A Prepublished Novel in the Process of Revisions and Rewrites

Monday, December 29, 2008

Curse of the Marhime, Now in Print!

Curse of the Marhime: Excerpt and Reviews

A Wild Rose Press Release: Curse of the Marhime
Book I, The Roma Wolf Tales Series
Print ISBN 1-60154-353-0

Print Release Date: December 12, 2008

Available at:
The Wild Rose Press
Amazon.com

Blurb:
A routine visit to the grocery store and a chance encounter with a psychic plunges Pita Sedgwick into a dark world of shape-shifting, magic, and Gypsy lore. Pita finds herself on a plane to Romania, seeking the answers to her mysterious birth and in search of her biological family.

Fate intervenes in the form of handsome seatmate, Niko Ionesciu. Pita is sure she’s found love and her history. But as her innocent fact-finding mission spirals into a dangerous game of revenge and deceit with the Gypsy Matriarch, the psychic’s words come back to haunt her. Can she trust the people around her with her terrifying secret or will the search for her family end in the ultimate betrayal?

Excerpt:
After two stopovers and one plane change, Pita
settled in for the next leg of the journey. She’d
finished her novel long ago and had stopped in one of
the airport shops in Toronto and picked up a couple
of magazines and another book.

Some passengers looked familiar, but many
faces were different now. Her seatmates, the elderly
couple seemed to be gone or at least not seated
anywhere near her. This plane was a little smaller
and had only two seats on either side of the aisle, the
one next to her remained empty.

Absently, she fingered through one of the
magazines when someone plopped down beside her.
She glanced up into a face whose smile was so
infectious and openly shy, that she instantly found
herself returning the smile. “Hi.”

His hair was dark-blond and longish, not quite
shoulder length. Little crinkles formed at the
corners of his eyes when he smiled, and he had a
dimple on his chin. She had an urge to reach out and
touch a finger to that dimple. God, he is so cute. A
flush of heat exploded in her as her eyes locked onto
his hazel ones.

“Hello,” she said in return and tightened her
grip on the magazine. She wanted to reach up and
push his wayward hair out of his ruggedly handsome
face. And to make matters worse she wanted to kiss
that adorable lopsided smile right off his face. Oh my
god, get a grip. What is wrong with me?

“Don’t let me interrupt you.” He glanced down at
the magazine in her lap. “You were reading.”
Something seemed familiar about him, but she
couldn’t put a finger on it. Pita detected a slight
Eastern European accent. She blushed and
concentrated on closing the magazine in her lap to
regain her composure. Her reaction to him bordered
on odd, and she couldn’t even find the correct words
to describe it. Something tugged deep within her,
some primal response to this man. Bigger than lust.
It unhinged her.

“No, you’re not, interrupting, I mean… I was
just flipping through it waiting for takeoff for
the…um…the umpteenth time,” she smiled again,
hoping to conceal how he unnerved her.

“You’re American?”

“Yes. I’m from Montana.” Pita answered. Why is
it I turn into an idiot around good-looking men? Get
a grip. “My name is Pita.” She extended a hand to
him.

He took it, and Pita felt an odd vibration, a rush
of…power? A surge shot straight up her arm that
washed into her torso. It was the strangest
sensation, not in any way painful, just odd. They
stared at each other for long seconds before he
answered.

“I’m Nikolae Ionesciu, very nice to meet
you. Please, call me Niko.” Again, that shy
disarming smile. He had a small scar on his upper
lip but it only added to his good looks.

Pita blushed again and looked down into her
lap, so he wouldn’t notice. The jolt she felt from the
brief touch was compelling. It vibrated through her
arm like the aftershock of an electrical current. He’d
felt it too, she’d seen it in his eyes. She picked the
magazine off her lap and slipped it in the slot on the
seat in front of her for something to do. No denying
she was attracted to him, but the strange sensation
that passed between them had nothing to do with it.
She knew—no felt instinctively— without a doubt,
this was something entirely different.

“Where are you from? Your accent…” Pita
considered a moment. “Slavic? Perhaps somewhere
near Romania?” She guessed. “My best friend was
born there. Her parents have a similar accent.”

“I was born in Hungary but grew up in Northern
Romania just over the border between the two
countries.” He explained. “I travel between the
United States and Romania often these days.”
“That explains your almost perfect English.”
Pita grinned. She loved the husky timbre of his
voice. Its slightly raspy baritone caressed her
senses—soft, sensuous.

The stewardess passed by, advising everyone to
buckle their seatbelts, that the plane would be
taxiing for take off in a moment.
Pita busied herself with the seatbelt and locked
the little tray in place. Niko bent to place his
backpack under the seat in front of him then buckled
himself in. He pushed back the hair that had fallen
into his face when he’d bent down. Pita wondered
what it would be like to feel that hand touch her
face, her neck, slide down her...

Oh God, what is the matter with me?

The plane lurched forward and began its taxi to
the runway. She relaxed into the seat and waited for
the usual rush when the plane sped up and then left
the ground. Better to concentrate on that than what
she’d been thinking a moment ago.

“Here we go.” He commented.

“Hmmmm…” she responded glad that of all the
seats in the plane his was beside her. The plane
picked up momentum and lifted off the runway and
into the night.

Reviews:
"CURSE OF THE MARHIME was an awesome book…Niko had the right amount of heart and strength to become one of those memorable heroes. I cannot wait for book two!"

Review by ~Megan
Bitten by Books
***
"CURSE OF THE MARHIME has instances that gave me tingling sensations down my spine. I was completely drawn to the storyline and love the little dark moments. From the shape-shifting, the gypsies, and the wolves, I found this an incredible read…If the first book is this awesome, I can hardly wait for the others in the series."

Reviewed by ~Cherokee
Coffee Time Romance
***
"Dayana Knight's CURSE OF THE MARHIME is the first in her Roma Wolf Tales series. With plot twists and turns aplenty, the ups and downs in the book make reading it an intellectual rollercoaster...I just love a book that keeps me guessing and if the first is anything to go by this series definitely will."

Reviewed by ~Valerie
Manic Reviews
***
“CURSE OF THE MARHIME blends a strange, almost magical aura to contemporary times.
Pita Sedgwick has no need of fortune-tellers, but the one that accosts her so adamantly in the grocery store fills her with questions and foreboding. In moments, her ho-hum life begins to change. Ominous symbols reach out from her mostly hidden past.
Throughout, Pita has a valuable friends, unexpected guides… and the love of her life (And he truly is a dream lover: wonderful heroic, and so much more than merely human – but I refuse to give away the magic of this particular secret!) But, will her quest supersede all?
This is not entirely a dark, sinister tale. There are some lighter moments, and certainly some wonderful, heartfelt and heartwarming moments…
In this unpredictable novel of love, desperation, and triumph, Dayana Knight has woven a thrilling and unpredictable tale. The pace is fast, descriptions clear, and the characters – even secondary characters – are wonderfully developed."

Review by ~Snapdragon
The Long and Short Review

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!



I hope your day was filled with the shining warmth and love of family and friends.

My DH and I shared a quiet holiday amongst family. We didn't get caught up in all the commercialism this year. We truly can say we shared the holiday in its true meaning for the first time ever. We did not exchange gifts, we did not get lost in the bustling crowds of the season, but we did share lots of love and family time.

We have no children which made this season bearable as like so many others we struggle just to make ends meet in these trying times. With the state of the economy is these days, I have to admire parents struggling and conniving to make the holiday wonderful and full for their children and not having the available funds to accomplish the feat. God bless you all and I wish you prosperity in the New Year.

We have a beautiful Sheltie, Gypsy Lee, who was diagnosed with Canine cutaneous epitheliotropic lymphoma (mycosis fungoides)which is rare and virtually, as we are finding out, hard to treat. She is a fighter and has not had any life threatening changes to personality, vigor, or activity, however, she has horrendous tumors forming around her upper snout/lips. We are treating the disease at this time with oral chemotherapy and are in the first stages of treatment.

Why do I bring this up? Because I am trying to explain how we have first hand witnessed the joy of this season. First, I want to say I feel so very fortunate to still have my baby with me and doing well in spite of the ugliness of the disease.

Now to the point. We (the family) all agreed to not exchange gifts this year. We're all older and there are no children involved so we opted to have a nice simple celebration. Well...

To my DH and my surprise, Gypsy was the recipient of all the gifts. She got everything from her favorite treats to money for her medical treatment! Needless to say her mommie spent some time in humble tears today. Tears of joy knowing that our family cares as much for our Sheltie as we do and tears of relief knowing that the financial burden had been lifted if only a little.

To me that is the meaning of Christmas. Families and friends sharing, loving, and always with you in your darkest hour and times of need.

I hope you all have experienced a special joy this year. Thank you for allowing me to share mine with you.



Now, I'm sure you are all wondering who the winner of the drawing for a free download of Eternal Obsession, my newest release, an erotic vampire short available at The Wild Rose Press/Scarlet Line. DH drew the name out of one of his hats, LOL And the winner is...

Drumroll, please...

Mary Ricksen!!!

Congratulations, Mary. I hope you enjoy the story.

Now I'm off to work on Roma Wolf Tales Book II. One of my goals this year is to get two more projects done and submitted for consideration.

Have a wonderful night!

Dayana~

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas is upon us...



...and with it naturally comes memories of past years.

Funny how childlike we become this time of year. My Christmas memories are wonderful.

In the small town I grew up, Santa would ride around town upon our fire truck on the Friday night before Christmas. As soon as we heard the siren we would all gather on our porch steps to watch him go by. Then the next morning the entire town would go to the VFW. We all got to see Santa, sit on his lap, and tell him our tall Christmas wish list. Then he gave each of us a gift and the town served up hot dogs, soda, and a full day of fun and games.

I remember my brother and I being so excited about Santa's impending visit to our home that we couldn't sleep. My parents were big on decorations and tradition, so they did all the tree trimming and preparation on Christmas Eve after we were put to bed for the night. I remember bursting out of bed 3 or 4 AM, fleeing down the stairs only to stop and stare in amazement at Santa's handywork. The tree twinkled with lights and ornaments, presents made mountains up both walls and lay scattered beneath all around the base. And the only thing left of the cookies and milk we'd left out for Santa was a few crumbs upon the plate.

Mom and Dad must have just crawled their way to bed but up they got without complaint and seemingly as excited as we. Then the opening of presents began. Of course we weren't done yet because Christmas day the relatives would visit with more presents. And sometimes we would go out and visit, as well. It seemed the gifts never ended.

Memories of happy Christmas' leave my heart warmed but I miss the childlike innocence and anticipation the holiday always brought. I do, however, keep it in how I celebrate the holiday. I decorate, I used to bake up a storm-these days I don't do much of that, so little time but oh the smells of Toll House cookies baking. Another wonderful part of the holiday.

And the holiday Christmas specials. I watch them! Every year! I always have and I always will. From the cartoons of long ago to the new special movies of today. They are all so wonderful. The tales so loving. Even Scrooge is lovable, don't you agree?

Hey! What holiday special is your ultimate favorite. Do you like 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' or maybe 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special'? Pehaps you absolutely love 'Scrooge' with Alistair Sim(My favorite oldtime movie), or 'A Christmas Carol' with George C. Scott. How about 'All I Want for Christmas' or maybe 'The Little Matchstick Girl'?

Why not take a moment to comment and post your favorite? Then stay turned. I'll draw a name on Christmas day for a free download of my newest release, Eternal Obsession, an erotic vampire short.

Anyway, I have a little song lyric to post now to guide you along the Christmas Sleigh Ride, so here we go...

"Ring a ding-ding, wrapping presents hearts reflect
The fire's glow, I have you underneath the mistletoe..."

Hint: One of the most popular and awarding winning Christmas specials featured this song.

And to spread more Christmas cheer, we're giving one lucky person a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate! All you need to do to enter is attend each day's blog post, identify the carol, and make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post of Christmas Eve. Don't forget to check the list twice! Send it to Christmasrideblog@live.com by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!

Next blog on the run: http://lianalaverentz.blogspot.com/

Best of luck to you all:) Hope you are enjoying the sleigh ride.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Dayana~

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the season...Ho! Ho! Ho! and all that...



Busy...
Busy...
Busy...

That's what life is for all of us this time of year. However, money is tight, bills keep coming, and life moves on at mindblowing regularity, don't you think?

I'm taking a small respite from the hustle and bustle to sit down and update you on my newest release. I had a blast over at Catherine Bybee's blog the other day and gave a way a free download of Eternal Obsession. Thank you if you dropped in to hang out with us. I also have been blessed with a beautiful review over at The Wild Rose Press! Here's what the reader had to say:

"You can't choose who you fall in love with, even if it's a vampire. Eternal Obsession embodies what love is. It is the giving up of yourself to become one with someone else. Ms. Knight has wrapped her pen around this age old idea, twisted it with vampire lore, and delivered one amazing read."
Date Added: 12/15/2008 by Catherine Kimmer

Now here's an idea for an interesting contest. This is actually the first review I've gotten that was placed on The Wild Rose Press review board. So here's what I propose:

Anyone who reads or has read either Curse of the Marhime or Eternal Obsession and puts up a review for said book over the next few weeks, I will enter into a drawing for a grab bag of goodies. How's that for a promo? Ask anyone who's received one of my grab bags just how much fun they are:) I will draw a winner on my birthday, Monday, January 12th.

One major stipulation: I expect honesty. Of course if you totally hate it, don't be nasty about it, LOL

On that note, have a wonderful day! It's off to the day job for me.

Oh and don't forget about the Christmas Sleigh Ride Contest going on as we speak! For more information on this contest just scroll down the blog entries or visit my website.

Talk to you later,

Dayana~

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eternal Obsession release is tomorrow! And Curse of the Marhime is available in print this month!!!



I am very excited about my newest release tomorrow, Friday, December 12th, Eternal Obsession which is my debut erotic story at The Wild Rose Press' Wilder side.

Also, Curse of the Marhime is available in print this month!

And more exciting news! It's party time! Catherine Bybee has invited me over to her blog for a visit. Please drop by and check us out at http://catherinebybee.blogspot.com/. I will give away a free download of Eternal Obsession to one lucky person who drops in and comments on Catherine's blog during my visit. I will draw the winner on Sunday night.

Blurb:

Life is precious or so we are told. But what of love? How can one distinguish between immortal love and mortal life? Tia must discover which is more important, for her lover walks the night and has given her a choice only she can make. Will she consent to be 'turned' or will she watch her love and life walk away forever?

Andres maddened a witch long ago when he refused to return her attraction. He is now doomed to wander the night for all eternity, feeding upon the elixir of life and forever alone, that is until he finds Tia, but he will not sway his love's decision. She must consent to be his of her own accord or he will walk forever out of her life.

Is love and lust strong enough to bind them for all time or is eternal obsession all they will ever share?

Look forward to seeing you over at Catherine's blog! Don't forget that if you post a comment you are eligible to win a free download of Eternal Obsession.

Dayana~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wow! This blog has been nominated...



Thank you, Skhye! What a surprise and honor:)

http://blog.skhyemoncrief.com/

Skhye Moncrief nominated Dayana Knight's Blog for the Kreativ Blogger award.



6 values in others that are important to me:
Honesty
Loyalty
Respect
Friendship
Sincerity
Integrity

6 things that I do not support:
Racism
Ignorance (mostly in the news!)
Lying
Cheating
Animal Abuse
Child Abuse

Now for my 6 friends to share this with:

Best new blog:)
Romance By Catherine

Best Share Blog:)
http://maryricksen.com/pages/blog/blog.html

Great Collection of Writing Craft Information and Humor:)
Brown's Town

Most Informative on Marketing and Craft Promo
Allie's Musings

Best Gothic Formatting and Contest Depo!
Lady Vampire's Lair

Best from the heart topics and thoughts voiced:)
One Voice ~ Write Right


The rules are:
Mention the blog that gave it to you.
Comment on her blog to let her know you have posted the award.
Share 6 values that are important to you.
Share 6 things you do not support.
Share the love with six other wonderful blogging friends.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Sleigh Ride Contest is now running...


JUMP ABOARD OUR CHRISTMAS
SLEIGH RIDE!

SEE THE SIGHTS.

LISTEN TO THE MUSIC OF THE SEASON.

AND NAME THAT CHRISTMAS CAROL!

This is your chance to win a prize a day through Christmas Eve and one grand prize...
a $75 Wild Rose Press gift card.

Are you getting an e-reader for Christmas?

Well, what better than to fill it with e-books from sweet to erotic and contemporary to darkest sensual paranormal!!!

How do you begin this incredible journey?

Each day, the link to the next blog destination will be posted. But, hey! you want to enter to win the grand prize, and you're late to the game? We've experienced a few bumps since the start. So, I've posted the blog locations from day one:

Nov 29 http://plparker.blogspot.com/
Nov 30 http://lynnreynolds.blogspot.com/
Dec 1 WRP at http://thewildrosepress.blogspot.com
Dec 2 http://michelehart.blogspot.com/
Dec 3 Two blogs today!-- http://www.freewebs.com/teriwilson/terisblog.htm and http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com
Dec 4 Roni Adams at http://thewildrosepress.blogspot.com

To enter to win the grand prize, you make a list of all the Christmas carols and submit the list as instructed. With 28 prizes, what have you got to lose? So come on jump on the sleigh and take a fun-filled sleigh ride right up to Christmas. The hot chocolate and cookies are free as well the great prizes.

Have fun!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Dayana

Monday, December 1, 2008

It seems the holidays are upon us once again...


Wow! Does time fly or what? I hope you all had a productive Thanksgiving weekend. How was your Black Friday? I, personally, steered clear of the mad shopping rush and always do the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, it is for more economical reasons. I don't know about all of you but the green stuff in this house is extremely tight.

I'm surprised at the media's announcement that the Holiday shopping numbers were better than expected. With the financial strife and so many still projected to loose jobs, etc. I would have thought Black Friday this year to be a bust. Well, obviously there is a steady flow of money within many people's grasp still. Good for them. Me? I'll just hold on to what I have. Credit cards be damned, the mortgage still needs paying and I for one will not any longer rob Peter to pay Paul, LOL Lesson learned one too many times already.

I spent my weekend cleaning and decorating. Nice quiet home time. Nothing like it. Don't you just love how cozy the house seems with all the holiday lighting and greenery?

Once I get the holiday preparations under way, I am gearing up to settle in and do the revisions on Dancing on the Edge, the novel I'd told you about earlier. This was my first published work that I recently requested my rights back from the original publishing house. I do have some interest generated in the novel so my goal is to get it cleaned up and ready for submission hopefully next month the latest. Not much to do really but it's funny how your writing skills grow. I look at that book now and see things I would have done differently, LOL

Another project I'd like to cover over the holidays is getting Roma Wolf Tales Book II under way. I have begun it but it is nowhere near done in first draft. These are my two priority goals going into the new year. What are your goals? Have you thought about that yet? Why not share them with us all. They don't have to be writing oriented. They can be anything. For instance, I plan on getting myself into a regular exercise routine. I have lost my discipline over the last several years and find other than the regular job which I am up and about, I sit in front of this laptop more time than not. Which as all of you realize doesn't help to tone the derriere in the least!

I look forward to hearing all about your New Year's goals and resolutions. And by all means have a wonderful Monday.

D~

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Good Morning:) Well, it seems that we are entertaining a different and very traditional craft today. The art of preparing the perfect holiday meal. Many will be watching the traditional parades to welcome in the Holiday Season. And of course, football is a must, while others will enjoy the company of family and friends.

Whether you are having the celebration of Thanksgiving at your home or going out to share the meal at another's please have a safe and wonderful day.

I will be sharing my holiday among family and friends. And I am not the hostess so I will get to enjoy it all the more this year! It's a good thing too because my oven has gone on the fritz this week and had I been the hostess, things would have been quite a mess:)

Ah well...

Aside from having to go out an buy a new wall oven, things are good. After all, the oven is a retro sixties appliance! It is original to a house built in 1963, and in my eyes that is amazing in itself. Things just aren't made that well these days. It definitely has served its purpose. And, hey, maybe it just the heating element. If I can actually find the part, I may be lucky enough to get what? Another 45 years out of it, LOL You never know, maybe it will outlast me.

Have a wonderful day and be safe.

D~

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Loops and blogging Continued...


Thank you all for piping in yesterday:) I suppose maybe I had been thinking all wrong about the loops. Some very good points were brought up. I surmise that the purpose of these loops is to promo and keep a proverbial finger on the pulse of what is going on. Information. I guess we all want recognition when we say something, some physical proof that someone out there is listening, LOL

I tend to like to bat things around. Sound off, so to speak, and hear what others have to say, so I expect others are of the same mind. I will look at the loops in a new and different light from now on.

Mary, in reference to your thoughts about blogging. Though it is wonderful to have confirmation that people are, in fact, following my blog in the venue of comments, I tend to post because I just want to talk about my journey in the writing craft. My experiences whether they be positive or negative, good or bad. If I can help a frustrated writer or newbie along the way through my experience than the time and effort of keeping a blog is well worth it. If we can share the 'how toos' with others who are traveling the same path trying to reach their own dreams and goals, isn't that a wonderful thing?

Besides, I love playing with all the gadgets and clipart, LOL I like to find new ways to present my thoughts, ideas, experiments, and of course my promos. And best of all, I love to host guests bloggers. This gives others who perhaps don't necessarily have blogs, websites, etc. the chance to spotlight themselves and the flip side is it gives YOU the chance at having their followers drop by and check your blog out.

Over all, I will continue to strive to make this blog worthy of all who visit and if no one ever comments again, I will continue to take up my tiny piece of cyberspace.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!

Best,
D~

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Author Loops: How useful are they?


Has anyone had the embarrassing experience of posting to an author loop and being virtually ignored? Have you felt maybe these loops are no more than who can schmooze who the best? Has anyone found any particular value in spending hours reading and answering posts just so maybe someone will by chance respond to yours?

I have good reason for asking these questions. I have delved into introducing myself on several author loops for marketing/branding purposes and found that aside from being mainly a popularity contest much like the high school cheering squad but mainly in effective, as it would take more time to schmooze some responses from these very motivated individuals than I have to donate to the loops.

I am truly not being mean but what does it take to get a response on those loops? In my experience and talking amongst some of my author peers/friends, I have heard similar thoughts about the loops. The same people respond to the same people day after day.

Has anyone actually experienced any marketing value from bouncing around these loops? Are other authors buying and reading your books? What about reader loops? Where are they? Anyone know? In my opinion, I would think visiting 'reader' loops would be much more rewarding. Putting up release announcements, blurbs, excerpts for peer authors other than for support (of which I've experienced shall we say the cold shoulder) doesn't seem the least bit fruitful.

Okay, on this point, I am not saying that authors are not readers because many of you and other authors who I don't even know on a personal level have supported me throughout my career. I just question the value of trying to 'join' in the buzz on the loops. It seems a waste of valuable marketing time to me. I work a full time job, a home business, and write. Marketing is very important and personally, I am not in a position to waste time on non-productive marketing venues.

Any opinions out there? What has your experience been with these loops? Anyone have any hints on 'fitting in?' On making these loops advantageous?

I'm curious. Please pipe in and give your thoughts. I have teetered on the fence for a long time as to whether I should continue to try to get some 'notice' on these loops or just leave well enough alone.


D~

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eternal Obsession set to release December 12, 2008


Eternal Obsession my first Scarlet Rose release at The Wild Rose Press is set to release on December 12th! I am excited to say the least. I want to thank Diana Carlile, SE and my editor at Scarlet, for making the edit process a fun and wonderful learning experience. She really knows her stuff. Being my first erotic release, I was nervous about the process. No worries there. She helped me to make this story the best it could be.

Life is precious or so we are told. But what of love? How can one distinguish between immortal love and mortal life?

Tia must discover which is more important, for her lover walks the night and has given her a choice only she can make. Will she agree to be 'turned' or will she watch her love and life walk away forever?

Cursed by a witch long ago, Andres is doomed to wander the night for all eternity, feeding upon the elixir of life and forever alone. Until he finds Tia. But he will not sway his love's decision. She must consent to be his of her own accord, or he will walk forever out of her life.

Is love and lust strong enough to bind them for all time or is eternal obsession all they will ever share?

D~

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's Guest brings us a piece of home town Christmas...


Please welcome, TWRP author Nicole McCaffrey.

I am convinced the world is made up of two types of people; those who are ready and willing to celebrate Christmas, anytime, anyplace. And those who aren’t. I fall into the former category, probably not so much by chance as by inheritance.

I grew up in an older section of the city, in a 3000 SF Queen Anne Victorian style house. Painted a deep gingerbread brown, the white trim, sloping eaves and large porch lent itself to being the perfect house to decorate for Christmas. All it needed was a bit of colored lights for trim and a dusting of snow and it looked good enough to eat. Inside, my mother took the idea of decorating to an extreme. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, every door and window sill, every nook and cranny—and literally, every and any flat surface, held a bit of Christmas whimsy. Twinkle lights filled every room, even the upstairs (although as I recall my dad did draw the line the year she strung them up in the bathroom. It was a very small bathroom and some of the lights hung over the shower and tub area. Probably not a great idea.) The final step of making our house The Christmas House fell into place the year my dad ran a line from outside the attic window to the tree at the far end of the front yard and strung a lighted Santa Claus and reindeer along it. One can only wonder how many fenders benders were caused by cars slowing down at the sight of Santa and his team taking off from the rooftop of our home.

So little wonder that I ended up loving anything and everything to do with Christmas. Now before you jump on me about the religious aspects of the holiday, rest assured, these were observed as well, and are in my home today. But there’s something about the brightly decorated trees, the twinkling lights against the back drop of a wintry night sky that soothes my soul like a cup of warm cocoa on a cold day. And while I wish I could decorate my house for Christmas the way my mom did ours, my tiny home has to settle for a few less buttons and bows, so to speak (Although I did manage to put up four Christmas trees last year.)

As the summer of 2006 drew to a close, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads in my life. My father had begun to show signs of senile dementia. My youngest was just beginning preschool, (and instead of celebrating my new-found freedom, I was miserable) and my beloved cat had died quite suddenly. On top of all that, I was staring the big 4-0 in the eye. Is it any wonder then, that to lift me out of the doldrums and depression, I turned to Christmas?

The characters of Holland McCall and Tucker Callahan had been vying for space in my brain for quite some time. I wasn’t sure there was a real story there, or at least enough of one to support a full length book. But when I heard that The Wild Rose Press was looking for holiday stories—and that they actually published short stories, an idea took root. I had originally envisioned a Thanksgiving story—a woman returning home to the small town she wants to forget about for the Thanksgiving holidays. And running into, not just the one who got away—but the one she never really had. But I’d never written a short story. In fact, I had trouble keeping my full length works to 100k or less.

But I gave it a shot. I found a satellite radio station that played Christmas music all day, every day, tuned in (feeling a bit guilty and a bit silly to have Christmas music blasting in the dead of August) and, with a deep breath, sat down at the keyboard. I didn’t come up for air until about a month later. But during that time, I excised the aching loneliness of a house suddenly too quiet two days a week, the loss of a beloved friend. The loss, a little at a time, of my father, and the loss of my youth. (Silly I know, but if you’ve ever turned forty, you know where I’m coming from!) I poured those emotions into that story and told myself that even if it was never published at all, it had done me good to write it.

Small Town Christmas was not only accepted for publication, it was released the week before my 40th birthday. On my 40th birthday, it hit #1 on TWRP’s overall sales chart. Who could complain about turning forty when it was starting out with such a bang?

Though other stories have since been written and published, and other characters have stayed with me far longer than Tucker and Holley did, I will forever be thankful to them for sharing that Christmas in August with me.

It’s mid November now and a little at a time, I’m decking the halls of my home. I even managed to squeeze in a new tree this year-- in the one room that lacked one last year. The kitchen. Sure it’s small, but it’s a start!

Below is an excerpt from Small Town Christmas. Wherever you are, and however you feel about Christmas, I hope it warms your heart. Just a little. Please be sure to leave a comment and share some early Christmas joy with me—I’ll be sending a PDF copy of Small Town Christmas to one of you!

All Holland McCall ever wanted – for Christmas or any other occasion – was Tucker Callahan. Unfortunately, he was the high school jock and she an overweight, unattractive nobody. But things have changed. Holly has left the small town they grew up in and made a career for herself, with plans to move on to even greater things. Tucker, on the other hand, has just returned to town, divorced and the single father of two young girls. A visit home for the holidays and a chance encounter leaves both of them questioning everything they thought they ever wanted.

~

Fat, wet snowflakes splattered the windshield as Holland McCall waited for the red light to change. Three turns of the darned thing and she still hadn’t made it into the grocery store parking lot. She hated to drive in the snow. And only a fool would be caught dead anywhere near this place on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Guess that makes me a fool.
The radio DJ announced a news break, and with a frustrated sigh, she jabbed the seek button on the car stereo. Officially on vacation from her job as the early morning newscaster in Syracuse, the last thing she wanted to listen to right now was world events. The scanner landed on “sounds of the season.” She glared hard at the radio as “Let it Snow” poured merrily from the speakers.
“Bah friggin’ humbug,” she muttered, switching the thing off altogether.
It was twenty minutes before she found a spot at the far outer edge of the lot. As she stepped from the car, heavy snow began to pelt her head. She had showered at the gym before leaving Syracuse, and while her hair had air dried on the five hour drive to Castleford, the last thing she needed was to catch cold. With a foul-natured grumble, she reached into the back seat and found the hat her grandmother had knitted for her last year. It was brown and lopsided, but better than a bare head. She tugged it on and made her way inside.
Here, too, the holiday season had arrived with bells and whistles. While Bing Crosby crooned “White Christmas,” she passed two women battling to the death over the last remaining shopping cart and felt a smug sense of gratification that she wasn’t the only one in a rotten mood. But she wouldn’t be staying long. A quick stop in the frozen food aisle, a few minutes in the express checkout, and she’d be on her way.
Thanksgiving was never her favorite holiday; she had dreaded it since she was a kid. Being forced to sit at a table surrounded by relatives she could barely pretend to tolerate, and listen while everyone bragged about their accomplishments—it was less a time for giving thanks and more an opportunity for boasting. She still didn’t like it. Even though she had plenty to crow about. On the outside, at least.
As she rounded the corner to the freezer aisle, she saw, even from a distance, that the cases were empty. “Oh, no.” She quickened her pace, as if getting there half a step sooner would change anything. It didn’t. All that remained was one smashed up box way in the back. In desperation she went up on tip toe and reached for it; maybe it was salvageable.
She grasped the box at last and gave a little yelp of triumph—which quickly turned to a moan. Blueberry? No one brought blueberry pie to Thanksgiving dinner. She heaved a sigh. She’d promised Mother she would bring the pie. Days—weeks, actually, of procrastinating and a busy work schedule had kept her from making good on the promise.
But there was only one kind of pie you brought to Thanksgiving dinner. Unless you wanted to look like a total idiot in front of people you really didn’t want to see. Cousin Tiffany was making apple pie—undoubtedly with apples grown on a tree she’d planted herself. From a seed. But Holly was in charge of the pumpkin pie, and since her domestic skills were lacking she’d hoped to play it safe with Mrs. Smith’s. No such luck.
Following the signs hanging from the ceiling, she headed for the baking supplies aisle. She would simply whip up a pie from canned pumpkin. How hard could it be? She might not be able to compare to the super moms of this world, like Cousin Tiffany, but she had spent many a winter afternoon in the kitchen with Gran baking cookies and cakes and all sorts of comfort food.
And she’d had the figure to show for it, she thought ruefully as she jostled her way through the crowd. But that had all changed. She had changed. Moved away from the small town to a big city. Lost weight in college instead of gained. Had blossomed in the anonymity a large city offered.
For some reason, coming back to the town she had grown up in always made her feel like a kid again. A fat, unattractive kid in coke bottle glasses with mouse-poop-brown hair. She forced her chin a bit higher and squared her shoulders. She wasn’t that girl anymore. She was a success story all on her own.
As she was about to turn down the main aisle, the sound of laughter reached her ears. Not just any laughter; the happy, belly giggles of a delighted child. Or two. She turned to see two cherub-faced cuties, dark hair pulled back in pony tails, giggling with delight as their father zoomed a shopping cart up and down the aisle. And then her gaze came to rest on their daddy.
“Oh, dear God, not now.” Ducking down the nearest aisle, she hid there, heart racing as though she had just run a mile. The face was older, less boyish, but the smile was the same. And what her eyes might not have recognized at first, her heart certainly had.
As she stood there, too panicked to move, the three raced past her aisle. She gave a silent sigh of relief. Gran had told her Tucker Callahan moved back to town a few months ago. Divorced, she had made it a point of mentioning. Said he wanted his two little girls raised with small town values.
That’s where you and I differ, Tucker. I want nothing to do with this place.
She shook off the momentary shock and glanced around to see if she was anywhere near her destination. Tugging the hat farther down her head in a pathetic attempt to remain invisible, she whipped out of her hiding place—the baby food aisle, of all places—and followed the signs to aisle Eleven-A.
If the frozen pie section had looked like a Middle Eastern war zone, then the baking aisle was Ground Zero. For a brief moment, she wished she’d played football in high school. At the very least, attended a game. Because it was fourth down with no time outs left. Gearing up like a receiver intended for a Hail Mary pass, she focused her sites on the goal line—the lone, dented container of canned pumpkin. And went for it. Her fingertips were just about to brush the can when a gloved hand snatched it away.
Without so much as a backward glance, the other shopper plopped the can into her cart and shoved off. Frustrated but not finished, Holly stood there for a moment, mentally calculating the distance to the grocery store the next town over. But Castleford wasn’t like Syracuse; there was only one grocery store in this town. Heck, it had been big news when they’d changed the flashing red light at the corner of Main Street to a full fledged three-cycle traffic light. She sighed. Next year, she’d buy the pie the first part of November. No, better still, the day after Halloween.
Halloween! Pumpkins. With a cry of triumph, she put her feet in motion. Sure, it might take half the night, but she could make a pie from scratch. She’d Google up a recipe once she got to Mom and Gran’s house, tie on an apron and go for it.
Fighting her way back to the produce department was like swimming upstream. It took twice as long as it should have to wade through shoppers fighting over bundles of celery and a near-empty bin of chestnuts. But luck was on her side. As she rounded the last aisle, she spied two orange blobs in a bin marked “pie pumpkins.” The familiar sounds of a fast-moving cart and little-girl giggles bore down. She quickly turned her back as he raced past. Not that Tucker Callahan would recognize her. Or even remember her.
While he paused to look at the pumpkins, she felt a familiar pang of longing for the well-remembered sandy-brown hair, wide shoulders and long legs. One little girl stood in the back of the cart, a half naked Barbie doll dangling from her hand. “Pick that one, Daddy!”
He turned over a broad, denim-clad shoulder. “This one?”
She nodded, face animated with excitement.
The other girl, who appeared to be her twin, plucked a thumb from her mouth. “Are we gonna make a zack-o-lantern?”
A deep laugh preceded a gentle explanation about baking a pie. Her gaze wandered to the contents of the cart, a small turkey, a box of stuffing mix, eggs, milk, and several spice jars. The girl with the thumb in her mouth caught her watching and waved.
Holly offered a quick smile and turned away once again. Tucker plopped a pumpkin in the cart and moved on without noticing her. Some things never change.
The minute he left, she seized the remaining pumpkin from the bin. Like a linebacker with a Thanksgiving game football, she clutched the pumpkin under one arm and dove back into the crowd. What were those ingredients again?
Eggs. Milk. Spices.
This was getting easier. All she had to do was follow the crowd. And sure enough, back in the baking aisle, they were all clustered around one area. The spices. She stood back, watching as shopper after shopper grabbed things like allspice, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. Until her gaze happened across an ingenious little item on display in the center of the aisle. Pumpkin pie spice.
She snatched one of the tiny containers and half ran toward the dairy cases. Eggs. Milk. The handle of the cold half-gallon container dug into her fingers as she awkwardly juggled it along with the pumpkin, spice and her purse while trying to check the eggs as she had seen her mother do so many times. It was a ritual really, where she lifted the lid and wiggled each egg once or twice to be sure it wasn’t stuck.
She shifted, hefted the milk a bit. The egg carton toppled from her hand. She let out a cry and tried to catch it, but it flopped upside down onto the floor. Other shoppers passing by flashed her the “you’re such an amateur” look. Feeling like an idiot, she sheepishly reached for another carton of eggs while keeping an eye out for a store employee she could alert to the mess she’d made.
This time she set both the milk and the pumpkin on the floor and knelt beside them as she checked the eggs.
She had just lifted the lid when she heard it again. The giggles and shrieks of “Faster, Daddy!”
“Coming up on dairy,” he called out, sounding like a tour guide, the cart barreling toward her. “To our left we have a lovely display of elbow macaroni at three boxes for a dollar. And to our right, the dairy case, where a dozen large grade A eggs are on special this week for—”
“Daddy, watch out!”
With a wild grope for the pumpkin, Holly tried to scramble to her feet. But she slipped on the broken eggs and went sprawling. The pumpkin rolled from her arms. She lunged for it once more, one eye on the cart coming at her like a runaway train. The carton of eggs tumbled from her lap. She darted out of the path just as Tucker spotted her. He tried to stop but skidded through the broken eggs with a “whoa” of surprise. She covered her eyes as the cart continued down the aisle
When she dared peer between her fingers, Tucker was sprawled on the floor, covered in raw egg up to his thigh. The cart had come to rest at the far end of the dairy cases. Two little girls laughed hysterically and chanted “Again, again!”
“Miss, are you all right?” Tucker scooted to his knees. “Did I hurt you?”
She put a hand to the floor to push to her feet; it came away wet, soaked from a puddle of milk. Raw egg and bits of shell covered her coat and jean-clad legs. It dawned on her the cold sensation beneath her wasn’t the floor. It was spilled milk.
He rolled to sit up, made a grimace and pulled out something from beneath him. Her pumpkin. “I believe this is yours.”
Holly let out a little wail of dismay at the sight of the ruined vegetable.
“Can I at least help you up?” He rose to his feet and held out a hand.
She lifted a wet hand, grimaced, and spied the stringy orange goo and seeds clinging to his leg. So much for wanting to slip in and out of the store, for not wanting to see or be seen while in town. The absurdity of it all sent her into a fit of giggles.
“I suppose if you can laugh, that’s a good thing.” His face, alight with humor, suddenly sobered, and he crouched down in front of her. He plucked the hat from her head. “Holly McCall?”
Self-consciously, she raised a hand to her hair. A sticky egg-and-milk-coated hand, she realized belatedly. But her gaze was riveted on the fingers that still held her hat. Long, lean and calloused. A working man’s hands. Her heart flipped over backward. She looked up at his face and took in the lines at the corners of his blue-green eyes, the denim jacket, the collar of a flannel shirt tucked over it. Not flannel in the icky beer-belly-and-pretzels way, but in the warm, inviting way. Oh, plenty about Tucker Callahan had changed. And yet he was exactly as she remembered him.
He smiled. “I haven’t seen you—”
“Since graduation,” she said, brushing bits of egg shell from her coat.
“Has it been that long?”
“Yes.” She hated the bitter edge in her voice, hated the memories that rushed over her. Soft, warm lips against hers. The heart-fluttering thrill of a requited crush.
The stinging pain of rejection.
She shook off a sudden stab of agony. No longer Fat Holly; she was Holland McCall, News Channel Eleven reporter on the fast track to bigger and better things. He was just some small town guy.
He rose and walked over to his grocery cart, and returned with a roll of paper towel. He tore it open and knelt down. “Let me help you clean up.”
He began to dab at her coat, and she stiffened, resisting the urge to run off somewhere and cry. “I can do it.” She took the toweling from him. A million times she had played out this moment in her mind, the surprise in his eyes when he saw her, the way she would ignore him as if he were nothing.
She had never imagined their next meeting would come with her sprawled on the floor of a grocery store, covered in broken eggs, milk and overripe pumpkin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Morning!


Finally, our Southern Florida weather has chilled. We are enjoying upper forties to the the mid fifties temps at night and mild mid to upper seventies during the day. How nice is that? But, you know, I still miss the Northern climate at this time of year. The holidays, to me, should be dressed in Fall tradition for Thanksgiving and snow for Christmas! That's just the way it is. But, in the same token, sitting on a nice warm beach has its merits too:)

Anyway, it seems, though the economy is less than desirable, we are on the crunch to finish the preparation for the upcoming holiday celebrations. I know mine will be slim to cautious this year but isn't the whole point of this season to share time with family and friends? Hasn't it gotten way too commercial when you have the Christmas/Holiday merchandise stalking us before we've even celebrated Halloween? Maybe we could all sit back this year, not stress over the money we don't have and give thanks for all the love we do have. Time spent with family and friends in my heart is more valuable than a shiney bauble or new Blackberry--it's time most preciously spent, isn't it?

That said, as we approach the year's end and think of goals for next year, why not talk about what we accomplished this year. Share with us the goals you have met this year.

I do want to give a HUGE congratulations to Catherine Bybee who contracted not one book this week but TWO! You go, girl! I, for one, would like to hear all about that. Please drop by and do just that, Catherine.

I have completed three publications this year, myself. Quite an accomplishment for me since its been three years since I pubbed my first novel. Curse of the Marhime came out in September and I've contracted and completed the edit process on Bestial Cravings and Eternal Obsession with The Wild Rose Press which I do not have releases on as yet. But the fact is I did it! Yay!

Please take today to share all your accomplishments with us. Let's toot our own horns for once. Let's celebrate our successes:)

Have a wonderful and productive day!

D~

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Please Welcome my guest and good friend, Pam Ridley, author Lies Too Long


Spreading the Word (literally and figuratively) or Marketing Basics

The last time you read a book by an unfamiliar author, what was the number one motivating factor triggering your selection?

I was going to ask this question in a survey, but the answer seemed too obvious to bother. Subject matter. The book’s subject was an area of interest. Beyond the genre being of interest, to sustain a reader past the first few pages, the characters must be engaging. In the midst of their dramatic circumstances they have sparked enough emotion to make us care what happens to them.

But here’s the big question for an author whose work hasn’t been discovered by Oprah or a big name publisher: how do I get my well-written, emotion packed book into the hot little hands of the reader?

Dayana offers the following suggestions:

(1) Keep a blog and website updated.
(2) Contests are a big way to get your name out there.
(3) Business cards, magnets, bookmarks plus brochures to offer with prize bags, baskets, and promo packages are all good ideas.
(4) Networking. Get active with peers, loops, writing groups, community; anywhere to get your name and brand(that's clearly another subject) out there.

Author Sharon Wildwind (www.sincguppies.org/authors/a.wildwind.html) shares what works for her:

(1) Since my books have a veterans' theme, I do a targeted post-card mail out to all military
libraries, veterans' hospitals' patient libraries, and a list of people who have said, "Let me know when the next book comes out."
(2) An Internet presence through lists, a blog, a web site, etc.
(3) Donations to conventions and to individuals. This is where I combine art with promotion. There's always something hand-made with the book, even if it's only a card. The things I make most frequently are tea cozies, book bags, and decorated pencil tins.

So what strategies will I personally pursue in advance of my new book coming out in December 2009? Who exactly is my target audience? Readers of romantic suspense, yes, but I decided to take a more careful look and came up with this answer to who would want to read this book:

Read Another Memory if you believe the lines between this world and the next can blur. Read this book if you believe life can steal every shred of joy, and still the human spirit refuses to give up hope. Read this book if you believe our elders teach us to celebrate life. Read this book if you believe in love.

Now my audience is even more defined and
(1) I can direct my advertising dollar accordingly, which would be largely devoted to an Internet presence; ads, guest blogging, writing stories for sites and ezines that will link to my site, as well as making a book trailer.

(2) I will keep in touch with my fan base who read my previous books and trust they would want to read this one.

(3) It’s always a good idea to keep copies in the car trunk because you never know when an opportunity will present itself. I have no problem giving away copies because the important thing is that the book gets read to support word-of-mouth advertisement. That’s the best way to spread the word.

Pamela Ridley
www.p-ridley.com/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good Morning! Ima Rose has made it over from The Wild Rose Press garden!


Oh, dear.

I suppose after Dayana’s explanation as to my absence, if I said I was coming in late, it would just have too many naughty connotations.

Sometimes a girl just can’t help herself.

Today’s post has special meaning to me as it is, in a way, my swan song to you, my dear readers. With the birth of my niece, time is no longer mine to command. As such, my cousin Anita Rose will take over In The Garden.

Before I leave, I want to share a few insights I’ve learned about rejection from my time tending the roses and the editors (the hunks, of course, have tended me).

To all those writers out there, let me encourage you to keep writing. Never mind the rejections (J.A. Konrath was the proud recipient of over 450 rejections before his book, Whiskey Sour, sold for six figures). Rejection is a part of life, darlings.

We are rejected by paramours, job possibilities, why should writing be any different?

Sometimes, we need to take a step back and be objective about our stories. I often hear writers refer to their stories as ‘their babies’ or ‘their children.’ I admit, it’s a reference that sends cold shivers down my spine.

While I am cognizant of the affection involved in the sentiment, too often writers continue a form of ownership or possession with their work that, if they did it with real children, would be...how shall I say this...unseemly.

Your writing is your brain child. But in the same way we raise our offspring, then send out our flesh and blood children to make it in the wide world, so too, authors need to do with their literary progeny, as well.

If Lucienne comes home with a note from the teacher saying she’s falling asleep in class, we don’t yell at the teacher. We make sure sweet Lucy gets the rest she needs. In the same way, if an editor tells you that your middle sags, put the book on a diet, but don’t get angry at the editor, and truly darling, don’t doubt your story.

Often, we need fresh eyes to read out work to see the holes and bumps in the plot. Just because you get a rejection, does not mean you have no talent or that writing isn’t for you.

If you are counting on others to justify and give worth to you book, then my darling, your book has no worth. YOU must be the one who sees the value in it because in this industry, too often you will be the only one who does.

The number of authors who get the contract on the first attempt are small. While stories of multi-million dollar book sellers make for inspiration, it should not be the standard by which you judge yourself.

Value yourself by the effort you put into your story and the feeling writing gives you.

To do otherwise is just madness.

Oh, Miguel the fireman has just informed me that he has a four-alarm blaze I need to help him extinguish.

A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

To you, my darlings, I thank you for a wonderful time in the garden. I enjoyed the time I spent with you and will miss our chats.

Until next time, keep reading, writing and living.

Forever with hugs and kisses,

Ima

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Blogger Rescheduled: Ima Rose couldn't get away from the garden today...

Ima had an unexpected visit from a uniformed hunk--namely, a firefighter--who was just too HOT to put off, if you know what I mean. Anyway, she called me to tell she was very sorry but...well...you guys get the picture. What would you have done? I know I wouldn't think twice. Hunk, blog, hunk blog...

Seems to me there's only one logical choice there. We'll keep you abreast of things as they undress--I mean--unfold LOL

Have to run off now. Last week was heaven. Enjoyed the life of leisure as I'd been on vacation from the day job and pretended that I was a full time writer! Wow! If only I didn't have to pay the blasted mortgage, I could really get used to that. But it's not to be--YET.

Gotta go. Talk to you all later. Have a wonderful day:)

D~

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today's guest is Rene Stephens, Editor Black Rose Line at The Wild Rose Press


Good morning and thank you, Dayana, for having me here today. For someone who grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley and, of course, Bram Stoker, it should come as no great surprise, I edit for the dark side of the Garden. It was perhaps, five or maybe ten minutes after I came to The Wild Rose Press that I ended up on the Black Rose line.

Today, I’d like to talk a bit about the darker side of the garden where werewolves howl, vampires lurk and strange things go bump in the night…right alongside love and romance. The point I’d like to make is that despite Black Rose being the home to the darker creatures, it is nonetheless also a romance line. It is a subtle distinction that many miss.

Too often in our jobs, stories come to us that include a preternatural creature with a little sex thrown in, and the writer believes it is enough. Likewise, a romance story may be submitted with a preternatural creature tossed in as an afterthought. Do these stories work? Not typically. If you don’t love romance, if you don’t read romance, it's will difficult to write a great Black Rose story. If you don’t love creatures such as vampires, werewolves and ghosts, it will be difficult to write a great Black Rose story.

If, on the other hand, you are a great fan of romance and creatures that go bump in the night, then I would ask you to do three things. One: write a great story. Two: put in it tip-top shape. And, three: send it my way!

Happy writing.

Rene Stephens
Editor, Black Rose Imprint
The Wild Rose Press
rene@thewildrosepress.com

Saturday, November 8, 2008

As Promised, Halloween Mini Tales Stories for you reading pleasure. Enjoy:) Warning: Explicit Language and Sexual Content


By popular demand, below are the balance of Halloween Mini Tales entries. Bet you guys thought I forgot. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. Comments, of course, are always welcome. Anyone game for another go at this for Thanksgiving? Let me know. If enough of you are, we'll up the prize anty this time.

Her Fairy-God Lover by Cari Quinn

To cast the love spell, she lit red, orange and pink candles that bathed the small, circular room in seductive light, then she filled her chalice with fragrant rosewater. She'd aligned her chakras and centered her chi. Still, the object of her desire had not arrived.

Typical.

In twenty-nine years, Victoria Nix had yet to find a love that lasted longer than a single refill of her birth control pills. So she'd put in an order with the universe, her own version of cosmic takeout. Lo and behold, the drive-thru appeared to be closed.

Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply. Her lips parted as a sudden warm breeze stirred her long hair, and her eyes flickered open with a start. She hadn't opened the window, and she sure as hell hadn't called a bird.

The raven perched on the sill in a narrow shaft of moonlight, studying her. She scowled. This was what her love spell had summoned? A harbinger of death?

Victoria squinted at the raven. Correction. A harbinger of death wearing a shiny gold chain.

She shoved her spell book aside and started to stand. At once, she was on her back, her arms extended at her sides and a deliciously heavy weight pinning her to the cold hardwood floor. Muscled legs and a chiseled torso held her still, while firm lips teased hers. "You rang?" her mystery man said, plundering her mouth with his tongue.

He tasted of Chianti. And, possibly, Moo Goo Gai Pan. A cruel irony.

"Who-?"

"My name's Drew, Victoria." Her name in his husky, melodic voice sent a quiver of longing through her. "Open your eyes."

Had she closed them again? That explained the darkness. Victoria complied, already afraid to see what she'd conjured.

Oh, hell no. She sobbed out a breath. The object of her desire was younger than her?

He laughed, taking her chin in a strong, warm grip. "You didn't specify an age. And I was available."

"Oh." Were her thoughts that transparent? "It never occurred to me I'd end up with…a boy."

"I'm no boy, cherie." He lifted his head, and his wavy sable locks tickled her nose. His hair was longer than hers, and around his thickly corded neck, he wore…

A gold chain?

Her gaze whipped to the window, then back to Drew as he laughed, long and low, near her ear. "Are you scared, Victoria?"

She shivered. "Of what?"

"Of me?" His hand fisted in the bodice of her silk teddy. She'd chosen to dress lightly for this mission, and her exposed skin heated from within as soon as his broad thumbs skimmed her sensitive flesh. "Of what we can be together, should you choose."

God. He smelled like mint hot chocolate, and she'd missed dinner. "Are you…a bird?"

His astute blue eyes narrowed on hers. Held her tight. "No, I am your fairy godlover. If you will accept me."

Once his mouth seized hers, she acquiesced. Her questions could wait.

"I choose you," Victoria whispered.

Seduced by the Scarecrow by Vivian

"Mmm, babe, ever thought of getting frisky on a haunted hayride?"

I blinked at Joel, my blind date du jour. Uh, no. I had not thought of getting frisky on a hayride, particularly when I hated Halloween and all its silly traditions.

And to add innuendo to injury Joel was now…ugh, licking my neck in loud slurps while our guide narrated our nocturnal journey.

"Get off me," I hissed, jerking to my feet on the rickety wagon.

As it was approaching midnight, only two other couples had ventured out to have their "spines tingled." Six pairs of eyes gleamed at me in the darkness, but only one mouth opened.

"Babe! C'mere."

I eyed Joel, all buck teeth and grasping hands, through the windblown dark tangle of my bangs. "My name is Sara, not babe. Get lost."

He reached out; I stumbled back. And catching my stubby heel on the edge of the wagon, let loose a blood-chilling scream of my own as I tumbled backward into the darkness.

The impact with the hard-packed ground stole my breath, but soon, the agony receded into a pleasurable warmth. Someone's hands were on me, soothing my aches with gentle touches, and I arched, wanting to open myself to this.

To him.

It had been an eternity since I'd been touched in this manner, if I ever had. He responded to my body's instinctive writhing and parted my icy lips with tender flicks of his tongue. Our mouths linked, forming a connection more solid than even my hands fumbling on the oversized, clownish buttons on his shirt.

I didn't open my eyes. I didn't want to see who had me, but God, I wanted to be had. He tasted dark and wicked, and as smoky as the acrid aroma that singed my nostrils. Hungry for more, I pressed against his muscled torso, needing his warmth to fill the cold, gaping holes inside me.

Pain waited for me, I knew. So I fought against it, learning the long lines of his sinuous body as we moved together. He whispered my name, chanting it over the lonesome call of an owl searching for its mate. My heartbeat drummed in my ears, my blood pounded just under my skin.

Yes.

I needed this. If he didn't take me the way his bold possession of my breasts indicated he would, I'd die.

But he ripped his mouth away a moment before his warmth left my body, almost as if he'd been plucked away by unseen hands. I whimpered, my gaze locking on the wide, somehow hopeless eyes of the scarecrow pinned to a barren maple.

As my heart stumbled, I heard a murmur on the wind. "Stay with me, Sara. Please."

Could it be possible?

Joel approached me, leaves crackling under his feet. "Need a lift, babe?"

Transfixed by the scarecrow's oversized buttons, I slowly shook my head. Warm blood oozed down my cheek, but it didn't matter. I was right where I needed to be.

With him.

Return To Andorra by Kaye Manro

Lured by an irresistible urge, Claire Watson wandered through a fog-laden forest. Behind her tree limbs shifted, branches cracked in the late October stillness. Someone followed close. “Who’s there?” she called.

No one answered.

Running, she skirted a tree but stumbled on a protruding rock and fell down. “Damn,” she mumbled.

Suddenly an old man stepped out of the darkness and leaned over her. “There ain’t no where to run, girly.” He taunted.

“Get the hell away from me!”

“You belong with your own kind.” He chuckled.

“Stop harassing her, Jaxom.” Powerful words came out of the mist.

“D’terio” the old man said bowing his head.

“Leave us,” D’terio commanded and turned toward Claire. “Don’t be afraid, he’s harmless. Let me help you.” He held out his hand.

His mesmerizing presence defused her fear. With only a touch, she felt a familiarity about him, an immediate attraction. His stark black hair and alabaster skin were much like hers. “Who are you?”

He shook his head. “You are approaching your first hunger, and still do not know who you are.”

“What do you mean? I’m not hungry for anything.”

He inhaled deep. “You must realize your ancestors who colonized this world, decades ago were different. And you are the last.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m the same as everyone.”

“No, you are an Andorran Claire, a supernatural Wraith being. I’ve come to take you home.”

Her voice quaked. “I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re saying I’m an energy-sucking vampire? You’re crazy!”

He nodded, “We all are-- you, me, even the old man.”

She took several steps backward. “This has got to be an elaborate Halloween prank.”

“It isn’t.” He caught her arm and stroked her in a calming way. “You must return to Andorra with me before your first feeding.”

“Why should I believe you?” she said, pulling away.

“Let me finish. I telepathically guided you here. Your Andorran blood grows weak. This planet can no longer sustain our kind.” He stared at her. “You will die.”

Dragging in a breath she asked, “If you’re right why don’t I know?”

“You do. But you must unlock the veiled memories.” The moment their eyes linked, the truth of his words flooded her mind.

He turned and strode into a swirling mist.

Claire trembled as primal cravings cascaded through her body. “Wait,” she called. “It is true, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Claire.” He smiled, opened his arms and drew her against him. Above their heads, a spacecraft hovered and a spinning light pulled them inside. To her surprise, the old man sat at the helm.

“Are we ready to leave orbit Captain D’terio, sir?”

“We’re done here, Jaxom. Take us home.”

“I promise you’ll enjoy our feeding ground,” he whispered. His heated breath against her ear stirred yearnings so deep, so sensual she could barely stand. Corporeal lust awakened within, and Claire lingered in D’terio’s arms as they headed for the Wraith world of Andorra.

Surrender by Willa Rawlings [my nom de plume aka L.L. Abbott]

The near full moon shone bright in the clear night sky. Juniper, sage, and sweet grass lilted upon the cool autumnal breeze as Sophie Lahey walked up the steps and onto front porch of the isolated mountain cabin. Just as her knuckles struck the cedar planking the door eased away, and a faint light echoed from deep inside.

“Hello!” Sophie hesitated and then called, “Conall?”

When a wave of melancholy drenched her senses, Sophie drew in and blew out a hard-drawn breath. She summoned her courage, pushed upon the door, and raised her voice, “Conall!”

“Miss Lahey?”

A quick sigh escaped her lips. Startled by the unfamiliar voice, Sophie closed her eyes and took a moment to collect her wits. Her heart raced as she craned her neck through the opening. An old Indian, bathed in the harsh lighting of the old miner’s lantern held down past his waist, walked in silent footfalls through an unearthly dark.

Soothed by his demeanor Sophie answered, “Yes.”

“I am Calvin. I do not believe my grandson was expecting you.” He motioned with his free hand to welcome her inside.

“No.” Sophie said as she crossed over the doorsill. “He wasn’t.”

The flickering light glistened and danced in the elder’s compassionate eyes. But Sophie couldn’t rid or disconnect herself from the desolation that permeated the shadows of the room.

“I, on the other hand, have waited a very long time for you.”

Sophie stood there agape, with not the first word in response.

“His sorrow was never mine to heal. My love cannot reach far enough inside to touch the agony that chases him.”

Sophie then sensed the presence of a spirit guide. Deer reiterated its lesson in healing, matching the old man's words when a guttural howl pierced the silence. The old man just stood there; unaffected. A chill rippled up her spine and Sophie knew it was Conall.

She feared the question forming. Calvin said nothing. Deer offered nothing. Sophie breathed deep and shook her head; refusing to give it voice.

“What haunts my grandson now haunts you.” Calvin closed the distance between him and his grandson’s salvation.

Sophie stood inert, shaking her head. Unwilling to accept what she felt. And from whom it came.

“You know these things are real.” Calvin said.

Chains thrashed and the clang of steel resounded in the dark. With yet another howl, a vehement rage swept through Sophie’s entirety.

“You think you came here by chance?”

Sophie writhed. Her heart surged in her chest. She began to back away; one laborious footstep at a time.

“Reach for his love. I know you have felt it.”

Calvin lowered the lantern to the floor and rushed to grab her forearms. “Touch his soul, Sophie. Temper what you feel now with your love. It is greater than his rage.”

Sophie fought to calm her breath and heart.

“You know it is there. See beyond what you hear and feel and reach for the love he refuses to surrender to.

The Knat by Mary Ricksen

It was one of those things that happen frequently to us all--a bug flew up her nose.

At the time, Erin didn’t think much of it. Creepy to think the tiny thing entered your proboscis and ick, stayed there. It wasn’t until she looked in the mirror later, that she noticed the phenomenal changes.

My God, her wrinkles gone, skin clear and tight, and her lips again full and lush, thrilled she marveled as she stared at her once more youthful face. Her pussy grew tight and moist at as she thought about sex. It’d been a long time since she’d mated, it wasn’t easy to date as a werewolf.
****
That damn bug he’d thought, it’s still up my nose and no amount of blowing into
tissues revealed it’s tiny body.

Later when Jamie saw himself in the bookstore window, he almost dropped his
drawers, he looked twenty years old again. A double take confirmed the shocking
revision, he sported a huge boner just from thinking about sex. His lack of libido in the past ten years gone, his huge erection throbbed and his penis leaked a drop of semen, something that it hadn’t done in years. He was back and he didn’t care how he got there.

The day whizzed by and by evening the shape-shifting world knew. The earth,
newly invaded by a strange small alien bug that only affected werewolves, now would
change dramatically for older lycanthropes.
****
“You’re open late.” Erin glanced over her shoulder at the hunk she heard walk toward her from the back of the store and she dropped the book she held. Her canine senses rocketed and carnal pheromones clouded her mind with instant desire.

“Do I know you?”

“You will.” He reached her side just after he’d locked the door and boldly began to
graze his hands up and down her bare arms. Her jaw clenched, she hissed satisfaction.

“Jamie.” He mumbled to her, just before he took her lips and plunged his tongue into
the sweet cavern of her mouth.

“Erin.” She managed to say one last intelligible word before they dropped to the floor, clothes flying.

The sex that followed as the moon threw a blast of light through the storefront windows, was incredible. They began as humans and ended as animals.

“You do know that we have been infected don’t you?” Jamie lay beside her, his chest
still heaved with exertion. “I am a possessive wolf, I want only one mate.”

“Mate, does this mean we’re mated? Do I get a say in this?”

His mouth answered for her with domineering licks and nips, driving her to scream
once again, as passion overtook her inhibitions.

He marked her as his, and at that instant the alien knats flew from both of their noses and were gone instantly, as if they’d never existed.

“A regenerating, aphrodisiac knat, from another planet--now that’s what I call a bug,” she smiled.

Erin had a good day today.

Well, that's all of them. I'm sure the authors would love to know what you all think so please take a moment to comment. And, by all means, let me know if you'd like to do this again.

Congratulations again to the winner Rhonda E. Dove, A Wolf's Reclamation and runner up Helen Hardt, Logan's Curse.

Have a wonderful and restful weekend:)

Dayana~

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today I'd like to talk covers. Book covers that is:)

First I'd like to thank Lady V for stopping by yesterday and giving us her wonderful gift of contests all in one place. How great is that? She is the promo guru of contests so keep that in mind when you are having one. Lady V performs a wonderful service to us all. She promotes our promotions!

I'd like to discuss cover art and with that I'd like to share my newest cover. You may remember, I mentioned some time ago that I sold two more stories to The Wild Rose Press, and we've just completed the editing process of Bestial Cravings, a Black Rose Rosette Companion story to Curse of the Marhime as of yesterday. Coincidentally, I received my cover art, as well. As always, I am very satisfied with my artists at TWRP. They have an awesome art department but I will get into this more a little later in this article.

The cover is the first thing anyone sees when perusing books. It is the draw for the reader to pick up your book. No matter how great your story is, if the cover is ho hum the reader may never touch the book. I will tell you that I, myself, am attracted to a cover before I even notice the title. Cover art is so very important. In a lot of cases, the author has no say in what goes on the cover but in my experience many of the presses today do ask for your thoughts on what you'd like to see on your cover.

I've had the opportunity with all my books to be involved with my covers. The first book I'd published was a real eye-opener when I got to deal with the cover design. Being a small press, they didn't even have an art department, so I was on my own. I researched graphic artists and discovered that no way could I afford to even think about using a professional artist! Though disappointed and concerned that my first book, my baby, would go out there in less than perfect wrapping, I began to call upon all my contacts and peers for advise. I soon came upon a peer writer at the press whose wife dabbled in graphic art and offered to give it a go.

After discussing my ideas, she went to work but the design just didn't work for me, and she opted not to proceed with the project. So there I was again. How would I find an artist? At least one I could afford. Afterall, I was a struggling writer with no marketing dollars.

As luck would have it, we had a very talented author who also did graphic design and graciously offered to do my cover for me. We finally decided on a design, and I had a cover. It wasn't perfect and came out on the artsy side, but it worked for me at the time, though it really didn't capture the story's theme or mood as much as I would have liked.

One year later, I contracted my second book, Curse of the Marhime, with TWRP and discovered what it was to have an awesome graphic art department behind me. I still remember the day I received the cover art for Curse. I stared at the file for several minutes afraid to open the file. Afraid of being disappointed. I hesitantly clicked open and couldn't believe my eyes! The cover was better than I could have ever thought. It captured the essence of my story and exactly what I had imagined my heroine to look like! I was in awe. Then I was in tears. Tears of sheer joy. My cover artist for Curse is Angela Anderson.


After I calmed down and could actually think again, I did two things. I sent the cover to anyone and everyone I could think of, and I emailed Angela to tell how beautiful that cover was. I also asked if she ever free-lanced. She did! So I asked my previous publishing house if I could revise my cover art on the book I'd pubbed there. They agreed to allow it, and I hired Angela who once again did an awesome job capturing the essence of yet another book. I've since pulled the book from the publishing house to get it into a more romance oriented environment as though they gave me my first chance in the publishing world, they really don't publish romance books. SciFi/fantasy and craft books are more up their alley. They graciously returned my rights, so I will be persuing publication elsewhere. So I really can't post the cover for that one to show you at this time. Trust me when I say it was perfect.

I want to note that Nicola Martinez is the present cover artist for my new upcoming release, Bestial Cravings, and she designed my banner here on this blog and on my website. These women are absolutely the best. The entire art department rocks! Just take a look at all the covers on the catalog pages at The Wild Rose Press. I dare anyone to beg to differ with me.

All these covers turned out great because of two things. Specific author input and very talented artists. At TWRP, they want your input and will even allow you to send in stock photos to show them what you are looking for in characters, background, etc. One thing that needs to be said, though, is that no matter how specific you are about your characters, remember that the artists can not always be perfectly specific with things like hair color, style, eye color, etc. because they are dealing with stock photos. They will always work to get as close as possible, but there are limits.

Another key note I need to make here is that once a cover is done, it will not be changed. This rule is mentioned over and over again to authors because there is so much work that goes into a cover. The artist spends hours even days looking for just the right stock pictures, then because a cover is never just one picture, they spend hours layering the photos to create the perfect cover. That is not to say if something is wrong such as title, spelling of author's name or some technicality they won't change it. Of course, they will. Remember always be as specific as you can down to the fact that the heroine is the vampire and the hero is the werewolf. All these tidbits are so very important to the artist. They haven't read your story, and they don't know your characters, mood, or theme. You have to tell them. That is why you fill out the Manuscript Information Sheet. That is what they follow and use as their guideline to your perfect cover.

I hope this is helpful to you and, by all means, if you have any questions on the subject, I would be happy to answer them from my experiences.

Thanks for dropping by and taking a read, as always.

D~

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well, its Election Day! Get out there and VOTE! In the meantime, I have a very special guest today...


Please welcome Lady Vampire 2U otherwise known as Lady V to her friends. And I am so glad she considers me 'friend' The Queen of Darkness, herself, here she is!

Good morning, Dayana! Thank you so much for inviting me here to blog with you today. It’s a real honor because I am pretty new to blogging. Or taking blogging serious, anyhow. Although, I have had my blog up for a few years, it was in a pretty bad state. The truth was, I just didn’t take blogging seriously and my posts didn’t have that draw that seems so prevalent in others. There are some great bloggers like yourself and sad ones, unkempt and inactive ones, like mine was. And because my passion was not in the posts, I would go months between logging on to update it or post something new. Friends and family came by my site, of course, but just for moral support.

What was I doing online while I neglected my website? Entering contests!

I am huge contest fanatic, and I search the internet for contests constantly, especially those with books or bookstore gift cards as prizes. While I’m entering these contests, I was constantly emailing my fellow contest lovers with the locations of my finds. And then suddenly, it just hit me that my life could be a thousand times easier if I just posted all these locations in one place. My blog was the answer. One friend told another about my blog and suddenly I was busy posting any contest or giveaway I could find of interest. My blog suddenly became fun to update. And I really enjoyed the people who visited then came back to tell me of their wins after signing up for one sweepstakes or another through my blog. I realized that winning a contest was fun but I got a lot more satisfaction out of helping others win. And that’s how my blog and it’s slogan “All contests all the time” was born.

When people ask me if I enter all those contests and sweeps I post about, I tell them the truth. Yes. But the real prize is helping others win as I said. I enjoy promoting authors and their books. I’ve been lucky enough to be contacted by several authors who liked that I blogged about their contests. Do I post about the contests for extra entries in contests? Sometimes, but not very often. The truth being I was going to post it on my blog anyhow so why not get another entry into a contest. And when I win, I do share. Friends and family share my winnings. I give away books and different things all the time. Just last month, in October, I ran my first online contest on my blog and gave away five prizes. Then a few days ago, I teamed up with a fellow blogger and friend online, Crystal Adkins, for my first giveaway with a friend. In December, I plan to run another giveaway so I hope anyone reading this and new to my blog will come back to enter that contest.

Thanks again, Dayana, for having me here today. And in appreciation to those of you who stopped by to read this post, I’m giving away a brand new copy of Overnight Male by Elizabeth Bevarly to a lucky commenter. Just post and tell Dayana and I what the best prize was you ever won online. If you’ve never won anything, then let us know what you would really like to win if you could. And don't lament money because heck, we could all use more of that!

Thanks for dropping by.

Lady V
Lady Vampire's Lair