Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Tis The Season for Giving

Today we have a guest post from my good friend Gabrielle Bisset. Her stories take you to other times and places and are filled with sexy Alpha men and strong women. Here is her post.

I love the holidays, and one of my favorite things to do is to give gifts.  I'm not a big wrapper, but gift bags are wonderful to me.  I think I spend as much time choosing the bags as I do the gifts!

Since this is the holiday season, I've decided to offer one of my books to readers for free on Amazon December 27-29 as a gift to say thank you for such an incredible year.  Destiny Redeemed is an erotic paranormal romance, more romance than erotic, but steamy just the same.  Here's the blurb for a little taste:

Sentenced to spend the rest of his three remaining lifetimes in Nil, Amon Kalins is freed with the help of his Sidhe servant, Gethen, but now he must accept his life is never to be his again as the Council won't rest until he's safely back imprisoned within Nil's cold walls. Broken and nearly dead from his time in prison, Amon is saved by an Aeveren healer named Althea Forester. As a healer, Thea has served her people for forty-five lifetimes, never having a destined one and always knowing each lifetime would ultimately end with her alone. But destiny hasn't forgotten her.

Drawn to the seductive Amon, Thea quickly becomes a pawn the Council uses to trap him. Taken prisoner by the sadistic leader of the rebel group, the Soren, Thea must survive the vicious world of the people hellbent on taking her destined one away forever, and Amon must risk everything dear to him to free her from those who would sacrifice her to claim the bigger prize and return him to Nil.

Destiny Redeemed holds a place near and dear to my heart because it's about Aeveren, the paranormal race of characters I created first for Stolen Destiny and have continued in Destiny Redeemed.  Blessed with the gifts of reincarnation, powers above what humans possess, and destined ones, Aeveren live fifty lives, remembering each lifetime's memories, for good and for bad.  For a man like Amon, who has spent lifetimes as a villain because of his power to manipulate time, the chance at love in his forty-seventh lifetime forces him to see that his past may endanger the life he hopes to have with Thea. 

Get it free at Amazon.com, Amazon uk, Amazon de, Amazon fr, Amazon es, and Amazon it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I love this time of year with all the excitement and anticipation as we get closer to our family celebration. Our children are on their own now and our celebrations have grown to include in-laws and grandchildren. It's a wonderful time with family. While our daughters and grandchildren are close by, everyone sleeps over and, well, it's wonderful. Here is some music for you to enjoy. I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday and new year!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop: The Magic of Stories

Stories are an important part of our society and culture. We find stories in the books we read, movies we watch, painting we study, music we listen to, even in the news of the day and the liturgy of our religion. You can see its impact on the people in every culture whether being listened to or told and even re-told. Storytellers have shaped our society and our ways of thinking. Their stories are used to entertain, teach, and pass on knowledge and wisdom. Stories define our values, desires, dreams, as well as our prejudices and hatreds.

No one knows when story telling began. All we know is that it is an ancient well respected art and played an important part is society. We can only guess what promoted the first story. Perhaps a hunter came back from the hunt and told of his heroic deeds or was it to explain why he came back from the hunt empty handed? Did a mother try to calm a child’s fears or doubts? Did a Shaman or tribal leader tell of an important event? The storyteller held an important position in these early societies. They were typically the priest, judge or ruler. People found their stories interesting and listened to them. Storytelling days were considered important.

Before man learned to write, he had to rely on his memory to learn anything. For this he had to be a good listener. With the importance of the story established, the listeners paid close attention. These stories were not only told amongst themselves but, when people traveled they shared their stories with others in faraway lands when they traveled. And when they returned home, they brought back exciting new stories of exotic places and people.

The oldest surviving story is believed to be the epic tale of Gilgamesh. This story tells of the deeds of the famous Sumerian king. The earliest known record of storytelling was found in the Egypt. Cheops’ scribes recorded the stories told by Cheops’ sons who told their father stories to entertain him.

There are all kinds of stories myths, legends, fairy tales, trickster stories, fables, ghost tales, hero stories, and epic adventures, and that over time these stories were told, and retold. Passed down from one generation to the next, these stories reflect the wisdom and knowledge of early people. Stories were often used to explain the supernatural or unexplainable, confusing events and disasters. It was common for people to believe in the stories of gods that bound them to a common heritage and belief.

Most historians and psychologists believe that storytelling is one of the many things that define and bind our humanity. Humans are perhaps the only animals that create and tell stories.

The giveaway for the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop: Leave me a comment telling me your favorite story.  One person randomly selected on December 23rd will win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Links to the other stops on the blog hop are on the right. Visit Blog Hop Central from December 16th to the 23rd for a chance to win prizes including the Grand Prize ** a Nook Color ** pre-loaded with books from our sponsor authors. Here is a direct link to the Grand Prize entry form. Happy Holidays and good luck everyone.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes

I read an article by Jordan E. Rosenfeld on Writer’s Digest about beginning new scenes.  If you prefer not going to article, I've pasted most of it here in his own words. 

A story is made up of a progression of scenes that are glued together with narrative. The scenes progress the story and takes us from beginning through to the end. Each new scene must move the story along and keep the reader engaged and, well, reading. To do that, every scene must have a purpose and must recapture your reader’s attention.
To deliver to their readers, writers should ask themselves these two questions when beginning a scene:
  • Where are my characters in the plot?  
  • Where did I leave them and what are they doing now?

What is the most important piece of information that needs to be revealed in this scene?
There are three ways to begin a scene: Action, Narrative, and Setting

Time and momentum are critical in the action scene. To build the momentum the action must start quickly and must show (not tell) the reader what is happening without any explanation
Action launches tend to energize the reader’s physical senses. To create an action launch:
1. GET STRAIGHT TO THE ACTION. Don’t drag your feet here. “Jimmy jumped off the cliff” rather than “Jimmy stared at the water, imagining how cold it would feel when he jumped.”
2. HOOK THE READER WITH BIG OR SURPRISING ACTIONS. An outburst, car crash, violent heart attack or public fight at the launch of a scene allows for more possibilities within it.
3. BE SURE THAT THE ACTION IS TRUE TO YOUR CHARACTER. Don’t have a shy character choose to become suddenly uninhibited at the launch of a scene. Do have a bossy character belittle another character in a way that creates conflict.
4. ACT FIRST, THINK LATER. If a character is going to think in your action opening, let the action come first, as in, “Elizabeth slapped the Prince. When his face turned pink, horror filled her. What have I done? she thought.”

Narrative summaries such as backstory or upcoming action distract and interrupt the reader. It can take the reader out of the story. However, it can be effective if it’s not too long.
A narrative approach is best used with the following strategies:
5. SAVE TIME BY BEGINNING WITH SUMMARY. Sometimes actions will simply take up more time and space in the scene than you would like. A scene beginning needs to move fairly quickly and, on occasion, summary will get the reader there faster.
6. COMMUNICATE NECESSARY INFORMATION TO THE READER BEFORE THE ACTION KICKS IN. Sometimes information needs to be imparted simply in order to set action in motion later in the scene. Opening sentences such as, “My mother was dead before I arrived,” “The war had begun” and, “The storm left half of the city underwater,” could easily lead to action.
7. REVEAL A CHARACTER’S THOUGHTS OR INTENTIONS THAT CANNOT BE SHOWN THROUGH ACTION. Coma victims, elderly characters, small children and other characters sometimes cannot speak or act for physical, mental or emotional reasons; therefore the scene may need to launch with narration to let the reader know what they think and feel.

To me, setting is a dramatic tool and is as important as one of the characters in a story. It sets the mood and gives the reader a place ‘to be.’  Where you place that description can add to the drama.  
Using setting can be effective in the following instances:
8. ENGAGE WITH SPECIFIC VISUAL DETAILS. If your character is deserted on an island, the reader needs to know the lay of the land. Any fruit trees in sight? What color sand? Are there rocks, shelter or wild, roaming beasts?
9. USE SCENERY TO SET THE TONE OF THE SCENE. Say your scene opens in a jungle where your character is going to face danger; you can describe the scenery in language that conveys darkness, fear and mystery.
10. REFLECT A CHARACTER’S FEELINGS THROUGH SETTING. Say you have a sad character walking through a residential neighborhood. The descriptions of the homes can reflect that sadness—houses can be in disrepair, with rotting wood and untended yards. You can use weather in the same way. A bright, powerfully sunny day can reflect a mood of great cheer in a character.
Scene launches happen so quickly and are so soon forgotten that it’s easy to rush through them, figuring it doesn’t really matter how you get it started. Don’t fall prey to that thinking. Take your time with each scene launch. Craft it as carefully and strategically as you would any other aspect of your scene. Remember that a scene launch is an invitation to the reader, beckoning him to come further along with you. Make your invitation as alluring as possible. ~ Jordan E. Rosenfeld
How do you decide how to start a scene? Do you have a favorite style?

ANNOUNCEMENT: December 16 I'll be participating in the week-long Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop. I hope you join in for reading fun and giveaways. The grand prize is a Nook pre-loaded with books by participating authors.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

10 Benefits of Using Descriptive Writing Techniques

As a reader, I read and let the story take me away - transport me beyond my armchair. I can go to any era, any country, be anything I want to be. I can imagine great fetes of magic, the impossible, and the romantic. I can even get the hero at the end *heavy sigh.*  I’m not alone. In the book On Writing Romance, Leigh Michaels says:
“The goal of writing a story is to make the readers feel like they’re right there, sitting quietly in a corner as the action unfolds – watching, listening, smelling, touching and tasting right along with the characters. When the readers feel like they’re part of the story, they become so involved that they can’t put the book down.”
I agree with Ms. Michaels, my goal as an author is to write stories that evoke a reader’s emotions and puts them into the story. I’ve always said I paint stories with my words. Not too long ago I came across a resource book that leaped off the shelf and grabbed me, Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan.
Below is an excerpt from Ms. McClanahan’s book.
·         Descriptive passages create the illusion of reality, inviting the reader to move in, unpack his bags and settle in for a spell. They provide verisimilitude, what John Gardner calls the “proofs” that support and sustain your fictional dream.
·         Description composed of sensory detail penetrates layers of consciousness, engaging your reader emotionally as well as intellectually.
·         Carefully selected descriptive details can establish your characters and settings quickly and efficiently.
·         As a framing device, description establishes the narrator’s, or character’s, point of view. Shifts in the description frame (or eye) can signal shifts in point of view or a significant change in the character.
·         Well-placed descriptive passages can move your story along, shape the narrative line and unfold the plot.
·         Descriptive passages can act as gear shifts, changing the pace of your story – speeding it up or slowing it down, thus increasing the story’s tension.
·         Description can serve as a transitional device, a way of linking scenes or changing time and place.
·         Description can orchestrate the dance between scene and summary.
·         Description can serve as a unifying thematic device, what Stanley Kunitz calls the “constellation of images” that appears and reappears in a literary work, suggesting the idea of feeling that lives beneath the story line.
·         Description can provide the palette for graduations in mood and tone. Dip your brush in one description and the key darkens; in another, and sun breaks through.

What makes you keep reading? What part does description play in your book?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I love this time of year with all the excitement and anticipation as we get closer to our family celebration. Our children are on their own now and our celebrations have grown with in-laws and grandchildren. When our son comes in from Boston (we live in New Jersey) everyone comes home and sleeps over.
I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday and new year!

Happy Holidays Everyone!