Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Last post I covered the hero and heroine and how important they are towards making a book a DIK. But that’s only part of the equation. It’s probably the most important part, but not all of it.
Another factor therefore in creating a DIK is setting. I have DIK’s in just about every genre there is – from the Historical to the Western to the Paranormal to the Sci-Fi romance. In some cases the author takes what is familiar, such as England in the 19th century and creates a believable world. In other cases it may be a tight knit pack of werewolves. Or it might be during a siege of a Norman castle. But what is most important is that when I’m reading a book, I need to feel that I’m actually inside where the writer is taking me. Whether I feel the sultry heat of a Louisiana bayou where I can actually feel the mosquitoes biting me or whether I’m on the bridge of a starship, in order for a book to qualify for me as a DIK. I don’t want to be kind of squinting, sitting up above the action, thinking I get it.
When I read Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare, one of my top DIK books, I could feel the tension as they made their way through the forest, avoiding at all costs, running into those who would harm them.
When I read After the Night by Linda Howard, it was as if I was in that alley too when Grey had Faith up against the wall *ahem* yes – time to move on. And I almost recognized that annoyed woman who interrupted Faith and Grey in the women’s washroom.
In every one of my favourite and then the cream of the crop, the DIK’s the writer has had the ability to place me directly into the setting of the book.
Another feature of all of my DIK’s is to not only feel the location but to feel the emotions. I get right into a book and whether it’s the hero or the heroine, I want to feel what they are feeling. I want to feel Gabriel’s despair as he is cutting his arms in Broken Wing or I want to feel Blair’s satisfaction when she gets a good one on Wyatt in To Die For by Linda Howard. I could almost feel that button of Eve’s that Roarke handles as his constant reminder of Eve and his need for her.
If the book is a serious emotional one, I want to feel like I’ve been through the wringer along with the hero/ heroine. If it’s a funny books, I want to have laughed or at least smiled by the end. If it’s a romantic suspense, I want to feel the tension and if it’s a paranormal, I want to believe that yes, of couse shift shapers really do exist – I just haven’t met any yet.
So what about you? Besides the hero and heroine makes a book a DIK. What else makes you want to read and reread certain books? Is the setting important to you? And does the author ever make you feel what the characters feel?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Pawprints T-shirt - Lesley W
Choice of a download from Anne's backlist - Tracy
$5 gift certificate - Renee
If you send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org I'll pass it on to Anne.
When I found out I was up on the DIK blog I wondered what I should blog about for three days. Then I started thinking. I read A LOT of books. But what is it that makes some of them stand out above the others and came up with a few ideas that make a book work for me. Unlike many readers, I have rather a large number of DIK’s, maybe because I’ve been reading so long and I read in many different genres. When I think on my top DIK reads they all have something in common.
1. Respect between the hero and heroine is crucial. In a wide variety of books there is tension between the hero/heroine. That is the basis of many a conflict and a book needs conflict. Opposition between the two main characters is almost a given in many books at some point or other. But if the hero/heroine maintains a high regard for each other during this time, overcoming it can be easily believed. So that isn’t the issue as long as underneath that conflict there is basic respect for each other the book has a chance to be a DIK. What can ruin a book for me and keep it well below DIK status is disrespect shown to either.
2. It is essential that I respect the heroine. I just did a post on how I couldn’t finish a book because I didn’t respect the heroine and the choices she made. The heroine can cover a wide range of personality traits from wide-eyed innocent to jaded and I can even dislike her if I see signs of change at the beginning of the book, but I have to respect her. There have been a couple of books that come to mind that are DIK’s where the heroine started off shallow, but within a very short period of time started examining herself and started on the road to respect. The worst thing a heroine can do for me is be a ninny. I loathe ninny heroines.
3. It goes without saying if I have to respect the heroine, I also have to respect the hero. I know it’s probably a double standard but I’m more tolerant of a hero then I am of a heroine, but I still have to find something admirable in him. I love both alpha and beta heroes but it’s trickier to write an alpha hero I think. It’s sometimes a fine line between a self-confident hero and a jerk hero. But if done right, well there is nothing finer. And of course that’s not to take away from the less macho hero. But again it can be a bit of challenge to have the beta-type hero have enough strength to hold up to a strong heroine.
Now how about you? What does it take to make a book a DIK – besides fine writing of course? What do you think of tension between the main characters or do you prefer the tension to be an outside force?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Day 2: Tracy
Day 3: Chuckie
Winners if you can contact Kelley at
with your choice of book from her backlist and your mailing details.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
As you might expect from a series about an ex-cop-turned-hitwoman, vigilantism is a strong element in my Nadia Stafford books. My protagonist is a part-time contract killer for a small Mafia family. She took the job to keep her beloved wilderness lodge open, but she’d be the first to acknowledge there’s more to it than that. The truth is that she doesn’t mind killing mob thugs. It feeds a part of her that’s still grieving over her career. And that part is getting stronger, needing more, pushing her uncomfortably close to vigilantism.
A vigilante is someone who takes the law into his own hands. We’ve all read vigilante cases in the news. I recall a local one where a guy found a would-be thief threatening his girlfriend, and beat the crap out of him with a pipe. At first, we might think “good.” But then we start to think about it. What if, during the attack, the thief got the upper hand, then vented his rage on the guy…or his girlfriend? Wouldn’t it have been safer to restrain the thief while his girlfriend called the cops? Beating the crap out of him probably felt good, but was it necessary? Was it prudent? Was it justice?
Nadia struggles with these questions. As a former cop, she takes a dim view of vigilantes. Too often it isn’t about justice, but about finding an excuse for violence. When we read about citizens patrolling the borders, beating up illegal immigrants, do we believe they’re proud Americans protecting their country? Or guys spoiling for a fight, seizing on a patriotic excuse?
Yet what if the vigilante is clearly not just a guy spoiling for a fight, but someone who knows the system and, on occasion, acts outside it to find justice? In the Nadia books, that would be Quinn. What drives Quinn, though, is not the same compulsion that drives Nadia. His comes from the head; hers from the gut.
Nadia derives emotional satisfaction from tracking and killing a murderer. Does that, then, make her any different from the guys out patrolling the border? She knows it’s not the same, and yet she fears she’s not as far from them as she’d like to be. Even with Quinn, while she finds his intentions noble, one can’t argue that what he does is indisputably right or just.
If there’s an easy answer, I haven’t found it…and neither has Nadia. That’s the fun of playing with ideas like this, exploring all the facets of a complex and thought-provoking idea. In the end, there isn’t a right or a wrong choice. But there is a choice. The characters have to make it, then live with the consequences.
Once again: leave a comment, get entered in a draw to win any of my backlist. And, as this is my last day, thanks to the DIK Ladies for hosting my stay and thanks to everyone who visited!
Friday, March 27, 2009
This is an excerpt from Made to be Broken, my second 100% supernatural-free crime thriller. Nadia Stafford, my ex-cop-turned-hitwoman-and-wilderness-lodge-owner protagonist is investigating the death of her teen mom housekeeping assistant. This excerpt is from later in the novel, but stands alone pretty well. If you’d prefer to start at the beginning, the first three chapters are on my site (http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/) under the Nadia Stafford link.
Again, I’ll draw a name from comments to win a signed book from my backlist. And because it can be hard to comment on an excerpt, you can do that or you can tell me what you think of non-paranormal thrillers in general—prefer them, prefer paranormal, never read them, etc.
I sat on my bed, hugging my knees, still dressed, watching the hours flip past. I didn’t dare lie down for fear I’d sleep. With sleep would come the nightmares.
I’d woken Jack with them twice last fall and wouldn’t risk it again. I considered sneaking downstairs for a roll of duct tape. I’d done that once, when I’d been desperate, but the off-chance that Jack might catch me made me stop. Sleeping with duct tape over your mouth? Crazy woman behavior.
The nightmares were always the same. I was running though an endless forest, trying in vain to get home, get my dad, save Amy. I hear Drew Aldrich right behind me, getting closer as the forest’s edge stretched ever farther away.
That part never happened—he didn’t chase me; he’d been too busy raping Amy in the cabin. I’d peered around the corner, seen him on her, heard her muffled screams and I’d run. Left her there and run away. Left her to die. Saved myself.
A parade of therapists have tried to tell me otherwise. I’d been going for help, as I’d been taught, and that was the right thing to do. Everyone told me I’d done the smart thing—my father, Amy’s father, even my mother had snapped “Of course, you should have run. Don’t be stupid.”
I’d done what my father and every cop in our family had taught me from the time I was old enough to set foot outside alone. If anything happens, try to get away. Don’t fight unless you absolutely have to. Run for help. Let us look after the rest.
I’d gotten help, but not in time. In the aftermath of Amy’s death, I’d clung to that promise: let us look after the rest. Justice would be done, one way or another. Only it wasn't. Aldrich went free and all those cops who’d made me that promise let him walk away.
And justice for none.
Even as I considered ways to anonymously alert someone to Sammi’s body, I heard the whispers of the past.
Is anyone really surprised?
Oh, I don’t mean Amy brought this on herself, but . . .
Did you see the way she dressed? Only fourteen, flirting with everything in pants. And a cop’s daughter no less. A Stafford. If they couldn’t teach her better, no one could.
Some girls . . .
I’m not saying she brought it on herself . . .
I don’t think Drew ever meant to hurt her. Things just got out of hand.
Now if it had been Nadia . . .
Yes, if it had been Nadia . . . There’s a good girl. So polite. So helpful. A Stafford through and through. But he never touched her. That says something right there, doesn’t it? Amy, with her tight skirts and her makeup . . .
Some girls . . .
Made to be broken.
I could drag Don Riley to Sammi’s grave, show him her body and it wouldn’t change what he—and all of White Rock—thought of her. If there was any investigation, it would be quick, half- hearted at best.
As for Destiny, they’d claim she was somewhere in those woods. No one in White Rock was going to waste investigative efforts finding another Ernst brat. Right now, the only person who cared who killed her was the one who’d discovered her body.
Finding justice for Sammi wouldn’t change what I’d done to Amy. But I could try.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Desert Island Keepers. The first time I heard that phrase, I had no idea what it meant, but I quickly learned, as “what book would you want on a desert island” became a popular interview question. And each time I got it, I lied. Totally lied.
No, I didn’t pick obscure classics to make myself look smarter. Or obscure hip-lit to make myself look cooler. I’d choose a favourite book like “Pride and Prejudice.” But if I was really stuck on a desert island, would I want “Pride and Prejudice”? Hell, no. I’d read it a few times, then kick myself silly for choosing a skinny little 200 page book that would barely light a month’s worth of fires.
If I really had to choose a book for a desert island, I’d take War and Peace because, stuck there with nothing else for entertainment, I might actually read the damn thing. More importantly, though? The book is a whopping 1300 pages. Do you know how many fires that would start? Better yet, if I took Les Miserables I could get an extra 200 pages. I’ve already read that one, though, and really have no raging desire to do so again, so it’s a trade-off.
Yes, I know, I’m being shortsighted here. It’s not all about fire fodder. It’s about the book, too. So, on second thought, I’m changing my vote. I’m taking the US Army Survival Manual. I do have a copy, but I want a new one, because mine’s a little outdated, from back when I was writing a post-apocalyptic fantasy. Never finished the novel. I got ¾ of the way through when another otherwise wonderfully supportive fantasy author said the only problem with it was that it was written in first-person. I tried to change to third, got frustrated and abandoned it.
But the Survival Manual still came in handy—writing about werewolves, knowing how to field-dress severed limbs is very useful. And on the back, the first thing it promises is how to “overcome the desire for comfort,” which I will really need to do, stuck on a desert island without my cappuccino maker. So that will be my desert island keeper. And, if I get a second book, I’ll print out that fantasy—the original version—so I can edit it and, with all that free time, maybe even use the blank backs of the pages to finish it.
With each of my entries, I’ll give a signed copy of one of my backlist. To enter, just comment. Can’t think of a relevant comment? Tell me a useful book you’d take on your desert island exile.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Talking about my favorite things I'd need to survive a desert island experience got me to thinking about what draws people to certain themes. I think almost everyone who commented yesterday had at least one paranormal/fantasy novel or movie they couldn't live without, and the appeal of those stories are undeniable. Worlds with magic, werewolves, and elves capture our imaginations and embody all the great fantasies we dream (and daydream *wink*) about! For me, I just love-love-love handsome men and pretty boys with wings. Guh!
(Illustration for "The Prince's Angel 2, by Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael)
There's just something so beautiful about the concept if a man with wings. We associate the ideas of strength and power with the male physique, but wings add an element of grace and unearthliness that totally compliments the association. And what about the mythos behind faeries, gargoyles and winged angels? It only makes the fantasy more appealing! I'm currently working on a novella about a winged warrior who gets stuck protecting an ordinary guy from New York who accidentally pisses off a demon of the strip-the-skin-off-your-bones type of badness, and so far, the bodyguard is turning out to be one of my fave personal characters. I blame the appeal of the sexy wings.
So what fantasy man dominates your dreams? Is he a vampire? An elf? A centaur? (Hey, you never know! *g*) And if you have a favorite read with a hero of that type, please share so I can add it to my must-read list. :D
Thanks again for inviting me to hang out at the DIK blog, Wave! And another big thanks to everyone for posting comments and playing along. I'll have winners for my contest by later tonight. :D
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
But talking about “Desert Island Keepers”, I was reminded of a series of ‘what if’ conversations I’ve had with my sister and friends over the years. What if you were leaving Earth forever on a space shuttle and you could only take five of your favorite movies—what would they be? What if you were stuck on a desert island, what would be the three sweets you wish you could take with you? Yes, we end up with some pretty goofy lists while playing this game, but it’s a lot of fun and you never know what someone is going to say.
5 Dessert Island Keepers
If one is going to be stuck on an island where coconuts and pineapples may potentially be the staples of your diet for the rest of your life, make sure you grab some treats out of cooler as reach for the life preserver before jumping ship! Life without Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream would be bland, and Dilettante’s Champagne Truffles are essential for survival. I’d also try to make off with some Milano cookies and, hell, anything chocolate for that matter. Let’s not forget to reach for some drink mixers, too—might as well make some piña coladas while lazing on a pristine, abandoned beach.
5 Books to Carry Ashore
All-time faves are the books you can read and re-read, and it’s like revisiting a favorite haunt or chatting with an old, dear friend. There’s something about these stories that really sparkles to me, and I can’t go more than a year or so without picking them up. Some people have comfort food—these are comfort reads. “The Lives of Christopher Chant”, “Comfort & Joy”, “Phantom”, “Jurassic Park” (whoever laughs at this point just doesn’t get the power of chaos theory!) and the good, ole Bible (food for the soul, ‘ya know). Eclectic tastes, no?
5 Must-Not-Be-Without DVDs
I don’t know how in the hell I’d manage to get a DVD player and a large screen, High-Def LCD TV off the boat, but somehow I would. And I’d also manage to take these must-have DVDs too: “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Matrix”, Torchwood season 2, Buffy:TVS Season 2, and the Cowboy Bebop collection. I wonder if I could manage to salvage a home theater audio system while doggy paddling to shore while I’m at…
These lists could go on and on: 5 favorite manga, 5 must-have salty food items, 5 electronics you can’t live without (my laptop!!!!). Please share some of your faves here! I’ll be randomly picking winners for some goodies:
· A “Pawprints” Tshirt (featuring this artwork: http://annecain.deviantart.com/art/Cover-Art-Pawprints-69242303)
· Choice of a download from my backlist
· Loose Id $5 Gift Certificate
But I guess the really interesting part about a stay on a desert island is that you have no idea what can happen and what sort of adventures you might get swept away in. Every writer gets caught up in imagining the possibilities at one point in their career, and sometimes the resulting stories are fun or dramatic or just plain naughty. *wicked grin* For those whose ears perked up at the latter prospect, I have an excerpt from an m/m story of mine entitled, “Getaway”:
Warnings: contains adult language & situations.
Dean raked a hand through his close-cropped, sweat-soaked hair. He raised a hand to block the glare of sunlight on the pristine bone-white sand and scanned the ocean. There was no sign of the rented catamaran anywhere near the beach, no flicker of red, blue and white sails on the razor-straight horizon line. The only sign of human life anywhere around him was the trail of oblong footprints his water shoes had left over all two miles of shoreline wrapping around the edge of the island in his pointless search for the boat. Dean had consciously kept the lush jungle on his left, the crystal aqua blue waters on his right, and he’d covered the entire tiny island. He was sure of it.
Stephen had dumped him here. The fucker.
“Son of a…” Dean swallowed, saving his spit for the next time he caught up with his ex-lover. He could imagine the man was probably tucked behind a cove on one of the dozens of nearby smaller islands doting the ocean a couple of miles off coast, laughing his ass off at Dean’s expense. Dean’s younger brother had been right.
Two weeks ago, Neil tried to warn him. “It’s not a smart idea to go on vacation with your ex, Dean. He’s either going to screw you over or screw you. Either way, you told me you never wanted to deal with his shit again.”
“The trip is paid for,” Dean argued over the phone. “I’m not squandering a chance to enjoy a Mediterranean getaway just because Stephen will be there.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s no possible way to enjoy a vacation with an ex. It’s a law of nature or something.”
Dean rolled his eyes, knowing his brother couldn’t see him miles away in Austin. Neil proceeded to give him more than a dozen more reasons not to take the joint vacation, and Dean filed them away in the back of his mind under the label, “Irrelevant”.
Stubborn, proud, and a whole mess of other things besides that officially classified Dean as a dumb-ass, he’d already convinced himself that he was going to have the fucking time of his life in Greece. He wouldn’t care what Stephen did and who Stephen did it with because Dean would be there for his own pleasure. He’d go. Enjoy. Have fun. Maybe find a nice piece of European cock in a club somewhere and not think twice about his ex-lover.
What he’d never expected was for the sexual tension to be so damned potent. As soon as they boarded the flight out of Houston, the old emotions and desires were there to drive him goddamn crazy. Stephen knew exactly all the right buttons to push, and boy, he liked banging at them. Dean hadn’t looked to hook up with another man since their breakup, and now it seemed so obvious that he’d worn the need for sex on his body like a second skin.
Stephen noticed the frustration right away. Two days after landing in Greece, he’d made sure to flaunt his ass as much as possible. If Dean didn’t already have an erection before Stephen ‘accidentally’ brushed against him during a hike or dropped a hand into his lap during dinner, Dean found himself with a hard-on that tented the front of even the most loose piece of clothing he had. A fucking muumuu wouldn’t have been able to hide his stiff rod.
This morning, they’d set out for a private sail around the dozens of islands along the coast. Stephen was a skilled boatman, and he looked good in shorts and a cotton shirt unbuttoned all the way down the front of those nicely shaped pectoral muscles and abs. Ex or not, Dean would’ve ended up taking him in the boat, on the sand, anywhere. At least twice.
When they landed on the beach, Dean took off for a jog to loosen up after the tense sail. The jog was supposed to tame the boner in Dean’s swimming briefs and keep his cock safely tucked in under the nylon. He never imagined Stephen would abandon him here, with nothing but a water bottle.
Dean found a weatherworn, black rock near the shade of clustered, swaying palm trees. He took a seat on the span of warm, smooth stone and sighed.
“Am I moron or what?” Dean shook his head. He swallowed a mouthful of water and set the bottle down on the ground, pressed his hands against his eyes. Spots of light dotted the back of his lids, leaving an impression of the gleaming sand. Tired, pissed, sexually frustrated, Dean leaned back across the flat rock and resolved himself to wait until Stephen decided the joke was over.
Dean’s breath caught in his throat. The pink underside of a thick, erect cock blocked the view of the palm fronds overhead and the cloudless sky beyond. Sunlight glowed through the slip of foreskin peaking over the rounded head. A skilled hand cupped the heavy sac at the base of the erection, massaging the tightening mounds.
Heat exhaustion had set in worse than Dean thought. He rubbed his eyes with the flat of his palms, not that he minded such a great hallucination. Wondering if the rest of this dream man looked as good as that cock, Dean tore his gaze away from the hardening shaft.
The stranger was younger, maybe twenty or twenty-two-years-old to Dean’s thirty. Hazel eyes, chocolate colored hair with golden streaks, full lips. Tan skin seemed to run for naked mile after mile over the man’s beautiful body. Brown nipples were already formed into peaks and a trail of light brown hair dusted the inside of his legs, leading toward that fat, beautifully arched cock. One hand rested at his side while the other continued to work over his ball sac.
Fuck…Dean could almost feel that expert stroking on his own package. He sucked in his breath, his cock lifting from sheer thought alone.
He rolled in to a sitting position. His mouth leveled dangerously close to the tip of the luscious-looking dick, he licked his lips. Wanting to suck that cock off so badly, Dean fondled the throbbing bulge at his groin and swallowed a mouthful of spit along with a groan.
Beads of water trailed all over the mystery man’s body, as if he’d been swimming. The droplets traced the rounded edge of his shoulders and pecs, every sharp cut of muscle at his abdomen and groin. He shook off his head, splattering Dean’s face in a cool spray.
The water tasted sweet.
This was no hallucination.
“Getaway” ©2008, Anne Cain. http://www.annecain-art.com
Previously published in “Island Boys: Tropical Gay Erotica” from Alyson Books
Monday, March 23, 2009
Anne Cain is a writer and artist by day, kung-fu-fighting-and-cookie-eating-secret-agent by night! Though her super powers are best put to use karate-chopping her way through several sinfully delicious Milano cookies, she has also been known to create stories and artwork of a romantic, manlove nature which she enjoys sharing with her dear readers. For the past several years, Anne has been working in one form of the publishing industry or another.
She currently freelances as an artist and designer, and she has worked with many wonderful personal clients and companies throughout the world, including Loose Id, Sourcebooks, and Samhain Publishing. Her artwork features a combination of many different media such as pencils/inks, photography and digital illustration—whatever she thinks will help bring the image alive, especially if she’s working on a book cover. On the writing front, Anne has a passion for gay romance and yaoi in a broad range of genres. Her stories have been featured in anthologies from Alyson Books, and her “Pawprints” series is currently available at Loose Id along with several other yaoi-ish books co-written with the talented and most-awesome Barbara Sheridan. She has several writing projects in the works for 2009, one of which will be the next installment in the Pawprints series. (Bray and Alex need must have their story told, dammit!)
Anne will be attending the national RWA conference in DC this year. She hopes to meet some of the readers who’ve been so supportive of her written and artistic works. If anyone is interested in learning more about her illustrations and designs, please head on over to her Deviant Art gallery: http://annecain.deviantart.com/She also loves to make new friends on LiveJournal: http://annecain.livejournal.com/m
Favorite Reading Position: Curled up on the couch, with a mug of chai in one hand, a good book in the other, and a warm kitty on my lap (Penny is way too big a puppy to be a lap-warmer!)
Best love song: My current fave is "No Air", Jordin Sparks/Cris Brown (NO LAUGHING!)
Favorite Heroine: Xena, Warrior Princess (rarrrrrrrrr!)
Author everyone loves but you don’t: JK Rowling
If you could be in one book/series/world which would you pick: the Women of the Otherworld series
How old is your inside voice: usually 25 or so, but some days it feels like 60...XD
Favorite sex song: this one is kind of hard (pun intended). I have a special fondness for 80s music, and "Some Like It Hot" by Power Station/Robert Palmer is still very sexy to me
If you could be a hero who would you be: Pendergast, from the Preston & Child books
What heroine is most like you: I think Elena from "Bitten" is a heroine I can relate to fairly well
What heroine would you like to be: Xena, of course!
Boxers, Briefs, boxer briefs, kilt (I say we add commando): COMMANDO!
Favorite book set on a tropical island: Treasure Island (me likes the classics)
What hero is most like your significant other: the Invisible Man *wink*
If you were stuck on a desert island what 3 things would you bring: my laptop, a really BIG sketchbook with lots of paper, and a pocket knife. I could survive for years in the wilderness with those three things *wink*
Favorite drink to bring to the DIK party: frozen margaritas--YUM!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Malibu, California—home to rock-and-roll gods and movie stars, the beautiful, the rich . . . and vampires.
Powerful and charismatic, Raphael is a Vampire Lord, one of the few who hold the power of life and death over every vampire in existence. Thousands call him Master and have pledged absolute loyalty on their very lives. But when, in a brazen and deadly daylight attack, a gang of human killers kidnaps the one female vampire he’d give his life for, Raphael turns to a human investigator to find his enemies before it’s too late.
Cynthia Leighton is smart, tough and sexy, a private investigator and former cop who’s tired of spying on cheating spouses and digging out old bank accounts. When Raphael asks for her help in tracking down the kidnappers, Cyn’s happy to accept. But she soon realizes her greatest danger comes not from the humans, but from Raphael himself.
Battling Russian mobsters and treacherous vampires, and betrayed by those they trusted, Cyn and Raphael find themselves fighting for their lives while caught up in a passion of blood and violence that is destined to destroy them both.
Now over to D.B. (LesleyW)
Just a reminder to everyone that I’m running a book giveaway during my two days on the island. Anyone who comments on either day will have his/her name put in the hat for a signed copy of my first book, RAPHAEL, releasing on March 31st from ImaJinn Books.
When I was looking for a publisher for RAPHAEL, the first book in my forthcoming Urban Fantasy series, Vampires in America, I checked out all the sites to see what editors were looking for. A lot of them specified not just an alpha male protagonist, but an alpha female protagonist, as well -- which was good for me, because my heroine, Cynthia Leighton is very much an alpha. A lot has been written about the bad boy, the alpha male, and why he’s so popular. But there’s very little discussion of alpha females, even though publishers look for them.
Writing an alpha female can be tricky. You want her to be strong and self reliant, someone who takes charge in an emergency, someone who doesn’t sit and wait for the big man to show up and save the day. But at the same time, she shouldn’t be a ball buster. She has to be soft and feminine, and sexually desirable. She has to need her alpha male to protect and cherish her, even though she’s fully capable of protecting herself.
This is pretty much analogous to what women face in the workplace every day, especially women in positions of authority and/or power over men. The job requires a woman to be tough and take charge, but society, and the men she works with, expect her to be a woman. The most common criticism I’ve heard of women bosses is the dreaded “B” word. And most of the time, it’s for behavior that, in a man, would be considered assertive, aggressive, admirable. All the “A” words.
The same problem arises when writing such a character. For example, Elena in Kelley Armstrong’s wonderful Otherworld series. Elena certainly doesn’t start out very alpha-ish. Not in my view. She’s conflicted and indecisive, clinging to Phillip not because she loves him – although she does on some level – but because he’s paternal and wants to take care of her. He smoothes out the rough edges of life, so Elena doesn’t have to deal with them at all. The interesting thing about Elena is that in order to get along with the very alpha Clay, she must assert her own alphaness. Otherwise, he’ll keep her tucked safely into a velvet padded room where nothing will ever harm her. And so we see Elena grow into her role to the point where many readers now believe she’ll be the Pack Alpha successor to Jeremy.
Anita Blake, Laurell K. Hamilton’s bestselling vampire hunter, is alpha from the very beginning. She’s all bristling attitude and carries a huge chip on her shoulder that warns men not to even THINK about opening a door for her, thank you very much. And as the series goes on, she becomes even more so, asserting her alphaness over even the most alpha of her many lovers, effectively transforming all of her males into betas.
My own preference is for a sharing of power, an alpha female paired with an alpha male who respects her enough to admit her ability to take care of herself, but who still stands at her side, because he needs to protect her. Suzanne Brockmann’s Navy SEAL books are full of such women and men. Alyssa, Tess, Lindsey and all the others are strong and accomplished women who can take on whatever the world throws at them and handle it. And yet they’re paired with uberAlpha men whose natural instinct is to protect, to stand in front and never let anything touch the people he loves. Brockmann does a great job of showing the conflicts that arise when these personalities meet. Some of the women deal with it more gracefully than others, some of the men find it easier to accept than others. But every one of these couples faces that challenge and overcomes it.
In examining all of the above alpha females, I was struck by something I see in my own alpha females, as well. Fictional alpha females almost always come from damaged backgrounds. They’re strong because they’ve had to be, because life has thrown them some pretty awful curves. The loss of a beloved parent at an early age, a childhood of isolation or foster care, a brutal first husband, or even worse assault and/or rape. There’s some trauma these women have survived and come out stronger. An alpha male can have a loving and supportive family behind him. He doesn’t always, but it is accepted. Not so for the alpha female.
In my own books, my female protagonists – Cynthia Leighton in the first two books and Abbey Stratton in the third – are both survivors. Their traumas were very different, but they both come into the story already damaged by life. Which means that while they don’t mind being rescued, they don’t hang around and wait for it either. They save themselves so that when their knight shows up on his white charger all they have to do is hop on and catch a ride home, grateful for having a broad back to hang onto for the ride.
In closing, I want to thank LesleyW and Christine once again for letting me drop in on the island, and thank all of you for reading. And don’t forget, anyone who comments gets a chance at an autographed copy of RAPHAEL as soon as it’s released on March 31st. Thank you all and I hope to see you on the web at http://dbreynolds.wordpress.com/.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
First of all I want to thank Lesley W. for making it possible for me to guest blog here on the island, and Christine for giving up some of her time to make room for me. My reaction when I saw this site for the very first time (many, many months ago) was, Ooooh, I’d like to do that! And here I am.
I’ll introduce myself first, so you don’t have to wonder why the heck I’m here. I’m D. B. Reynolds and my very first book, RAPHAEL, is coming out on March 31st from ImaJinn Books. RAPHAEL is an Urban Fantasy set amid the beaches and beautiful people of Malibu, California, the first of my Vampires in America series. I’m always torn when people ask whether my books are Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. I guess it depends on how central the romance is to the story, but it’s a fine line. In RAPHAEL, there’s definitely romance, but there’s also a kidnapping and a conspiracy that brings the Vampire Lord Raphael and the human P.I. Cynthia Leighton together in a passion of blood and violence that is destined to destroy them both.
I’ll be giving away a signed copy of RAPHAEL at the end of my two-day gig here on DIK. Everyone who comments on either day will be eligible. I’ll throw the names into a hat, or whatever receptacle is handy, and draw one out. As I said earlier, the book releases on March 31st and I’ll send the winner her/his autographed copy as soon as I get my hands on one! You can find more details about me and my book, including reviews by Kelley Armstrong and Adrian Phoenix, on my blog at http://dbreynolds.wordpress.com/.
Okay, on to my five books. We’ve all done stuff like this before, what books, what albums, which characters from a specific book would you want to be stranded with? Of course, the most important, and really only, criterion has to be not readability, but RE-readability. It’s a deserted island; I’m going to read these books over and over, right? For years, the first book on my list would always be The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien. Because you get three books for the price of one, and because, well, it’s The Lord of the effing Rings!
But I’m going to confess a secret here. Ever since the movies came out? Ever since Peter Jackson put such a wonderful face and voice on every character? I’d much rather watch the movies. I know! It’s like a heresy or something, but it’s true. So, assuming I can’t take along my battery operated DVD player (and an endless supply of batteries), here’s my books, in no particular order.
The Rhea Lynch, M.D. series by Gwen Hunter. I’m hoping that by the time I get stranded there will be an omnibus with all four of the existing books. If not, I’m getting out the duct tape and making my own. These characters are so real, so completely human and likeable that I can read them over and over again. It’s like visiting a dearly loved, old friend. You pretty much know everything the characters will say and do, but it makes you feel better just being with them again. Maybe it’s because you know everything about them. It’s comforting.
The Keltiad by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, specifically the Tales of Aeron, which are The Copper Crown, The Throne of Scone, and The Silver Branch. More duct tape. This is a wonderfully fantastic series which hypothesizes the escape from Earth of at least some of the population of Atlantis before the disaster. They have traveled far away from Earth and set up a new civilization, which has broken into two major empires. In Kennealy’s books, the Atlanteans were Celtic, so the books are full of Celtic myth and culture. I love these books. Kennealy is a tremendously evocative writer. I can and have read these books many, many times.
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. Now this one I know has an omnibus, so I’m free and clear. Bishop created such an interesting and unique world with her Blood warriors and their witchy and sometimes bitchy Queens. And Daemon and Lucivar can snarl at one another in front of my fireplace any time. I love those guys!
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. Of all Armstrong’s books, I love this one the most. It’s a close race between Bitten and Stolen, but in the final analysis, this is the book that I’d take along. Elena’s struggle to accept her wolfiness, Clay’s unapologetic disdain for human norms and Jeremy’s cool authority. A great combination, and it doesn’t hurt that Clay is such a HUNK!
And finally, I think I’d go for another omnibus I’m not sure exists (I’m going to need a lot of duct tape.) That’s the Continuing Time series by Daniel Keys Moran. This extremely well-written and complex look at the future of the human race offers a new discovery with every reading. I only hope Moran writes at least one more book before I get stranded.
So, that’s it. That’s my five. As for the rest of my time, the best book of all would be the one I was writing in my head as I sat there all alone on the island. I’d close my eyes and listen to the waves, and, in my head, I could be anywhere, do anything, and be with anyone I wanted. That story would never have to end.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
2) The abused protag has to stand up for themselves at some point in the story.
3) The author has to make me believe that both of the protags have changed before the last three pages of the book.
4) The reader has to be happy at the end of the book, in order for it to be an HEA.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
1. Would you rather go without sex and orgasms for the rest of your life
2. Go without reading another book for the rest of your life
Sometimes I get stuck on things. Like green vegetables. I make the same veggies over and over and over again. So this St. Pat’s day I decided to release my inner rebel and make an orange vegetable for dinner tonight. I found this recipe for roasted baby carrots on a food blog and I love it. It’s so easy. Throw your baby carrots in a roasting pan and add a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few tablespoons of honey. Toss it around in the oil mixture add a pinch of salt and some pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for about an hour. When they come out of the oven sprinkle with more salt. I used a pink Himalyan salt. I have also made it without the honey and instead added Thyme, more olive oil and tossed in some julienned potatoes and fresh portobello mushrooms.
Have a great day and kiss someone Irish!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Lucas: Angst Schmangst. I eat angst for breakfast.
K: Psst…Lucas, what about that little depression problem you had?
Lucas: I don’t recall that
Kenric: Depression Lucas? *snort* Would you like to talk about your *feelings*? Heh
What did your author totally get wrong about you?
Kenric: She tried to make me feel bad for being frugal. I do not feel bad. If you need something from me, you will have to show me proof that you have earned it. Then I will decide if you need it or not. Don’t try to project your feelings on me. Christ woman! I don’t have “layers”.
Lucas: What do you mean? I’m perfect. Well, there was that fear of flying thing that he blew completely out of proportion. I mean come on, if you’re not afraid of sitting in a recliner hurtling through space at 700 mph in a tin can, then something is wrong with you. Not me.
Boxers, briefs or boxer briefs?
Kenric: I am a knight in the 13th century. I don’t know what those things are.
K: I know. That's what I love about you.
Lucas: Why don’t you come over here and find out for yourself, sweetheart.
What is your favorite weapon?
Kenric: My sword and my body. If I ever lose my sword during a battle, not that I ever would, I can kill you just as easily using my bare hands. *I* fight like a man.
Lucas: Yeah Kenric. Whatever. Just don’t bring that sword to a gunfight, dude. I am a gun freak. I have 13 guns. My favorite is a Heckler & Koch P7 automatic.
What have you learned about each other?
Kenric: Lucas has a big ego.
Lucas: Kenric has a big ego.
Well, I’m not sure this game helped us. At all. But maybe they found something they have in common? Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
An e-mail is on its way to you for the particulars!
In anticipation of planting time, its time to choose what to plant so that I get my little seeds sprouting in time for the planting season. So far this year we have the following:
- T4 Angel tomatoes (the disease resistant *g*)
- Melon (haven't yet decided which kind)
How about you? What do you grow in the summer?
When everything has ready you need help preparing everything, and these guys can help!
And you have to have someone to deliver drinks to all the different cabanas so that our boys don't too tired:
Here's to happy days again!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Her latest book, Hope's Folly is out in stores now, so run and get your copy before they run out (all the stores near me have no more copies left and the shipment won't be in until next week! *pout*). Hope's Folly takes us back to the Gabriel's Ghost universe and takes place after the events in Shades of Dark.
These are the adventures of Admiral Philip Guthrie, gun-loving Rya Bennton and the newly formed Alliance.
But enough about that! Linnea has dropped by to chat with
Aymless: For a reader new to Linnea Sinclair, which would be the best as their intro?
Linnea: I think that depends on what he or she likes to read. Since for the most part I don’t write a series, my books have several unique flavors. Some are more romance-oriented. Some are more action-adventure oriented. One is even a police-procedural-science-fiction-romance set in Florida, USA. FINDERS KEEPERS, GABRIEL’S GHOST and GAMES OF COMMAND were all RITA® award finalists, with GABRIEL’S winning the 2006 RITA® for Best Paranormal Romance GAMES OF COMMAND and SHADES OF DARK are both PEARL award winners. So if readers like to follow awards and rankings, that’s a place to start. (Keeping in mind that SHADES OF DARK is book 2 in the Dock 5 Universe…)
Readers might also want to know that GABRIEL’S and SHADES are both written in first person POV. Some people love that. Others don’t.
THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES is my only book to date set “here” and not on another planet or in a starship in another star system. For readers who like to stay close to home, that might be the book for them.
The best thing I can suggest is for readers to go to my website and browse my books page. Keeping in mind the advice of reviewer Sue Waldeck: "...Linnea Sinclair is a guarantee of amazing characters, racing story-lines and a good time. She draws you into her stories with ease, keeps you with her with twists, turns and great secondary characters and holds you until the exciting conclusion. This is one author who definitely can't write fast enough for me!"—Sue Waldeck for The Road to Romance
Aymless: With a large market for science fiction and fantasy books do think that you reach a broader audience that just romance readers? After all I've seen you in both sections at the same bookstore!
Linnea: If you find me in both the romance and science fiction sections of the same bookstore, that’s only because one of my sharp-eyed fans has moved some of my books to get me better exposure (and I’m soooo grateful for that!). Most chain bookstores shelve my books in romance. Only one continues to shelve me in science fiction. Can an author change that? Nope. I have no say. I’m just happy to have my books out there for readers to discover.
I don’t know if I necessarily reach a broader audience. I do think my books—since they combine science fiction/fantasy and romance—attract readers with varied tastes. Most romance readers I know read outside the genre as IMHO romance readers are some of the more open-minded and adventurous of readers.
What I am surprised by is the number of fan letters I get from guys. I also have husband-wife fans who enjoy my books.
Aymless: What can an attendee of the Romantic Times Convention's Intergalactic Bar and Grille look forward to, other than that hunky bartender? Having hung out at the virtual Intergalactic Bar and Grille (your Yahoo group) I really gonna be sad to miss the real thing.
Linnea: The Integalactic Bar & Grille Reader Party at the Romantic Times conventions is always a blast. We have goody bags for each attendee (usually around 200 readers) with all sort of fun, blinking, glowing and glistening futuristic fun things inside, as well as bookcards and bookmarks and all sorts of promo items. Last year author Catherine Asaro came with several cartons of her books and gave them out. We also have a Q&A party game where each table competes with the other table in the “bar” and everyone gets a chance to win fantastic prize baskets full of books, jewelry, cosmetics, T-shirts, tote bags and more! This year I’ll also be giving away official Intergalactic Bar & Grille gear! You can see some of the items here (and even buy something for yourself if you can’t make it to the party).
Aymless: Will you be attending the RWA conference this year in DC? If so, will there be an opportunity for a casual Intergalactic Bar & Grille there as well? I know a number us gals are going to be in attendance. (hint, hint) *grin*
Linnea: If SHADES OF DARK finals, likely yes, I will go. If it doesn't, no, I won't. If I go, totally, I love to meet with readers and I'm usually in the bar... ;-) I will be at RT in Orlando, so look for me there. I'll be there the entire week as I'm also teaching at the pre-con writer workshops.
Aymless: The last time you were visiting, you had mentioned that you might branch out into the romantic suspense genre. Any character prompting for that?
Linnea: It's still in the back of my mind but since I'm deep in deadline hell on my current book--a follow on to HOPE'S FOLLY that I've not even been able to come up with a title for--nope, nothing on that horizon yet. I'm not one of those authors who can write two, three projects at the same time, sadly. I envy those who can. But I get very immersed in my worlds, my characters and my story when I write--very focused. Something for a different genre has no room to pop up.
Aymless: Any advance teasers on your next book?
Linnea: My next book—which I’m still waffling over a title for—will be Devin Guthrie’s story. Devin is Admiral Philip Guthrie’s youngest brother and, like Philip, was raised in a wealthy and powerful family at the heart of a galactic empire. Unlike Philip, Devin has always preferred to stay in the background, working his financial wizardry with numbers. He’s the quintessential reluctant hero who underestimates himself (and his damned sexy good looks!) but will find himself—and his beliefs, ethics and desires—pushed to the brink when his nephew goes inexplicably missing…and his bodyguard is murdered. But wait, you ask. Isn’t this a science fiction romance? Oh, yes. Because the one person Devin has to trust, the one person Devin has to rely on for help is the one woman he’s loved in secret for years. Here’s one of the back cover blurbs I’ve been working on:
Out of options…Devin Guthrie can’t forget Captain Makaiden “Kaidee” Griggs even though it’s been two years since she was in his family’s employ. A Guthrie does not fall in love with a mere shuttle pilot. Going against his wealthy family’s wishes isn’t an option—not with the Empire in political upheaval, much of it caused by Devin’s renegade older brother, Admiral Philip Guthrie. The Guthries must solidify their standing—financially, politically and socially—or risk losing it all. But when the Guthrie heir—Devin’s nineteen-year old nephew— goes missing, Devin’s loyalty to his family’s values is put to the test. And suddenly the unthinkable becomes the only option available: Devin must break the rules and risk allying himself with the one woman he could never forget—and was forbidden to love.
Aymless: Are there any plans for sequels to your others books? Like FINDERS KEEPERS where there are still some unanswered questions.
Linnea: At this time, no, no plans for sequels. But then again, I had no clue I was going to be telling Philip Guthrie’s story in HOPE’S FOLLY until Philip just showed up in my office one day and demanded he be given a better life… so anything’s possible.
Aymless: Are there any new authors you would like to discuss? Put a head up about? Pimp?
Linnea: Actually the entire genre of SFR needs pimping, badly. I often read postings on Shelfari, Goodreads as well as lots of blogs, and it's a tad frustrating to see how many readers have no idea SFR exists. I recently saw a posting where a group of readers did their own "monthly reading challenge by genre" and for the science fiction romance/futuristic category, almost all the readers put a ??? instead of listing a book (and that was the only category where that happened). I have an incomplete list of SFR and Futuristics authors here and The Galaxy Express has a huge chronological one on their front page. Recent PEARL award winners included myself, Robin D Owens and Colby Hodge. All fit nicely in SFR. You can get a full listing of nominees and winners (though the 2008 winners aren't up yet, last I checked) here. So which authors do I think readers need to know about? Let's start with Robin D Owens, Susan Grant, Eve Kenin, Linnea Sinclair, Jayne Ann Krentz, Carole Ann Lee, Jess Granger, Ann Aguirre, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Klemstein, Catherine Asaro, Janet Miller, and... lots.
Thank you, Linnea, for taking the time to chat with me and coming to spend some time with us here at the island.
Linnea has given us prize to give out. Just leave a comment to be entered. A winner will be picked at random.
Go get your very own copies of Linnea's books today!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We have a mystery guest join us today. I will be posting facts about our mystery guest throughout the day. The first person to correctly identify our guest will win a mystery prize (kindly provided by our guest).
So on with the show!
1. Can play the organ, piano, harp and guitar.
2. Has hatched two ducks from eggs. "There's no experience like incubating an egg and then having it hatch right in front of you. Miracle."
3. "Eu falo mais nao bem." Used to be fluent in (Brazilian) Portuguese and also can speak/read French, Spanish and Italian. Has been trying to teach self Russian
4. When she was around four years old she wandered away from her parents who were checking in to a Las Vegas hotel. They found her sitting on a couch in the lobby chatting up actor George Burns "(if you don't know who George Burns is, you've missed much in life. OH GOD!)".
5. When she was about five years old (you'll see a trend here) she wandered away from her parents in the Miami airport. They found her sitting on actor Jerry Lewis' shoulders--he was filming a movie there and she wandered onto the set.
6. She met the Beatles when she was ten years old and in the airport outside Zurich, Switzerland.
7. The first fan letter she ever wrote to an author was to Melissa Scott for her FIVE-TWELFTHS OF HEAVEN. This was pre-email days. Melissa Scott wrote her a lovely personal letter back. She still think Melissa Scott's one of the premiere SF authors out there and one classy lady. (You've not read it? DO SO!)
8. A cancer survivor.
9. Canoed through the Okefenokee Swamp.
10. She was born without tonsils. So was her mother. "We're mutants. ::spooky music please!::"
11. Loves Brussels sprouts.
12. Chocolate is NOT her favorite flavor (coconut is).
14. She and her husband were born roughly nine months apart. So when he was being born, she was being conceived. Talk about custom order!
15. She once studied to be a minister.
16. Her first commercial radio job was at WTTS-AM and her radio name was "Sunshine." "Sunshine and the Colonel" was the early morning radio show.
17. She wouldn't be published by Bantam if it wasn't for author Robin D. Owens. "I owe that fine gal my career. She's another top class act."
18. She try to mentor two unpublished writers a year. She deeply believe in karma.
19. She was a Guest Author last year.
20. She's a PEARL award and a RITA award winner.
21. She has survived a small plane crash and has used this experience and wrote it in a scene in one of her books.
22. She used to have a cat named Fat Tammy the Slut. "Captain Folly" (a cat in her most recent book) is her body-double.
The last hint:
23. Her cat, Daiquiri, was used as a cover model for one of her books and was the inspiration for "Tank".
Make sure come by tomorrow for a chat with our mystery guest...
The One and Only...