Friday, August 29, 2014

Blogfest Starts September 1 - Lots of Giveaways!

Here for the month of September, Southern Magic celebrates their Readers Luncheon coming up on November 1 in Birmingham, AL. 

NYT bestselling author Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker. 

Each post will be giving away a book or gift card! At the end of the blogfest, a grand prize winner of a Kindle Fire 7"HD Tablet (8 GB) will be picked from everyone who commented during the month and be announced September 30. 

The following authors will be providing a free book (or two) for the grand prize winner's new Kindle.

To register for the luncheon, go to Each attendee will receive a bag of books and author swag, sit at a table with one or two published authors, and have several opportunities to win baskets full of goodies.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday is for HEROES!

Monday is for HEROES! Check out this wonderful video produced by the fabulous Laura Hayden.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Hero's and Heroine's Top Five Traits by Olivia St. Vincent

Carla's busy for the next couple of weeks. So she wanted my help in writing her post, and I told her I would on one condition, that she write me into her latest book. Well, she did. Sort of. The tricky little bitch. She gave me a two-bit part in CIRCLE OF DISHONOR. And only a small mention in CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE. Talk about being gypped!


Okay, okay. I didn't fine tune the agreement. I'll know next time. Anyway, my name's Olivia St. Vincent, and if the name is familiar, then thank you for reading my story in CIRCLE OF DESIRE and my cameos in CIRCLE OF DANGER, CIRCLE OF DECEPTION, and CIRCLE OF DISHONOR. Though the last one she wouldn't even let me kiss ―

Olivia. Shut up and get to the post you promised to type for Carla.

That's sugar britches, everyone. My hubby, Collin, who probably won't live to see our third anniversary coming up this October. 

Enough, Olivia!

*eyes roll* 

He has a point. Now, the conversation we had with Carla the other day.


Carla: Olivia, what are the top five traits you look for in a hero?
Olivia: Well, let’s see. I never imagined falling for a man who talked in a near whisper most of the time. Though I must admit, when he talks, a room full of arguing operatives shuts up in seconds. That’s a man who can lead.
Carla: So number one would be a commanding voice.
Olivia: More like number five. The voice helps get my engine running, but it’s not number one.
Carla: Olivia, don’t forget this needs to stay PG. So no physical traits to be included in the list.
Olivia: I’m hurt. You don’t trust me?
Carla: Let’s say I know you too well.
Olivia: Very well then, let’s get to it. Trait number four: a hero must be comfortable with handling weapons of all types. You know how I love guns, especially sniper rifles, the more powerful the better.
Carla: So an expert in weaponry. I guess, when it comes to a trait, it would fall in the category of being protective. That would be number four. Three more to go.
Olivia: A hero must be honorable. He would never take advantage of those weaker.
Carla: Now we’re getting somewhere. I agree totally.  That would be number three. So you think Collin is honorable?
Olivia: Humph! Who said we’re talking about him? I thought you wanted to know about heroes.
Carla: Collin is certainly hero material. He could have killed you instead of bringing you into his organization, the OS.
Olivia: He could've tried.
Carla:  Olivia.
Olivia: Oh, okay. Yes. He handled it rather well that time I held the sniper rifle on him and accused him of betraying me to The Circle, though he did eventually hand me over to them.
Carla: You know he didn't have a choice. Your ex-boss would've killed the two OS operatives he held hostage.
Olivia: Yeah, yeah. Don’t beat me over the head with it. Collin’s all noble and a bag of chips.
Carla: You sound almost jealous.
Olivia: Everyone thinks he’s God’s Gift to the universe and I’m evil incarnate. Wouldn't you get tired of being painted like that?
Carla: I’m sorry. You’re right. Let’s continue on with our list.
Olivia:  Alright. Number two. Hmm, this is getting more difficult. I can’t include body parts?
Carla: No. Physical. Traits.
Olivia: Don’t get snippy. What is it that you call a hero who’s a push over when tears are involved?
Carla:  Maybe you’re thinking compassionate.
Olivia: Sure. Compassionate. I like how it goes along with passionate.
Carla: Ooolivia.
Olivia: That’s not a body part. Geez. You’re no fun.
Carla: Let’s move on to number one. What’s the most important trait?
Olivia: Easy. He must be intelligent.
Carla: Smart. I agree.
Olivia: Collin was smart enough to fall in love with me.
Carla:  I thought we weren't talking about Collin.
Olivia: Of course, the man’s got a big enough—
Carla: Oooliva!
Olivia: Now who’s being naughty with that dirty mind? Tsk, tsk, tsk! I was saying he had a big enough ego without me adding to it.
Carla: *sigh* Okay. Go over there while I talk with Collin.
Olivia: Fine. But don’t believe a word he says.
Carla: Shh! Behave, Olivia. Collin, thank you for being so patient. It’s only fair to ask you a similar question. What are the top five traits you look for in a heroine? Starting with number five.
Collin: Definitely confidence. A woman must know her own mind and be sure of her abilities.
Carla:  Much like Olivia, wouldn't you say?  
Collin: She’s certainly confident in her skill with guns.
Carla: Why do I get a feeling you’re saying she isn't always sure of herself?
Collin: At times, her bravado can be an act.
Carla: I see. She acts tough but is a softy inside.
Collin: That’s true though she hates to admit it. Number four is adaptable.
Carla: Uh, I’m not sure what you mean by that.
Collin: She understands the world isn't black and white. There’s a lot of gray. Sometimes what you believe is true, isn't.
Carla: Oh, okay. Like her believing The Circle were the good guys. That is, they were at one time, but had gone to the dark side you could say.
Collin: Yes.
Carla: I like how you’re up front about Olivia being the heroine you’re describing.
Collin: She can be when she sets her mind to it.
Olivia:  I heard that!
Carla: This is Collin’s turn! Go! Let us talk.
Collin: Number three is intelligence. A heroine needs not only brains but street smarts too.
Carla: I find that interesting. Would you like to speculate on why she placed it as number one for heroes?
Collin: No.
Carla: Would you at least explain the sexy grin you’re wearing?
Collin: No.
Carla: Alrighty then. Let’s move on to number two.
Collin: Number two is a heroine must be loyal.
Carla: Loyal? Do you want to explain that one?
Collin: A heroine will sacrifice herself for the greater good.
Carla: Oh, no, you didn't. You didn't pull the Buffy card.
Collin: I’m not sure of what you mean, but a heroine will stand by those she loves even when it might endanger herself.
Carla: Okay. You can have that one.
Collin: The top one is independence. There’s nothing sexier about a woman, than one who knows her own mind and doesn't need to lean on others, including a man, to achieve her goals.
Carla: Wow! I love hearing a man say that. When a man isn't threatened by a woman knowing her own mind … wow! That’s sexy.
Collin: I’m taken.
Olivia: You tell her!
Carla: Uh-huh. I wasn't … I didn't mean .... Oh, heck.
Olivia: Come here, sugar. So I can show you one of my goals.
Carla: Uh, anyway, thanks to Olivia and Collin for helping me out. Quit that, you two! For goodness sakes, get a room!


Okay. That's all of the interview. I think it went well. Don't tell Carla this, but I think she has a crush on my sweetie. Actually, all of the Circle guys. The woman can be such a slu ―

Olivia, you need to wrap it up now. 

Sure, sure. *leans closer* His voice has gotten all soft and heated now. That means he's pissed or turned on or both. I do know I'm in trouble. See my knees shaking? NOT! Want to wrestle, lover boy? *laughter* Come over here and try to pin me to floor!

Ladies and gentlemen, ignore my wife. Carla would like to warn you her books are very hot, and the world her people live in is violent. A world filled with assassins and betrayal. But two lovers can find a sanctuary from all the craziness by loving each other.

Ah! Isn't he sweet? I do love that man. Now, drop those drawers and let's have fun. What? What? Don't glare at me. That's as romantic as I can get.

*door slams*

Coming September 1 - CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE's cover reveal.  Be sure to check out Carla's blog then.
Carla Swafford
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."
RT Book Reviews - 4-1/2 stars,"[A] dark, gritty story that will grab you by the throat and not let go."

Monday, August 11, 2014


I am forever searching out ways to promote my work and increase my understanding of the craft of writing. Attending events and conferences are excellent ways to associate yourself with other writers and learn from their experiences. And of course, it goes without saying, there's always the fun element. So, I've signed up for a little thing called Dragon Con at the end of this month in Atlanta.

At first I was going just for the experience. My big kid/ husband loves Dr Who and is going to see one of the doctors attending. Colin Baker was the sixth doctor for any of you who are fans.

As I looked further into the line up for the weekend, I found there will be a couple of authors I'm familiar with, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Laurell K Hamilton with their own booths. Cool.

Next, I found a writing seminar program hosted by New York Times best selling author, Michael A Stackpole. There are actually sixteen hour long sessions on everything from plotting to social media to writing YA fiction. I have chosen ten one-hour classes spread over three days and will hopefully come away with a ton of useful info.

As for promoting myself, I've had T-shirts made and will be wearing my business cards in addition to handing them out to anyone interested.

Check out the flip side!! If anyone should want to scan my back with a smart phone, it will take them directly to my website. 

I have to say I'm excited about this trip. 
Anyone else attending?

Friday, August 08, 2014

Winter Formal Cover/Trailer Reveal & A Calling

Y'all will probably think I've lost my mind, but I have another novella coming out in September. (And another in October.) With this production schedule, I keep asking myself, "What were you thinking?"

On the advice of some successful indie authors, I decided to get my name out there and try to find some readers who enjoy my voice. Is it working? Too early to tell, but I've jumped in with both feet and a lot of faith.

Are there any other authors out there who feel "called" to write romance? I do. The characters and stories in my head are there for a reason.  They need an outlet, and if they make the world a little happier for just one person, then I've succeeded.

Without further ado, check out the cover for Winter Formal. The story still has a little humor, but it deals with a bit more serious subjects. That's why I love the serenity of this couple- finding peace and each other though hard circumstances. To me, the blue sky is a sign of hope. (And the pine trees scream Southern Alabama.)
Life is going according to plan for Sibba Douglas until she gets blackmailed. Her future dream of being a doctor is threatened unless she can help a spoiled fraternity boy do well on the MCAT.
Nash Lincoln knows he needs to settle down and focus on his studies, but academics have taken a back seat to social events and he’s coasting by on little sleep and lots of pills. The distraction of a tutor he’s admired from afar isn’t helping matters.
Substance abuse leads to tragedy and draws Sibba and Nash closer together. But it may also be the thing that tears them apart.
Check out the Book Trailer:
This book trailer was the most difficult one I've made so far because I was searching for a balance with the elements of the story. As Providence would have it, the song that was chosen for me as part of the theme, turned out to be almost perfect. It was so easy that I kept questioning whether it needed more. In the end, I had to have faith and let it go.
Do you ever feel that way about the stories you create? Does reading romance help restore your faith in love?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Does Swag Sway You?

I recently attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference in San Antonia, TX. How awesome is that? Pretty great in my opinion because there a beginner such as myself can easily blend and mingle with the greats. I rubbed shoulders with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Heather Graham, Catherine Coulter, and even Nora Roberts! Yikes, I so fan girled on a lot of women that inspired me to write in the first place. Although I have yet to publish my book, I’m still counted as one of the group.

RWA sets aside a room at the conference for authors to leave swag/goodies. Items such as bookmarks, candy, calling cards, and things that attract someone to notice their publications. The most memorable swag I picked up was cozies, stress balls, and condoms. Yes, you read that right. Of all those thousands of items I picked up (including the ones mentioned), I can’t tell you who any of those authors are past the items that caught my attention. So, “Who gave out the condoms?” you ask… I couldn’t tell you who they were or what they wrote because I don’t remember. How sad is that? It’s probably only sad on my part for taking the item offered.

This brings me to my point. In looking around that room full of items that authors spent a lot of money and time to purchase, I started to question the real benefit. Does swag sell books? None of the greats that I mentioned in the first paragraph had anything in that room. Only other authors were “shopping” in that room. So how does swag get out to the general public where the bulk of the readers are? What’s the purpose if only other authors see the swag?

Alright, let me say this again, “I’m unpublished.” BUT, I’m an avid reader and the swag did not sway me to want to purchase any of those books.  What sways me to read someone’s book is reviews. Would it be more beneficial for authors to give gift cards to purchase their book with a requested honest review as the only return? Or would it be more beneficial to spend the money and hire a freelance editor to help ensure the story is the best it can be? Maybe hire a publicist to place adds in magazines or build and promote a website? In my humble opinion (which you know what they say about opinions) any of those suggested would be more beneficial than spending money on swag.

What do you think? Have you been swayed by swag? 

Respond to this post with your opinions, leave me a way to contact you (email preferred), and one lucky person will receive a free box of books loaded with swag. The books are: Avenge Me by Maisey Yates; Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews; Expose Me by Kate Hewitt; Atonement by B.J. Daniels; and Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker.

Philisha Byrd Stephens 

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Secrets Our Characters Keep

Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides
—Andr√© Malraux

This is a statement that resonates with me.

One of the key elements to creating a three-dimensional character that leaps off the page is to give them a secret. It becomes instant conflict--what if someone finds out? What if they are confronted about it? What if it derails their life as they know it?

A secret affects a character's growth. It separates your character from those around them and stalls their relationships. Their secret will brand them as "other" both in their mind and in the minds of those around them.

Secrets are hard to keep. People are naturally curious and they know when you have something to hide. Because a secret, even a well hidden secret, will make itself known. It will change the way a character reacts to certain circumstances. It will encourage superficial conversation because what is most important cannot be spoken. Your character will run instead of facing the problem, thereby making relationships impossible.

If two characters hold a secret, they are tethered by the secret in an static relationship. Neither can go forward without revealing the secret--and as long as they keep their knowledge, there is no going back.

There is also the possibility that a character may not be able to tell a secret because they don't know it themselves. Unknown scars from previous relationships lead to treating current love interests poorly. Was it something the love interest did that caused that argument, that separation? Or was it that thing that happened the last time the hero or heroine was in love? And if your character discovers the secret, will they tell it and reveal that they have a vulnerability?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the character is actively keeping the secret, he or she is expending energy to do it. It's on their mind, in their heart, coloring everything they say and do. They cannot stop thinking about it and what kind of consequences it will bring if it's revealed.

So what about you, have you ever given your character a deep dark secret that changed the way they reacted in your book?

Friday, August 01, 2014

Writing Superstitions

The countdown has begun. As of this writing (Thursday 7/31) there are ninety-one days, six hours, twenty-seven minutes and ten seconds until Halloween.
That means you have time to buy candy, eat the first batch you buy, then go out and buy another bag (or two - how much candy corn did you eat anyway??) and hide it away from whoever is eating it. Or from yourself.

You also have that much time to get your outfit together for Trick or Treating. Lucky You-Who-Cosplay, DragonCon, WorldCon, ComicCon, and every other fantasy conference imaginable is about to take off for a Halloween dry run. Here in Atlanta, it's exactly one month to DragonCon and its downtown parade, where children of all ages, shapes, sizes, and superhero persuasion dress in blue tights and body paint and masks (which is a good thing) and flaunt their hero worship for the world to see.

Which leads me to ask:
What do we and the characters we create do to ward off the odd bad mojo?

Our neighbors' kids yell "Trick or Treat!" and we pitch candy in their bags to protect ourselves from soapy windows and toilet paper'ed front yards.
And how about our superstitions?
Spill salt, pitch a pinch over your shoulder.
Today is the first day of the month - did you say "RabbitRabbit" before you said anything else?

My wip (tentatively titled The Flour Girl) opens with my heroine Lori Grace up before dawn, already on her third cup of coffee pondering the sky's red glow, and an old saying of her grandmother's (and mine) pops in her head - "Red sky at dawn, sailors take warn". It's a portent of a day she wishes was already over.
Her front door is painted "Haint Blue", a color commonly found on doors and porch ceilings in the south to confuse spirits and make them think it's water they cannot cross. (It's also a natural defense against wasps for the same reason. ;)  )

In Anna Steffl's Solace Trilogy, she uses glass blue eyes to mark the hants as a warning because supposedly the ancient Judges stole the soul through the eyes and they used the Blue Eye relics. This is based on Turkish beliefs. (hm... blue again) She also uses Spiritbanes - stinky sachets tied around peoples' necks - to ward off spirits in the Hants, much the same as garlic wreaths were used to ward off vampires. 

Do you give your characters superstitions? Do they have legends or landmarks (like kissing the Blarney Stone) to help them find love or protect them from spirits?