Monday, March 31, 2014

The Sane Writer's Guide to Surviving the Heartbreak of No Golden Heart / Rita Call

Okay, forget I said "Sane." Even Gerard Butler got a laugh out of that one ! There is no such thing as a sane writer. If you find one, let me know and then back away slowly. They're either a Pod Person or an Alien and we're in a Roland Emmerich movie.

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying
thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled,
crippled by procrastination, and consumed
by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and
soul-crushing inadequacy. And that's on 
a good day. 
                          Robert de Niro
                           2014 Oscars

Everyone in our little community, unless they were hiding under a rock doing revisions for a dictatorial editor whose sole mission in life is to torture writers, knows the Golden Heart and Rita calls went out this past Wednesday. 



Not getting a call, even when you really, really wanted one is not the end of the world. It isn't even the end of your writing career. It does sting, however, and anyone who entered and didn't final is entitled to feel let down, a little depressed and even a tiny bit ticked off. Writers may not be sane, but we are human, at least after we've had a cup of coffee or three. 

Thus, the point of this blog post. (Finally !! you say. I thought she'd never shut up. "Get to the pernt, Edith!" Extra points if you get the reference.) 

Here are a few do's and don'ts for surviving this bump in the road.

1. Realize that is all it is - a bump in the road. It's just a contest like any other and even with all of 
    the new rule changes and the new point system it is STILL subjective. You can't please all of the
    people all of the time. (And if you can, get some Blistex, honey 'cause your lips have got to be
    chapped. :) )

2. Take some time to give yourself a pity party. I limit mine to 24 hours, but you can set your own
     limit, so long as you set one. Scarf enormous quantities of chocolate, wine and pizza. Lay around
     in your pajamas (Bathing optional : But only if you're single, not leaving the house and/or your
     significant other and children are out of town.) Treat yourself to a Downton Abbey marathon or
     a mani / pedi or anything else that makes you feel better. 

3. Congratulate those who did final. It is a huge honor and they deserve it. Celebrate with them. And
    feel pleased for them. It's good karma and it's the right thing to do. Not to mention there might be
    more wine and chocolate involved.

4. There are a number of blog posts and discussion loops dissecting the new scoring system, the 
    number of finalists in some categories, the revamping of the process - you name it. Go ahead
    and read them if you like. Might make you feel better. Might not. BUT (We're talking BIG BUT,
    here. One of the BUT SISTERS big. We're talking Kim Kardashian in white spandex BIG!) if 
    you comment on these posts Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. And realize without exact statistical data
    most speculation is exactly that - speculation. RWA is not a perfect organization. Even after all
    of these years RWA is still growing and adjusting. We'll get it right, but not if we fight amongst
    ourselves. We are a sisterhood (with a few brothers thrown in for good measure) and like all
    sisters we will disagree from time to time. Don't say things you can't take back. Don't air the 
    family's dirty laundry in public. No hair pulling and no hitting. We're Romance Writing Sisters
    NOT the Kardashian Sisters. We're writers! If you have a grievance, an idea, or just something to
    say - write it down and zip it off to RWA. Get it off your chest without putting an axe in your 
    fellow writer's cleavage. Save that for your next novel !   

5. When you get your scores back read them over. Scream. Cry. Plot the murder of the East German
     judge who tanked you with a score just low enough to keep you out of that 90%, call me and
     we'll plan how to get her body to the Alligator Farm without getting caught. Curse. Curse a lot. 
     Swear you'll never enter another contest and decide to pack in your writing career forever. 

6. Then print those scores out, put them in a folder and put them away for a few days, a week if you
    need it. After some time has passed, take them out and lay them side by side. Take stock. What
    areas did you score high in and what areas received low scores? Write each category down and put
    the five scores you received under it. If you see a judge's scores that are really off throw them out.
    That East German b*&^% is keeping company with the alligators. We don't care what she thinks.
    Look for consistencies. I have done this with every contest I have ever entered for every book I 
    have entered into contests. With forty-seven contest finals under my belt (Contest Slut) and 
    probably twice that in contests in which I didn't final I've got this down to a science. Consider
    those areas where you have consistencies, decide if they're valid and then do something about it.

               Take a class.      Read a craft book.     Talk to your critique partners.

   The only thing you can't fix is a blank page. Remember that because La Nora says so. I don't know
    about you, but I'm not about to take her on, sister. 

7. Get your butt back in that chair and WRITE, dammit! If you're a writer "We'll get 'em next year!"
    is not just a beauty queen wave at life's gut shots. It is a moral imperative. Keep at it. Not for the
    contest accolades, or the phone call next March 26th or the loads of money people think writers
    make. Not for the tiaras and the bon bons and the personal trainer named Joe.

  WRITE !! Because your day is coming. Your stories are going to change someone's life. They're going to give someone comfort when they need it, or a laugh when they need it, or a cry when they need it or just an escape from life when it gets tough to take. (Some of you ladies are going to have women's undying thanks when they finally get their husbands to read some of THOSE scenes and these guys figure out "Get off me, you're heavy." is NOT an expression of gratitude.)

8. Believe in yourself. So you didn't get a call. You are in good company. Plenty of writers I admire -
    published and unpublished didn't get calls this year. It doesn't change their talent or their skill or
    their ability to tell a great story. Doesn't change yours either. And if believing in yourself isn't 
    enough, find someone else who believes in you and know you're not in this alone.

   If you have trouble finding someone to believe in you, let me know. 

I believe in you.

So long as you keep trying, I always will. 

 Louisa Cornell

What tips do you have to offer to those who didn't get the call or perhaps got a rejection of some other sort? What do you do to deal with the bumps in the road on this writing journey? 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Fun Day - Mad Libs Romance Style

Because it has been a long week for most of us, I wanted to have a little fun today.  Remember Mad Libs, the staple of long car rides? Lets have some fun today with a romantic Mad Lib.  Each person who comments, fill in one of the word blanks below (go in order so that the story will make sense).  Multiple comments are permitted.  I will post the final version Sunday morning.

Words to fill in:

Silly Name - Princess Abradabra von Beidelbach from Jamie 
Silly Word - blegsquink from Ramona
Verb - peek by Pamela
Noun - alligator by Louisa
Body Part (Plural) - lips by Meda
Female Name - ARISTOCRISSY by Chris
Verb ending in "ED" - caressed by Carla
Noun - Loin by Ali
Noun (Plural) -  Dipthongs  by Ali
Verb - spelunking by Callie
Noun - Sequoia by Ali
Occupation - Critter-catcher by Mary
Number - 33 by Caragh
Verb - Gird by Ali
Silly Word - Cockamamie by Ali
Silly Name - Smokin' Hot Dude by Louisa

And the finished product:

Can I Have Your Daughter's Hand

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Princess Abradabra Von Beidelbach Blegsquink,

Will you let me Peek your Alligator? Ever since I have laid Lips on Aristocrissy , I have Caressed madly in love with her. I wish that she will be the Loin of myDiphthongs and that someday we will Spelunking happily ever after. I have a Sequoiaas a/an Critter-Catcher that pays $33 each month. I promise to Gird Aristocrissy with kindness and respect.

Cockamamie Smokin' Hot Dude

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Say Hello to The Fun-tastic Jordan Summers

Of course, you're asking what does a picture of you with Harvey Stables have to do with Jordan Summers? Well, Jordan took the picture. HaHaHa!

Last year at RT, Jordan sat next to me at the E-book Fair. She was so much fun and enjoyed ogling the male models too. We even got to see author Damon Suede strip and change clothes. (Nice body.) You know me. I took a picture, but blast it, it was blurred.

If you're at RT Book Lovers Convention this year in New Orleans, be sure to go by and say hi to her and mention that you read her interview on the blog. 

Okay. Now for the what you've been waiting for, the wonderful and talented Jordan Summers!

Jordan, who are your top five authors to read? 

This is a very difficult question for me to answer because I don't have just five, but I will try. Here are five names in no particular order: Ilona Andrews, D.B. Reynolds, Cynthia Eden, Jeaniene Frost, and Stephanie Laurens.   (Cough* Larissa Ione, Jennifer Armentrout, Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Jill Shalvis, Liliana Hart, Maya Banks, Patricia Briggs, Cough*)

I understand completely. It's so hard to limit yourself. Cynthia Eden and Jeaniene Frost are two of my favorites too.

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?

I tend to read various series repeatedly, not necessarily individual books. With that in mind, I re-read Stephanie Laurens' first ten Cynster books, Christine Feehan's Carpathians (the first eleven), and D.B. Reynolds' Vampires in America series.

That's a first! I think I've never had anyone say they read a whole series more than once.

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?

It's a toss between Virginia Henley and Kathleen Woodiwiss. At fourteen, their books were my first introduction to romance novels. I loved them. Still do. I enjoyed the escape into their worlds. They were meaty reads that were extensively researched and the sexual tension was intense. They taught me how to write romance, though I'd never hold them accountable for my first historical romance novel, which I wrote at age fifteen. LOL!

Great role models. A historical was my first book to write too. Though I was ten years older. I'm a slow starter.  :-)

Describe where you are the most productive when you write?

I have three desks in my office. One has a desktop computer on it. One is for art, writing longhand, and editing. And the third, slips over my treadmill so I can walk and write at the same time. I actually get the most done on the treadmill. Less distractions.

Strangely, I have found I can't type and walk at the same time. Just too clumsy. But music helps me. Even songs with words. A left over from high school and studying.

Tells us a little about your current book?

I just finished editing my first YA novel. I'm currently working on the next book in my Moonlight Kin series. It's about a pack of werewolves, who are looking for love. The mates they imagine in their 'minds' don't match up with reality, so it creates a lot of delicious conflict. I'm also writing a script for a graphic novel based on my story from the Blood Lite 2 (Horror Writer's Association) anthology.

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.

I don't have enough of Moonlight Kin: Nic written to show you dialogue from it, so I'll give you one of my favorite scenes from The Dark King.

     “The Phantom Warrior tells me that you have given up your wild Earth ways and plan to start a new life here on Zaron, if King Eros grants his permission.”
     Wild ways? Taylor glared at Linx. What in the world had he told Hades? She wasn't wild. Just because she'd chosen an unusual profession didn't make her a slut. She resisted the urge to hit him, then turned back to address the King. “That is correct, Your Highness,” she said through gritted teeth. Why was it when men were 'wild' they were considered studs and when women were proud of their sexuality they were called much, much worse?
     The King stared at her, no doubt judging her like so many of the men that she'd met in her lifetime. Would he consider her unworthy to stay in his kingdom? If he did, what would that mean in terms of her fate? She lifted her chin and stared right back at him. Taylor wouldn't let a King or any other man make her feel inferior.
     The silence became painfully uncomfortable. Sweat broke out on her forehead as they continued their staring contest. Taylor was about ready to repeat her answer, when he spoke.
     “Pity, that you decided to make such a change now,” the King said, clearly bored with the whole conversation. “I had hoped for a distraction.”
     Hoped for…what the hell?
     Taylor’s temper flared before she could rein it in. She shot to her feet. “Well you won’t find one here,” she spat.
     The arrogant jerk!
     She should've known by looking at him that he'd be an ass. Taylor had thought that traveling a hundred light years would make a difference. When would she learn to ignore her hormones and see people for what they truly were? Men were the same no matter what solar system they lived in.
     Linx’s eyes widened and he glowered at her. "You are speaking to a King," he hissed. "We talked about this. You forget your place."
     "My place? My place is a hundred light years from here." But he was right. Hades was doing them a favor by letting her stay here. The least she could do was be gracious. Taylor opened her mouth to apologize, but one look at the King's arrogant expression changed her mind. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared right back at him. He could take her apology and stuff it up his tight butt.
     Yes, she'd noticed that he had a great butt. She might be 'reformed', but she wasn't blind.

Love it! Damn! I've got to get that one!

What do you believe makes a man sexy?

That's easy. Intelligence and a wicked sense of humor.

We all want a man with a sense of humor for sure, but I loved how you threw in "wicked."  Oh, yeah. I know exactly what you mean. I have to say my hubby has one. He keeps me on my toes for an old man.

People, come and comment! Be sure to leave your email address. A lucky commenter will win one of Jordan's e-books (your choice), and she has many to choose from! I know which one I'm getting next.

Check out the many places you can find Jordan Summers. Who can resist that smile? Be sure to sign up for her newsletter.



Interview by

​Carla Swafford

The Circle Trilogy
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
Check out my books on Goodreads
Time Magazine, ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pursue Your Dreams!

"All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." ~ Walt Disney

I often have to reread this phrase again and again because it really speaks to me on so many levels. Pursuing dreams. Hmmm... first you have to dream big enough to have a dream to pursue. Then, after the rum is gone, (Pirate!) the euphoria fades, rejections descend, and the muck thickens, you MUST want that dream bad enough to keep going when all hope appears lost.

Life isn't easy. Oh, how I wish the reverse were true! You can go pirate, take to the seas, put reality behind and live in the World of Willy Wonka, but odds are hard times will follow. Yes, even to the chocolate river. Sigh... So how do you keep a tight grip on your dreams without losing hope?

While doing some spring cleaning, I was going through some old RWR (Romance Writer Report) magazines I needed to get rid of and happened on an article that jumped out at me. That article was "Life is What Happens to You While You're Busy Making Other Plans" by Stephanie Sloane, Eight best-selling authors reveal how they fought through some of the most difficult times of their lives ~ and won, April 2012 issue. Interviewed authors included Katharine Ashe, Monica Burns, Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly, Kris Kennedy, Elisabeth Naughton, Kate Noble, and Susan Wiggs, who all willingly divulged their most private battles.

"Words of truth from a person who believes in you as a writer and understands your dreams ~ even when you can't see them clearly ~ can have miraculous effects." Katharine Ashe

"Communication is a key element to effectively handling adversity." Vanessa Kelly

"What you do with what happens is up to you: surrender, rage against your fate or, better yet, use it in your art." Susan Wiggs

"If I can help even one writer see that there's hope down the line, then I know I've made a difference." Elisabeth Naughton

"Make progress from the pain." Shana Galen

"Remember the silver lining." Elisabeth Naughton

"So, rather than trying to change what had been, what was, or waiting for everything to be just right before I could X,Y,Z, I just started moving forward in the direction of my dream." Kris Kennedy

"Small gestures make big impacts." Monica Burns

I've been struggling with a few family issues these days, while finishing and turning in my Nelson's Tea novella, MY LORD ROGUE, tentatively scheduled to release April 20th. I've also been celebrating the relaunch of DUKE BY DAY, ROGUE BY NIGHT, which released March 11th, and recently signed two more contracts with EsKape Press. Pass the rum!!!

Every step closer to a dream requires desire, determination, devotion, and discipline. These are four principles I've had to learn however.

From 2009-2013 I experienced migraines 24/7 and underwent all kinds of tests to discover the cause. One remedy put me in the hospital for three days as doctors administered an antidote to medicine I'd developed a rare reaction to. On August 23, 2011, I had interior neck surgery which appeared to help the headaches. By January of 2012, the pain was back. On August 2, 2013, I had interior and posterior neck surgery. While my headaches were miraculously gone after getting two rods put in my neck, after Thanksgiving and just before Christmas, I tore the muscle in my back neck incision ~ twice. The pain of both the surgery and torn muscles was excrutiating. While healing from that, I got sick January 2nd and have struggled to get well since then. During this entire time, I've had to learn to focus on the bigger picture. I've written when I hurt, when I didn't feel like it, even when all hope appeared lost. The result? Two full length books, one novella, and one full length book I completely rewrote! 

What did I really want to achieve? How did I want to succeed? What was I willing to do to grasp onto my dreams and not let go? Believe! Aye, a little rum did the trick too. ;)

Believe to receive, me hearties! That is my motto.

Life and dreams might feel like they've been baptised in bittersweet reality. I'm asking you to never lose the courage to hope, to dream, to pursue your joy. What you seek is just over that horizon.

Katherine Bone
Rogues, Rebels & Rakes

Friday, March 21, 2014

Who's the Boss?

Every once in a while I get the idea that I am in charge. It isn’t a ludicrous thought. I am the writer. The books are mine. The characters are mine. (And by mine I mean mine and Stephanie’s. But you all get that. It’s just that all those ours and we’s get clumsy.)  Anyway, it isn’t Stephanie who disabuses me of the thought that I am in charge.

It’s them—the characters, the ones who are really running this show. Sometimes I think they are just out there in an alternate universe, waiting to knock me down just when I think I am in control. It’s bad enough when a character I’ve planned, the one I know about, sidles up to me and says, “No. I’m not doing that. You can’t make me.” I can deal. I’ve learned to let them have their way because it really works out for the best.

What is really disconcerting is when a character rises from the swamp like some kind of misplaced southern Poseidon and says, “Here I am. You are going to need me.” 

You see Stephanie and I are working on a new series. We sold on proposal this time so we’ve done what she has been trying to force me to do for years—sketched out the characters and somewhat plotted what’s going to happen. (I say “somewhat” because I am a pantser and can only go so far.)

The first book got off to little bit of a rocky start because I started in the wrong place. But it turned out fine. I didn’t lose what I had already written. It happens, just not first. It was going great. The heroine is determined and the hero, a country music superstar, has lost more than most people ever have. He is alone and emotionally bankrupt. He has no one.

Then along comes Dirk. Yeah. Dirk. You know him. He was the hero’s childhood friend and is head of security for the hero’s property.  Dirk is cramping my style. He is bossy and has no regard for what I think needs to happen. And he certainly isn’t going anywhere.

Ah, Dirk. What am I to do?

Have you ever had a Dirk sneak into your story? How did you deal with him?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Say Hello to Sweetheart Cari Hislop!

--Are you wondering where you heard of that name? Well, it was from here at Romance Magicians. Cari has been a commenter since her first time on April 23, 2009. (She commented on a post of mine!) We have appreciated her comments and insights over the years. So I figured you are like me and wanted to know a little more about our sweet friend. So here we go.--

How did you find the Romance Magicians' blog?
I didn’t have any friends who were romance writers and I really needed to find a tribe where there were other people like me. People who talk about their experiences of being romance writers as well as dealing with story telling and stubborn characters. I visited numerous websites, but they seemed more reader orientated. The great thing about Romance Magicians is that you cater for both readers and writers. It’s really obvious that you’re a lovely group of people who love sharing your stories and your experiences. Reading your blog posts often make me laugh as well as think. Because of Romance Magicians I know I’m not crazy, I’m just a romance writer.

--Aww! That's kind of you to say that. We're happy that you found us. Some of our regulars may not know but Cari lives in England.--

You're a published author. Tell us a little about your books.
I write Regency romances (I feel like I’m in a meeting admitting I'm an alcoholic – I find writing romances very addictive). I discovered them as an early teen and I’ve loved them ever since. As a story teller, I love how the historical setting allows me to develop characters with all sorts of individual morals. They can be a whore or a rakehell or virgins or in between. The Regency period gives me a broad canvas I find endlessly inspiring. My stories have character driven plots with lots of face time between the main characters. For me as a reader, I want the romance to develop on the page so that’s what I write. Some might say I torture my characters. I rate my stories PG 13 circa Pretty in Pink. The main characters all have to wait till the end of the story to have sex (at least with each other). I’m not Barbara Cartland. I don’t leave the reader outside the door with epitaphs of “Mountain peaks of ultimate joy”, but I do leave the act to the reader’s imagination. That’s what I usually read so that’s what I write, but my stories aren’t "Sweet". They often have bitter-sweet elements and or violence (my evil characters tend to be really evil).

Who are your top five authors to read?
That’s nearly impossible, but five would be:
Jodi Taylor (Her time travelling romantic historians are brilliant – funny and sad – beautifully written –  I am a fan!)
Dorothy L Sayers (I’m a long time Peter Whimsey fan – I prefer my mysteries dished up with romance)
Catherine Cookson (Often savage characters, but there’s usually a light at the end of the coal tunnel)
Fannie Hurst (Beautiful haunting stories with complex character development written in the early 20th c.)
Agatha Christie (If I ever grow up I want to be Miss Marple – some dreams will never come true!)

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre or Laurie King’s The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
That’s a hard question, but I think it would have to be my college English teacher, Cathy (sadly I can’t remember her last name). She is the one who  taught me how to rewrite. It’s her voice in my head when I think I’ve got something good that says… “It can be better!” Imagine a Fashion Design student writing esoteric essays on “Dust” over and over. It was very valuable torture!

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.
I have a little white box of a work room just big enough for my white table-desk and a white chair and a few book shelves. The white is slowly disappearing under drawings, posters and pin boards. I think this is a healthy sign. If I wasn't married I’d probably have large posters of men in kilts…as it is my English husband is at least Scottish by descent (he does have nice legs – even if one is shorter than the other).

Tells us a little about your current book?
My newest novel is Dancing the Maypole. I’m having brain freeze! Why is it so hard to explain one’s own book? I've been sitting here for an hour and I’m struggling to come up with more than, “I think it’s funny.” I will never have a career in PR!

I’m going to have to go with part of my synopsis or I won’t make the deadline!

Taller than most men, Isabel de Bourbon has rejected numerous proposals of marriage. There is only one honourable man big enough to be her flesh and blood hero. A private scribbler of romances, Isabel has been penning the adventures of Pierre, a literary doppelganger of Peter Smirke, Viscount Adderbury. The man has been a widower for a decade, but Isabel is terrified of rejection. It’s safer to write about making love to the imaginary Pierre than face the real man. The identity of Pierre remains a secret until Isabel’s father announces at the breakfast table that Lord Adderbury is advertising for a wife. Monsieur de Bourbon dismisses the desperate Lord Adderbury as mad, but Isabel’s eyes fill with longing. Observing his daughters reaction, and wanting to find her some happiness, Monsieur de Bourbon impulsively orders his daughter to apply for the position.

Peter of course is unaware that his sons have published the awful advertisement until fellow guests at a house party all start mocking him. Enraged, he rushes home to vent his fury on his children only to find his dream mistress standing in his parlour. He has no memory of meeting Isabel, but he knows her intimately.

The story is full of helpful relatives offering embarrassing help, but Peter also finds himself haunted by the ghost of a Restoration Rakehell who claims to be a Romantic Agent with a mission to help Peter succeed in finding love. Agent 1680 is not always very helpful…

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
From chapter 7

Peter mumbled under his breath, “Horrid little frog!” Peter slammed the door behind him and glared at the romantic agent. “Well? Where am I supposed to find the k-k-key?”
“What key?”
“The key to open my mental chest! What is it? Where is it?”
“I can’t tell you, but it’s as obvious as a pretty pair of eyes.”
“The key is a pair of eyes?”
“That’s not what I said.”
“If this is what you call help, you can go to the devil!”
“Suit yourself. Good luck finding that key…if she hasn’t already burned it.”
Peter’s eyes went wide with horror. “She’s going to burn it? Why didn’t you tell me? Heartless fiend!” Peter turned and race back down the corridor his mind whirling with unpleasant thoughts. Had he bullied his wife? Had he bored Katie to death? A sick feeling in his stomach hinted he wouldn’t like the answers. He didn’t want to think about it. Katie was dead; there was nothing he could do to make up for his failings as her husband, but Mademoiselle de Bourbon was alive and hating him. He couldn’t remember the dance with Mademoiselle de Bourbon, but there was one person who would.
Reaching Isabel's door, he stood there catching his breath; if he knocked, she’d lock the door and he’d never remember. Opening the door, he saw his dream lover kneeling in front of the fire; her face pressed into a bundle of white fabric. “Mademoiselle?” Without looking in his direction, she slowly uncovered her face and fed the dress to the fire filling the room with the acrid smoke. Coughing, she ignored him as he stepped inside and closed the door. “Mademoiselle, did we d-dance eighteen years ago?”
“What does it matter?”
“What are you b-burning?”
“Memories of that dance.”
“That was the dress? You wore white?”
“I was a debutante Mr Smirke.” She pronounced his name with a sneer. “White was de rigueur in 1800.” She flung an old pair of white leather dancing shoes and then two white stockings with blue clocks into the fire. Peter hunched down by her side as she picked up a fan and lovingly unfolded it to gaze upon the painting of Robespierre having his head removed by Madame Guillotine and then slowly closed it.
“You used that the night we d-danced? May I have it?”
“Non.” She threw it at the fire, but Peter caught it midair. “Give it back!”
Isabel’s words were almost a scream, but Peter clutched his treasure. “Describe what happened. Help me remember.”
“Why would you want to remember dancing with a maypole?”
“I need to remember!”
Her lips pursed in contempt, “Then remember somewhere else. I can’t erase you from my life if you’re crouched next to me like a giant spider. Give me my fan!”
“Tell me what happened. Please!” Peter held the fan out of reach as she tried to grab it. “How d-did I look at you? Did I seem in love?”
Her eyes filled with tears. “You were a married man. Why would you look at a debutante maypole as if you were in love? Why would you even ask such a question?”
“Something happened that night…did you f-f-fall in love with me?” Peter winced in pain as he was pushed off his feet onto his back, hitting his head on the floor. The next thing he knew Isabel was crawling over him and reaching for her fan. “Comment Diable!” He paled as his most tender flesh was crunched under a knee. Clutching the fan, he automatically grasped his attacker and rolled her underneath his heavier weight to protect himself. As pain subsided he was mesmerised by trembling lips. An invisible electric current jumped like an arc light from teary brown eyes into his brain, drenching him with sweat. Feeling her warm length underneath him was sweeter than anything he’d dreamt. His voice cracked with longing, “Help me…or I’ll k-k-kiss you.”
Read the rest of the novel for free! Go to Smashwords and use the Romance Magicians coupon XQ23G to download a copy of Dancing the Maypole. The five digit code is not case sensitive. If you prefer something shorter I have a short story, Lucky in Love which is always free to download. 
--Thanks, Cari!!--

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
I find a cynical attitude coupled with great intelligence, a resonant voice connected to nice legs very sexy. I call them goblins. I don’t see them coming. I hear them snarl and they become visible (goblins are magical). They tend to be loved-starved creatures hence their public mask is often tinged with a dyspeptic sneer or weary exasperation. Hidden under the crotchety exterior is always a tender heart. Maybe I’m insane (probably), but it almost doesn't matter what the man looks like it always makes him sexy.

--Love that description and so true. Thank you again, Cari, for letting me interview you and for the free downloads!--

Carla Swafford
The Circle Trilogy
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Getting Published: It's not about luck

Heather Ingram/Flickr
Getting published is not about luck. Now don’t roll your eyes at me. Really you're probably not going to get your book published because you find a leprechaun waiving a contract at the end of a rainbow.

Did you know...

the first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times?

Anne of Green Gables was rejected 5 times?

E. E. Cummings’ collection No Thanks is dedicated to the 14 publishing houses that rejected it?

A Wrinkle in Time (one of my favorite books of all-time and a Newberry winner) was rejected at least 26 times?

These authors didn’t bank on luck. What got them published was PERSEVERANCE.

How can you persevere?

- Listen to constructive criticism without giving up what makes your story yours

- Take classes, read books, hone your craft

- Reach out to another publisher… or two… or 26


Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe (another one of my favorites), talks about her perseverance in working toward the publication of her first book in this video. Watch it and be inspired:

So, on this St. Patrick’s Day, drink a green beer, kiss the Blarney Stone (or a willing, handsome Irishman), and get back to your story.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Family Secrets

Every family has at least one, right?  One deep dark secret nobody likes to talk about.  Or a secret that comes to light years later, catching everyone off guard and leaving a big, ugly mess in its wake.

For U.S. marshal Dana Massey, the heroine of my March Intrigue, The Secret of Cherokee Cove, when her brother is nearly killed in an auto crash that was no accident, she uncovers a tragic family secret so twisted, someone's willing to kill to keep it secret.

Dana needs to be able to control her world. It's the only way she knows how to cope with all that she's already lost in her life—her parents in a tragic car accident and her younger brother, an idealistic charity worker, to a terrorist attack.  So when her remaining brother nearly loses his life to keep a secret covered up, the only way she knows how to control the situation is to throw herself into the investigation.

There's just one problem. The case already has a lead detective—talk, dark and taciturn Walker Nix. And he's not so sure he's willing to share his investigation with anyone else, especially not the beautiful but stubborn marshal with a chip on her shoulder.

But Dana's never been one to take no for an answer.  Will her dogged determination lead her to the truth?  Or headlong into danger?

Have you ever discovered a shocking family secret?  If so, how did you react? And what do you think would be the most surprising thing you could learn about someone in your family?

About the book:

Detective Walker Nix knew there was more to the Bitterwood police chief's "accident" and that someone wanted his boss dead. But when the victim's sister, U.S. marshal Dana Massey, insisted on becoming involved, Nix had a hunch his case—and his heart—was in for a heap of trouble. 

With decades-old secrets—including a missing secret baby—being uncovered, it soon became apparent that Dana's family was at the center of the mystery. As Nix helped Dana solve this cold case, he found himself opening up more than he'd ever dared. Yet when it was over, she'd be leaving. Unless Detective Tall, Dark and Handsome took the scariest step of all….

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dream Your Dream

Dreams come in many shapes and sizes. My dream of writing and being published has come true to a certain extent. I continue to work at it because, best seller or not, I enjoy it. I am learning as I go and I don't see myself giving it up. All I need is time because the ideas are popping. I jot down names that interest me or my vision of a scene from a song lyric and believe me that list is growing so when I find the time . . . look out!

My daughter has a dream of owning her own business soon. She does beautiful etched glass, vinyl work, logo t-shirts, and is branching into embroidery. While all I need is my laptop and time, she is in search of a store front with space to work and showcase her product. Her kitchen has become crowded with feeding the family and working in the same space, but she will forge ahead on her journey to making her dream come true.

Here are some items that will probably show up very soon in an author basket or a blog hop giveaway near you ;) 

You can find her and more of her work on Facebook at

Okay, you know I had to get the sweetest little fella in the world in the picture. He makes a good model, don't you think?

Dreams are accomplished one day at a time and the key is, don't give up!

Visit Larynn Ford at:


Monday, March 10, 2014

Fifty Ways to [Not] Write Your Novel

“The problem is all inside your head,” she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically.
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free –
There must be fifty ways to not write your novel....”
-- based on Paul Simon’sFifty Ways To Leave Your Lover via
1. Look up the proper lyrics to the earworm inside your head.
2. Alternatively, fit your own words to the earworm’s tune to fit a specific reason.
3. Check out tv shows you want to record on your dvr because you’re too busy writing to watch them while they’re on.
4. Delete shows you recorded but watched already while you were taking a break from writing.
5. Log in to Facebook - ‘nuff said.
6. Call your cousin you haven’t talked to in 25 years but just friended on Facebook.
7. Try to figure out Google +.
8. Tweet that you are #amprocrastinating and keep up with the conversation.
9. Try to decipher acronyms like FMTYEWTK, YOLO, NE1, UG2BK, DUST, DGTG, COS, NMP, Def
10. Log in to Pinterest.
11. Follow links to recipe for How to Make Homemade Doggie Deodorant.
12. Check pantry for ingredients. Remember you don’t have a dog; you have a cat.
13. Attempt to engage said cat in play. Or at least, to move off your keyboard.
14. Hunt down canned air. And the phone number to the Geek Squad, just in case.
15. Log in to email.
16. Delete without reading 9 out of 10 emails.
17. Read the remaining one, follow link, contract computer virus.
18. Wonder why the he** your computer won’t stop spouting audio commercials in the background.
19. Google “Why the he** won’t my computer stop spouting audio commercials in the background?”
20. Follow one of five hundred links to computer geek forum.
21. Read ten pages of instructions for removing virus.
22. Break into flop sweat and consider making the Homemade Doggie Deodorant for yourself.
23. Mess around with your security apps and different buttons on your keyboard that have pictures on them.
24. Reinstall what you just uninstalled.
25. Get college kid on phone to walk you through “Restore”.
26. Celebrate restoring/fixing computer with chocolate and a cocktail.
27. Remember the Great Chocolate Purge of Wednesday.
28. Remember the 5 o’clock rule and take a tiny swig of booze.
29. Swig some more – according to that little clock you just discovered on your computer, it’s actually 5 o’clock in Chihuahua, LaPaz, and Mazatl√°n.
30. Wander around the house, into college kid’s room. Read his favorite childhood book, Franklin Goes To School and think ...Never to come home again!
31. Tidy up and discover college kid left behind all the notebooks/pens/checkbook/B&N giftcards/self addressed stamped stationery/white socks.
32. Find Easter chocolate from 2012 hidden in back of socks drawer.
33. Scarf it down, then briefly consider purging. Chicken out.
34. Collect all the garbage around the house as fast as you can (10 calories burned) then haul heavy garbage can out to curb (25 calories burned).
35. Haul it back – pickup is day after tomorrow (25 more calories burned – thank God).
36. Remember Katie’s show is about chronic procrastinators who can’t get anything done and decide to watch it for “characterization research”.
37. Multitask: Cook brown rice the old fashioned way on the stove while watching Katie.
38. Realize nothing’s thawed for dinner and dig out UFF (Unidentifiable Frozen Food)
39. Microwave it so it thaws; discover it’s fish that’s about the same age as the Easter egg in the socks.
40. Fish + Rice = boring healthy dinner. Google Cheese Sauce recipes.
41. Burn the sauce because you watched Dr. Phil and forgot to stir because you were too busy picking your own jaw up off the floor and wondering what the he** people were thinking.
42. Return to computer for writing after inspiration hits between the eyes.
43. Pour out 1,000 words.
44. Edit until they resemble nothing like the story you set out to write originally.
45. Think about outlining the plot.
46. Think some more.
47. Remember the blog you need to write.
48. Read past blogs and wonder what to write about: conferences, volunteering, characterization, Mardi Gras, fixing the computer virus, acronyms.
49. Write about how you came to procrastinate away a perfectly good day of writing.
50. Upload to blog and return to WIP.
Can you add to the list? Another 50 items or so?

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Fabulous Elosia James!

Hey, just wanted to let you know there are three ways to meet the Fabulous Elosia James in Alabama.  I suggest going to all three. She's a wonderful speaker, author and person.

1)  March 31, 2014, Monday, 7:00 p.m., Books-a-Million at Brookwood Village Mall, Birmingham, AL.  She will be signing books. Be sure to bring your camera too. I always forget!

2) April 2, 2014, Wednesday, 5:00 p.m., Paul R Jones Gallery, 2308 6th Street, Tuscaloosa, AL. Per her website, she will be talking about writing, romance novels and Shakespeare. Great combination! Open and free to the public. Okay for you to bring books from home to be signed.

3) June 14, 2014, Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Von Braun Center, 700 Monroe Street, Huntsville, AL. Romance Readers Luncheon hosted by the Heart of Dixie Romance Writers. Includes Lunch and opportunities to win prizes followed by book signing. Elosia is the guest speaker. Click here to register.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Facing Fear: Celebrating My Debut: Win a Copy of Spring Fling


I released my debut novella this week, but I was afraid to tell anybody. Putting your work out there in front of the eyes of the world requires a bit of courage. Somehow, I missed that in all the preparation to get ready for market. When it was time to click the publish button, I hesitated.
What if people hate it? What if they laugh at my efforts? What if they make me cry? What if I never stop asking what if?
I’ve read about how brave artists have to be if they ever want eyes, other than their own, to enjoy their work. I just never knew I was scared until faced with the button.
Thankfully, I received my print proof copy in the mail and sat down to read it. It wasn’t error free (hopefully I caught and corrected them all), but when I turned the last page, I applauded myself. That may sound weird, but I literally stood and clapped—a standing ovation. I wrote a book I would enjoy reading. So, if there’s anyone at all in the world who enjoys reading the same type of stories I do, then I might have a fan (other than myself and my mom). It was the shot in the arm I needed to make my work available to readers.
Kellyn Crenshaw wants to make it to college graduation without becoming another notch on the belt of a fraternity boy. A boy exactly like Pace Samson. Forced into close proximity because their roommates are dating, Kellyn sets out to prove she’s resistant to his charms.
Pace never figured himself for a one woman man until he spends time with Kellyn. She’s different, and he can’t get her out of his mind. She’s also aware of his reputation, and it may keep him from the one girl who makes him want to change his ways.
When Pace and Kellyn fake a fling on Spring Break to help their friends, Kellyn may discover she isn’t immune to Pace after all. They’ll each have to decide if what’s between them is just a fling or if there’s a chance their feelings are real.
To celebrate the release of Spring Fling, I’m giving away two digital copies to commenters. If you don’t leave an email address, I’ll assume you don’t want to be in the drawing. I will choose at Noon (CST) on Saturday, March 8, 2014 and will email the winners. For availability, visit
What's your favorite Spring Break destination?
 (Leave your email addy to enter to win.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Hanging Out vs. Dating: Can an old dog write New Adult?

Being north of 40 years old and writing New Adult romance, I need to understand the current atmosphere of the 18-25 year old dating community.  I don’t want my books to come across as contrived or outdated, but they should appeal to a broad age range as well.  I hope that certain romantic notions are ageless.  And no, I don’t creep the college campus, but I may quiz age-appropriate family members with a promise of confidentiality!  My husband has 65 first cousins (lots of free time on farms, people), so there’s no shortage of kin to talk to.  I also gorge myself on good New Adult books – because those authors have the ability to combine a fresh vibe with the romance we love.  And I learn from that.

I want to focus on one point that really captured my attention during my anthropological adventure:
Hanging Out vs. Dating

It may be less prevalent in the South, but apparently Hanging Out is replacing Dating.  When I was single I loved being asked out because it meant the guy liked me more than he feared rejection.  I thought that was awesomesauce (well, I thought that it was totally rad because it was 1988).  Anyway, now it’s a text to say “mtg @ tylers L8R. CU there.”  Seriously.  I’ve had so many younger girls tell me that they don’t get asked out on dates, but rather texted to join a group setting where hookups may or may not occur. 

I’ve heard the term “situationship” in song lyrics and jokes.  It’s different than hanging out too.  Basically it is something that is less than a traditional relationship.  Some say it is the middle ground between Friends with Benefits and Exclusive Dating.  Others say it is problematic by definition (e.g. a couple has great, um, chemistry but don’t really like each other), and therefore fated to fail.  Laziness and low expectations?  Lack of social skills?  In real life as long as both people are content, I don’t care what it’s called and it’s none of my business.  But, in books, not surprisingly the situationship is not . . . romantic. 

I find that interesting because more than any other response, people tell me they read romance to escape:  into a pleasant world, somewhere outside of themselves, somewhere without worries, where there will be a happy something at the end.  And the situationship doesn’t provide that.  Hanging out and hooking up doesn’t provide that.

By the way, there is even a Wiki on “how to date” with the appropriate links to “how to look attractive,” which I found mildly terrifying.  Now, this isn’t a post about how everything was great in the old days, because I heard my parents and grandparents say basically the same things. Things evolve. I get it.

My point is that readers don’t lie.  They like what they like.  Trust them.  New Adult books have happy endings that are not situationships.  The happy endings are not the couple hanging out and hooking up. Real and complex relationships develop.  There is love.  So, it gives me hope that I can write this genre because, indeed, certain romantic notions seem to be ageless.

The next stop on my fledgling anthropology trip is a study of online dating sites.  TrekPassion, ScientificMatch, CougarLife, FarmersOnly, Zoosk, Tinder.  Should be interesting!