotions.  I hope you’ll check it out, Unwilling Angel by Caitlyn Hunter at www.twilightfantasies.com.  It’s a sweet paranormal romance along the lines of It’s a Wonderful LIfe.

 

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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