Saturday, 24 January 2015

Diane Saxon...Short Circuit Time!

I recently had the pleasure of reading Diane Saxon's sweet contemporary Loving Lydia. I am so pleased Diane is here to tell us about her new hot read Short Circuit Time. This talented author has transitioned so beautifully between romantic subgenres and I can't wait to see what she has in store.

Welcome, Diane.

Romancing the Genres

I think I’ve probably mentioned numerous times, I grew up on romances, the first one being read to me by my older sister, Margaret. The Princess Bride – still one of my favourite tales.

Then there were those naughty little Mills and Boon my mother kept on her bookshelf with enticing covers which hinted of passion. Where we lived, we had a mobile library. Every Tuesday we could get 6 more books out and no, I did not choose children’s books specifically, I chose adventure and romance and love and life.

Some of my favourite books are the ones that defy age groups. I was read the Hobbit when I was about seven by a fantastic English teacher. The Lord of the Rings was given as a gift when I was twelve.

But I must admit to enjoying those reads I wasn’t really supposed to have.  When the Lion Feeds, Wilbur Smith. At the age of fourteen, when I picked it up after my dad had finished reading it, he quietly went to my mum and asked if it was appropriate. Her reply – if it’s not, she’ll put it down. I’ve read every Wilbur Smith book since, but I still remember the thrill of that first novel, the great feel of it being just a little bit out of my league.

In recent years, I’ve read prolifically and I’ve found I tend to stick to the same main genre – that of romance. Within this wide genre I have discovered the delights of :
Contemporary - Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Anne Stuart, Lori Foster
Humour - Jennifer Cruisie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson,
Historical – Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Teresa Medeiros
Fantasy – J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter
Thrillers – Karen Rose, Julie Garwood, Karin Slaughter
Suspense – Cherry Adair, Linda Howard


Is it any wonder then that I feel the need to romance the genres myself? My first series - Atlantic Divide is Contemporary, with a touch of humour. It currently has three books Loving Lydia, Bad Girl Bill and Finding Zoe

Flight of Her Life is an all-out comedy. A great romp through a short story.
Flynn’s Kiss, the first book in my Disarmed & Dangerous series is a humorous contemporary with a touch of grit and certainly the next in that series, Barbara’s Redemption is even grittier. I’m almost finished that and believe me, the heroine is giving me a hard time.

I loved the historical I wrote for Nanowrimo, Her Captured Groom – a real challenge, and I have to re-look at this again before I can sub it, but worth the effort and I enjoyed it so much, that I currently have Book 2 as a work in progress – Hawk’s Lady.
The great news I have today is I have just signed a contract with Hartwood Publishing for a full length paranormal 75k word novel called Banshee Seduction – Montgomery’s Sin Book 1.
While I was writing Banshee Seduction, I was asked to join several other authors for a Christmas anthology, Paranormally Yours and my contribution was For Heaven’s Cakes – a builder by day, a wolf shape-shifter by night.
So, like my reading choices, I have found in my writing that I am blurring the lines a little in the genres – and loving every moment of it. And just to prove it, here’s my new Sci-Fi, Time Travel Romance.






Short Circuit Time by Diane Saxon
In the year 2086, Zaphira is alone, the last survivor of biological warfare on Earth. Before he died, her scientist father promised other survivors would come. Nobody has. So when a horribly mangled android shows up claiming to be her father’s assistant, Aiden, who has been sent through time to rescue her, she’s both frightened and astounded.
The last time she’d seen Aiden, she’d been sixteen, head-over-heels in love with him and had literally thrown herself at him, leaving her devastated by his rejection and him running for the hills. The following day, she’d been told of his death.
Eight years later he’s miraculously back, this time asking for her help. Without it, he won’t survive. But can she really put a dead man back together with tweezers?
For Aiden, everything has changed. There are no other humans, no government, and time travel has left his new android body unexpectedly weak and suffering from inexplicable genetic changes in eye and hair color, brought about by his molecular shake-up. Unbelievably, the scientist who sent him is dead, and he must rely on the scientist’s daughter to help him. A woman who he’s not so sure has his best interests at heart.
The last time he’d seen her, Zaphira had been a sixteen year old with a dangerous crush on him and he’d been rocked by the turmoil of his own feelings. Now she’s twenty four and literally holds his survival in her hands. Too bad everything he does and says seems to annoy her.
Trusting her might be his undoing. But he is left with no choice.
For Zaphira, getting used to the transformation of old Aiden to android Aiden requires a large mental leap. But when android Aiden starts to rebuild his human form to a new and improved standard, things start to get tricky.
The Aiden she loved as a little girl was her father’s nerdy assistant. The new Aiden is hot. But are her feelings as strong eight years later or are they simply a cherished memory?

Excerpt
Prologue
She narrowed her eyes and squinted at the skinny geek stumbling backward out of the passenger seat of her father’s car. She’d waited all day for the rumble of the engine of her daddy’s convertible. The old car had a distinct stutter and a sly rev she fantasized was because it had a mind of its own.
She smiled awkwardly, her mouth pulled tight across her braces and she pressed her fingers over her top lip to stop it from catching on the edge, rolling and making her look like a feral cat. Her face ached. They’d tightened the braces again and it hurt so much more this time. The smile dropped from her lips only to ping back up again as the geek caught his shoe on some piece of equipment in the foot well of her daddy’s car. He flipped backward, his gangly arms pin wheeling until he landed on his ass on the floor, minus his shoe.
He whipped his head up and she stepped back from the window hoping he hadn’t heard her girlish giggles. He wouldn’t be impressed. He was so much older and more mature.
Not many would believe he was twelve years her senior. Not with his thick russet hair falling in a boyish flop over his forehead, his fine gold-rimmed glasses perched right on the end of his nose.
Her heart fluttered in her chest as she chanced another peek.
His arms full of equipment, flushed to his hairline, he staggered toward the front door of her home. Adrenaline pumped hot through her veins. She took a few skips toward the hallway, ran back to the window to see her father’s car pulling away from the curbside. Her mother was out. She was the only one there to open the door. She darted back, hesitated, her pulse thrumming in the base of her throat.
A dull thud shuddered the door in its frame and she shot forward, wrenched it open before he did any further damage. His shoulder slid across the oak panel and he shot sideways through the entrance, his skinny limbs racing to keep up with the speed of his body, but to no avail. His foot skidded and down he went. The clatter of laboratory equipment skidding across the wooden floor filled her ears as did his quiet Irish curse.
“Bollocks.”
Stifling another snigger, she crouched to help, casting furtive little glances at him as he came to his knees, straightened his waistcoat and touched his fingers to his bow tie, ensuring it was still there.
“Hi Aiden.”
His deep frown almost made her stutter, but she knew he couldn’t sustain his annoyance. His small nervous cough made her smile.
“Hey.” The sound of his soft, smooth voice made her light-headed and she stopped what she was doing to gaze deep into his eyes.
He pushed his glasses further up his nose and glared at her. Unperturbed, she met his beautiful gaze with a lovesick one of her own.
“Do you need a hand down to the lab?” He dropped his gaze to her mouth. Her speech lisped embarrassingly through her clenched together teeth. She hated her braces, couldn’t wait to have them removed.
“No.”
Not wanting him to go yet, she piled another few items on top of the ones already in his arms and resisted the urge to stroke her fingers along the sleeve of his tweed jacket.
“Can I get you a coffee?”
“Zaphira…” he sighed, “Thank you, but no. I have work your father wants me to complete. I don’t want to be disturbed.”
Her chest ached. Just a little. The same as it always ached when he rejected her offers.
She bent to pick up Paco, her new puppy, snuggled her face into his thick fur and took comfort from his squirming, plump body as she hugged him close and let him lick sweet kisses across her chin.
Aiden paused at the lab door then glanced at her over his shoulder and her heart hitched again. There. It was there, the glint in his eye. The one that told her every time she was about to give up that there was a spark of interest. There was hope.

Buy Links for Short Circuit Time
About the Author
Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband, two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, one-eyed kitten, ginger cat, four chickens and a new black Labrador puppy called Beau, whose name has been borrowed for her hero in For Heaven's Cakes.

After working for years in a demanding job, on-call and travelling great distances, Diane gave it all up when her husband said “follow that dream”.

Having been hidden all too long, her characters have burst forth demanding plot lines of their own and she’s found the more she lets them, the more they’re inclined to run wild.

Previous Books:        

Loving Lydia -Atlantic Divide Book 1
Bad Girl Bill – Atlantic Divide Book 2
Finding Zoe - Atlantic Divide Book 3
Flight of Her Life
Flynn’s Kiss – Disarmed & Dangerous Book 1
For Heaven’s Cakes – Paranormally Yours Anthology                                                          


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Kryssie Fortune...Knights Vampire!

Author Kryssie Fortune has done it.
That's right. She has managed to blend two of my favorite romantic themes: vampires and knights. I don't know about you, but I'm already having fantasies. Read on as Kryssie tells us about the very sexy Knights Vampire.

The Legend of Blaxton the Bold

When you think of knights in shining armor, what do you see? Warriors charging down the tourney field, lances extended? Powerful men with huge muscles wielding broadswords with deadly effect? A hero with a battle ax defending his lady’s honor?
In a time of courtly love and chivalry, one warrior knight leaps out of the history books. Sir Blaxton de Ferrers was fiercer, stronger, and smarter. A medieval superstar, he blushed when ladies sighed over his physique or men praised his fighting prowess.
Some say Sir Walter Scott used the folk tales about Blaxton to create his hero, Ivanhoe. Like Blaxton, Ivanhoe fought to save a group of Jews when the people of York wanted them dead. Outnumbered, he put his life on the line to do the right thing.
York was the only time Blaxton was wounded, but he kept his charges safe. A moneylender’s daughter named Rebecca nursed him back to health. Anyone who knows Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe will see the similarities here.
Afterward, Blaxton joined the Knights Defenders—a religious order founded by Henry I to protect his traveling justices. Blaxton the Bold took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience when he joined the Knights Defenders.
Later Eleanor of Aquitaine complained to her son Richard the Lionheat, “My ladies in waiting wept for days.”
Undefeated on foot or on horse, Blaxton became a medieval superstar. When he went on crusade, Richard the Lionheart wanted to fight at his side.
Then the Knights Defenders stole Blaxton’s soul. Nine hundred years later, he still doesn’t understand why. A few months later, his cousin stuck a knife in his back and killed him. Only, without his soul, he didn’t stay dead.

Blaxton the Bold became Blaxton de Ferrers, Knight Vampire.


Book Blurb

Betrayed by the Knight Defenders and murdered by his cousin, crusader 

knight Blaxton de Ferrers rose as a vampire. For nine centuries, he’s 

preyed on the people he once swore to protect.  Gradually, as his

emotions leach out of him, he forgets how to feel. Then he meets Harriet.


Harriet Mortlake’s a strong sassy woman who battles her weight and her 
temper. Her job is to seek out the ancient secrets of the castle that was 

Blaxton’s childhood home. Instead, she finds the love of her life.

When danger threatens Harriet, Blaxton steps in. Harriet and Blaxton, are 

a match made in heaven. Except… he’s a vampire and to fully claim her, 

he’ll have to kill her.


Excerpt


Harriet studied him as though he were a bug beneath a microscope. “De Ferrers? Are you a descendant of the original family that ruled here in medieval times? Do you really know things about this castle that no one else does? What makes you think the chapel was really a temple? And if it was, who worshiped there? And if it was a pagan stronghold, then why do the oldest documents mark it with a cross?” 

He raised his hands in surrender. “Slow down. You’re firing questions the way a machine gun fires bullets. Yes, my ancestors once ruled here, but it was a long time ago. How about you tell me why you believe that black hole’s a chapel? It looks more like a dungeon to me.” 

She threw back her head and laughed. “Clever, turning my own question back on me. Okay, I’ll play. I’m the new archivist here, but back in Victorian times, they unearthed an original map of the castle. Your dungeon, temple, or whatever you want to call it was marked with a cross. See? Temples are pagan strongholds, not places for Christian worship.” 

He grinned that devastating smile that melted her bones, and tossed her a tidbit of information. “The cross on the plans. Were all the arms the same length? Was it bright blue on a silver-gray background, and did the arms have cut off triangle bases inverted and stuck on their ends?” 

Harriet’s breath came faster, and as she stared down at her hand, it shook so hard she almost spilled her coffee. “You mean like a Knights Templar cross but in different colors? Azure and argent? Sorry, you’d call them sky blue and silver. Those were the Knights Defender’s colors, weren’t they? Do you really think it was one of their temples where they carried out their most secret and sacred rituals? Really? It’d make my career if you’re right, but we don’t have any Knights Defender connections here.” 

Hot coffee scalded Harriet’s throat, but the quicker she drank it the sooner she could return to her office and check out the original map. Proving a Knights Defender connection could make her reputation and impress the higher-ups who’d doubted her. “I’ll dig out those original plans and check, but I can’t believe anyone could make such a foolish mistake. Can I have your phone number or something, and if you’re right, I’d love to talk.” 

Mortified, she realized she’d just asked this stranger for his phone number. He wound her up like a clockwork toy, and when she chased after him, he talked with such authority she almost believed him. Besides, even if he’d made his wild story up, she really wanted to see him again. Who was she kidding? She needed to know if he tasted as great as he smelled—all sandalwood and exotic spices. If he did, she’d surely find him addictive. 

Blaxton grinned, pulled out a business card, and scribbled a cell phone number underneath his business contacts. “Here. That’s my personal number.” 

She studied the card and laughed. “It says here you’re a property developer. I can’t see you being able to do much with a twelfth-century castle, even if it wasn’t grade one listed.” 

He stared out to sea, and for a moment he looked lost. His smile returned so quickly Harriet wondered if she’d imagined his brief withdrawal. 

He finished his coffee and stood up. “Maybe I could demolish the damned temple and replace it with a real chapel. I’m not staying in Yorkshire long, but would you have dinner with me tonight? We can discuss the Knights Defender if you like. How about we meet up in the Italian restaurant by the harbor? I’ll book a table for eight o’clock tonight if you’re free.” 

Harriet blushed, but she smiled back. Tonight she’d be dining with the best-looking guy in the town—if he turned up. She’d been stood up so many times by her ex before she’d stupidly let him share her body and her bed. After the way he’d treated her, dating came hard. 

Blaxton de Ferrers seemed genuine. Part of her wanted to run out and get her nails done right along with her hair. What the hell am I going to wear? She wasn’t some sophisticated London beauty, but she cleaned up okay despite her extra ten pounds. Besides, no way would she miss a chance to pump him for information. And if he wants to kiss me goodnight… Well, I might just let him. 

Buy links
Loose ID                               http://www.loose-id.com/knights-vampire.html

Amazon US author page               http://www.amazon.com/Kryssie-Fortune/e/B00J5AQOBU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

                              



Author Links
I’d love to hear from you, or answer any questions you might have.

Facebook                            https://www.facebook.com/kryssie.fortune
Twitter                                                 https://twitter.com/KryssieFortune
Blog / Web site                 http://kryssiefortune.blogspot.co.uk/?zx=ccc4a46fd9391f4c

Monday, 19 January 2015

Ryan Lanz on Showing Vs. Telling

Every so often you connect with someone on social media who offers true value to your work and the way you think. For me, one of these people is blogger Ryan Lanz. He hosts a very popular writing blog at www.ryanlanz.com on which he has interviewed many authors and New York Times bestsellers. I was recently privileged to be part of an interview there as well. You can find that piece here.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ryan now lives in the Midwest, USA, "trying to keep warm." Knowing he has so much to offer in the way of writing advice, I asked him to appear here. I'm very pleased he is able to share a post that rang true for me on the topic of showing vs. telling. This is an essential skill for a writer in any genre. Please read on to hear Ryan's take on this topic and do share with your writer friends. And if you find Ryan's examples helpful, please take a moment to comment and let him know today.


If there was one piece of writing advice I disliked most as a new writer, it certainly was “Show, don’t tell.” Initially, I had no idea what it meant. Self-help writing blogs often toss this phrase around without examples. I even had a critique done on my writing once, and the person critiquing said this phrase several times but offered no help on what showing actually meant.
Finally, I stumbled upon a quote that changed my outlook on writing forever.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov
It clicked for me. I finally got it. At least, it was enough to where I knew what the heck those people were talking about. But I still craved examples. In this blog post, I thought it would be fun to dive into the important topic of showing versus telling. And yes, fair reader, there will be examples.
“Show the readers everything; tell them nothing.” -Ernest Hemingway
First, let’s think about why we tout showing rather than telling. Why is it so important and popular these days? Literary trends change over time, although much more slowly than, say, fashion trends. These days, the trend in commercial fiction is concise, lean writing without a lot of overly-descriptive “purple prose.” Prologues are somewhat out of fashion for certain genres. Third person limited and first-person are by far the most popular these days, when it used to be third person omniscient about 40-60 years ago. To recall third person omniscient, think Lord of the Rings and phrases like, “Little did they know . . .”
“An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.” -Steven King
In my opinion, I believe that we show rather than tell because the modern reader is pretty smart. Fiction, in some form, has been around for thousands of years. Readers have come to expect certain things when they read stories. They may not be able to name literary devices, but they are intuitive nonetheless.
“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader–not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” -E.I. Doctorow
What fun is a crossword puzzle that gives you all the answers up front? It’s much more interesting, and more challenging, to be hinted toward the answers. Essentially, when you “show” in your novel, you are hinting at the answers. You don’t have to come out and say the whole thing; you can give the reader several pieces, and the reader can apply the final piece . It’s an interesting dynamic when you think about it, and it’s much more gratifying to the reader.
“The secret of being boring is to say everything.” -Voltaire
The same principle applies to comedy. If you provide all the information upfront, it’s not funny. But when you give the audience every piece but one (with the right timing), the joke is hilarious. The audience’s mind supplies the final tiny piece of information.
I’ll give an example. Recently, I sent out a tweet featuring a room with crumpled up pieces of paper waist-high. As a caption, I wrote, “Yes, I’ve gone through several drafts . . . why do you ask?” Now, I’m not saying that’s the summit of comedy, but can you imagine how unfunny it would’ve been if I instead had written “These are all of my drafts.” It’s unfunny, because within the context, that part is already obvious. Unconsciously, your readers want you to leave out the obvious parts, too.
By the same token, when your protagonist is upset, simply describing her eyebrows drawing together is enough to tell the reader as such. Within the context, the reader gets it. The reader is pretty smart. These days, continuously telling the reader something that is obvious insults their intelligence and bothers them, even if they’re only subconsciously aware of it.
 “A writer should seize upon small details, arranging them so that the reader will see an image in his mind after he closes his eyes.” -Anton Chekhov

So! How about some random examples?
  • Telling: Tiffany felt afraid. He pounded on the door, demanding to be let in.
  • Showing: Tiffany gripped the sheets in bunches between her cold fingers. Her forehead was slick with sweat. The door rattled again and again against its weak hinges. She didn’t imagine it would be long before he got in.
  • With this example, it shows physical signs that Tiffany is afraid, rather than telling the reader out-right. The reader can easily surmise that she is afraid by those physical clues and the context.

  • Telling: The crowd looked angry. He wouldn’t be surprised if they revolted. The guards did what they could to keep the peace.
  • Showing: The crowd boiled like a simmering cauldron. When the guards weren’t looking, some of the people threw apple cores, aimed at the well-polished helmets. Yells and curses cut through the air. The captain stepped forward with his hands spread out.
  • In this example, you can tell the crowd is upset because of the simile and the fact that they are yelling and throwing things. Saying they are upset doesn’t really move the plot forward, but the crowd throwing apples at the guards does, while at the same time showing their anger.

  • Telling: Luke drew his sword. He knew this would be the fight of his life.
  • Showing: Luke drew his sword. He eyed the graceful movements of the man standing in front of him. His opponent held his sword easily, as one would after a lifetime of applying it. Luke willed his hands to stay dry.
  • It’s fairly clear that Luke’s hands are threatening to sweat because he is nervous to fight his opponent, who looks intimidating by his battle stance. Reading that indication is likely enough to signal to the reader that he may be in a tough fight without needing to tell the reader as such.

  • Telling: “You have nothing to worry about,” Susie said. It was clear she was lying.
  • Showing: Susie shifted her weight, never bringing her eyes up fully to meet mine. When she did speak, she interrupted the sentence by biting her lip. “You have nothing to worry about.”
  • Although the “tell” in this example isn’t terrible, you can use physical cues to show that Susie is not confident about what she’s saying. Maybe you want to shed doubt on Susie, but you don’t want to out-right tell the reader that she’s lying, for reasons of mystery. It may not be a simple “which is better,” but it might be a question of how much you want to reveal and when. Showing hints is imperative in a mystery subplot.

Conclusion
Having said all this, it’s not possible to write an entire book without “telling” something. You have to “tell” the readersomething eventually. Add a pinch of salt to any writing advice. What I encourage everyone to do, is to pick off at least the obvious instances to show rather than tell.
Virtually every human emotion could be shown. Observe your friends when they talk. You don’t need to hear your friends thoughts to know when they are feeling certain emotions. True, you have the visual cues that you don’t have in a book, but you can describe the visual cues in writing, which in most cases is all you need. Increasing the amount of “showing” in your books could mean the difference between a good book and a great book.
Ryan's original post on showing vs. telling can be found here:  http://ryanlanz.com/2014/11/22/showing-vs-telling/
If you write, I urge you to subscribe to his helpful blog today. Thanks for sharing this information with us, Ryan!