Thursday, May 31, 2012

Introducing...Susannah Sandlin & Redemption

Susannah Sandlin* has her debut paranormal romance coming out on June 12, less than two weeks from now. (Sounds of cheers, coughs, and choking sobs.)

It's been a long road for Redemption, the first in the Penton Legacy** series. She started it in November 2010 when she and one of her crit partners got the bright idea to do NaNoWriMo--that annual march toward self-emolation wherein normally sane author types test their mettle by trying to complete a novel, or at least 50,000 words, within thirty days. Crit partner Susan bit the dust after two weeks but Susannah plowed stubbornly on, and by the end of November had a big, 60,000-word mess on her hands.

It sucked--just ask her. She'll tell you. It was the first (and last) novel she will ever write as a pantser, and she had to take it apart and do an outline, then put it back together. Which took another three or four months and grew to 85,000 words. Then she learned it straddled the line too much between urban fantasy and paranormal romance without committing fully to either genre, so editors didn't know what to do with it. It came apart again, and ended up at 96,000 words. It finally got finished. It won the paranormal category in the 2011 Chicago North RWA Fire and Ice contest.

Better, it sold as part of a trilogy proposal to Montlake Romance in January, with all three books scheduled to come out this year. Except books two and three were a gleam in Susannah's eye. She just turned in the manuscript on book two, Absolution, to be released in September. Book three, Omega, is still gleaming in the old iris but she's beginning to daydream of scenes, which is usually how it all starts.

Congratulate her. I don't have the heart to do it. She's saddled me with a second website, a second Twitter account, a second Facebook page, a separate email account, and a second Goodreads account. She's drowning me in passwords and online minutiae. The brazen hussy even wants me to blog for her every once in a while.

Susannah and I will be doing a live chat over at Savvy Authors ( from 8-9 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, June 13. The chat is called "Help Wanted: Clone!" for reasons that should be obvious. Come and talk to us, er me, er her. Whatever. It's free after you register on the Savvy site.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for Redemption and the sexy Irish vampire named Aidan, the Gallowglass Scottish warrior named Mirren, and the tortured, brilliant William. The Penton Legacy is their story.

*Susannah Sandlin is me. Well, actually, Susannah Sandlin is Suzanne's great-great-great grandmother, who is buried in Blount County and most likely rolling in her grave that her name is being used on a book about a vampire apocalypse in Chambers County, Alabama.

*The series is called the Penton Legacy except on Amazon's Japanese site, where the audio CD has explicably been named the Pentagon Legacy. Susannah's probably been put on a watch list.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thought Food

Fill your paper  
with the breathings of your heart. 

William Wordsworth

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I'm Not Skeered !

I'm not easily frightened. I mean, I work at Walmart, for God's sake! Some of the people who shop there would scare a vampire Navy seal body builder with a rocket launcher in his pocket. And the fashion combinations I see on a daily basis would send the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy crew into spontaneous fainting fits. (Shopping in curlers is one thing. Shopping in your pajamas is another. Shopping in curlers AND your pajamas? Shudder! And the women are even worse!)

I can pick up a snake in the middle of the road and place him gently in a ditch on the other side so he doesn't get hit by a car. I can break up a dog fight. I've eaten locusts, giant cockroaches and a few other things too gross to mention. Not much scares me.

 However, Thursday after a late night at work, I settled into bed with the lights out to watch The Woman in Black. For those of you who don't know, this is Daniel Radcliffe's first starring role since Harry Potter. He plays a grown up! With a dead wife and live four-year-old son! It's a great Victorian set Gothic horror story. And I LOVE Gothic horror stories. I'm a big fan of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt. The Turn of the Screw is one of my favorite stories ever.

The point is, this film scared me! Gave me quite a few good old-fashioned jump and get your heart started scares! The novel was written in 1983 and the author helped with the film. I haven't read it yet, but I will.

And it got me to thinking. What scares people? What makes them jump and look over their shoulder? What makes them sleep with the lights on? (My brother and his best friend went to see The Exorcist when it came out. We slept with the lights on for WEEKS!)

Do you like being scared? Do you like romances with a Gothic feel to them? Which is more frightening - ghosts and the paranormal or serial killers and other lunatics? How can an author best frighten you? What sort of suspense do you like - the long drawn out sort with the big bang at the end or the jumping frights over and over and over again until you slam the book closed or turn off the television?

 Five Things Writers Fear !

    1.  Synopsis ! EEEEK

    2.  Review!  AAAACK

    3. Deadline ! GROAN

    4. Not being published! NOOOO!

    5. Being published! Hellllp!! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hailey Edwards and "A Hint of Frost" Interview.

Hope dangles by a silken thread. When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.

Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.

Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.

Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.

 It is my pleasure to introduce Hailey Edwards, a fantasy romance author with Samhain publishing. I found out about her books via a friend and I knew I had to read “A Hint of Frost.”  I wasn’t disappointed; the story had a unique premise and an interesting world. Please join me in welcoming her.

1.   What was the first book you sold?
The first novel-length piece I sold was Everlong, to Samhain Publishing.   I just looked it up—the one thing I noticed is you like to world build, that is outstanding. World building is my favorite part of writing. No doubt that’s why I love writing (and reading) fantasy so much. I don’t outline my worlds at all. They grow organically as the book/series progresses. I do keep a series bible in OneNote so that each series is well-documented and there is no overlap of names/events/terms/etc. Even with those measures in place, one of my beta readers, Dawn, never fails to spot at least one minor inconsistency in each novel. I’m so blessed to have her help maintaining series continuity.  That is a life saver to have someone who can catch those things we miss. I like the idea that you keep a series bible.  

2.   How did you get the call or was it an email?
It was an email. I remember walking into the living room and curling up beside my husband on the couch. I was already crying and shaking with excitement when I told him my news. Samhain was my dream digital publisher. Looking back, I had no idea how blessed I was the day Sasha Knight sent me that email. She is the most fantastic editor I could ever ask for.  Congratulations—that first sale is always the sweetest. I have a soft spot for “the call/email” stories. J Thank you. I understand congratulations are in order. You just sold your first novel to Crimson Romance, right? That’s wonderful news. Congrats! Thanks so much! And yes it’s through Crimson Romance, I am very excited.  

3.   Will there be more books involving the world you built in Hint of Frost?
Yes, there will be. The second Araneae novel, A Feast of Souls, has been contracted and will release sometime in December. I have plans for several more characters, so I hope time allows me to explore those ideas. Excellent, I like that you are being allowed to explore this world. Besides, there were a few threads that I wanted to find out about. I’m glad to hear it, because things are about to get interesting. I’m especially excited to write books three and four.   Oooh, four books in the series, I am very intrigued.  

4. Tell us more about how you write:
  •  Are you a pantser/plotter? I’m a pantser. In an effort to become more organized, I’ve learned to outline, but it’s more of a safety net. I tend to start the book with the outline then toss it out the window by the end of chapter one.  Ah, a pantser. I can identify with that!
  • When do you write? I have a 2k a day write goal. So I tend to write 1k in the morning doing #1k1hr sprints on Twitter. The other 1k is written after my family goes to bed, late at night. I actually like this idea--very inspiring. I think I may try this, it's an outstanding idea. 
  • What is the hardest thing about writing? Developing a plot is the hardest part of writing for me. I’m a character-driven writer, so my plots grow from the characters. People are complex, so figuring out their motivations and prodding them until they tell you their story is difficult and time-consuming.  That probably involves lots of wonderful day dreaming. Or lots of revision… LOL –that is my saving grace. J
  • Do you have CP’s/Betas that read for you? Yes, I do, and I recommend everyone has at least one. I have three primary crit partners and a crit group, plus a half dozen betas. Since I write fantasy, I have very complex worlds. I want to make them as flawless as possible, with as few continuity errors within series as possible, which means passing the book through several hands before it reaches my editor. I must say my final line editor is amazing as well. The things she remembers from book to book, the teeny tiny errors she catches, amaze me. I’m with you, having critique partners is imperative, but it’s hard to find one that is a good fit. They are like gold. J I know mine are. I agree. I’ve had my CPs since I started writing—so about three years. We have grown from critters to friends over that time, and I couldn’t imagine navigating this career path without them. That is true! Nor could I.
4.   Tell us one thing about you that would surprise someone if they’ve never met you?
Women in my family go gray in our late teens/early twenties. When the BB&B Book Club hosted my first book signing last September, I got a good laugh out of a lady who joked about my cradle-robbing ways. (My husband is very baby-faced. He’s also four years older than I am.) So I think it surprises people to learn I’m only thirty after seeing my salt and pepper hair.  LOL, I understand that. My dad was white by the time he was thirty. It’s no fun at all…. I told my husband I’m waiting for the right moment—probably while he’s at work—to use a purple rinse and dye my white hair a more interesting color. ;) Oh that is fabulous! I keep wanting to dye my hair all sorts of interesting shades…alas, the day job would not appreciate it in the slightest—although my kids would. 

6. Finally, which do you prefer Coffee? Tea? Wine? Or all three….(Sorry, this is based on  the fact, that I love them all. ) :-)
Coffee is my drug of choice. The way it smells…Mmm. Yeah. I’d drink coffee for the aroma alone. I totally agree…it’s wonderful. I like French roast..yum! One day we will have to have a cup of coffee together. Definitely! I would love that.  Excellent!
Thank you so much for stopping by Hailey, I look forward to more of your books and having you visit again. May the words always flow!
**For one lucky commentator, I have some Earl Grey Lavender tea. (unfortunately it must be here within the continental U.S.). ** I will post the winner tomorrow.--JoAnn you won!  I will email you.  Thanks everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Come meet Hailey Edwards!

Author Hailey Edwards is coming by to visit tomorrow. She'll talk of her latest book, "A Hint of Frost" (which I've read-very enjoyable) and how she writes.

I am also giving away some tea for one commentator--because who doesn't want to sip a cup of tea and read a book?

I hope to see you there!

M.V. Freeman

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post by Author Candis Terry: DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?

As much as I love elves and fairies and maybe even David Copperfield (when he was a bit younger and a little more hip), that’s not the kind of magic I’m referring to. I’m talking about the type that is created between the pages of a book. You know, the magic that makes your heart race, your eyes mist, your stomach twist into knots, or dares you to even try to put the book down.

Yeah. That magic!

Every reader wants that to happen when they open a new book. So exactly how does a writer create those heart-pounding moments? Emotion. Not just any old emotion, but ones a reader can relate to. We’ve all had our hearts broken, lost a loved one, or had a joyous moment in our lives that we can easily recall. We’ve all had a want, a desire, or a dream. Those are the emotions a writer taps into, draws from their own lives, and shares.

I write quirky small town romances and I’ve been told I’m funny. So how does a quirky/funny writer create magic that will be emotionally satisfying and memorable for their readers? I pull from my own life. In my first book Second Chance at the Sugar Shack I created Letty Silverthorne, a quirky and maybe not so understanding mother who had a lot of issues with her children. Or maybe I should say her children had a lot of issues with her. She had a lot of work to do to make amends. But . . . she suddenly died. Throughout the Sugar Shack series each of Letty’s three adult children come back home--tangled up with emotion and remorse about having lost the chance to make up with her. Magically, Letty reappears in the backseat of her beat-up Buick—a mere ghost of her former self--to dispense unwanted advice from beyond the grave.

How does that situation draw from my own life? Though my mother is still alive, she and I do have unresolved issues. And since my mother has Alzheimer’s we will never be able to settle those things. I can’t begin to tell you how many wild and sad emotions that brings out in me. So when I wrote those scenes between Letty and her kids (even though they were pretty humorous), I had no problem drawing deep from the emotional well.

Draw from what you know. How you feel. What makes you laugh? Cry? If your heart races chances are so will your reader’s. A romance reader knows they are going to get a happy ending. It’s the emotional journey to that happy ending that makes them open the book and keep reading.

I invite you to check out the Sugar Shack books—the third book Somebody Like You will be on sale June 19. Also For Love and Honor, the military heroes anthology (on sale May 29) I’ve written with historical romance author Cathy Maxwell and women’s fiction author Lynne Hinton. For Love and Honor has been given a starred review from Library Journal Reviews and was called “Uniquely Satisfying.” All my books are available in both ebook format and print.

I’m tickled to be here with you today and I’d like to give away a copy of my first book Second Chance at the Sugar Shack. Just leave a comment and tell me what you think brings magic to a romance. One winner will be randomly selected on Friday, May 25, 2012. Open internationally.

Twitter: @CandisTerry

Candis Terry, author of the Sugar Shack novels, was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to scooping up road apples left by her daughter’s rodeo queening horse to working as a graphic designer. Only one thing has remained constant: Candis’ passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after. Though her stories are set in small towns, Candis’ wish is to give each of her characters a great big memorable love story rich with quirky characters, tons of fun, and a happy ending.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Special Guest: Author Candis Terry!

 If you haven't read these books, go now and buy them.  You won't regret it.  Funny and sexy.  Then come back here tomorrow (May 22) and talk with Candis Terry.  She will be blogging with us that day. Of course, if you don't get a chance to buy the books (first two out now, third one coming out 6/19), she'll be giving away a Sugar Shack book to one lucky commenter!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Creative Power of Dissatisfaction by Paula Graves

This is a post from 4/6/2006 that Paula Graves wrote that I believe is most interesting considering the infamous 50 Shades books started from fanfic. Enjoy and go ahead and answer her questions.  I think it will be interesting to see what everyone thinks now in 2012.

My best friend, Jenn, loves fanfiction, that infamous and ubiquitous creative outlet for frustrated writers and non-writers alike. She seeks it out for just about every show she watches, almost invariably when the show she loves has taken a turn that she doesn't like. In other words, her dissatisfaction with the show leads her to seek an alternative story for the characters she loves.

I've recently given some thought to the appeal of fanfic, and I've come to the conclusion that all popular fiction is, in a way, fanfiction. For one thing, plenty of books and articles have documented the patterns that almost all fiction has in common--archetypes, themes, plots, story rhythms, etc., suggesting that whoever it was who said there's no such thing as a new plot, only fresh and interesting twists on old ones, was right. But beyond that, I think that for a lot of writers--perhaps even most of us--the emotional and creative drive to write comes out of a similar dissatisfaction with "the way things are" that drives people to write fanfic.

We want to revisit old archetypes and plots and revisit them, twisting the set-ups, the settings, the endings, the beginnings, providing an alternate take on an eternal story. Perhaps we decide that "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" isn't really enough of an ending for Scarlett and Rhett. So we create a new story, set up new situations for archetypal characters (the headstrong heroine, the bad boy, the villain with a heart of gold, etc.) so that their outcomes are different this time.

We're finding creative power in our dissatisfaction.

I've recently had trouble trying to come up with new ideas for novels. But one day, as I was discussing fanfic with my friend Jenn, we were discussing all the weird ways fanfic writers twist Jane Austen's classic stories, setting them in high schools, on different planets, you name it. During the discussion, we jokingly came up with the idea to turn Jane's books into spy thrillers, a la Tom Clancy.

Then, suddenly, it wasn't a joke. It was an idea. Why not play with the archetypes and plots of Jane Austen, only twist them to fit a contemporary romance thriller? Address some of the ways that Jane Austen's stories didn't quite meet my personal needs for fiction (e.g., where's the dead body, Jane? Where's the twisty, turny mystery I love so much?) Take the basic story conflicts--rich versus poor, pride versus prejudice, sense versus emotionality and modernize them to reflect current day conflicts. Raise the stakes, make the conflicts more immediate, modern and dangerous, and see where the "what ifs" take you?

I'm not talking about stealing plots or characters. I'm talking about taking inspiration from stories I love or stories that didn't entirely satisfy me with their outcomes, settings or depth. I'm rethinking characters, situations, conflicts and resolutions and figuring out how to tell them in new ways, with new outcomes and new themes.

Have you been so inspired by a particular character or set of characters that you wanted to give them (or their archetypes) a different ending or a new and exciting adventure? Hit the comments link and tell us all about it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Look At All Of The Southern Magic Published Authors

Most if not all will be at the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon on November 3, 2012. Keynote speaker is Sherrilyn Kenyon and the welcome speaker is Dianna Love!  For more information go to and click on LUNCHEON.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reviewing Reviews

How many times has the wise Laura Hayden cautioned us, "Friends don't let friends read reviews."  Then, who reads them?

Don't worry, this isn't a post ranting about evil reviews.  Rather, I'm interested in starting a discussion about the benefit (or harm) that comes from reviews.  Without a doubt, a positive review from a major publication can generate good buzz for a book, but what benefit do reviews really serve?  Who is reading them? 

My mother is a voracious reader.  She finds new books based on librarian recommendations and word of mouth from her friends.  The same is true of most of my lawyer friends.  When I started rattling off book review sites and asking them if they read reviews on Amazon/Barnes & Noble, they laughed, patted me on the head and told me I needed to leave work at an earlier hour because I was frying my brain.  In comparison, most of my writer friends devour blogger reviews, Goodreads reviews, etc. like the words were the very air they breathe.  Do only writers care about reviews?  I'd love to hear your review of reviews. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day, Late

Twenty-eight years ago (also a Monday, May 14) was the day I officially became a mother, with a birth certificate that proved it. Now, as then, that special occasion fell on the day after the national celebration of Mother’s Day. 
Missing out on a presidentially-designated day of honor didn't bother me. However, as much as it means to be a mother, I've noticed that romance writers tend not to focus on motherhood.  
Is it akin to the dead parents syndrome? The built-in personal tragedy angle that simplifies a writer's work? 
I’m sure some writers successfully include children in their stories.
It’s just that I can’t think of any.  
Oh, sure, darling twins may arrive in an epilogue, but bring those bundles of joy into the story too soon, and the romance is gone. 
Or is it? Do you have a favorite romance that successfully incorporates a realistic child or two? Not one that went to summer camp. I mean one that’s underfoot. 
Tell me so I can put it on my reading list!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mom's Are Smart

I first saw this video on Avery Flynn's blog.They are certainly modern moms. Hilarious.   Check it out.

The Wisdom of our TV Mothers from Flavorwire on Vimeo.

Oh, be sure to check out Avery's blog as it's awesome. Funny, witty ... just plain smart. And, yep, she's a mom.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Desperately Seeking Advice!

So this Saturday is my first local book the town where I live. Eeeek! Now I know it has to be better than my first-ever book signing earlier this year at the Silken Sands Conference at Pensacola Beach, where I didn't have any books and the Barnes & Noble lady ended up having difficulties and not being able to bring the ebook codes for my books. However, on the plus side: I was surrounded by my Southern Magic and quite a few of my twitter friends.
And that made all the difference -- I was able to smile, joke and handout signed postcards.
The good news is for my second book signing I will have books! Two lovely boxful arrived recently in the mail. Here, I'll give you a closer look at A Tale of Two Djinns cover:
Nice, right? Now, I love my cover. It's sexy, but classy in an Adam & Eve kind of way, and brings in the nature elements that really represent my earth djinns and water djinns. Love the cover! However, now I'm publicly stepping out of the writing closet. My hometown -- in the middle of West Texas -- will see that the family-friendly food journalist has a very different side to her...and that's freaking me out. Of course, the intelligent part of me is arching one eyebrow and saying: Seriously? A woman has many facets. Just accept that, know that your local friends and family will be there, and stop with the panic attack. But the panicky side of me is running around in circles waving her arms in the air and ignoring the other. So, in lieu of my Southern Magic pals flying down to West Texas for moral support (If you do, I will truly appreciate it and put you up!), any advice on how I can survive my first local book signing?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why Do You Read Romance?

The other day I read a review where the reviewer struggled with rather or not to take a book seriously. The book was a sexy action-adventure. Okay. I confess, it was my latest book. I know I shouldn't read reviews, but I'm new enough that I can't resist. But it did get me to thinking.

Why do I read romance?  Should romances be taken seriously?

Ninety-nine percent of the books I read are romances. Craft books are the other one percent. Years ago, I use to read biographies of kings, queens and Hollywood actors, and a lot of general history books for a column I wrote for my chapter newsletter.

I know some people enjoy reading books that are thought provoking, maybe that was what the reviewer meant to say. Then the author has crossed the line over to literary, and they bore me terribly. I can tell you with all certainty that's not what I write. My books will never change the world or a person's life. I write to entertain. Period.

My book is successful to me if the reader continues to turn the pages, feels pleasure and heartbreak for my hero and heroine's dilemmas and overwhelming happiness at the end. And when she closes the book, I want her to wonder when will I have another one to be released? When will the other characters get their story told?

So the answer to the first question is that I read to entertain myself. The book should make me want to know what happens next and be surprised or/and satisfied with the result. And of course, all the stuff I mentioned in the paragraph above this one.

For the second question, to me, the only seriousness involved is how the hero and heroine are going to overcome their conflict, internal and external. If the author goes into detail of how to do something or make something, then it has crossed the line into a training manual and I'm most likely skipping over that part anyway.

What about you? Why do you read romance?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Fish or Foul?

When I was a very small kid, no more than five or six, I went to a kids' party at the local swimming club.  There were clowns, ice cream, balloons and a drawing for a free puppet.  At least, I thought it was a drawing for a free puppet.

Actually, it was a drawing for a free puppy. I found out my mistake a few minutes before the drawing. I knew full well my parents wouldn't let me have a puppy, as we already had two dogs and didn't need any more. And so, for the first time in my young life, I actually thought about the odds of winning anything and realized how low they were, especially in a room full of kids vying for the big prize. What were the odds?

Of course, there's another lesson I learned that day. The odds being against you is no guarantee that you'll lose. Because yes, despite the odds, it was my name called when it came time to award the puppy prize.

We ended up giving the little fellow to a neighbor, so all's well that ends well. But what is it about parties for kids where people think giving away animals is a good idea?

My thirteen-year-old niece came back from today's Magnolia Festival with more than just a sunburn.
She also brought back two goldfish in a bag of water. $60 of fish tank supplies later, the little fellows are swimming around their new tank in her room.

I get that she wants fish.  I just don't get why the people at the Magnolia Festival think giving away goldfish to any old person who tosses a ping pong ball into a mini fishbowl is a good idea.

For one thing, how do they know that the thirteen-year-old sunburned girl to whom they're about to hand the bag of fish doesn't have several young, agile and curious cats at home?

Oh, wait...

She does.

What she doesn't have is a pair of fish with much hope of survival.