Kimberly Dean | Sleep On It
Uncategorized / September 30, 2008

It’s often said that you should write what you know. Personally, I’m more from the school of writing what interests you or grabs your imagination. Looking back at my new Dream Wreaker series from Pocket, however, I realized that I had unconsciously done both. The books deal with sleeping and dreaming, something that I (and most people) do daily. Yet when I started learning about what happens during those resting hours, things got really interesting. I was surprised to learn how many people have problems sleeping. According to the www.sleepeducation.com/ website, more than 70 million people in the U.S. alone have sleep disorders. Even more amazing to me, was that The Classification of Sleep Disorders, Second Edition documents 81 official sleep disorders. 81! As a sleeper, this information boggled the mind. As a writer, however, the possibilities opened to me by this information seemed endless. Restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, night terrors, sleep paralysis… The list held so many ideas for so many interesting stories. In the end, I chose dreaming as the topic for my first book in the series, What She Wants At Midnight. Sleepwalking was the focus of the follow-up book, In Her Wildest Dreams. With so…

Deborah LeBlanc | When Stereotypes Are in Stereo
Uncategorized / September 29, 2008

As a writer, I work hard at breaking away from stereotypes, which isn’t always easy, especially if it involves a culture you’re not that familiar with. Such was the case with GRAVE INTENT, my second book. One of the main characters was from a particular Roma clan, and I knew very little about gypsies except what I’d seen on television or read in books. A good bit of research, including spending time with an actual Roma family, did wonders to help me break out of any mental stereotypes about the culture. In my newest book, WATER WITCH, I didn’t have that problem since many of the primary characters are of Cajun decent. Being Cajun myself, it was easy to write what is real instead of winging it on perception. Oddly enough, I ran into a situation not long ago that, for me, really put a different spin on stereotypes. I say ‘oddly’ because it happened here in the south, in territory I’m pretty familiar with. For the story to make sense, however, let me take a moment to clarify the definition of a stereotypical southerner…. Below are some common traits often used to portray a stereotypical, modern day Southerner: •…

Sandi Shilhanek | Series
Sundays with Sandi / September 28, 2008

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading the Bakery Sisters Trilogy by Susan Mallery. People who know me best know that I love connected stories. I tend to horde the first and second book until the third becomes available, and then read them back to back to back.While for a short series that will release quickly this is a great plan, but for a longer series such as the In Death books this does not work. When Naked In Death by J. D. Robb first came out I bought the book even though I didn’t think it was truly my thing. I saved it knowing there would be more to follow. What happened? I’m sure you know. I kept collecting expecting an end to this series so I could finally begin to read, but that end is still nowhere in my line of vision. Finally I saw a website that was beginning a book of the month read, and offered people several choices to choose from, and amongst the choices Naked In Death. A few friends and I decided to all vote for Naked In Death and get one book or perhaps more should our choice win out…

Joy Nash | October Favorites
Uncategorized / September 26, 2008

Apples – I just can’t get into eating apples in the summer. Once fall comes, it’s like I’m discovering apples all over again. I like the tart kind. Braeburn and the new Honeycrisps. Hot, homemade soup – Something else I don’t make or eat in the summer. It’s a great easy meal for autumn. (Today’s soup is split pea.) Fall foliage – I lived in Florida for a while as a teenager, and I really missed seeing the leaves change. Now I’m lucky to live in an area with lots of trees and lots of fall color. Crunchy Leaves – All that fall foliage leads to crunchy leaves! I love stomping through them. First frost – So pretty. Time to get out the big, comfy sweaters! My wedding anniversary – Twenty-three years this October. I can hardly believe it. Pumpkins – Sometimes I grow my own. Not this year, though, so I’ll be picking up some big ones soon. Jack-o-lanterns – Some pumpkins eventually become Jack-o-lanterns! I was a little disturbed when the supermarket started selling pumpkins with pre-painted jack-o-lantern faces a few years ago. I’m a purist. Gotta carve my own, usually on the day before Halloween. Costumes –…

Daniella Brodsky | Inspiration
Uncategorized / September 25, 2008

Whenever I give readings, the first question I am always asked is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” I think this is a wonderful question, and when I interview artists across all mediums, for the various magazine articles I write, I always ask them the very same thing. The truth is, at least to me, and to those many artists I’ve questioned, is that inspiration comes in so many ways—some very simple, some more complex and obtuse—and that what ‘does it’ for one, doesn’t necessarily ‘do it’ for all. Inspiration can come to us through travel, through a newspaper article, via a particularly intriguing conversation, or even through sitting in the yard, watching the sun go down. To me, the individual’s ability to uniquely filter these experiences, and filter them into something beautiful, rich, something only their imagination can run wild with, and turning that into a living, breathing work of fiction, a painting, or even a piece of furniture, is truly magic. So, here I reveal some of the inspirations behind my own books. I’d love to hear about what inspires you. I’d like to start in the most general sense, with music. I listen to music constantly, especially…

Lee Aaron Wilson | Western Outlaws
Uncategorized / September 24, 2008

Billy Killdeere is Western romantic historical fiction, right? Right. Is Billy Killdeere an outlaw, a lover, or both?He was raised an outlaw and becomes the best gunman in his gang, but he also respects women and treats them like ladies. Part of the story has him helping a young woman in a whore house where the gang hides out. There’s gunplay and then later when he’s on the run, he’s remembered as the man who rescued a woman from prostitution. Billy is considered a friend and hero to the “soiled doves” with whom he comes in contact. “Good” women enjoy his pleasant demeanor and charming smile, and he takes lovers until he meets Jenny. He can’t marry Jenny, but no other woman fills the ache in his heart. What is it about Killdeere’s story that attracts you as a writer?Billy is a young man with the deck stacked against him, but he drives forward, determined to stop “hurting people what never hurt him.” He fights no matter the odds. When Jenny is abducted, he is forced to ride on a dangerous and lucrative job. Despite lawmen, gang members and citizens who believe he’s turned, he saves Jenny. Billy just isn’t…

Elizabeth Boyle | Baking Cookies
Uncategorized / September 23, 2008

My son had this past Friday off from school. Imagine me, standing before the calendar and thinking to myself, “Only two weeks into school and already the teachers are shipping them home?” Haven’t they a care for my poor nerves? to quote the always quotable Mrs. Bennett. And since it was only the littlest hero and me at home, we decided to bake cookies. He loves the measuring and the mixing, and we all love cookies, so it’s a win all over the house. The first step was the debate over what sort of cookies to make: Chocolate chip? No, Nick doesn’t like those. Sugar cookies? No, not Dad’s favorite. Quite frankly, I’ve never met a cookie I’d turn down, but go figure that my house of men are picky about such simple things. We finally settled upon an old favorite recipe for gingersnaps, which everyone in the house loves but then we had to make sure we had all the ingredients. And it was about then, as I was hunting around the cupboard for molasses, that I realized how much baking cookies for one’s family is like writing romance novels for your fans. I smiled as I pulled out…

Margo Candela | Little Darlings
Uncategorized / September 22, 2008

I spent most of my spring and all of my summer finishing my fourth novel, How Can I Tell You? (Touchstone, August ’09). Hours blurred into days which turned into weeks which…well, you get the idea. The only thing I really remember about this time is asking myself every morning as I sat down and every night as I curled up into a fetal position in bed was, “How the heck did I manage do it the last three times?” You’d think that I’d have some sort of idea of how to write a book by now. I’ve even taught a course on it. True, I have the basics down, but somewhere in the midst of the process, I always find myself scrambling. The worst thing I can ask myself is: What am I doing? Nothing derails a productive, if not creative day, in front of the computer more than self-doubt, self-pity and all those other wonderful little demons that run rampant when the mind is looking for reasons to shut down and take the body to the movies. This time, around late May and early June, I abstained from playing hooky and instead invested in books on plot and…

Sandi Shilhanek | Carpooling
Sundays with Sandi / September 21, 2008

Recently my husband and I had to begin carpooling. Our youngest son achieved one of his life’s goals…he got a driver’s license. That meant he could drive to school rather than horror of horrors take the bus. It also meant that because he was now 16 he could enroll in work-study and get out of school early. While he thinks he’s really hot stuff he hasn’t given much if any thought to the impact of being a driver without free access to a vehicle. So that’s how my husband and I have come to carpooling. Today as we were driving in, and passed the light rail station, then we had to stop for a train, and as it passed I could see that someone had their bicycle with them. I turned to my husband and asked, “Do people often have their bikes with them?” See, even though I drive him to work he does take the train home in the evening because we can’t mesh our afternoon schedules as easily as we do our mornings. He said, “Yes, they get off the train and then bike to their final destination.” Ok…so bikes on the train got me to thinking about…

Deanna Raybourn | Writer’s Passion
Uncategorized / September 19, 2008

As a writer of historical fiction, I am frequently asked about research. Specifically, readers—and aspiring writers—want to know if it is necessary for me to visit the sites I write about. On this point I always give a firm and unequivocal yes. And no. Contradictory, I know, but hear me out. Developing a historical novel means creating a dual setting; it means creating a specific time and place for your reader to inhabit. They are a tourist in your world, and you must give them a guidebook of essential details to help them get around. In order to do that, you have to know the neighborhood at least as well as they do—and preferably better! In preparation for writing Silent in the Grave, I traveled to England. (Technically, I tagged along on a school trip as a chaperone—a maneuver I only recommend to the truly desperate or masochistic.) I had planned that Grave would be a Regency effort, light and sparkling and frothy as a syllabub with just a spot of murder to spice the pot. But once I began writing, I realized the book needed Victorian London, a city of foggy streets, shadowed by industry and populated by Jack…