Thursday, September 30, 2010


BY: Angelica Hart and Zi

Storing away memories and odd events to add to a story gives that story realism. Anne Rice once said, "No matter how long we exist, we have our memories. Points in time which time itself cannot erase." And most of our memories are indeed gifts that we open again and again.

I was at an Evelyn Woods Speed Reading Class and the instructor said, "We are the sum of all our experiences." There it was a truth that stood above simple truths. As I began to write I recognized that I had very limited experiences upon which to pull. My early work was unquestionable shallow. So I began a quest to discover, in the name of wanting to be a better writer? No! I realized I was shallow.

Every submission sent to publishers was returned or ignored. I recall critique suggesting I needed more depth in both the way I dealt with the subject and the technical writing style. As time ate at my life I waited as I worked. Wrote daily. How much life is lost to wait? That is an apt question, but my wait was filled with discovery. I became a student of people. Discovery. Examined other styles and broke them down mechanically and technically. Discovery. Tried to create more complexity. Discovery. Expanded my vocabulary. Discovery. Read... read... read. Discovery. Wrote... re-wrote... re-re-wrote.

That wait was not shallow but an aggressive tutorial for my growth. I continued to submit work. And slowly pieces were accepted.

So the question is who am I? Angelica or Zi. Ironically, we took the same path and had the same challenges and failures. We met as more mature adults prepared to be writers and we have written daily as writing partners. We found a synergy in our styles and complexity in what we wanted to create. Are we good? We don't know. Have we found that depth needed to portray characters as real people? Hope we have. Have we found enough intrigue in our plot and our words to keep readers interested? You tell us. As Jacob Bronowski, a mathematician, well-spoken and a celebrity of the BBC show The Ascent of Man and was the inspiration of Carl Sagan to make the Cosmos wrote, "The world is full of people who never quite get into the first team and who just miss the prizes at the flower show." If runners up is what we are, we're proud for our journey has been wonderful.

Zi believes, "Be the best you can be by growing every day."

Having said that, goodness, that was something (our hard work) we doubt we'd forget.

Our release KILLER DOLLS is a wonderful romantic thriller based in bio-terrorism. SNAKE DANCE Is a sci/fi-fantasy adventure romance placed in a unique culture. CHASING YESTERDAY is a gentle paranormal romance which provides an unfolding mystery.

The Story:

On the planet Starling wRen defies her heritage so she can be with VeIper, an outcast bent on freeing his species from ethnic cleansing. Mong, a slayer, quells their ambition as he plots the subjugation of wRen and the death of VeIper.


Clenched as one, floating.

Her wings unfurled slightly and his arms caught about them, instinctively stroking the area between moving downward to the Rise of Comehither, feeling her incredible responsiveness. Her fingers curled about the base of skull, pulling his head closer to her breasts as she caressed awake the remnant of a cobra hood. They together, he bending and pressing her backward and then swirling her up and around, he then lifting his head to find her lips, to press past that sensuous pink tenderness to the opening beneath.

Every stimulating action demanded a stronger reaction, and the two simultaneously became giver and recipient. Their mouths twisted against each other, and then parted, held deliberately apart but barely, torturous breaths scraping against each other, tongues flittering and then slipping away, her pointy tip, caressing the vulnerable nip between the slit. His fingers moved over smooth warming flesh, pausing to stroke feathers as they each nipped at each other with tender kisses over eyelids and temples, scale-line and feather-roots.

He growled.

She shivered.

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi

BOOKS can be purchased at
Champagne Books

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Author Day with Nicole Zolteck

Kingdom of Arnhem Book Two: Knight of Glory
Author: Nicole Zoltack

Buy HERE from Desert Breeze Publishing

Sir Geoffrey, along with some companions, has been sent away from Arnhem, entrusted by Queen Aislinn for a special mission, and has to leave behind the mysterious lady Celestia. On his journey, he uncovers seeds of a sinister plot, learns a horrible secret, and makes a new friend in exile Jenanna.

Their mission completed, Geoffrey and his companions rush to two different kingdoms to ask for aid. Danger and betrayal lurks around every corner, and even allies have secrets that could prove deadly. Geoffrey's feelings for Celestia grow and wane. After learning some of Celestia's secrets, he begins to have second thoughts about his love for her and is even drawn to Jenanna

Rumors abound that the Speicans have enlisted a mage of their own, to work unspeakable, forbidden magic. The war between Speica and Arnhem has just begun. Will Geoffrey survive the battle to live another day and discover which woman he truly loves? 
Excerpt from Knight of Glory:

Geoffrey walked slowly toward the dance floor. Several ladies turned and smiled at him. He nodded back but made no move to offer them his arm. The ladies from neighboring kingdoms seemed attached to the wall. Worried that they don't know our carol dance?
One lady stood by herself in the middle of the ballroom. The dancers paraded around her, ignoring her, and she appeared to be in her own world. Geoffrey's feet guided him to her even before he thought about it. "Hello," he said, bowing. He accepted her outstretched hand and brushed his lips against it. A complete gentleman, he released it as soon as his lips touched. To hold her hand any longer, especially without knowing her name, would disgrace her reputation. "My name is Geoffrey of Siva."
"Hello, Geoffrey," the vision of loveliness said. "It is a pleasure to meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine." Geoffrey took half a step back and drank in her beauty. Her complexion was unlike any that he had ever seen before, a pale faint blush color.
A single strand of long wavy hair tumbled from her elegant hairdo, and she twirled it around her finger. "I am known as Celestia," she said, her voice light and feathery.
"Well, Celestia, would you care for a dance?" Geoffrey's heart thundered. Is this the first stirrings of love? He found himself drawn to her, unable to tear his gaze away. Reaching out with his hand to hold her, he was shocked when she stepped backward.
"I would rather not."
"Oh." Geoffrey fought back a wave of disappointment and struggled to keep his face from showing his frustration and regret.
The corners of her ruby lips twitched, and she let loose a soft chuckle. "I have never made it a practice of mine to dance with strange men."
"But I'm not a strange man," Geoffrey rushed to protest.
"Ah, but I do not know you, do I? Let us talk awhile." She gestured to some chairs.
They walked over, pausing to allow the dancers room to twirl and glide, and sat down next to each other. "What kingdom are you from?" Geoffrey asked. He placed his hands in his lap, for lack of a better place to put them and suppressed the urge to crack his knuckles. He always cracked his knuckles whenever he felt unsure of himself. Once Brother Amicus had yelled at him for the distracting noise when it had broken the silence of the classroom after the monk had asked Geoffrey a question that he didn't know the answer to.
Celestia stared at him, her eyes pale, barely showing a hint of color. Green? Or blue? Geoffrey couldn't decide which, but he didn't minding gazing into her eyes, trying to decipher their color. "I'd much rather talk about you. Tell me some of your daring adventures. You have had daring adventures?" She raised an arched eyebrow, and her lips curved into a teasing smile.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Banned Books Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 2nd)

About Banned Books Week
Information found at

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Click here to see a map of book bans and challenges in the US from 2007 to 2009. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and they protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore contemporary issues and controversies to classic and beloved works of American literature.

According to the American Library Association, out of 460 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2009.

The top TEN Challenged books are as follows:

1) ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
   Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, offensive language, drugs, and unsuited to age group

2) And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality

3) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
   Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

4) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: racism, offensive language, unsuited to age group

5) Twilight (series), by Stephanie Meyer
 Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

6)Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
   Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

7) My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
   Reasons: sexism, homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group, drugs, suicide, violence

8) The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn  Mackler
   Reasons: sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

9) The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
   Reasons: sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

10) The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
   Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Go HERE to see what you can do to fight this censorship

During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events.

You can help as well to get the word out and stop this censorship.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Winner from Sarah Ballance Guest Author Day

My friend drew the name of the winner of a $10 Amazon GC and that is....Elizabeth (kewlliz..). 

Elizabeth, Sarah is emailing you about your prize. Congrats.

Thanks to all who came to Sarah's day here at the Reading Nook. Come again soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meet Louisa Bacio

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
 It’s all about erotic romance. Love that heat between the pages. I’ve always enjoyed that feeling of being whisked away into a wild and sexy romance. Psychologically, one could point to me finding a copy of Penthouse Forum in my uncle’s bathroom when I was 12. Ah, the young influences we have.
 As for the genre of ER, I’m drawn to the modern and paranormal. For me, it’s not about the sex of the character, but the sexuality. My debut erotic thriller PHYSICAL EDUCATION contains a primary m/f storylines, but dabbles into m/m and f/f.

What comes first for you when you sit down to write a book? Plot or Characters?
It really depends. Sometimes, it’s a quirky piece of dialogue or an action scene. I tend to observe real life a lot, and then something will just strike me. If I already “know” the characters, then there are times when I think, “what next” or “what if …”

Do you "cast" your characters using pictures or actors to help inspire you when you're writing?
 Not literally like tacking an image to my computer screen for inspiration. Although there are times when I think about describing one of my fav. hunky stars such as Clive Owen, Taye Diggs or even Angelina Jolie (if it’s a f/f story!).

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to finish?
 Too long. I’m not a quick writer. I have a horrendous internal editor, which comes from my other life of being an editor. In “real” life, I constantly find errors on signs, restaurant menus, etc. You could say that it took me years to write Physical Education, or once I got the contract it was done with three months …
 All that said, I’m becoming much faster. I tend to be a writer that likes to think about the story a lot, and then the actual putting it on the page can come faster.

How much does reader reaction mean to you as an author? Do you read your own reviews?
Reviews? What reviews? Only have a handful so far, and yes I’ve definitely read them, loved them and argued with them (mentally). Reader reaction means a LOT. I want to know that I’m connecting with them, but I also need to remember that not every story will resonate with every reader. On the same level, I’ve left one not-too-positive review on Amazon for an author, and she’s very well respected and sells many books. Just wanted my cup of historical romance (too tragic).

What are you working on now?
Over the last two months, I’ve signed with an agent – the forward-thinking, talented and lovely Saritza Hernandez of the L. Perkins Agency. She specializes as an ePub agent, and I’ve submitted a total of six short stories. Hopefully, we’re going to be hearing back on those shortly!
 Moving forward, I’m working on a ménage sequel for Physical Education, which is tentatively titled The Master Class
 On a different level, I’m also working as an editor for the new epublisher Keith Publications, which officially launched in September. I’m reading a few titles by Ashlynn Monroe, who writes vamp fiction and has many stories hitting over a variety of publishers in the next few months.

What books are currently on your nightstand?
Should be getting a box of four books in the mail today from Amazon (fingers-crossed). Included in the first in the series by J.K. Beck, The Shadow Keepers. It’s a pen name for Julie Kenner. Recently finished the RITA-winning historical romance Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas, and Larissa Ione’s Sin Undone.

Totally have to pace myself because I can get wrapped up reading, and then push off writing.

Where did you get the idea for your latest book?
 For my latest published novel – Physical Education is set at the San Francisco Sex University. While the school itself is completely fictionalized, from what I know, it’s the loss of control that fascinates me. What would we do if we gave up all control to someone we trust? While Physical Education contains a primary love story (more than one), it’s also about that pursuit of pleasure. And, I love education, so a higher-education sex school? Sounds absolutely titillating to me.

For my latest WIP – Oooh, if only I could tell without telling so much …

If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book would you recommend that they start with and why?
For long fiction, it would have to be Physical Education. I have a feeling that it’s going to be the start of many different stories.

Have you ever experience weird cravings while you write? If so, what kind?
 I’m a salty-sweet gal. Tend to much on pumpkin seeds, Good & Plenty or for a special treat, Cinnamon Bears.

What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of writing?
By far the most challenging can be finding time to write. I’m a mom of two young children, and homework time definitely cuts into my writing time!

For rewarding, there are stages: Getting inspiration for a story; getting lost in a scene; finishing a story; submitting and being accepted. Then … there’s that sweet moment of publication.

What are your top 3 favorite paranormal books and movies?
Charlaine Harris – Dead Series
Kim Harrison – Rachel Morgan Series

Paranormal films, to me, equate to horror films, and I don’t tend to watch too many of those. Love to read about the gore, but not see it on the big screen. If it’s a “light” paranormal than the Harry Potter series. My girlfriend and I have a standing date to see the midnight opening show for each release. At this year’s RWA Nationals in Florida, I snuck away for a day to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

True Blood
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

What character (s) in any of your books is most like you?
 Definitely Trisha from “Two’s Company” in the I Kissed a Girl: A Virgin Lesbian Anthology, and that’s all I’m saying!

What is the most ridiculous thing that you have thought about doing to any of your characters but never did?
 There’s a delicious scene in one of Anne Rice’s erotic novels, which were written under pseudonyms and we all now know she’s the author. It may be the Sleeping Beauty Series – it’s been a long time; however, for “punishment” a few characters are made to wear a pony tail, ahem, anally. Obviously, the scene stuck with me … something absolutely wicked like that.

 If your muse were to talk behind your back, what secrets would he/she tell?
 Hard question! She would tattle that I’m quite scatter-brained at times, and that I’m often addicted to Facebook. Fortunately, my office is currently cleaned, or else she might be choking on some old school papers and fighting off silverfish. Why do writers generate so much paper?
 And, hopefully, that’s all she’d say …

You have to ask a fictional character out on a date—who would you ask and what would you do together?
Oh, come on! Seriously? Can I make Jacob from Twilight just a little bit older and have some alone time with him (with no promises or regrets!)? Yes, I own a Wolf Pack T-shirt.

Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
 Stay tuned to my blog,, for info on upcoming releases.

Excerpt: PHYSICAL EDUCATION – Erotic Thriller (HOT)

A bell disrupted her thoughts. It was time. Amanda opened the door, ready to take on whatever came next, and found herself in a room full of other people.

Correction: other naked people.

Men and women burst out of the rooms like horses at a race, only to find themselves reined in. A petite blonde girl stood next to her, looking even more timid than Amanda felt. A tall, dark-haired man with stark almond-colored skin could be seen towering above the others on the other side of the room. A small Asian woman turned in circles, as if searching for a familiar face. And then the whistle shrilled. The sea of bare butts parted to reveal a mammoth woman with striking red hair; beside her stood another man who looked to be Blaine’s twin.

“All right everybody, that’s enough. You’ll have plenty of time to gawk at each other,” she said. “It’s time to get the first lesson started. I am Lucille, the headmistress of San Francisco Sex University, and what I say, you do.

“Now, everyone get into formation. Ten lines of five. Right now. On the double.” Amanda fell into line. The pale blonde woman stepped in front of her. As easily as elementary school children, they lined up equally spaced apart, shoulders back, chests out and faces forward. Amanda stole a glance to her right, and then to her left. Some men could obviously not hide their excitement, and a particular dark-skinned man to the left of her looked to have something to be excited about. Others were clearly intimidated by the situation and were not rising to the occasion.

The last guy in the line to the right of her seemed to be crowding the guy in front of him. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. There were six in that row. Try as he might, he couldn’t line up.

“You there,” the Lucy Amazon said, getting down off her box. “Can’t you count? Do you plan on flunking out on your first day? In your first hour?”

The woman strutted down the aisle, all the more noticeable in her clothes. It wasn’t merely the fact that she was wearing something alluring; it was the fact that she was wearing something in this room filled with stripped-down bodies. Black four-inch thigh-high boots made her even taller. As she walked purposefully through the ranks, the floor vibrated with the pulse of her every step. Amanda caught a glimmer of musky vanilla perfume as the woman passed her. Everything about Headmistress Lucy commanded attention. Amanda felt drawn to the woman’s obvious strength and power.

Before she saw it, Amanda heard the smack of leather hitting bare flesh. The man yelped in surprise.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

When Writing Ruins Reading by Sarah Ballance

Read to the end of post for contest information.

When Writing Ruins Reading / Sarah Ballance

I used to enjoy reading.  I mean, REALLY enjoy it.  I could sit back with a good book – heck, even a mediocre one – and kill a whole afternoon in utter bliss.  With a book in hand, life was a lemonade commercial in the heat of summer, all sunshine and fresh breezes and bare feet  beneath a deep blue sky.

Then I became a writer.

The transition was a slow one.  In the beginning I experienced some raw sort of kinship with the authors whose books I read, as if they had any inkling or cared that I yearned to join their ranks.   Then – because I had to do this writing thing right – I dug into the so-called rules of writing and editing, and a few of those phantom relationships tanked.  I noticed things like mid-paragraph point-of-view switches.  Repeated words.  Grammatical errors.  Oh, my.  But I’ve talked with other authors who notice the same things.  Truth be told, it’s hard NOT to notice the stuff our critique partners and editors have beaten us over the head with.
You’d think there’d be an upside to this.  You would think this little genetic deformity of mine would mean I catch all of my own mistakes, but oh, no.  I can hear my crit partner laughing from halfway across the country because I am practically immune to seeing the mistakes in my own work.   And you know what?  I bet most of us won’t catch them all.  You read the same manuscript enough and all the words have been written 100 times a piece.  Who’s going to notice misplaced, misused number 101?  

The occasional typo happens no matter how many times you proofread, and that applies not only to authors but editors.  Most readers can forgive such a thing – yes, even me – but when I see a mid-scene or (*gasp*) mid-paragraph point-of-view switch you have to pry me off the ceiling with a crow bar.  I have literally woken my poor hubby up in the middle of the night to read him a paragraph out of novel he (a) has no interest in and (b) couldn’t follow if he did because he’s only pretending to be awake.  Yeah, that’s what separates me from the normal folks.  I not only see these things, but I need a witness!

Sometimes I look back fondly on the good old days, back when I didn’t know only one character could speak in a paragraph and a pronoun referred to the last specific noun mentioned.  (I’m afraid I’ve always been a card carrying member of the grammar police – if there were days of nostalgia there, they were before fourth grade or so, LOL).  But for the most part I consider this little neurotic part of my soul to be a good thing.  Finding errors in a professionally edited, professionally published piece is a fantastic way to hone writing skills.  And let’s face it, if you sit up straight from a sleepy state at three in the morning because you notice a no-no, you tend to give it a wide berth when you’re fine-tuning your own manuscript.

Now, some of you are like me and I know what you’re doing.  You’re looking with beady eyes over every word I’ve written.  You’re finding errors, spotting broken rules, and pointing fingers because I’ve ended sentences with prepositions.  And, hey, if you’re really diligent, you’ll buy a copy of Down in Flames and comb through every word.  (Ahem.)  But the more you pick on me the more I adore you, because if there’s a like-minded soul out there poking an unfriendly elbow into a sleeping spouse to point out my gaffes, well, let’s just say I dig your style.  And my condolences to your bedmate.

What about you?  Do you notice the typos, broken rules, and grammatical errors when you’re reading for pleasure?  Share your thoughts,  tell me I’m nuts, or just say hello – just show me SOME kind of love!  One lucky commenter will win a $10 e-gift card to (why, yes, you CAN grab a copy of Down in Flames on Amazon, thank you very much!)  You must have a valid e-mail address to enter- Make sure you have that in your comment or we can not contact you if you won.  A winner will be chosen Monday September 27th, 2010


Buy link:

When Jack Gellar returns to Jefferson Heights after five long years and an unforgettable betrayal, is his appearance the last thing Molly Coleman needs in her tragedy-stricken life . . . or the first?

Molly just lost her entire family, and now her home and business are both on the line.  An unexpected encounter with the one man who can put the pieces back together leaves her reeling, for he can just as easily destroy what little she has left.  Jack has a lot to prove to win her back, but when a lapse in judgment turns into an ultimatum he can’t refuse, will his choice bring them together or tear them apart for good?

Thursday, September 23, 2010



Rather than our usual banter, this morning we like to steer our post in a different direction. We hope you enjoy the diversion.

My favorite words as a child were, Once upon a time, obviously the opening of many fairy tales. William’s similar memory was Sunday night’s opening music to the Wonderful World of Disney. He knew when he heard those words an adventure, a fantasy, or simply a series of magical moments would soon flash upon the reel of his imagination.

We have had the honor and privilege to read to children and I saw delineated on those young folks’ faces a reflection that reminded me of my youthful jubilance when I read those words, Once upon a time.

I used to carry several books around with me, imploring any reading-able body to read me a story. It didn't matter if they were young or old. It didn't matter if they had an accent or not. It didn't matter if they altered their voice for each character, although, that was indeed the preferred option. I used to say read me a story so often that it turned into a run-on chant. "Readmeastoryreadmeastoryreadmeastory...." There was nothing grander than being read to, a story where I could travel to a different land, where taste and textures were defined with whorls of words. One moment I was a baby rabbit, another a mouse with a hole-in-the-wall house, sometimes an audacious child. I especially liked rhythms, the playful beat and measure that tapped out a story, sometimes silly, sometimes funny, and sometimes very strange. Mattered not. It was the journey, that sweet, wonderful roller coaster of sounds that created dream bubbles that I could actually see in my mind’s eye.

I’ll share one of William’s first memories of reading aloud. I wrote this without first asking him. It is personal but as I later explained, apt.

William was a child with undiagnosed dyslexia and struggled early with reading and writing. Recalling that period, he has expressed the humiliation he felt not learning the same way others were, though he never felt sorry for that boy.

At an early age he knew he wanted to read and write and valued those tools. As an adult you can easily discern that his books are respected treasures and opening the world of storytelling is a passion. It was the Woodlawn Public Library located in Union Park Gardens just off the Bancroft Parkway that provided him what I call a breakthrough.

Reading and writing was an endless series of embarrassment and humiliation where the stumbling over words, the constant juxtapositioning of words and letters, and the inability to sound out words were painful. Peers at a young age have not developed empathy or compassion and would tease.

The third floor of that library was his safe place and by some unexpected gift of divine foresight, close to his home. His mother worked and that circumstance made it the perfect after-school sanctuary.

He once recounted to me the old radiators were far too hot, occasionally whistled, and tinted the air with that odd metallic smell of water boiled in an iron pot. While there, he would grab any read-aloud style children’s book, books far beneath his age, and hide in a corner on that third floor and quietly read aloud to himself. Never minding if he stumbled over words or struggled with inflection, he just read; hour after hour. Over time the books chosen became more complex and he slowly fought to compensate for his handicap. It was in those secluded corners hidden amidst the radiator smells I believe William birthed a deep love for writing and reading. These books opened a new world, free of ridicule and filled with possibilities borne from the imagination of authors.

Today, he fights and works so hard with our work to make it his gift back. Today, we both stand upon the shoulders of word monsters and bend them to our will, hoping that our Once upon a time moments give as much pleasure and entertainment that books and stories have always given us.
We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi

BOOKS can be purchased at
Champagne Books

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting to know Cate Masters

Do you work on multiple projects at the same time?
About a dozen are always in the works, though I work more actively on some than others. No writer’s block here. (Hope I didn’t just jinx myself!)
What do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?
I’m always reaching for the next level. Unfortunately, those levels are shifting like underground platelets in a major earthquake right now. I’m hoping the current publishing upheaval will level off the playing field between epublishing and print, but time will tell. In any case, I’ll be on the field running the bases!

When you're not writing, what do you like to do to just kick back and have fun?

I love just spending time with my family and my dog Lily. We have a great deck out back, and my hubby and I often sit underneath the stars at night. We’re finally going to celebrate our marriage by taking a cruise this November (keep your fingers crossed the hurricanes are long gone by then!) so I’m really looking forward to that, though it means no NaNoWriMo for me this year. I’m sure I’ll have a notebook or two along though!

Do you ever experience writer's block? If you do, how do you cope with it?

Going back to the first question, my theory is that I keep writer’s block at bay by working on multiple stories. I do sometimes run up against a wall, but that’s the story’s way of smacking me upside my head and telling me I’m missing some key element. By focusing elsewhere, that element will usually come clear. Usually in some completely inconvenient place like the shower, or while driving.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

My parents encouraged reading by subscribing me to a children’s book club. We lived in the country, and my mom didn’t drive (don’t ask me how she managed, I couldn’t do it!), so getting that package in the mail was a real treat. Like Readers’ Digest condensed books for kids, they contained everything from feature articles about life in other countries to current kids’ books to Aesop’s fables. I didn’t learn until after my mom died that she had won a writing award long
before I was born, so that was a poignant moment for me. My dad enjoyed writing, too, but only for himself.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

A writer on one of the loops said she hadn’t seen a mermaid story in awhile, so I began researching the mers. I fell in love with them! Because mermaids love handsome guys who sing, I thought a modern mermaid would love the lead singer of a rock band. I wrote it from the perspective of the hero, AJ, who’s struggling with his music and life in general. Cassiopeia, the mermaid, gives him a much needed kick in the butt.
Surfacing is available in ebook and paperback from Whiskey Creek Press:

Below is an excerpt, and you can read the first chapter at:

He had a feeling of floating as he studied her. God, she was incredible.
She braced her hands beneath her. “So do you know any Pearl Jam?”
Think, AJ. Pearl Jam. “Yeah.” He tuned his strings. Not looking at her helped him focus. Once he got a song in his head, his fingers took off from there. And he sang, eyes closed. The only way he’d be able to remember the lyrics. Or to keep singing. Words formed on his lips, something about a light and holding his baby in his arms. He made it through the song, only having to fake one line. The strings resonated with the last chord. He opened his eyes, afraid the rock she occu-pied would be empty. His nerves untangled as he saw her, more vibrant and alive than anyone he’d ever known.
Leaning toward him, she listened in rapt attention. His music had kept her here. “That sounded nice. Play something else.”
His nervousness bubbled up in a laugh. “Okay, U2? Anything in particular?”
“‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’.” Enthusiasm made her voice throaty.
Really? “That’s a classic. I’ll have to improvise the drum intro.” He thought for a second, then hit the heel of his hand against the wood of his guitar as his hand banged the strings, creating an echoed beat. An excellent sound. He’d have to remember it. His torso rocked with the music as he sang.
Just once did he open his eyes, to check she still sat there. Her eyes shone in the darkness, an appreciative audience. If only she were as captivated as him. He’d play till his fingers bled if that’s what it took for her to stay.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
Some stories are like gifts that come to mind almost fully formed, and I just need to write as quickly as possible to get it all down, then flesh it all out. Surfacing was like that. I’m very grateful for those gifts! Usually the stories arrive less clearly formed, but I have a general idea of where I want to go. Characters sometimes surprise me by hijacking the story in a different
direction, and that’s always fun too. I’ll construct an outline as I go along, to see where I’ve been and whether it makes sense. :)

Did your book require a lot of research?
Absolutely, for the fantasy aspect as well as the setting. Trolling the Internet, I gathered about 30 pages of information about mermaids into a file to keep for reference. It fascinated me to learn that countries around the world had legends about the mers. My web search also turned
up Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the world-famous mermaid shows, and I knew immediately I had to set my story there. Videos on YouTube showed the performing mermaids at work, and the amusement park’s web site provided the layout, etc.

If you could have any vice without repercussions, what would it be?
It’s not exactly a vice, but I’d love to not have to sleep. Yes, it’s important to recharge the brain, but there are other ways to do that. I could use that time much more effectively!

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?

It might seem the easy way out to say this, but I love all my characters as I write them. They become like friends and family. If I had to pick only one, I’d say the hero in my upcoming contemporary, Rock Bottom (June 2011, Lyrical Press) is very special to me. Like the hero of Surfacing, he’s a rock singer who’s irresistible, too, but Jet Trently is named for Jerry Trently, a dear friend who died of a brain tumor a few years ago. I loved the idea of giving him a happy ending. I’m pretty proud of the way the book turned out, and I think he’d be happy with it too.

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
I have the opposite problem with my muse. She throws more story ideas at me than I can possibly ever use. I’d actually like her to take a vacation so I could finish a few before she tosses more my way!

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Yep, I’m halfway through a contemporary novella and a contemporary fantasy, and the first novel in a fantasy series is going through final critiques now. I’m very excited about this series. A few other contemporaries, fantasies and a historical are in the queue too.

Have you ever experience weird cravings while you write? If so, what kind?
Hmm, maybe to be able to finally type “the end”! No, I honestly can’t say I do. While writing, I’m pretty much in my head, and reality’s a bothersome thing. :) As much as I love music, I don’t bother putting any on because I’d only block it out. The one thing I keep going back for is a cup of hot, black tea, no matter what the season.

Where do you see the paranormal/urban fantasy genre headed? Can you see it slowing down in the near future, or do you think that the immediate future is pretty bright for it?
No, I don’t believe it will slow down, but I do think it will keep evolving. I’m really excited to see so many mash-ups of genres. I love to read stories that don’t fit the standard guidelines. I love to experiment in my writing, and love to read stories by other writers who do the same.

If you had to write yourself as a heroine/hero, what kind of heroine/hero would you be? What would you be named?
In contrast to my fairly humdrum existence, my alter ego would be an adventurer or explorer, in the quest for new discoveries, truth and justice. In other words, a heroine with heart, brains and soul, but a kickass heroine if the situation called for it!

Where can readers find you on the web?
My web site contains lots of goodies, so I urge you to check it out:  My blog’s really active too: In addition to the latest news, and fun new series like Story Elements, giving each story’s background, and Casting Call, where I show who I imagined in each role of my stories, I also feature other authors and provide writing tips. Readers can find this info in archived blogs by entering those key words into the search box. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and a few sites like Goodreads, though I admit I haven’t quite figured those out yet.

Thanks so much for having me at the Reading Nook, Dawn! It’s been a pleasure.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/paranormal, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination.  Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breathless Press Author Janie Franz

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I’ve been a successful freelance journalist for the past ten years, but I’ve been writing all of my life. However, it wasn’t until December of last year, that I actually had any fiction published, and that was the debut of The Bowdancer, the first book in The Bowdancer Saga. This series of books are in the fantasy romance genre but have broader themes than just whether Jan-nell, my main character, finds love. I enjoy fantasy because it allows me to create my own cultures with their own rules, lifeways, music, songs, dances, foods, spiritualities, and healing practices.

What comes first for you when you sit down to write a book? Plot or Characters?
Usually, it’s characters, but I might have an idea about where I wanted a story to go.

Do you "cast" your characters using pictures or actors to help inspire you when you're writing?
Not really. The characters, all except one, were fashioned as they appeared in the landscape I had created. The one exception was a hunter in the third book, Warrior Women, that will be out in November. I was trying to create different looks for the six master hunters and trackfinders of the sisterhood, and I drew upon a woman musician I had met and interviewed many years ago. She had a most unusual hair style and the way she moved on stage was much like the cat-like grace of Bekar, the hunter, that I created.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to finish?
The Bowdancer, a novella, was written several years ago and had been tweaked over time. The second book, The Wayfarer’s Road, which is a longer novella, was written early this year and it took me about a month. The third book, Warrior Women, is longer but it took about the same amount of time. The Lost Song Trilogy, which are three full-length novels took me about three months to write and another month to tweak. (It is now being read by another publisher for their print house.)

Excerpt from The Wayfairer's Road-
Jan-nell strained her ears to hear in the darkened barn. The rain had stopped sometime during their late-night meal so all she heard was the dripping from the trees. The horses snorted and stamped their hooves but did not seem to sense anything amiss. Yet, there was something moving outside, a shuffling in the wetness, and then—there—muffled voices and some shushing like Jan-nell had seen village children do before attempting some innocent prank. If indeed this were such a prank, it would definitely not be innocent.
Khrin had obviously heard the noises too, and shot Jan-nell a questioning look, tinged with something like fear. When Jan-nell bent to blow out the candle and reached for her staff, he stayed her hand, putting his finger to his lips and began to fumble with his cloak and tunic. Before she could figure out what he was doing, he had flung off his tunic, opened his linen shirt, and grabbed her right hand to place on his hairless chest. She tried to jerk her hand away, but he held it fast, whispering in her ear, "Trust me." Then he blew the candle out.
Just then, the latch on the stable door was lifted and the door swung open. A shaft of lantern light spilled over the backs of the horses. Razlo and another man, both well into their cups, entered and came around the first horse’s tail. Their lantern light fell on Khrin who lounged with a bent knee, looking annoyed at the men, as he caressed Jan-nell’s hand on his bare chest.
"That light is frightfully bright, gentlemen," Khrin announced.
Razlo’s drunken companion squinted beady eyes at Jan-nell and Khrin. "Ye be right, innkeeper. She be a whore." He twisted his head toward Razlo. "When be our chance?"
"I am not a whore!" Jan-nell shouted, trying to pull her hand away from Khrin, and attempting to stand.
Khrin jerked her back down. "That is true," Khrin said quietly. "She is no whore."
The beady-eyed fellow cackled. "Then she be giving it away."
"No," Khrin countered. "She has not given anything away." He held up the coin Jan-nell had given him for the meat pies. "She paid me."
This time Razlo sputtered. "Whores! The both of you! Get out of my barn!" The shout unsettled the horses and they started stamping about the stable, making Razlo and his guest step clear of the animals near the door.
Jan-nell glared at Khrin and stood. Then she addressed the two men. "And I am sure your intentions were very pure. Were you coming to bring us an extra blanket or perhaps some scraps from your kitchen?" She harrumphed as she woke Mira-nell. "We have to go now, sweeting."
 "Be gone and take that child abomination with you!" Razlo bellowed, startling one of the animals, causing it to whinny and rear. It pulled at its rope tether, nearly pinning Razlo and his lantern against the wall. The beady-eyed guest fled outside, and Razlo escaped to stand at the open door, supervising their evacuation.

Breathless Press Author Shiela Stewart

Cheaters Never Prosper
We’ve all heard the quote and are very familiar with it. In our youth, we’ve been told never to cheat, that cheating will only lead to trouble. Yet so many ignore the warning and have gone on to do just that. There has been a lot of talk about cheaters in the news these days. The most famous cheater is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods led a second life that no one seemed to know about, including his wife. He slept with, some reports say, as many as thirty women during his marriage. And his wife had no clue.
What makes a person cheat? Is it in their blood? How do cheaters do it, keep their married life in order while behind the scenes they’re flirting and having sex with others? What is it that causes them to stray from their vows and take on a lover? So many people have wondered this. Spouses have blamed themselves saying, “They should have seen the signs” “If they had been a better lover, their spouse wouldn’t have cheated on them” But is it the fault of the victim, or that of the cheater?
So many times the cheater begs for forgiveness and promises never to do it again. Should they be forgiven? Could you forgive your spouse if you found out they cheated on you? If you forgave, would you constantly be questioning if the meeting they went to was really a meeting or were they seeing their lover? Would it matter if you’d been married a month, year, ten years? Would it matter if there was only one lover, or many?
They say it takes two to make a marriage. That is very true. Marriage is hard work, but if done properly, is a reward that is much greater than all of the riches in the world. I know, I’ve been married for twenty-five years to an incredible man. We’ve been through tough times, suffered loss, dealt with poverty, mental illness and so much more.  But with all of the pain and heartache in our life, we stuck together, united as one.  What makes us different than Joe and Joanne Smith who have been through similar hard times and have strayed? You tell me.
So what makes a cheater cheat? Ask a cheater and they’ll give you every answer in the book.
Seducing the Darkness
Shiela Stewart
Place of purchase:
An outcast by her kind, Trinity Ford has learned to live on her own…not an easy thing to do when you’re a vampire.

Trinity was once a fragile girl. Being taken by a powerful vampire prince changed her. Discovering him in the arms of another woman changed destiny. Alone, she’s learned fast how to be tough, how to survive, and how to protect the people in her city from the evil that lurks in the dark. She was managing just fine, until Basil walked back into her life.

Basil Hawthorn has been the reigning prince of vampires since banishing his father to the Realm of Dark Mystics decades earlier. When a prophetic dream makes him realize Trinity’s life is at risk, he decides the only way to save her is to push her away. Doing so is not easy. Trinity is the only woman he has ever loved, ever will love, and he can’t seem to let her go.

When rumors arise of a plan to raise the King and blot out the sun, both Trinity and Basil know they must do everything to stop it. Even if it means working together. Despite the betrayal and the threat, they find themselves drawn to each other. Love has no boundaries, especially in the face of danger. But will they be able to stop the ritual before it’s too late?

Or will the darkness capture them both?
Trinity came to in a dark room that smelled of mold and old dirt. She was familiar with the smell. Often, the older vampires preferred to sleep near damp, musty dirt where there was no light whatsoever and the crisp temperatures kept their bodies cool. She never understood it. The smell of the dirt made her nose burn. But then again, her death had been made by Basil in his bedroom with candles burning and soft music playing and flowers strewn about the room.
She’d never had to live in the cellars like most other vampires chose to.
Shaking that thought away, Trinity focused her eyes on something beyond the darkness. It was handy that vampires could see in the dark.
There was a huge wooden plank, chiseled to a point at the end, rigged to some sort of metal arm that was attached to the ceiling. The point of the plank was painfully jabbing into her chest right over her heart.
This was not a good place for a vampire to be.
It was then she noticed she was as naked as the day she’d been born.
“One wrong move and it is dusty dreams for you.”
Her eyes shifted from the plank to the voice to her left.
As he moved towards her, Trinity simply glared at him. Of all the vampires in the world, she hated Chaos the most. He was a cutthroat vampire that found torture as pleasing as savoring a cold beer on a hot day. “Am I supposed to be terrified now?” she replied with a dry, dismissive tone.
Chaos stepped a little closer. “I would be if I were you.”
“Well, isn’t it fortunate that you’re not me. What's the point to this….ridiculous show of dominance, Chaos?”
“Stop killing my people,” he said with a stern, strong voice.
“Say please.” She bared her teeth at him.
“I wouldn’t be so smug if I were you, Trinity. I do have the upper hand.” Waving his hand, the point of the plank pressed against her skin with a little more force.
“And you know killing me would start the biggest war your kind has ever seen.”
He closed the distance between them. “I don’t intend to kill you, my dear. Just rough you up enough to get my point across.”
“You know, that word keeps coming up. Funny, huh, as I have one stabbing me in the chest right now! All I would have to do is open my mind and call Basil and this would all be over with and you and your kind would be in the fight of your life.”
 “You would call him for help after what he’s done to you?”
That grated. Did everyone know that she’d been made a fool of by Basil? “I didn’t say I was calling him for help. I can get out of this perfectly fine on my own. I thought you might like a visit from your sworn enemy.”
His laughter, a high, squeaky sound rippled in the dark dank room. “Aw, are you still hurt at the fact that he was banging another cunt while he was pretending to love you?”
He wasn’t quite quick enough to stop the wad of saliva she spat at him. Wiping it from his cheek, he snarled at her as he stepped back. “Have at her boys, but do leave her breathing in the end.”
Trinity had a moment to think, “Shit” before the four snarling beasts entered the room, whips ready.
“I’m gonna take great pleasure in having my way with you, sweet thing.”
She’d rip her own arms off to stop him from going any further.
“I bet she tastes great. What do you think, Reggie, should we take a taste?”
“Try and stop me.”
“Go any further and die, pigs.” She squirmed, realizing that she had been drugged enough to dull her strength.
Damn it.
“Ooh, I’m scared.”
“You should be.” The four beasts turned as Basil materialized behind them.
“Shit,” one said as he scurried away from Trinity.
“Good, now the rest of you back off as well, and we won’t have to start anything,” Basil warned, his fangs bared.
“Go away, Basil, I can do this on my own.” Trinity struggled, fighting the ropes holding her in place. It grated on her that he would come to her rescue, even though she knew without his help, she would have been defenseless against the beasts. And he wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t been thinking of him in the first place.
 “Sure you can, my sweet. But a true gentleman, such as myself, couldn’t possibly leave a damsel in distress without aiding in her rescue.”
“Aw, fuck.” Why did he have to talk like that? It always turned her heart to mush.
 “How about you back off?” one of the beasts challenged.
“Don’t be an ass, Mudge. Do you have any idea who this is?” another beast remarked.
“Slime,” the beast denounced, his chin jutting out, his fangs bared.
“There is always one.” Shaking his head, Basil began by simply twirling his index finger and had a dust cloud forming on the ground. “One.”
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” one of the men cried out.
“Fuck that,” another spat, eyes defiant.
“Two.” Basil twirled his hand, creating a vortex of dirt nearly as tall as he.
“Jesus, can’t breathe here.” Trinity coughed, keeping her eyes closed. She hated when he used his powers like this. But creating a tornado was one of his favorite forms of distraction against his enemies. It was a good weapon, providing you weren’t caught in the cross-fire.
“I ain’t budging, buddy,” the beast defied, holding his arm over his mouth, blinking his eyes rapidly as the dirt caked his face.
“Three.” With a loud roar the vortex swept them all up, spinning them endlessly without any effort on Basil’s part.
“Jesus, Basil, enough. I can’t fucking see or breathe.” Trinity hacked, her eyes watering something fierce. She felt the stake as it was pulled back, then her arms and legs being released. She was about to step down from the platform when she felt herself being swept up in his arms. “Put me down.”
“I will when we’re out of here. Get on my back.”
“Forget it.” She shoved him, trying to break his hold.
 “It’s the quickest way out of here, now get on my back.”
Growling, she did as he asked.
As he changed into a silver wolf she straddled his back and wrapped her arms around his neck. He took a running charge and burst through the open doorway and down the corridors, avoiding the vampires charging after them. His feral growl and fanged teeth were enough to have them backing off. Everyone knew perfectly well he could rip into them faster than they could attempt to break away.
The instant Basil made it out of the compound, she tugged on his ear. “This is good, let me off.”
She tugged a little harder when he refused to stop. She huffed as he ran through the front gate and down the road before coming to a stop.
Trinity climbed off his back and wiped the dirt from her burning eyes. “I don’t need your help.”
He turned to her, still in wolf form and bore his pearly white fangs before transforming back into a man. Rolling his neck, Basil turned and swept a sultry look over her body. “Could have fooled me. Here.” He removed his long jacket and held it out to her.
“I don’t want your clothes either,” she snorted, her lip curled.
“Suit yourself. Personally, I like looking at you innothing but your birthday suit.”
“What?” Glancing down, she nearly gasped. She’d forgotten that she was nude. “Give me that.”
She snatched the jacket from Basil and slipped into it. “Are you following me now?”
 “Fuck off, Basil.” Trinity stopped to get her bearings. She had no idea how far from her apartment she was. And the drug was still in her system, disorienting her.
“Keep going straight for the next few blocks, turn left straight for another six, then right, and you should be on your block,” he supplied as he followed at her side. “Or, I could change back into a wolf and give you a ride home.”
She narrowed her eyes at his innuendo. “I like to walk.”
 “Fine, walk. Want to tell me why Chaos’ men had you?”
“I messed with his men. Guess he didn’t like it much.”
“He’ll hear some words from me. No one, no one, takes my woman hostage and—”
She stopped abruptly and in doing so, he slammed into her back, knocking her forward. “What did you just call me?”
“I will not have anyone hurting you, Trinity.”
 “I’m a big girl, Basil, and I can take care of myself just fine.”
“You may think you’re brave and capable of taking care of yourself, but we both know you need me.”
“How dare you. I don’t need your help; I’ve never needed your help.”
“You and I both know that is not true. Where would you be now, my love, had I not come to you and changed your life?”
She refused to answer that because it would prove him right. She would have been alone, broke, and most likely working as a waitress in some dive, barely able to make ends meet. “What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you just leave me alone?” she snapped at him.
“Because, I love you,” he said simply.
She snorted. “Yeah, you loved me so much that you showed it by banging another woman in our bed.”

Get Ready for Chloe Neil's Newest Book, Wild HUnger & a Giveaway

Get ready to return to Chicagoland vampires as Chloe Neil returns to her beloved paranormal series with a spin-off featuring Elisa Sull...