Monday, October 31, 2016

Scary Fun

True Fact - my birthday is less than four days away from Halloween. That means all my childhood birthday parties were horror-themed with magic, gruesomely fake food (cooked spaghetti=worms), and jaunts to the local haunted house to get scared out of my wits by actors dressed up in zombie makeup.

But as fun as those birthdays were, I wondered why being scared is so appealing this time of year. And when I researched it, I found to my surprise that it might have something in common with falling in love.

Physical changes.
When you're scared, your heart beats a little faster, you breathe more intensely (got to get ready to run, don't you?), you begin sweating, and even get a few butterflies in your stomach. Take this out of context of a haunted house and I'd think you were in love.  ;)

Hormonal changes. 
When discussing scary things, people cite the "adrenaline rush" that washes over their body making them feel stronger, faster, able to get away from a threat or fight it. But if you've ever been in love, you'll also recognize that ebullient feeling that you can take on the world or alternately, the need to run and hide from exposing your inner self to someone. And dopamine is what keeps us coming back for more. As part of our reward system, our brains will grab onto dopamine if we're newly in love or if we've been scared. Which is why people go back to those haunted houses again and again--they're getting the same hormonal reward that they would if they were falling in love.

Psychological changes.
Many people love being scared because it evokes the feeling of doing something adventurous, outside the norm, and even taboo. Hmmm. Sounds a little like an illicit affair you're keeping secret.

Sensory changes.
If you've ever visited a commercial haunted house, you know that your senses become acute. You're bombarded with sights, smells, sounds, and occasionally a fake monster that lurches out and playfully makes an attempt to touch you. Psychologists note that the only other activity that is as sensory--is physical intimacy. When you're with someone you love, you listen for their every cry, touch their body, and breathe deeply of their scent. Both circumstances trigger the body into cataloging everything from each separate sense in order to remember it. One so you can protect yourself from a threat and the other to facilitate romantic bonding.

So maybe the reason we like scary stories is the same reason we like love stories. They elicit strong emotions without exposing us to actual danger. You're not really in the clutches of a bizarre serial killer. Or you're not physically in the uncertain position of falling in love with someone that seems to be the opposite of your perfect romantic partner. It's safe to read these stories because they give us the same rush without all the peril.

And if you're looking for a story that's a little bit scary and a little bit romance, try out my new book THE MOONLIGHT MARKET. In it, a college senior finds both danger and love at a magical moonlight market. Come join Cory as he and Sanderson wind through the twisting, shadowed alleys of the market in search of love and understanding,


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:
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Friday, October 28, 2016

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author: Laura Hayden

Title: A Margin of Error

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal

Released: June 10, 2016



Fearing her father has been lost in time, Darys Kirk follows his trail from the 22nd century back to the past. Unfortunately, she ends up at the right place but the wrong time--Margin, Colorado in 1912. When she attempts to correct her mistake to travel to 2017, she inadvertently picks up an early twentieth-century hitchhiker, a wannabe inventor named Ford Nolan. 


Landing on the slopes of Margin Mountain Ski Resort, Darys and Ford find themselves in an uncomfortable partnership. Thanks to the malfunctioning time door, they must stay within a few feet of each other at all times or risk being ripped apart, molecule by molecule, and returned to their respective centuries. Luckily, their growing attraction makes staying close less of a hardship than expected. They must learn to rely on each other as they search for Darys's missing father and deal with a world that is foreign to both of them. The only problem is, if they don't find her father soon, they'll cease to exist altogether.

Sequel to A Margin in Time

Connect with Laura online at Website     Facebook     Twitter

Monday, October 24, 2016

Planning for NaNoWriMo

My first weekly planner spread (yes, I know it is upside down)
This sticker kit came from Malrina Collections on Etsy.
Hello, my name is Heather and I have a planner addiction.  Colorful pens. Stickers. Covers.  Yes, please.  I blame Hildie McQueen (the welcome speaker for Southern Magic's Readers' Luncheon this weekend) for my recent obsession.  Her Instagram feed tempted me with beautiful weekly planner layouts, so I started following her YouTube channel. Lord knows I needed to get organized when it came to my writing, and she made it look fun.

Writing is hard work. Organizing writing time and goals often left me feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.  As a result, I avoided writing. Binging on Netflix, using the excuse I was "refilling the well," impeded my productivity.  I needed to find a way to organize my time so that I enjoyed writing again.

Enter the world of planning.  If you aren't a planner, this is a great time to try it out.  National Write a Novel Month, and planning are custom made for each other.  You don't have to buy a fancy planner or stickers to try this out.  A notebook or monthly calendar you can print using any number of free templates is a great place to start.

Step one:  Make a plan.  Write down (yes, I said write - put literal pen to paper) your goal for NaNoWriMo:  complete a first draft of approximately 50,000 words.  I know this is obvious, but there is something about the physical act of articulating your goal and memorializing in writing that makes you own it.  This simple act will plant the nagging seeds of obligation that will propel you toward completion.

Step two:  Set your daily goals.  Examine your writing time.  Be realistic.  Mark off Thanksgiving.  I don't care how good your intentions are.  A turkey coma will take you down.  Don't include that day.  Are you a Cubs or Indians fan?  Mark off the World Series game days.  You won't write those days. Same for the Iron Bowl and Black Friday.  You will only feel guilty and discouraged if you plan on writing on days you know there will be a conflict.  Now divide your goal (50,000 words) by your available writing days.  This is your daily word count goal.  For me, my daily goal is 2,000 words.  That is a lot, but not insurmountable.

Some of my favorite writing stickers. 
Step three:  Put those daily goals in writing, and make them look attractive.  Remember the nagging seeds of obligation?  Spread them across your calendar so that words can grow through the month.  (This is the time that I discourage the inevitable comments below about how I am fertilizing those words).  Write down your daily word goal on each writing day on your calendar.  This is where my "planner" addiction takes over.  Use colorful ink. Draw smiley faces. Dig out the foil stars teachers used to put on papers. There are a ton of great stickers you can get for word count goals if you want to make your calendar looks fancy.  My favorites are the writing kit add-on's (but you can buy just the writing kits) by Malrina Collections on Etsy.  These writing kits have awesome motivational stickers (like "Finish the Book!"), daily word count stickers, weekly word count stickers, and other cool writing event stickers.  Decorating your plan is like a mini-reward for the dedication you've already shown by making a commitment to your writing time. You certainly won't want to waste the time you've invested in this plan by not writing.

Step four:  WRITE.  Butt in chair. Hands on keys. Go forth and create.  Everyone always says to try out different times each day to see what works best for you.  However, my advice is to start NaNoWriMo off by writing first thing in the morning.  Set your alarm for at least an hour and a half before your normal waking time.  Try writing at that time.  Yes, you will be tired. Yes, you will need coffee.  Yes, your brain may not yet be stringing together coherent thoughts.  Nonetheless, try morning writing.  This way you knock out your goal (or part of it) first thing.  No looming "I need to write" dragging you into a funk.  Instead, you have the peppy "I've gotten words in" song adding bounce to your step throughout the day.  If you don't get your word count in during the morning, you have the rest of the day to finish the goal (or even get ahead).  If after a week of morning writing you can't take it anymore, try other times.  However, much like exercise, I've found that if I don't take care of writing first thing, life gets in the way, and by the evening, I am mentally spent and totally unmotivated. And thus begins the downward spiral with no words on paper and me having watched four seasons of some British sitcom recently added to Amazon Prime.

Step five:  Chart your progress.  As your write, document your word count on your planner/calendar. Do this every time you write. The sense of accomplishment will give you confidence in your writing.  As you watch your progress, you won't want to waste or lose the time you've invested, so you'll keep writing.  (This also works with me with respect to dieting - if I've eaten well for a week or more, I don't want to undo all my hard work with a junk food binge).  Documenting the investment of your time where you can see it every day will be one your best writing tools.

Step six:  Celebrate with a reward.  Of course a finished first draft is its own reward.  But who are we kidding? To quote Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, "Treat yourself!" You've put together a plan and followed it. Have a special treat as your reward. Ice cream. A massage. Shopping. Binging on Netflix (you may be sensing a pattern in what I like to do).  Find something decadent that is just for you and enjoy.        

At the end of the month, if you enjoy planning, think about expanding your plan into the upcoming months.  There are tons of ways to plan.  Personal planners. Monthly planners.  Bullet journals. Calendars on your refrigerator.  Play with them all to find what works for you.

While I am still in search of planner peace, I'm using two planners to manage my life.  I am using an Erin Condren planner (to get yours, use this link for $10 off your order) for writing and "personal" matters (exercise, social events, etc.).  I'm using an Emily Ley Simplified Planner for my daily appointments and "to-do's."  This system is working well for me.  The Erin Condren is a "desk planner" I leave on my home desk (or as I call it, my writing laboratory - I do that so I can laugh maniacally when it is time to write).  I check this planner daily and update my writing progress.  Each week, I manage my goals.  The stickers and aesthetics of this system make planning my writing fun and a "treat" each day.  The other planner goes with me everywhere so that I can keep up with where I need to be and what I have to do.  Yes, I know I could do this on my phone, but my lack of grace (and inability to type on my phone - if you've ever received a text from me, you understand) makes me less likely to keep up with my calendar and lists electronically.

The other thing I've done, is to own and publish my goals.  After attending the Digging Out of Distraction workshop at Georgia Romance Writers' 2016 Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, I realized I need to see my goals daily so that I did not avoid them.  I've framed my goals for this last quarter of the year and placed them next to my computer.  I face my goals each day.  This way, I can't run from them.  I embrace them.  This has been a HUGE help.  Not only do I see them, but so does my husband.  The embarrassment of not meeting goals he knows I have set for myself is my fail-safe.   Never underestimate the power of public accountability.  That is why I am posting those goals here as well.

So here is my challenge to you. I challenge you to plan for NaNoWriMo. I challenge you to publish your goal publicly in the comments below.  Let's all check back December 1 and see how we've done.  Throughout the journey, post your tips, suggestions and requests for help. Let's plan together to have a finished first draft by the end of November.


Friday, October 21, 2016

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author:  Susan Carlisle

Title: Married For The Boss's Baby

Genre: Contemporary

Released: May 1, 2016


An unexpected baby...
When successful surgeon Grant Smythe's baby half sister is orphaned, Grant is determined to be there for little Lily--unlike his own father.
A convenient proposal...
But a challenge for custody means Grant needs a wife, too! New nanny Sara Marcum is the ideal candidate...
A wife forever?
It might be temporary, but soon warmhearted Sara completes more than just Grant's family. Can he convince his bride-for-now to become his forever wife?

Connect with Susan online at Website     Facebook     Twitter

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author: Susannah Sandlin

Title: Black Diamond (Wilds of the Bayou, Book 2)

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Released: October 18, 2016


For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it's a place of refuge--one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her ...or anyone else.For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. 

The mysterious deaths aren't her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena's investigation leads her to Cole Ryan--a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history--who knows more than he's willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other...before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.

Connect with Susannah Sandlin at   Website     Facebook     Twitter

Friday, October 14, 2016

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author: Dianna Love

Title: Rogue Belador, Book 7

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Released: April 12, 2016


Immortals fear little ... except a secret in the wrong hands.

While searching for a way to save Brina of Treoir's failing memories, Tzader Burke discovers someone who can help her if Tzader is wiling to sneak into the heart of his enemy's stronghold--TAur Medb. He'll do anything to protect the woman he loves from becoming a mindless empty shell, but his decision could be the catalyst for an apocalyptic war. The deeper he digs for the truth, the more lies he uncovers that shake the very foundation of being a Belador and the future of his clan.

Tzader's ready to execute his mission. Alone. But the minute his best friends Quinn and Evalle, plus her Skinwalker mate Storm, find out about his suicide plan they organize a black ops team around him. While battling on every front, one secret surfaces that two immortal powers have spent thousands of years keeping buried. Tzader and his team have no choice but to fight for what they believe in, because the world as they know it is never going to be the same again.

Connect with Dianna online at Website    Facebook   Twitter

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Storm Clouds--Blowin' That Plot Around

(Before I begin this long-planned blog post, I should note here that I have mad respect for weather, and watching so many family and friends in the path of Matthew last week--and those still dealing with it in North Carolina--is heartbreaking. )

That said, I'm a weather geek, I'll admit it. "The Weather Channel" is often default viewing in my household, so I guess it's only fitting that a weather incident caused me to start writing fiction and weather incidents play a part in quite a few of my novels.

Here's how it all began. About eleven years ago, I was a New Orleanian with no intention of or interest in writing a novel. Then Hurricane Katrina happened, and all that came after. Then the mild PTSD, which actually didn't feel that mild. Then, a few years after the storm, I uprooted and moved back to my native Alabama.

Boy, was I bored. And homesick. So I decided to write a short story set in New Orleans. It would be about a woman who unexpectedly shifted into an Irish terrier who bore an uncanny resemblance to my dog Shane, a notoriously undisciplined redhead.

No, that story never got past the first page because I had another idea. I'd write a story about a wizard with dementia. I finished it. It sucked, but I had another idea.

I'd write a fantasy novel about Hurricane Katrina. And so I did, and through circumstances I can only attribute to divine providence I sold ROYAL STREET and Tor Books published it in 2012. Book five in that Sentinels of New Orleans series, BELLE CHASSE, will be out on November 8.

You know what happens in BELLE CHASSE? A hurricane, although this one is caused by squabbling princes of Faerie.

You just can't beat a crazed faerie for weather trauma.

But then there's STORM FORCE, where the characters are stuck in the bayous east of Houston by....a hurricane named Bertha, after my maternal grandmother (bless her heart).

I think there might have been a wee bit of a flood in DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD. And, yeah, okay, my characters might have encountered some really rough seas in LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP.

Yes, okay, okay, weatherman Jim Cantore did get a mention in PIRATE'S ALLEY. He was coming to New Orleans to try and explain the ongoing blizzard....also caused by crazy faeries.

I do have books without weather trauma, of course. A few. Not many. But it does make for great suspense and forced exposure of heroes and heroines. And, besides, faeries need something to do!

Do you have a favorite book that uses weather in its plot?