Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DARK SECRETS is Out--Wanna Have a Facebook Party?

With the release yesterday of Dark Secrets: A Paranormal Noir Anthology, much was discussed among the six participating authors about how to promote the book. What was paranormal noir? What did the six novellas (by Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Jeffe Kennedy, and two Southern Magicians, myself and Mina Khan) have in common?

Well, one thing we had in common was that Mina wrangled all the authors--somewhat akin to cat-herding--into something vaguely approaching organization. Which was a miracle.

But our stories, and our interpretation of "paranormal noir," varied wildly. How could we promote it?

Someone along the way suggested a Facebook Party! And here's the result:

Uh, that would be a no. But I hope you find time to check out DARK SECRETS! (And thanks to Rachel Caine for putting together the video!)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Researching My Next Series

Release Date: February 16, 2016
A couple times recently, I’ve been asked about my research on my latest series, Brothers of Mayhem. First, let me say that most writers love to do research. We love to read about other people’s lives and the way they handle certain situations. Hey, we love to sit in a mall or in front of stores and watch people walk by. We will assess their way of life by the clothes they wear, how they hold themselves (their stance), the way they walk, and often they will show up in our books.
So when writers research a book or new series, it’s a win-win. Books and reading about other people lives, we’re in hog heaven.
For my next series, I did research about outlaw motorcycle clubs. Youtube was helpful. There are lots of documentaries, specially for each outlaw MC known to man. Well, it feels that way. I probably watched ten of the videos, including just general ones on riding motorcycles. And of course, I watch shows on TV. Previously, Sons of Anarchy along with whatever shows that have popped up on TV (e.g. Outlaw Chronicles: Hells Angels).
Then I bought two romances with the central characters being in outlaw MCs. I quickly realized that was a mistake. They are NOT the kind of heroes I want to write. I love alpha heroes, but I don’t want them crude or just downright mean. That was all confirmed when my beta reader mentioned she started reading MC stories after my first three chapters hooked her, and some of the stories she read were waaaay over the edge. She liked the milder but still sexy ones.
I also bought two autobiographies about undercover agents in MCs and one about a confidential informant. Here are the books.
  • No Angel by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton – “My harrowing under cover journey to the inner circle of the Hells Angels.”
  • Under and Alone by William Queen – “The True story of the undercover agent who infiltrated America’s most violent outlaw motorcycle gang.”
  • Gods of Mischief by George Rowe – “My undercover vendetta to take down the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang.”
And I drew from my misspent youth for a few other aspects of the book. I’ve talked a little about that before. Click here.  When I was younger, I had ridden on a few motorcycles (passenger only – chopper, touring bike, and dirt bike – yep, it was rough bitch-riding on the last one), but never felt the need to buy one or keep riding.
Research can become addictive. So you have to learn to limit it. I felt I have it covered now.
Brothers of Mayhem series
Hidden Heat 2/16/16
Full Heat 7/5/16
Naked Heat 11/29/16
Raw Heat 4/18/17

Carla Swafford
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+l
Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Friday, September 18, 2015

Online Classes: Opinions? Advice?

So, I'm not sure that this qualifies as an informative blog post or anything, but I thought I would take a minute to let you know what I have been up to in my writing life! In my "day job" life, things have been super crazy, but I have tried hard to keep my writing life active. Recently, I submitted my complete manuscript and made PRO--and that was great! Now I am working on another project that has been giving me fits over the last few months. So, I decided to try to jumpstart my interest in it again, and I enrolled in an online writing class through another writing group.

I want to say right away that the class has great materials, and the instructor is wonderful about corresponding and answering questions super fast. So, all of that is great, of course. My problem: I don't know that I am cut out for online writing classes like this. I feel a disconnect, and think I am the kind of person who does better when I am talking face-to-face with someone or am in a classroom/group situation. Like I said, this has NOTHING to do with the materials or the instructor. I really think both are great, and I am learning various things, so it is a win either way.

So, I want to poll the audience! 

Have any of you ever taken an online writing course/workshop? If so, does it work for you? What advice or opinions do you have?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Taking Time to Brush The Hero's Teeth

Over the last year, I've read on Facebook and reviews for other authors' books, readers complaining about the characters not taking baths, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, or needing to stop to pee. *snicker* They're talking about the hero and heroine doing normal activities that a person will often do throughout the day.
I know sometimes I get so involved in writing the romance or the suspense, I forget to let my characters eat or sleep. So this is a valid concern.
Of course, the knee-jerk response is to say all of that will slow down the story.
In any book that is fast paced, high energy like most of mine, I have to remind myself to let the characters catch their breath, have a little down time. When I'm in edits, I try to make sure they get plenty of food and rest and try to think of other small daily functions I can mention.
Note that I said mention.
Don't start explaining to the reader how she or he separated the colors from whites, folded the laundry, and placed them in the closet. Unless she's a psycho serial killer and has a body in the closet and the laundry belongs to her victims, I rather not read about it.
If you want to show that moment of normalcy, you can have the hero changing the oil in his souped up classic Camaro and planning in his head the next raid against the bad guys. Maybe using a wrench to bang on the stuck oil pan in anger when he remembers what had gone wrong with the last mission. You get the idea. The everyday function is in the background. Kind of like, the characters are walking and thinking or talking. You don't describe each step.
Well, like everything, unless he's escaping from a killer and clinging to a ledge of a mountain. Then each step will count.
GOODNESS!  I can't help it.  There is a good reason I write romantic suspense.
But it's important to remember that whatever you place in that type of scene, you must have the plot moving forward, a tidbit of information the reader needs to put two and two together then or later. Or prepare the reader for what will come next. Along the way, this is a good time to show characterization.
Anyway, I believe you get the idea.  I'll shut up now.
Carla Swafford loves romance novels, action/adventure movies and men, and her books reflect that. She's
married to her high school sweetheart and lives in Alabama
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
February 2016, HIDDEN HEAT, A Brothers of Mayhem novel
Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Chemistry of Romantic Love and the Romance Novelist

Anthropologist Helen Fischer argues that romantic love is actually hard wired into the human body. After studying individuals who described themselves as just having fallen "madly in love", her team scanned their brains. It was not the cognitive, deep-thinking, philosophical parts that lit up. As you might expect, it was the older, more primitive regions that experienced increased blood flow due to being doused in the chemicals of love--like phenylethylamine (PEA), a close cousin to amphetamines.

Have you ever been lovesick, standing in front of the object of your affection and experienced euphoria, dry mouth, been out of breath, lose your appetite? This sounds a little more telling when you know what kind of chemicals your body is making.

But your body can't sustain a continuous high, so it begins letting the brain down with endorphins, nature's painkillers. Suddenly everything feels right, all your aches and pains are forgotten and you attribute that feeling of well-being to  being with your partner.  

Oxytocin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, is released  along with vasopressin which mitigates stress. You begin to get attached to your partner. You feel safe, stable, tranquil, and at peace with your lover. Your body wants to bond with them to keep these feelings. And with romantic love, this is easy to trigger. These chemicals are regularly released during sexual contact with a bonded partner.

Now throw romance novels into the mix. 

In 2014, University of Toronto researchers Maja Djikic and Keith Oatley found that reading "chick lit" and even better, romance novels, actually helps develop empathy skills. Reading romance allowed subjects to better interpret the emotions of others. The researchers felt that good fiction could even put its readers through an emotional roller coaster as if they were the protagonist. And as a reader of romance, I can attest to exactly that feeling when I've read a sweeping love story

So in effect, when a romance novelist writes about characters falling love, the readers are falling in love right along with them. All those same chemicals affect their brains, making them at first lovesick and then bonding them with the heroes and heroines. If the novelist has done their job right, they will experience those overwhelming physiological feelings of love. And if a reader falls in love with their characters, they'll turn to the novelist again and again to feel that feeling.

AIDEE LADNIER is a writer who loves quirky characters. You can visit her website at or meet her at some of her favorite social media sites:
Twitter  |  Tumblr  |  Pinterest  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Monday, September 07, 2015

Readers Luncheon Comes Full Circle - A Gathering of My Tribe

Readers Luncheons, like the one Southern Magic is hosting on November 7th, have played a huge role in my writing career. I attended my very first readers luncheon sponsored by our local library and organized by my Southern Magic sister, Tammy Lynn, about seven or eight years ago. It was called Summer Lovin' and I met a number of wonderful romance writers who shared their love of the genre and their enthusiasm for writing with me. This is where I first met Dianna Love and her words of encouragement started me on my writer's journey. Since that luncheon Dianna has been a constant source of encouragement and support for me. I would not be where I am today without her.

I attended my first Southern Magic Readers Luncheon that same year. I met a couple of my historical romance writing idols - Karen Hawkins, Lyn Stone, and Gayle Wilson - to mention a few. Meeting them, telling them about my favorite of their books, and simply talking writing with them let me know, without a doubt, I had finally found my people ! Through Karen Hawkins I found The Goddess Blogs, an online community of readers and writers, many of whom are my dear friends to this day.

I've attended many readers luncheons since that first one and there is nothing like gathering with fellow readers to let you know your obsession with books is not yours alone. Readers are a tribe unto themselves. We talk books and authors the way Southerners talk football and barbecue. Favorite authors become favorite teams. Favorite genres become favorite flavors. And we all want to share the reads we consume over and over again.

Reading is comfort food for the heart, the soul and the mind. Those of us who read look upon those who do not as poor, unfortunate creatures wandering alone in the dark. How on earth do they survive? Why to those of us in the South that's like living in Alabama and not rooting for either the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Auburn's Tigers. Is that even allowed? Sacrilege!

In this age of instant everything and the supremacy of all things electronic, fast, efficient, and fashionable according to the Kardashians (God help us!) reading could get lost in the shuffle. After all, Kanye West said he's never wanted a book's autograph. Isn't that the last word on the entertainment value of reading? (Actually I am fairly certain that is the last word on egotistical ignorance, but I leave that for you to judge.)

And now I have come full circle. This year, for the very first time, I will be co-hosting a table as a published author at Southern Magic's Readers Luncheon. And I do apologize for my full-fledged geek out, but that is just TOO COOL FOR WORDS !! If all goes well, my second novella will be out in print in CHRISTMAS REVELS II. Even better, our speakers are two people who have been so supportive and helpful to my writing career and huge inspirations to me. Darynda Jones is a fellow 2009 Golden Heart Finalist aka my Ruby Sister! Lexi George and I found out what a critique group was all about after hours in Tammy Lynn's bookstore in little old Wetumpka. Tammy Lynn and I reading the infamous "weenie in a bag scene" in the middle of a Mexican restaurant and laughing until we cried is one of my favorite writing memories.

Readers events are vital to authors. They give us a chance to meet the people who make all of the frustration, tears, late nights, chocolate binges, spreading butts, hair pulling, and worn out fingers worthwhile - the readers. The community of book lovers is indeed a tribe. And you, darling readers, will always be the chiefs!