Category Archives: guest

THE WHOLE TRUTH about Jody Wallace

It’s been WAY too long since the lovely and talented Jody Wallace has visited. She has a new book out, THE WHOLE TRUTH (fab cover, isn’t it????), as well as a bunch of other fantastic stories. Jody is one of the most creative, smart and funny people I know.

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Recently, we got into a little conversation about writing “The End” and self-publishing. TWT is one of her indie offerings. She also has books out with Carina Press and Samhain.

JODY: So, Cathy, tell me about your recent accomplishment of writing “THE
END” on a new novel?

CATHY: Wait, I thought this was a guest post about YOU? OK, fine, I’ll start. In a few simple words, it was a relief. I was months behind where I wanted to be. But in my defense (pathetic as it is) there was a lot of research required.

What about you? How do you feel when those two little words get added?

JODY: Relieved that I wasn’t fooling myself all along about this book idea, since I just made a book out of it. I plan to write THE END on a manuscript this week, in fact.

CATHY: Yay to that! But I get what you’re saying. Sometimes, the more I read through a work in progress the more I think, “Man, this is the dumbest thing ever!” then the manic writer in me wakes up and is all, “Holy cow! This rocks!” I’m very VERY glad you put out THE WHOLE TRUTH. It’s definitely in the “This rocks!” category.

JODY: Thanks! It’s a very cross-genre book — light urban fantasy mixed with chick lit snark mixed with Southern fiction mixed with romance subplots –so I opted to self-publish it. Publishing a manuscript is kind of the ultimate THE END, or it used to be. Once you contracted it, you were forced to quit tinkering with it, aside from official edits or the anniversary revised edition twenty years after the fact.

Self-publishing is mostly like that–although the temptation is there to continue revising a manuscript once it’s published, because you have good ideas and because you can. I’ve found a few typos in my self-published work so far and, of course, I’ve updated the “About Me” section on occasion, but I’ve never given into the urge to really tinker.

Do you think you could resist that urge if you self-published?

CATHY: If I found typos, I’d fix them, or other formatting/mechanics issues. But I’d like to think that would be about it. Sure, after a book is out, I sometimes think, “Oh! I should have____!” but having it in someone else’s hands has helped me let it go.

What’s been the best aspect of self publishing for you?

JODY: I’ll get back to you on that when I get rich quick. Or slow. I don’t care. I just want a tornado shelter.

Until then, I can tell you a few things I like, without them being “the best”, right? I enjoy working with the cover artists myself instead of hoping the publisher gets it right. I appreciate being able to change my book blurb, my key words, and so on, tweaking that information, if not the book itself, to increase visibility. I also like being able to give free copies away willy-nilly. If only more people wanted them!

CATHY: I’d take a get rich slow scheme too. Well, in my lifetime, anyway.

Those are great aspects of self publishing. What about the not so great? (Other than the get rich too slow times). What do you find to be more frustrating compared to “traditional” publishing?

JODY: When you’re self publishing, it all comes down to you and the decisions you’ve made. So if your book doesn’t move, it’s you who made the “bad” calls, so to speak. Granted, publishing, especially self publishing, is so erratic that the same author could do the exact same thing with two equally polished books, and one could bomb and one could fly off the cybershelves. That’s partly true with traditional publishing, although in those instances, there are even more factors out of an author’s control than in self publishing. So you can change things in self publishing…but all the stress and blame are yours, too.

Why don’t you tell us about your latest project and then I’ll tell you about THE WHOLE TRUTH?

CATHY: Wait, aren’t you the guest? Why are we talking about *my* project? I can do that any time.

Tell us about THE WHOLE TRUTH. I’ve read this a while ago and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Without spoilers, give us a little insight in to the types of folks who populate TWT.

JODY: I asked you first.

CATHY: *rolls eyes at Jody* Fine. It’s a cozy murder mystery set in 1919 Alaska, the town I currently live in, specifically. The story is sort of based on the murder of a “sporting woman” and her baby that happened in the ’30s or ’40s, but for some reason I decided earlier in the century sounded more interesting. It’s not like any of my other stuff. No space travel, ghosts or anything like that.

Your turn.

JODY: THE WHOLE TRUTH is what happens when you love chick lit, paranormal, urban fantasy, superheroes, snarky heroines, unexpected settings, office politics, food, cats and espionage all at the same time. Our heroine, Cleo, can see lies — a shadow forms in front of a liar’s face and mouths the true words. She thinks she’s the only person in the world like herself, but eventually, her unusual web searches and pointed commentary on internet blogs gets her caught, NSA-style, by a group of suprasensors who want to hire her.

But the group who hired her aren’t the only suprasensors in the world. And somebody out there seems to want to put suprasensors in comas. Or worse. It’s up to Cleo to get to the bottom of the mystery, and it really, really shouldn’t be up to Cleo, because she’s only a superhero in her abilities. Or that’s what she thinks

CATHY: I love Cleo. She’s a great snarky, reluctant heroine. My favorite kind :). And I’m sure once someone reads THE WHOLE TRUTH they’ll want more more more!

Do you have plans for other suprasensors’ stories?

JODY: That’s one of the worst pitfalls of self publishing and writing “on spec”, so to speak. You have to decide how to invest your energies. THE WHOLE TRUTH is not a short book. A sequel would consume months of my work-time to finish. (And by the way, anybody who snarks that books shouldn’t take that long to write can jump in a lake, because we’re ALL DIFFERENT, from process to product, thank God.) So, just like with any business, you have to decide if there’s enough probable profit to merit the project. Pleasure, yes, there would be pleasure in revisiting Cleo and the gang, but is that how I should spend six months of my time? Do my sales merit it? Or would I be better off investing my time in something else?

To make a long answer short, I don’t know.

CATHY: I can understand the reasoning behind that not so short response.

So while you’re busy promoting TWT and your other fab works, what are you writing? Can you share?

JODY: Letters to my children’s teachers. The book I’m about to write “THE END” on is the sequel to Tangible, which is through Samhain Publishing.

It was written on spec, it’s very long, and it’s taken a lot of time. I have no guarantee of a contract, but I enjoy working with my Samhain editor and have high hopes! After that? I want to write something short. What’s next for you?

CATHY: Good luck with the spec book! It’s great to have an editor who “gets” you, isn’t it?

For me? Good question I have a short, probably freebie SFR in mind as well as a longer SFR and a paranormal historical I’ve been chipping at. And others. I’m in a sort of limbo state, so I need something to really grab my attention. Unfortunately, what grabs *my* attention isn’t necessarily something that will be sellable ; P

JODY: I know that feeling well! And on that note…

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Jody!

Dear Readers, be sure to pick up Jody’s book THE WHOLE TRUTH. It is one of the most unique reads around. And check out Jody’s other books. You won’t be disappointed!

Posted in books out, guest, paranormal, SFR, UF, Woo hoo | 3 Comments

WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, Titanic and Other Ship Wrecks-Guest Post by Veronica Scott

If I asked you to name a famous ship wreck or ship sinking, you’d probably come up with the Titanic at some point in your short list, right? I mean, who wouldn’t, with all the books, movies and other discussion still surrounding the event, even 101 years later?

So true enough my SFR novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is loosely based on Titanic, although set in the far future, on a space liner, but I also took inspiration from some other sinkings and wrecks in history. When I was deciding what to write for this guest blog at Cathy’s (and thank you for having me today), I researched famous shipwrecks in Alaska and found the “unsinkable” SS Islander, with water tight compartments, built for the luxury trade, which hit an iceberg (or a rock) on August 14, 1901 and sank in twenty minutes. Forty people died, possibly more since there were at least eleven stowaways. (VS sez that’s a lot of stowaways!). The ship is rumored to have gone down with great riches in the hold, just as Titanic took treasures of all kinds to the bottom of the Pacific, including a jeweled copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. My own doomed Nebula Dream has unspecified wonders in its cargo hold.

Lifeboats and who gets into them are another constant theme when researching wrecks and sinkings. The biggest lifeboat, meant to hold 50, was reported to have left the Islander with only eight people aboard. Titanic’s lifeboats are legendary for being lowered underfilled. I always wondered about that, why the crew was so concerned about not putting too many people into the boats, until I just this year read several accounts of earlier tragedies at sea where the lifeboats did split as they were lowered, which the crew of Titanic must have known. My Nebula Dream has lifeboat problems of her own…

Even getting to a lifeboat didn’t always mean a person survived. In the accounts of the White Star Line RMS Atlantic, which sank in 1873 with terrible loss of life, all the women and children died, even though many were put into lifeboats but the life boats capsized or were smashed against the rocks. Interestingly, one of the crew members of the Atlantic was discovered to have been a woman in disguise as “Bill,” a sailor who liked his grog and tobacco, and who had done three voyages on the ship. Now there has to be a novel there, right?!

We writers LOVE doing research and it often takes us down rabbitholes, like I just did just then with the sailor who was a woman, sorry! Then we have to force ourselves back to the original topic we were pursuing. How about the White Star Line’s Republic, known as “The Millionaires’ Ship” because so many rich Americans liked to travel back and forth to Europe aboard her? When she had her mid ocean catastrophe in 1909, the Marconi crew broadcast the “CQD” emergency call and another ship did arrive in time to take off nearly everyone aboard. This explains a lot about why the passengers on Titanic just three years later were so sure they had plenty of time, weren’t in all that much danger and had no need to go into the tiny lifeboats. Even the Board of Trade expected there would always be another ship conveniently nearby to take the passengers from a disabled or sinking cruise liner. Well, the Californian was near the Titanic all right (within ten miles) but never got word of the sinking. One of those very sad “what ifs”.

I made sure the circumstances of my spaceliner’s wreck placed her far away from where she was supposed to be and amped up the difficulty of anyone coming to their rescue in time…

And one final thing, in a very old, low budget movie about a fictional shipwreck (not Titanic) which my parents allowed me to see on TV (and be traumatized by but hey, that’s par for the course as a kid!), a poor woman is trapped under wreckage as the ship sinks. Her husband struggles to get her free in time. (It’s “The Last Voyage” with Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, if you’re interested.) I made sure to put a scene into WRECK where something similar occurs and my hero Nick has to come to the rescue of trapped children, thus exorcising my personal lifelong demons from viewing that movie!

Here’s the book’s story:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award winner, is available for kindle, as an audio book or a paperback at Amazon. The audio sample is here.

You can find me at:!/vscotttheauthor

Thanks for having me as a guest today, Cathy!

Posted in books out, guest, guest post, romance, SF, SFR | 2 Comments

An In-Person Appearance Primer for Writers by Catherine Lundoff

In-person appearances for writers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. Public readings are probably the most common. Most writers associate them with bookstores, but they can be set just about anywhere that’s willing to host: bookstores, coffee shops, conferences, street corners, you name it. Writers can also do readings on radio shows, television, podcasts, panels, workshops and probably things I haven’t even thought of yet.

And I’ve thought of quite a few. My average year includes two or three bookstore readings, twenty or so panels at different conventions and two or three podcasts. I’ve also done workshops, radio interviews and a bit of television. This, incidentally, is enough to make me well practiced, but not an expert in any and all reading venues. I am continuously learning about new opportunities, new venues and new approaches from other writers.

Why do a live event? Because you want to build an audience and promote your work. You also do it because it’s fun to share your writing and watch other people’s reactions to it, especially when those reactions are positive. Plus, public readings and panels are a rite of passage for a lot of authors, and participating in them can make you feel like a “real writer.”

Creating opportunities to do readings, panels and other appearances can be as easy as asking at the right time. Bookstores need to sell books, conventions need entertainment to draw a crowd and podcasts often need guests. Consider what you have to offer and how best to present it. Then go out and see how other writers do it: attend readings, listen to podcasts, and take classes and workshops. Learn about what works and what doesn’t and keep track of opportunities that you can pursue.

Does your fiction fit into any of the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal or science fiction romance? If so, contact your local science fiction convention and volunteer to be on programming. If you have a few stories or a book published, the con committee may be overjoyed to give you a reading slot. You can also volunteer to be on panels, which are a great way to meet other professionals, as well as readers who may be interested in your work. It’s also good practice for solo appearances.

Don’t know of any podcasts or radio shows in your area? Join a writer’s organization or an email list where writers promote their work to readers. You can use the lists to recruit other writers for group readings, find out when podcasts are looking for new guests and learn about other opportunities that can help you get a foot in the door. See an open call for writers to do readings, get interviewed or be on a panel? Volunteer or ask, politely and professionally, if you can be considered for any upcoming slots.

Have a book coming out? Start planning as early as possible. Contact multiple reading venues since some things may fall through. Plan to have a few review copies on hand to send out to stores or radio hosts. You want to schedule most events around the time that your book comes out, just before and then for several months afterward. You can still promote after that, of course, but that tends to be the window of time that’s most effective for promoting a new book.

What do bookstores, podcasts, televisions shows and so forth want to see from you? You need to make your work relevant to their audience. Do they cater to a specific genre? Are they all about local writers? Do they focus on writers from a specific background? Are you first time novelist? Have you won an award for your writing? Any of these things can make you more appealing as a guest. Check their guidelines and see what other writers they’ve been hosting to figure out how to present yourself.

Apart from volunteering or asking, what else do you need? A short biography with the highlights of your writing career is essential. You will also need an author photo; it’s worthwhile to invest in one that you like and can reuse, but make sure it comes in multiple formats that you can resize, and that you have the rights to use it for your own publicity. You may need a book or story excerpt as well. The bigger the venue, the more professional your presentation needs to be. Ask what they need from you, including any specific formats or file types.

Ensure that your audience has something worth seeing by practicing and reading your piece aloud. Practice until it is familiar and you are comfortable with the points in the story where you can pause and look up at your audience. Time yourself, knowing that you’ll read faster if you’re nervous. The average audience is paying a lot of attention for the first ten to fifteen minutes if you’re reasonably dynamic, then less attention for every few minutes after that. I generally read for fifteen to twenty minutes, then break for questions, or read a different excerpt from my book or a different story. It helps my audience get reengaged and recharged. I almost never read for more than forty minutes total, and I always try to leave them wanting more, so I time it to end on a high note.

What if you’re a new writer without publishing credits? There are still options available to you: open mikes at bookstores and coffeeshops are one example. Talk to other new writers you know and offer to do a group reading at a venue that hosts readings or performances. Use the Internet to organize a group, such as a Meetup, and use that as a way to promote your group reading. In a writing group? You may have a group you want to read with already available to you.

Once a venue agrees to host you, be sure to promote your event. Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, your blog, Tumbler, etc.), add it to the Goodreads calendar and post on any email lists that you belong to (as long as the email list rules permit it). Tell your friends and acquaintances. Make up a flyer and put it up at the library or coffeeshops. Get the reading into local event calendars. The better attended your event is, the more likely the venue is invite you back and to host more events like the one you’re doing.

Speaking of which, it pays to be polite. Thank the venue owner and staff and thank the event organizers. Even if the event doesn’t go well, find something nice to say about it. You’re a fiction writer, it shouldn’t be impossible. If you need to vent, do it offline and out of earshot of anyone who might be offended. It may have been a bad night and the next time might be amazing; you never know.

Let me finish by saying that doing live events is not obligatory and if you really hate the idea of reading   or talking to an audience, there are certainly other ways to get the word out about your work. Don’t make yourself do something that makes you unhappy, since you will share that emotion with your audience, thereby making everyone unhappy. Do what you’re comfortable doing and pace yourself. Good luck and happy readings!

Catherine Lundoff is an award-winning author and editor from Minneapolis, MN. She is a board member for Broad Universe, an organization that promotes  women writers of sf/f/h and the veteran of numerous live appearances.

Posted in advice, guest, guest post | 4 Comments

Romance Writers: The Unvarnished Truth About Their Miserable Existences

The writing life! Being wined and dined by publishers and agents. International book tours and humungous royalty checks.  Stellar reviews and loyal fans.

Yeah. Right. Read on…

A Day in the Life of Diane Dooley

0600: I wake to golden sunlight streaming through the window. It’s going to be another perfect day! Wearing my favorite pink twin-set, my grandmother’s pearls and a scant misting of Chanel #5, I drift downstairs to my book-lines study, where the butler brings me herbal tea and buttered toast points. I start writing my latest romance novel, the words falling to the manuscript like raindrops to roses…

0630: Wake from the lovely dream to find a dog’s butt in my face and my husband’s snoring in my ears. Grope around in the dark until I find yesterday’s clothes, then rub deodorant on my smelly bits. Spend the next hours corralling children, dogs and husband, finally collapsing in exhausted heap until coffee ready.

0830:  Open manuscript, read last few paragraphs. Realize I have written the Great American Romance Novel. What should I wear to the awards ceremony? Write the most wonderful words of all: The End. Send manuscript to agent, knowing that it was too perfect to edit.

0930: Wake from the lovely dream to find a different dog butt in my face. Inhale coffee. Open manuscript, read last few paragraphs. Sob with frustration, then spend an hour on Facebook and Twitter, pretending to be a real writer. Drink half a bottle of inspiration, then write a three chapter sex scene in which the heroine unfortunately dies of erotic asphyxiation. Delete it, reminding myself that I am a romance writer and a very nice person. Remind self again. Drink more inspiration.

12Noon: Pass out on couch with my butt in the dogs’ faces.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, another writer is stirring… 

A Day in the Life of Cathy Pegau

0600: Husband’s alarm goes off, kicking me out of a dream about hot pool boys and honey. OMG! I’m paralyzed! No, just the cat across my legs. Eject the furry boulder, Dog immediately jumps up on bed, huffs and falls asleep. Dog’s got the right idea.

0615: Alarm goes off. Slap snooze. Slap drooly dog face away from mine.

0624: Ditto

0633: Double ditto (what’s with 9 minute snoozing? I never understood that.) Roll out of bed to make sure kids are up (they are). Bless husband for making coffee. Squint out into darkness. *Shiver* Global warming my ass…..

0800: Kids and husband out to school and work. Time to hit the manuscript. Open email, Twitter and Facebook…just to check.

1200: Manuscript not open and I’m still in my pajamas, but I now know what all my imaginary writer friends had for lunch, did at work and will be doing this evening. Also, a personal best on Spider Solitaire. Go me! OK, let’s get serious.

1230: Open manuscript. Read last few pages. Hmmm…..This needs some work. Oh! Time for lunch!

Diane Dooley’s Day Continues…

1230: Put final touches on the Oscar acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay, then go out with actual, real-life, flesh-and-blood people called “friends.” Find jeans and a swimsuit that fit perfectly and make me look fabulous.

1245: Wake up with dog’s tongue in my ear. Roll off the couch; find some spaghetti in my cleavage. Eat it and call it lunch.

1300: Open manuscript, then spend two and a half hours looking for inspiration on YouTube. Also complete all chores while loudly singing the entire ‘Bat Out of Hell” album.

1630: Kids arrive home from school. Spend next several hours cooking, cleaning and doing 4th and 6th grade English, Math, History and Science homework, along with art projects that include building dioramas of books I’ve never read. Use physical force to get boys in shower, then to bed.

2130: Look for inspiration in fridge, but it’s all gone except for a lone bottle of Angostura bitters. Fix drink with it. Open manuscript and start to type. The Angostura is working!

2200: Husband arrives home, seeking food, shelter and good company. Ignore him. Continue to write romance novel in which everyone is damaged and dies at the end. Fingers working hard to keep up with words flowing from brain. I love writing!

0200: Take phonecall from Daniel Day-Lewis, who wants to have one of my books adapted for screenplay so he can play one of my characters. He was born to play the role, apparently. He would also very much like to meet me. Am eventually persuaded.

0400: Awake with my face on the keyboard, which is covered in a vile-smelling, sticky substance which could not possible be my own drool. Final line in manuscript is: h4O[[NKLN,K [P9-O=-O9M=ORTZST=O-U. Save document, then drag my carcass to bed, considering it a day of successful writing. Kick dogs out of my sleeping spot. Collapse. Sleep without dreams.

Cathy Pegau’s Day Continues…

1330: Wake from carb-induced coma nap. Why is MTV’s Hip Hop Countdown blaring from the television? Button pants and sit at table. This manuscript will ROCK as soon as I can get past chapter three. Is the hero/heroine “cute meet” too cute? I think punching a guy in the junk spilling coffee on a guy makes a lasting impression. Leave it in. Plow on, making notes to flesh out scenes later.

1445: There! Made it to the end of chapter three! Wait. What the…? I’d already written chapter three? Really? Son of a…. *sigh*

1545: Furious activity as kids arrive home from school, dogs jump about, cats streak out from under thunderous paws of death. Call the dogs in. Tell kids to shut BOTH doors. Wonder what that damn piteous wailing is. Fetch indoor cat from outside. Ask kids how their day was. Half listen while I consider a plot point that can make or break this story. Wait. What was that about meeting with the principal tomorrow???

1730: Look up from sixth version of opening paragraph of chapter four to see kids staring at me, hollow-eyed. Dinner? Didn’t I feed them yesterday? Husband is settled in his favorite chair (when did he get here????) shaking his head. I suggest pizza.

1900: Favorite show about to come on. But it’s a rerun, so I can miss it and get back to writing. Oh, but it’s a REALLY good episode! Sit on couch with manuscript open. I’ll work during commercial breaks. Get one and a half sentences down.

2000: Ditto with second favorite show in line-up. Rewrite sentence. Twice. Add two more. Yay! Progress!

2100: Laptop battery dying. Plug it in. Crack knuckles. Get to it!

0030: Dog snoring at my feet. Everyone’s been in bed for a couple of hours, but things are moving along. Just need to get the gist of this scene down….

0245: Husband taps me on the shoulder, startling me and nearly knocking me off the chair. “You’re working in the morning. Come to bed.” Look at screen. No new words. Save what I have, shut down computer, and hope to squeeze in a little writing between classes tomorrow.

So there you have it, folks. Think twice before you take up the writing life!

* * * * *

Diane Dooley writes romance, science fiction and horror; short stories, novellas and novels . You can catch up with her on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She also blogs regularly at Contact: Infinite Futures and is a contributor to The Galaxy Express.

Check out Diane’s latest releases Blue Nebula and That Night!

Posted in books out, fun, guest, SF, SFR | 9 Comments

Stellarnet Prince by J.L. Hilton

Welcome J.L. Hilton on her blog tour for her newest release from Carina Press, Stellarnet Prince, Book Two in the Stellarnet Series, following Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012).


Stuck in the Middle with You

When Cathy wrote about M/F/M relationships, she joked that if she ever happened to be the “/F/”she hoped she wouldn’t have to sleep in the middle of the bed. I’ve never had the opportunity to be an “/F/” either. I know I’m an edge sleeper. I like to be able to uncover a leg for proper temperature control, climb out to use the bathroom, or get as far away as a king-sized bed will allow when my husband starts snoring. And I have kids, so I have to be accessible in the event of nightmares, illness and thunderstorms. In my new novel, Stellarnet Prince, chapter one begins with the heroine waking between two males –one built like Matthew McConaughey and one built like Michael Phelps.

Chapter One

J’ni pressed her breasts to Duin’s speckled back, kissing his neck while he slept. In many ways, they were similar, his race and hers. They were omnivorous mammals who bled, laughed, and needed sleep. They possessed two legs, two arms, ten fingers. But there were numerous differences between her race and his, between humans and the Glin.

Her hand moved over his thigh, smooth as pearl, and traced the dense muscles hardened by a lifetime of hunting and swimming. Beneath closed eyelids rimmed with short, white lashes, his eyes were larger than her own and filled almost entirely with dark gray irises. Past his pale lips were teeth smaller and sharper than hers. His hairless skin bore several shades from taupe to chartreuse—but only on the back half of his body, like many aquatic creatures on Earth.

Light flickered through cracks in the woven walls of the hut. J’ni knew what the sunlight meant to his planet. Devastation. Too much water had been stolen by the Tikati, too many rivers dammed. Within a few years, pollution and ecological upheaval had altered the storm systems and water flow upon which the lives of these hunter-gatherers depended. But she couldn’t help her instinctive response. The light made her feel good.

She rolled onto her back and stretched. Bright spots danced over Belloc’s arm and across her stomach. Glin faces, chests, stomachs, the insides of their arms and the fronts of their legs were pale. But Belloc’s front had the slightest shade of blue, where Duin’s had a hint of yellow. Unique among all Glin, her husband’s back half was a deep indigo blue, with thin lines of blue-green in a wriggling pattern that looked like rain on a window. The pattern made his skin seem to shimmer when he moved. “Gulla tup, bugloim.” The rich cello music of Belloc’s voice resonated in his chest as he spoke to her in Glinnish. “Awaken well, my love.”

I couldn’t think of a better way to wake up than between the two of you.”

Me neither. I tell you what, edge sleeper or not, if I had the opportunity to play monkey-in-the-middle with some men who looked like Matt and Mike, I’d do it. Or die trying. Even if they are from another planet. And knowing Duin – at 40 years old, a father of five and grandfather of two with a personality similar to Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street – he’d probably be better at dealing with the kids’ nightmares than I would, anyway!

~J.L. Hilton

Hot AND good with kids?!? I’d “suffer” the middle too ; )

Thanks, J.L.! Folks, if that sexy excerpt wasn’t enough to excite you into picking up Stellarnet Prince (and how could you possibly resist after reading it???), here’s a blurb to whet your appetite even more:

An otherworldly love. Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers: Duin, a leader of the Uprising, and Belloc, the only surviving member of the reviled Glin royal family. Their relationship has inspired millions of followers–and incited vicious anti-alien attacks.

A planet at risk. A Stellarnet obsessed with all things alien brings kidnappers, sex traffickers and environmental exploitation to Glin. Without weapons or communications technology, the planet cannot be defended. Glin will be ravaged and raided until nothing remains.

A struggle for truth. On Earth, Duin discovers a secret that could spur another rebellion, while on Glin, Belloc’s true identity could endanger their family and everything they’ve fought for. Have the Glin found true allies in humanity, or an even more deadly foe?

An exciting continuation to a fabulous series! Go get it now!!!

Author website:
Book website:
Publisher website:
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Posted in blog tour, books out, Carina, guest, romance, SF, SFR | 2 Comments

Wild Adventures (AK and otherwise) with Rue Allyn

I can’t say that my adventures in Alaska were wild. Yes, I’ve actually been to the land of the midnight sun (when I was thirteen—so it’s been a while). The train that follows the gold rush trail from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon (in Canada) is a treat. I’ll bet that despite the passage of a decade or three you can still see some of the stuff left behind by people following the trail. Things take longer to deteriorate in Alaska because of the permafrost. I spent most of that summer in Fairbanks with my folks who were exchange professors at the U of A. I had my first fresh salmon (delicious, frozen can’t compare). I saw my first midnight sun (R. W. Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee has been one of my favorite poems since I started reading) and had my first experience of sleeping with aluminum foil covering the windows to block out the light.

I repeated that last experience when the Navy sent me and my husband to duty in Keflavik, Iceland. Our eldest child was three months old. Imagine trying to establish a night time routine when there wasn’t much of any night for several months. Add watch duty rotations (Days, Afternoons, Midnights) and parenting becomes a really wild adventure. Military service throws all sorts of monkey wrenches in to what civilians think of as ‘normal’ life.

That happens to Senior Chief Hank O’Mara and Lieutenant Bethany Morton in my erotic romance Off Limits (available now from Red Sage Publishing and other fine e-retailers). Both are happy in their lives as career Navy personnel and neither expects to have that life turned upside down by falling in love with someone who is literally Off Limits. But these two seasoned sailors roll with the punches. Like military parents, newlyweds, students and all our service members they make sacrifices to be able to love each other and serve their country too. Off Limits is available now from Red Sage Publishing. You can find an excerpt here. I’d love to have you leave comments either on this post or any other topic you choose.

A bit about Rue Allyn—I wrote my first story around the age of five and read my first romance at the age of eight. I’ve been in love with being in love ever since. I’m happily married to my sweetheart of many, many years. We share the home of two cats, who condescend to allow me to feed them and clean their litter box. They occasionally permit me to pet them but demand my love and attention as their right. I am in awe of their feline ability to dominate with half a glance or a mere twitch of tail. I am insatiably curious, an avid reader and traveler. I love to hear from readers about your favorite books and real life adventures. I also love my work. Seriously, what could be more fun than sharing love and adventure with all your friends? For more about me and my books go to

Posted in adventure, Alaska, books out, guest | 6 Comments

“It’s Time, Not Age” with Guest Natalie Damschroder

The other day, Cathy mentioned being 3F (female, fertile, and forty). Well, I’m 3F too, and the last F is really annoying me.

When I was younger, I used to get really annoyed by my “elders” (like my mother) blaming age on everything. Their minds were going because they left the coffee in the microwave after heating it. Three times. Short-term memory lapses, putting things where they weren’t supposed to be, and a million other details of daily living were blamed on getting old. It always sounded like a cop-out to me.

I didn’t want to be that way. And I’m fighting it, believe me! In fact, I think the problem is really a convergence of two things. Yes, we’re older, and maybe our brains are aging like our bodies. Or maybe, aging just happens to coincide with the busiest time of our lives. We have way too many things to think about, too much on our to-do lists and filling our schedule books.

Of course, I don’t like to blame my body breakdown on age, either. I’m not full of aches and pains because I’m 40, I’m full of aches and pains because I have three completely sedentary jobs that take too many hours a day and leave me behind and feeling guilty if I take time to exercise. I feel like I’m approaching a point of no return, though. I’m going to have to find a way to compromise.

One specific thing I used to make fun of my mother for, I now completely understand, though. It’s a function of time, though not of age. She used to have this super-old, super-stuffed address book. I’d look for something in it, and 20-year-old pieces of paper would fall out. Sections would be so full stuff was written in the margins. I picked on her for not cleaning it out, at least, and really thought she should have gotten a new one, transferred over the relevant, current dates.

Yeah. *snort* I so get it now.

My address book? I bought it my freshman year of college. Some of the people in it, I haven’t talked to since I graduated from high school. In 1988. I’m proud to say I only have four pieces of paper stuck in the front… You know what? Forget it. At least here, I can be self-righteous. My brother came home from Afghanistan months ago. *recycle* That business card can go in my business card file. *set aside* Those directions to Number One’s best friend’s house when she was 5? I used it once. And she’s 16 now. *recycle* And that username and password are for a credit card I haven’t used in a decade. *shred*

Where was I?

Oh, yeah! Call me a hypocrite, because I’m not giving up this book. Yes, the binding dried out and separated years ago. And the Js (my maiden name is Jacobus) and Rs (the Raffenetti branch moved a lot) are full and encroaching on nearby sections. But this is living history! I can’t remember Mark-from-Ichabod’s last name? I just flip through the first pages of each letter until I find him. (Daley!) It amuses me that in 23 years, I’ve never picked up a friend with a last name starting with E or I (Q, V, etc., are expected).

And you know what else? It will take too damned long to copy the current stuff over. And that’s what really matters.

The heroines in Natalie J. Damschroder’s upcoming releases may not be 3F quite yet, but they’re not ingenues, either. And they totally kick ass, literally as well as figuratively (which is the only way Natalie can manage it, herself).

Behind the Scenes October 31, 2011
A romantic adventure about a security expert who refuses to let her attraction to the movie star under her protection be a distraction…especially when it makes him a direct target.

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible coming soon.

Under the Moon November 1, 2011
A paranormal romance about a modern-day goddess who teams up with her protector—and forbidden soulmate—to track down the leech who’s been stealing power from other goddesses.

Entangled Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

You can learn more about Natalie and her books at her website, eHarlequin, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook. She blogs with four other obsessed passionate Supernatural fans at Supernatural Sisters, with a number of fantastic romance authors at Everybody Needs a Little Romance, and just to hear herself talk at Indulge Yourself.

Posted in adventure, book coming out, books out, Carina, guest, paranormal, romance | 19 Comments

I’m in the Mood for…..


I have a dilemma, friends. What to blog about next? A few fun things are coming up:

I’ll be at the Carina Press SF blog Contact: Infinite Futures next week, and have a sort of plan in mind for that one.

The lovely Natalie Damschroder is scheduled to be here on the 27th. (Read her “Fight or Flight” and LOVED it! Go get it!)

But between now and then, what to post? A long excerpt from Rulebreaker? A character study scene I wrote featuring Zia Talbot? A bit of a paranormal western I’ve been mulling? A rant about bread-stealing bears?

What do you think?

Posted in guest, Rulebreaker, talk to me | 6 Comments


How lucky we are! SF author Robert Appleton is here today with the next installment of his five part series AND this is the release day for his newest book, Sparks in the Cosmic Dust from Carina Press!


Or Thru the Black Hole

iPod fully charged. Check. Assorted Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner, Holst and other cosmic composers set to continuous play. Check. Phone off. Check. John Carter of Mars & Dejah Thoris and Luke & Yoda posters nicely lit on the wall. Check. Sisyphean mindset in place. Um, check. Genius in place. I wish. Ideas racing at light speed. CHECK-CHECK-CHECK…

It’s hard to describe the moment-to-moment process of actually writing the book without sounding pretty insane. Sure, I’m using the craft I’ve learned painstakingly over years of storytelling. I can describe to you the structure and the characters and the worldbuilding and how to create tension and emotion. But what I can’t tell you is exactly how I combine all those, moment to moment, to spin the threads uniquely mine.

Without coming across as too goofy, I will say that while anyone with a competent grasp of language can learn the nuts and bolts required to write a novel, you have to take it far beyond that. Not that I’ve mastered this gig yet—I don’t think you ever really do—but what makes a strong piece of storytelling stand out from the crowd is, for me, something that can’t be taught. It’s the moment to moment intuition, the descriptive flights of fancy, the feel for tension and emotion in a given scenario, the insights into human behaviour you’ve picked up over a lifetime. You don’t know for sure they’re going to work on the page but you trust your instincts anyway.

Writing is generating those sparks in cosmic dust and using them to light your way.

You can’t be that intense all the time, of course. Knowing when to step off the gas is just as important in novel writing. You don’t want to exhaust the reader. And the best way to ensure that is to keep the writing smooth and natural: pacing is another intuitive skill, probably the easiest one to get wrong when you’re wrapped up in the grammar mechanics and the plot points and the million other factors jostling for your attention. There comes a point where you have to just glide and let your instincts take over, otherwise you’d be agonising for a year over each chapter.

The hardest scenes for me to write in Sparks in Cosmic Dust were those with group dialogue. It’s like acting all the parts in a play on your own, and each character has to have a unique voice while also driving the story forward. I’m at my best with one on one dialogue—I like generating friction in the backs and forths—but in a five-strong group, it’s harder to settle into a groove. It’s also hard to give each character equal weight. While it’s often necessary to focus on one or two in the scene, you have to at least consider the others’ POV, even if they’re not speaking.

The easiest chapters were, strangely enough, the action scenes. There are quite a few in Sparks, especially in the second half. But I’ve found from past experience that my action scenes flow much better if I write them in one go. The ebb and flow requires continuity, and any time I have to stop-start, I lose that momentum. One extended chase/fight scene ending on the beach of Zopyrus I had to spread over two chapters, but I made sure I got the whole thing done in two days. It also had an emotional climax, which may have ultimately worked better because I was so exhausted. The desperation the characters felt mirrored my own.

I outlined thirty-odd chapters before I wrote Sparks, giving a paragraph for each chapter. That’s always the most critical part of novel writing for me in that the story arcs have to work in condensed form before I even think about embarking on the journey into the black hole. Chapters evolve as I write, but for the most part that initial outline is close to the end product.

It took me three months to write Sparks, and another one to edit it before submission. That’s a pretty quick turnaround, especially the latter part. I think the confidence gained from having written four previous novels allowed me to loosen up and trust my intuition this time. The result is my most ambitious and probably my most consistent SF book yet.

Today is launch day for Sparks in Cosmic Dust! Woohoo! To celebrate, I’m posting a five-part look at the book’s development, from initial concept to book launch. I’m also giving away one SF title from my back catalogue with each segment, ending with a special Sparks giveaway. The winners will be all announced on September 30th on my own blog:

Here’s where you can find the other installments:

Part 1: Concept (Aug 31)—Contact: Infinite Futures Blog
Part 2: Character (Sep 13)—Mercurial Times (my blog)
Part 4: The Writing Process (Sep 23)—Shawn Kupfer’s Blog
Part 5: Publication (Sep 28)—Carina Press Blog

With this fourth installment, I’m giving away one set of The Eleven Hour Fall trilogy ebooks. To enter, either leave a comment here on Cathy’s blog or send me an email at with SPARKS GIVEAWAY FOUR in the subject line. Don’t forget to give your name.

Good luck!

Posted in books out, Carina, guest, SF, win stuff, writing | 6 Comments

A Little Perception with Heather Cashman

Finding new-to-me authors and sharing their fabulous stories with folks is one of my favorite things to do. Becoming friends with them is a perk I will never grow tired of.

Today, I have the lovely and gracious Heather Cashman here. I was supposed to have Heather visit last week, but I totally dropped the ball and she agreed to do a super quick gathering of material for me.

Her novel Perception: Book One of the Tiger Eye Trilogy is a lush YA fantasy:

Your perception will sharpen once you see through a tiger’s eyes.

More than five hundred years after the apocalypse, the survivors of off-grid genetic experimentation have refined their mixed DNA to the point that humans and their animal counterparts share physical and mental links. Varying species have divided into districts, living in a tenuous peace under the President of Calem.

Ardana and her tiger ingenium Rijan leave their life of exile and abuse in the Outskirts, setting out with their twin brothers to redeem themselves and become citizens of the Center. But shedding their past isn’t as easy as they had hoped. When the system that shunned them becomes embroiled in political conflict and treachery, their unique abilities and experiences from the Outskirts make them invaluable to every faction. The runaways become pawns to friends as well as enemies, and with every step it becomes more difficult to tell which is which.

I asked Heather a few questions about her writing and life in general.

How long have you been writing and what prompted you to begin?

HC: I’ve been writing seriously for about five years now, but have loved to write ever since I was in elementary school. During the mundane tasks of the day (laundry, dishes), my mind would wander to far off locations. I would entertain myself with imagination. When my children went to school, I found a few hours to begin writing the stories down. It took me a long time to study how to write, and I am still working on making my writing better every day.

What is it about your preferred genre(s) that interests you most?

HC: I like Fantasy. It’s like creating something all your own, completely unique, where anything goes and you set the rules.

Perception is set in an amazing world full of complex characters. What do you like best about creating such a fantastic setting? What is the hardest part?

HC: I think what I enjoyed the most was discovering the world. It was like taking a really amazing vacation. The most difficult part was taking something I saw so clearly and writing it in such a way that someone else could visualize it, though I’m not sure anyone will ever see it quite the way I do. The original manuscript was over 150,000 words, a lot of which was setting that I cut out to tighten it.

Are the other books out or coming soon? What else are you working on?

HC: YES! I am hoping to have book two, Deception, out by December 1st, but I want to make sure it is top quality before I release it. So Dec. 1st is not a set date, just a goal. The final book, Insurrection, should be out mid-2012. I am also writing a prequel, Resurrection, that will be out late 2012.

My other project is a YA Urban Fantasy, which I hope to have finished by the end of this year.

Juggling work, family and a writing career can take its toll. How do you keep the balance? What do you do for yourself (other than write)?

HC: Deep breath. I accept the wrinkles appearing from lack of sleep, try to keep my head up, and remember that I am doing this because I love to write, not because I care how many books I’ve sold. I actually wrote an article for a fellow author that you can find here called “Staying On the Roof.” It talks about finding balance through tradition (of all things).

What I do for myself–my kids call them “Blow-out Nights.” I buy about fifteen kinds of junk food, set them in bowls on the coffee table, and we watch back-to-back episodes of the shows we’ve missed. I go to bed sometime the next morning feeling sick. Somehow it cures me.

Sounds like you’re a busy woman who knows how to keep things in perspective! Thanks for coming by, Heather!

Find Perception
at Heather’s
or on Amazon
or Barnes&Noble Nook

Find Heather
at her website, on her blog, or on Twitter

Heather Cashman graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry but has always loved to write, winning her first contest in the second grade. Married since 1992, she has three unique children and has moved from Arizona to New York to Kansas. She loves to kayak and canoe down the windiest rivers she can find. She welcomes opportunities to visit schools, libraries, and book groups in person or via Skype. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Heather currently lives near Wichita, Kansas with her husband and three children.

Posted in books out, Fantasy, guest | 6 Comments