Friday, September 30, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Return Vol. 1: Nightfall

Something weird has befallen the Virginia town of Fells Church in L.J. Smith's fifth volume in her Vampire Diaries series, The Return Vol. 1: Nightfall. At the end of the last book, Elena Gilbert was back from the dead, though she still had a certain unearthly, almost angelic quality about her. That's not the weirdest thing that's going on in this small Southern town, though.

In the televised version, the gang is still wrestling with Klaus. By the fifth volume of the book, Klaus has been defeated, and a new pair of villains emerges. They're the twins Shinichi and Misao, and they're kitsune, the shapeshifting fox demons of Chinese and Japanese mythology. I first encountered such a character in The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Russian novelist Victor Pelevin, and subsequently read about in "The Fifth Beauty" by Ellison James. Kitsune are rare in Western mythology, though, and their evil tricks in this book are refreshingly original and twisted.

As longtime readers may know from my back-and-forth with Damon fan Shah Wharton, Stefan is my preferred Salvatore brother. Yet Stefan disappears fairly early in this 586-page paperback, and it's Damon's time to shine. Fans of the TV show should note one important difference between TV Damon and book Damon: book Damon's chastity is enforced by his vampirism. Like the monsters of Anne Rice's novels, Smith's vampires live only to bite and to drink blood, not to make love. For Elena, though, Damon's long-dead instincts are stirred for the first time in centuries:

"Human desire. Vampires didn't feel that. It was all sublimated into the need for the blood, always the blood...

"But he was feeling it.

"He knew why, too. Elena's aura. Elena's blood...He realized that it was a very long time since he'd felt this, and that therefore he must be quite wrong. But he didn't think so. He thought that Elena's aura would make the most fossilized of vampires stand up and blossom into virile young men once again."

Damon is at his most human at that moment. In other places within this book, under the influence of the kitsune twins, he is also at his most inhuman and monstrous. There is much horror in this volume, and not all of it takes places between Damon and Elena. Caroline is quite a surprise here, too, especially in the final twist at the end having to do with Tyler Smallwood. (On TV, this character's name has been changed to Tyler Lockwood, perhaps to avoid the implied reference to penis size. Both TV and book Tyler have tendencies to a be a dick. I want to like Tyler mostly because on TV he's played by a gorgeous young Latino, Michael Trevino. But I digress.) Caroline's unusually aloof, mean and boy-crazy, even for Caroline - the kitsune have gotten to her, too.

A Caroline possessed (in more ways than one), exotic werecreatures with nasty tricks up their sleeves and Damon on his best/worst behavior makes for a fascinating addition to the Vampire Diaries canon.

P.S. Sept. 30th is the last day to sign up for the Trick or Treat Blog Swap.

Photo of Paul Wesley: Tomdog, cropped by LeeGer; Creative Commons license. Michael Trevino: Rach from Tadcaster, York, England; Creative Commons license.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions You Don't Have to Be Jewish to Make

Happy New Year! Jewish New Year, that is. It's Rosh Hoshanah 2011 - or, according to the Jewish calendar (counting from when God is said to have created the world as described in the Biblical book of Genesis), 5772. "L'shanah tovah" is Hebrew for "For a good year!"

Rosh Hoshanah has several traditions, including eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year and walking into flowing water and emptying one's pockets, symbolically casting off sins. It's also the time of year for making resolutions for the coming year.

Here are some New Year's resolutions inspired by the principles of Judaism. You don't have to be Jewish to make these resolutions.

1. Be thankful. According to the sacred text the Talmud, the world belongs to God, and whoever enjoys it is obligated to give thanks to God for worldly pleasures. The Talmud gives numerous benedictions to be recited at such awe-inspiring moments as seeing the ocean for the first time, seeing the first blossoms of spring and even seeing a beautiful woman.

2. Relax. It's one of the Ten Commandments: take one day a week to refrain from work, spend time with family, meditate - and yes, give thanks again. Rosh Hoshanah is another holiday when work is forbidden. Yet the rest period is not just a time for following a strict set of prohibitions; it's a festive time of rejoicing. FYI, for the purposes of the Sabbath, sex is not considered work; in fact, it's encouraged.

3. Think before you eat. Kashrut, the set of Jewish dietary laws, specifies which kinds of animals and fish can be eaten and how they should be eaten. There's more to eating kosher than avoiding pork and shellfish, though. Its purpose is not only set to kosher-observing Jews apart from their neighbors, but also to make each bite of each meal sacred. Food choices must be carefully thought out, preparation methods carefully planned, and social justice must be factored in to obtaining nourishment. If you're concerned about the effects of mass cattle ranching operations on the environment, so you avoid beef, you're practicing a kind of kashrut. If you choose to go vegetarian or vegan for ethic reasons, you're practicing the spirit of kashrut. Kashrut is like an early draft of Skinny Bitch!

4. Fix the world. While many Christians believe they exist to avoid Hell and gain entry into Heaven, Judaism has no consistent tradition of believing in an afterlife or in reincarnation. Jews generally believe they were created for the purpose of fixing the world, "Tikkun Olam." Every person should strive every day not only to be thankful for the world, but to make it a better place for one's fellow human beings to live in. Since there is no guarantee of an afterlife, we must create paradise right here, right now.

For further reading options, see this post.

Photo: Gilabrand, Creative Commons license

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last WIP Wednesday of September 2011

Erin O'Riordan: This week I'm working on a set of interview questions for Mr. Maxim Jakubowski, crime and erotica writer and editor extraordinaire. (Here he is on Facebook, where we are friends.) He'll be dropping by Pagan Spirits in October to talk about his sexy new book Ekaterina and the Night.

Speaking of Facebook friends, I have also been hard at work editing a longish short story in the action/adventure genre for Joe Cacciotti. It stars the infamous "Hurricane", Sam Rufus, a former Green Beret turned private eye who can't seem to avoid trouble for ten seconds.

Sheila Deeth: My first novel, Divide by Zero, is scheduled to come out next summer with My latest ebook, Flower Child, is about to be released by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. And my current WIP is a short story that’s growing like a weed.

Elijah’s Children is set in a dystopian world where boy meets baker meets girl. Broken doors and tables and chairs feed the fire in the baker’s oven, but another fire is growing out on the streets. Past and future are about to clash, sending Elijah and the children on a journey of discovery through a blasted land where ravens feed and shade is a gift that whispers answers to prayer. Elijah has faith, Lynnie has a secret, and Boy has nothing but turns out to hold the answer to everything.

Sheila's books and links to her websites can be found at

Are you an author with a current work-in-progress? Would you like to tease your work on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please e-mail Erin O'Riordan: erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Photo: Franco Atirador, February 2007

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wild Violet online literary magazine's 10th anniversary celebration

If you live in the Ardmore, Pennsylvania, area you may be interested in attending the 10th anniversary reading for the online literary magazine Wild Violet, edited by Alyce Wilson. The date is Saturday, October 1, 2011.

The venue is MilkBoy Coffee at 2 E. Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore, an all-ages performing arts venue. Milkboy is popular with students of nearby Bryn Mawr College. The event starts at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time). There will be a $5 cover charge.

Past contributors to the magazine will be scheduled to read from their works and will have the opportunity to sell books and CDs. Wilson is working with MilkBoy to see if visual artists who've contributed to the magazine can present an art show there throughout October.

My short story, “I Did Not Break Up Claire and Jeremy,” appeared in Vol. VII Issue 3 of Wild Violet. Wilson is also planning on releasing a 10th anniversary anthology, in which I hope an abridged version of the story will appear. Claire is a New York "it girl" actress. She's married to Jeremy, an English actor, though they're rapidly growing apart. Claire finds herself falling for utterly non-famous Crystal. Crystal and Jeremy start as rivals, then gradually build an unlikely alliance.

Image attribution: Violet garden photo by Hans-Dieter Warda

Friday, September 23, 2011

For the Autumnal Equinox, Books about Persephone

Welcome to the Equinox! "Equinox" is Latin for "equal night," and on these two days of the year, day and night are exactly equal lengths. In the Southern Hemisphere, it's the Vernal Equinox, but here in the North it's the first day of autumn.

The declining temperatures and falling leaves at this time of year always put me in mind of Greek myth. In one version of the Classical myth of Hades and Persephone, the first day of fall represents the time of year when Persephone is compelled to leave her mother Demeter and return to the Underworld, where she reigns as queen for half the year. (In other versions, Persephone goes to the Underworld only in winter.)

Here are some of my favorite books starring Persephone:

Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Real by Nigel Spivey: This is the version of the myth that completely changed my view of Hades forever. I always thought of him as a villain, but in this telling (one of many myths retold in this volume), Persephone is less a prisoner and more the bride in an arranged marriage who falls in love. Hades has a certain charm in Spivey's masterful retelling.

Find it on Amazon.

The Shadow Thieves (Cronus Chronicles, Book One) by Anne Ursu: In this young adult fantasy, modern-day Charlotte Mielswetzki discovers Greek myths are real and finds the entrance to the Underworld in a local mall. She uncovers a plot to overthrow Hades. Persephone in this version has never gotten used to the idea of her arranged marriage, all these centuries later.

Find it on Amazon.

Pomegranate Blues by Hillary Hujanen. I haven't read this one yet, but this is the blurb:

"While juggling her junior year and a whirlwind romance, high school student Persey Green learns a disturbing truth. She’s a goddess reborn, but she is doomed to spend the rest of eternity as the bride of the god of the Underworld, whom she has grown to love in his human form. She must make the ultimate decision."

Find it for only $.99 on Smashwords.

The Surrender of Persephone by Selena Kitt: Up from the depths of the earth comes Hades, also known as Aidon. He lifts Persephone into his chariot and takes her to the eerily lovely splendor of his Underworld kingdom, the land of the dead. In his mind, this is a perfectly acceptable arranged marriage, a deal between Aidon and Persephone's father Zeus. Persephone feels a mixture of fear and attraction to the handsome, amber-eyed god. Slowly, he introduces her to a world of sensual delights balanced with controlled pain. From Kitt's skillful writing, it is also abundantly clear he loves her. The couple comes to love one another and seem to be meant to be together. The sweetness balances the S&M themes.

Read the full review here or purchase on Amazon.

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Shinoda Bolen is a psychologist, and this nonfiction volume applies goddess archetypes to patterns in women's lives. Many women will see themselves in one of these goddesses. Personally, I identify with Persephone. Shinoda Bolen discusses how to channel these archetypes of feminine power and strength to live a happy and successful life.

Find it on Amazon.

Image Attribution:
Orpheus and Eurydice by Jean Raoux, c. 1718-1720. Public domain in the U.S.
Pomegranate Photo by Tomomarusan, Creative Commons license

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Older Dudes I'd Most Like to See Lewd

This just-for-fun post was provoked by the author Elizabeth Black and her Man Candy Tuesday post this week. (Elizabeth and I both wrote stories in Torquere Press's Vamps anthology.) In celebration of her May-December erotic romance Don't Call Me Baby, Elizabeth posted photos of some of the hotties who inspire her work.

I had a ton of fun writing "5 Jewish Dudes I'd Most Like to See Lewd," so I now present the older dudes I'd most like to see lewd. Harrison Ford made my Jewish dudes list, and the day I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two I blogged about my crushes on Alan Rickman and Colin Firth. These are the other three.

I was really good and used public domain photos from Wikimedia Commons, with proper attribution - but they weren't the best photos. So I replaced them. Sometimes you have to bend the rules a bit.

1. Jean Reno. Two words: The Professional. P.S. He speaks French and starred in the film adaptation of one of my favorite books, The Da Vinci Code.

The French song I'd like to insert here is "Judas Mon Ceour" off Belly's Sweet Ride, album, but since no one seems to have uploaded it to YouTube, this is my "French" alternative. Ooh la la indeed, Harry Potter's long-lost sister Grace. Jean Reno, voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

2. Chow Yun Fat. I do not care about your stereotypical remarks about Chinese dudes and baby carrots, Austin Ruth. Chow Yun Fat is hot.

3. Gabriel Byrne. It's not just the Irishness, or the fact that his lips have touched Ellen Barkin. It's not just the fact that he played history's hottest poet, Lord Byron, in the off-the-wall Ken Russell film Gothic. There's something about his piercing stare, his beautiful blue eyes...even when he's playing the devil, you've gotta root for him.

Some people say Stigmata is a bad movie. I say, "How could it be? Gabriel Byrne is a horny priest who makes out with Patricia Arquette. She's the hottest of all the Arquettes." Plus, I love the idea of a female, 21st-century Francis of Assisi.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Authors Talk Works-in-Progress

Erin O'Riordan: I have found another anthology that I really want to write a story for. It's called (tentatively) Vampyres: A History Written in Blood, to be published by KnightWatch Press. In the vein (pun intended) of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the premise is to take a well-known historical figure and speculate as to what might have happened if that person were a vampire. I don't yet know which historical figure I might like to use, but it sounds like fun!

Read the call for submissions at Blood and Coffee Cakes.

Sunny Frazier: Is it possible to profile a killer using astrology?

That's the premise of my latest Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, a WIP. I'm attempting to do a reverse horoscope in order to narrow down a description of the person killing off the citizens of a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. True, some of the victims are not exactly pillars of society and everyone is a suspect--including members of the sheriff's department investigating the case.

My books in the past, FOOLS RUSH IN and WHERE ANGELS FEAR have been based on cases I worked while with the Fresno Co. Sheriff's Dept undercover narcotics team. The first dealt with a meth operation, the second with a sex club (we thought it was a fruit and vegetable stand). All of my writing takes place in the Central Valley, an area of California ignored and deceptively tranquil. I take readers into the rural environment and pull back the curtain to crimes that happen as never seen in big cities.

Image: Philip Burne-Jones, 1897. Public domain

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Phantom Lives Blog Tour - Elizabeth Loraine

Official book blurb of Phantom Lives: Collier (Book One): Abigail Black, an heiress from Memphis is on the run from her abusive boyfriend, Dallas. In the process she finds out that there she is being pulled towards something, and someone, that she thought only existed in her dreams. Another page-turning adventure from Elizabeth Loraine. Phantom Lives intertwines the modern world with the post Civil War world of Collier, a plantation Abigail had dreamt about her entire life. Now she is about to find out why. Another fantasy world of spirits and immortals is built in a way which fans of Ms Loraine’s will again thoroughly enjoy. Find out who Abigail was in the past and how it changes everything.

Find Elizabeth on Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads

The Phantom Lives blog tour:
Our Journey Through Pages and Time
Intoxicated by Books
Middle of the Road Reviews
...At Your Fingertips
Elizabeth writes about her writing schedule
An interview with Elizabeth at Curling Up by the Fire
Elizabeth's interview with Nora Barteau

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Loraine is the author of the Royal Blood Chronicles, the saga of the noble protectors and the evil Dark Vampires, set in the 1800s. The young adult series features a quintet of teenage female protagonists. Elizabeth's latest book is available on Amazon Kindle for the limited-time price of $.99 this week only.

Here are some more fascinating facts about Elizabeth Loraine:

*She's from Minnesota.
*Earlier in her career, she was a decorative painter.
*She turned to writing after raising her children.
*She loves fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson.
*Another one of her favorite authors is Anne Rice.
*She writes every day.
*She loved Twilight, but thinks that too many female characters in paranormal YA novels are weak.
*She prefers her fictional females to be strong leading characters.
*To research The Royal Blood Chronicles, she studied the royal lines of Germany and Austria.
*When Elizabeth isn't writing, she loves to cook and take care of her garden.

Thanks to Mystical Events, Promotions and Party Planning for organizing the blog tour.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

That Yugoslavia! Thing 2 - Toni Kukoc Edition

Former Michael Jordan teammate Toni Kukoc was born September 18, 1968, in Split, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia) in the Dalmatian region.

After playing for the Bulls, he also played for Philly and then Milwaukee. He currently resides in Highland Park, Illinois, with his wife Renata, their teenage son Marin and daughter Stela. Today's blog post is dedicated to Toni Kukoc in literature.

From one of my favorite books EVER, Pretty Birds by Scott Simon: "It wasn't until Irena had opened up the shirt that she saw JORDAN across the back, CHICAGO on the front. The gift, along with the gunshots and emptiness outside, alarmed her. Irena was cunning. She knew that Coach Dino enjoyed having sex with her, but she assumed that one day he would approach her with his sad hound's face and announce that he was returning to his wife (or, at least, to their bedroom from the couch on which he professed to sleep) or moving in with Julija Mitric, the hazel-eyed women's soccer coach. Irena enjoyed her moments with Coach Dino, but she spent more time dreaming about Toni Kukoc, the great Croatian player, or Johnny Depp than about the coach."

From Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure by Alexander Wolff: "During his first season in the NBA, while the war raged back home, you could see the labor in everything Toni Kukoc did...after joining the Chicago Bulls in 1993, he seemed to repudiate the style that had turned him into the finest young player in Europe...Crack through the shell into which Kukoc retracted and you could find an essential homebody, a player who back in the mid-1980s was always the most reluctant to take part in those late-night high jinks [as part of the Yugoslavian national youth team]. His first coach in Chicago, Phil Jackson, would tease Kukoc about how he played better when a Bulls game was being broadcast back to Croatia and his mother might be watching."

From Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson: "Toni wasn't a selfish player. Nothing gave him more pleasure than to dish the ball to someone else. But he didn't want to conform to the triangle offense. I knew right from the start that I would have to ride him hard in practice to protect him from being torn apart by his teammates. I'm sure my method didn't seem like an act of kindness to Toni. He couldn't understand why I allowed Scottie [Pippen] the freedom to make creative moves outside the system, but would start yelling at him when he tried similar gambits."

From Scottie Pippen by Fred McMane: " times, Pippen made life difficult for Kukoc. He sometimes yelled at him on court for failing to execute a play properly. As Kukoc became more comfortable with the NBA style of play, however, he became a valuable member of the team and Pippen softened in his criticism of the Croatian star.

'I think Toni is a very talented player,' Pippen said. 'He has a lot to learn about this game...When I push Toni, I try to make him better, like Michael did me. People look at it wrong and assume I dislike him. The problems I supposedly had weren't personal. I objected to the way they were pursuing him and offering him so much money...I honestly enjoy talking to Toni and trying to teach him how to be a better player...I see a lot of my game in Toni.'"

From Bad As I Wanna Be by Dennis Rodman and Tim Keown: "I think Toni Kukoc is the guy who was most affected by the trade [when Rodman came to Chicago]. He went from being the best player on the whole continent of Europe to being the fourth best player on this own team. I'm not saying he was overwhelmed when I showed up, but he has to understand that with this kind of team they've put together here, it doesn't matter who gets the glory. This team will free him up to do whatever he has to do; he just needs to understand that and get his mind right about the game. We'll cover up for Kukoc's mistakes. He's a great shooter, and he can shoot 15 times a game and score 16 or 17 points a game, easy. Kukoc can take over the Vinnie Johnson, instant-offense role on this team."

My contribution! From "Pairs of Really Big Ones" by Erin O'Riordan: "But I soon found that, with Reggie and Rik, I'd established a pattern. My chocolate fantasies needed a scoop of vanilla. For that, there was Toni Kukoc, the Bulls' six-foot-eleven power forward. Not quite as pretty as Dennis, a bit skinny and slope-shouldered, he had other nice features. In contrast to Dennis's many colorful markings, Toni had a single tattoo, a shark. He pulled off a goatee that would have looked ridiculous on any American white boy. And he was even more exotic than Rik [Smits, who is Dutch], coming from Croatia. He spoke to the press rarely, but when he did, his deeply accented English (think Gary Oldman in Dracula) never failed to melt my butter. Most of my Dennis and Toni fantasies began with Dennis and me putting eyeliner on Toni, and ended with sexy words I didn't understand hollered out in Serbo-Croat."

When you remember Toni, you must remember this song, ubiquitous in the summer of 1998 when the Bulls were winning their 6th championship of the 1990s. I'd like to think that if I ever danced with Toni, this would happen. You've seen the size of the dude's feet.

Image: the "cover" of a RPF (real person fiction) I wrote in 2005, featuring Toni, Madonna and Dennis Rodman

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's going on this week: Whipped Cream, Gaga and #YesGayYA

I'm guest blogging on "Sweet Inspiration" at Whipped Cream today. You can also catch me at the Weekend Creation Blog Hop.

I’ve been a naughty erotica writer this week, and not in the fun way. I’ve been naughty in the sense that I haven’t given my erotic imagination much of a workout this week. In the past month, you could have found me hard at work attempting to finish a piece of female/female erotica set in the 1930s with gangsters and a cabaret singer. I fondly referred to it as “Miller’s Crossing with lesbians.” It disappeared when my hubby decided to “fix” my laptop, and I haven’t had the heart to try to recreate the 2,800 words I lost.

I’ve also been busy editing more mainstream work. Somehow, though, no matter how busy I get, I seem to find time to check Twitter once in a while. As I write this, one of the trending tags is GAGA IS SEXY. Okay, I admit it: I find Lady Gaga beautiful and fascinating, and she was some of the inspiration for YumYum, the pink-and-blue-haired cabaret singer in my lost manuscript. On Monday night I watched her being interviewed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I was somewhat surprised to hear the outspokenly bisexual pop star say she’s never been in love with a woman.

Not that it really matters; bisexuality is defined by attraction to people of both sexes, not necessarily falling in love. As I've mentioned before, bisexuality can sometimes feel like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak – when you’re with someone of the same sex, you look like a gay man or a lesbian, and when you’re with an opposite-sex partner, you’re assumed to be heterosexual. The bisexual population struggles to define a public sexual persona. It’s no wonder young bisexual people sometimes feel so confused.

Which brings me to another trending topic on Twitter this week: #YesGayYA. Young adult authors Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown recently went public on Rose Fox’s Publishers Weekly blog Genreville to say an agent* asked them to remove a gay character from the young adult novel they were pitching. The blog post became a call for diversity in young adult fiction – not only diversity of sexual orientations, but of races, creeds, colors and abilities, particularly in young adult science fiction and fantasy.

Dozens of agents, publishers, authors and readers jumped into the fray to back the duo up. Teens, they argue, come in all the different sexual stripes we adults take for granted, and including characters of minority sexual orientations in fiction is simply a nod to realism. Gay characters are no racier than straight fictional couples, they argued.

As a reader and writer of erotic fiction, I love diversity. I buy, read and love fiction with lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight and transgender characters. I identify with well-written characters, even when their sexual orientations, skin colors, religions and ability levels don’t match up with mine. In my writing, I love to explore characters from different walks of life. My fiction has brought to life a sexually adventurous Londoner of Arabic descent, a biracial lesbian vampire stripper, a pair of Beijing women of the near future and a gay Latino priest.

I’m certainly not suggesting that the young adult audience read erotica, which is clearly intended for a mature adult audience. I am, however, suggesting that younger readers deserve the same diversity of character that we adults enjoy in our fiction. Fiction is a wonderful way to learn about other people and other cultures, whether these cultures are found halfway around the world or at the locker next to yours. I say #YesGayYA because, word by word, fiction can lead to a more diverse, just and kind world.

*Read the agent's response here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's WIP Wednesday Once Again. What are YOU writing?

Erin O'Riordan: Welcome back to WIP Wednesday. Last week, I didn't mention anything creative I was working on. I've been very busy with my mainstream editing job, adding punctuation and pizzazz to career and educational articles. Very soon, I will dip my toe back in creative waters. I have a Shakespearean-inspired short story called "Pucked" coming out in an anthology edited by Barbara Cardy soon.

Kathleen Heady: My first novel, The Gate House, is due to be republished soon by Whiskey Creek Press. My current works in progress are both part of the Nara series. Nara is a young woman with roots in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

Lydia’s Story bridges the present day and World War II in a story of family ties and the greed for possessions. As she delves into the past, Nara finds that descendants of a French aristocratic family are on the trail of their own lost possessions, which they believe Nara may have stumbled upon in her search for the truth about her great-grandparents.

In Nara of the Islands, I tell Nara’s story on the fictional island of St. Clare, where she grew up in a laid-back tropical environment, with an undercurrent of magic and belief in the power of charms and potions.

Nara has her own FaceBook page – Nara from the Gate House.
My website is

Ariel Tachna: Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna (work in progress)

Caine Neiheisel is stuck in a dead-end job at the end of a dead-end relationship when the chance of a lifetime falls in his lap. His mother inherits her uncle’s sheep station in New South Wales, Australia, and Caine sees it as the opportunity to start over, out on the range where his stutter won’t hold him back and his willingness to work will surely make up for his lack of knowledge.

Unfortunately, Macklin Armstrong, the foreman of Lang Downs who should be Caine’s biggest ally, alternates between being cool and downright dismissive, and the other hands are more amused by Caine’s accent than they are moved by his plight. It will take all of Caine’s determination—and an act of cruel sabotage by a hostile neighbor—to bring the men of Lang Downs together and give Caine and Macklin a chance at love.

Ariel's website

Image attribution: Evelyn de Morgan, Le Philtre D'Amour, 1903 - public domain

Carol Rivers: IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER begins in the cold Winter of 1919, two months after the Armistice that ended the Great War. Life in London's East End is harder than ever and for young Birdie Connor the battle is only just beginning. Frank, her older brother, has been sent to prison for deserting his army post. Shame is heaped on the Connor family, but Birdie fights to clear their name and squares up to some of the most notorious underworld characters of that era. The novel is out October 2011, paperback and Kindle.

Carol on Facebook

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Brothers Cameron: An Opportunity for Resentment by Jesse V Coffey

My thanks to Erin for hosting my random scribbling. My name is Jesse V Coffey and I'm here to promote my latest release, The Brothers Cameron: An Opportunity for Resentment—officially out for the public as of September 15th by Edin Road Press. It's available through my publisher, as well as Amazon's Kindle bookstore. It will also be available through iTunes/iBookstore, Barnes & Noble's Nook bookstore, Sony's bookstore, and others at the end of the month.

Actually, the publisher is me. I am Edin Road Press. I choose to join a growing number of authors who have published both as indie and legacy, with small to large publishing companies. Well, actually, I was in a very small group long ago, publishing as an indie author before the term was even coined. At that time, we were called "self-published" and the companies we used were referred to as "POD publishers" or "publish on demand" and "vanity presses." These days POD, or DP as it's called now, is a technology that everyone in the industry uses. And being an indie means getting in on the ground floor of something amazing in the publishing world.

Once upon a time, everyone really could get published—whether they deserved to be or not. Oh, you had some top notch authors and poets publishing their own—Jim Morrison of The Doors, Edgar Allen Poe, and James Redfield (if that last name eludes you, he's the gent that wrote The Celestine Prophecy. It was originally self-pubbed until it became extremely popular and then it got snapped up by a legacy publisher). But there was a lot of wanna-be types trying to get shoddy stories into the stream with little to no editing, terrible covers, and quickly forgotten results. Indie publishing got the reputation for being full of crap from writers who couldn't cut it in the traditional field.

But quite a few brave souls yearned for the control of their product in an industry that might let you pick the title of your own book—if you were lucky enough to pick one that the marketing department liked and thought they could sell. Otherwise, if you were lucky to write something that made it past a gatekeeper and a publisher's marketing department thought they might be able to sell, you submitted to an editor who gave strong suggestions about how to "fix" your story — which you were not allowed to refuse or lose your contract—then off to marketing where they picked your title, your cover, your genre. You had precious little of a voice in whether or not that same publisher tried to get international rights for you, submitted to reviewers for you, and maybe even tried to secure a movie deal on your behalf. And all of that for only a 10 – 12% royalty rate—which, by the way, if you did get an advance, you were expected to make that back in sales before you even saw one penny of royalty.

And yet, we all craved and wanted that contract. It meant an air of legitimacy, even if the vast majority of us would never see the sales of a Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, James Patterson, or fill in the name here. And if you find an indie author now who wouldn't give an arm and a leg to get that contract, they're lying to you.

But the truth is, those of us that choose to be indie published aren't going for the brass ring because we couldn't cut it in the traditional/legacy world. We choose this path because it became more important for us to sell a good story that we had control of, not a gatekeeper. We wanted to choose that title, pick out that cover art. We wanted to choose the genre we write in and if one day, we write a romance and then the next day, write a science fiction title, then it was because that's where the story took us and not because some guy sitting in an office somewhere decided that we needed to fit that market and too bad about that really great story. We decided that the real gatekeeper isn't someone somewhere that we won't see; it's the person who pays the money to buy the book. We decided that we wanted the readers to decide if we're good enough or not, if the stories were good enough or not.

So, like our brothers and sisters in the film industry and the recording industry, we began to bypass the traditional methods and make our own. We embraced companies like Smashwords and iUniverse and who gave us a market place and promotion. We started caring about what story we were writing, about the craft of writing. We hired professional editors and cover artists, or traded services with each other—as professionals—and the revolution began in earnest.

The reason you know names like Amanda Hocking or John Locke is because both of them started as indie authors and have sold a million ebooks to date. They've also been picked up by legacy publishers—Locke just signed a ground breaking deal with Simon & Schuster to publish only the hard cover and paperback versions of his books. He's keeping the electronic rights because that's where he started and that's where he sells. Trad authors like J. A. Konrath and Jenna Petersen have decided that they want to publish their own work—as indie authors. And so far, they are cleaning up.

So, don't let the name Edin Road Press fool you. Yes, it's a publisher but it's my publisher, my company, and I am publishing my own work as an indie author. And you, the readers, are my gatekeepers. If it stinks, you'll tell me. And I will learn from what you say and I will grow to improve at my craft. Because I trust you. And I believe in my story.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Author Bio:

Jesse V Coffey, who also writes as J. W. Coffey and Meggie Chase, is the author of short story collection Illusions & Reality (J. W. Coffey) and new release The Brothers Cameron: An Opportunity for Resentment. She writes a literary column and a writing column for the Lexington KY affiliate of, as well as a National Indie Romance Novel column. She also is the on air hostess of Edin Road Radio, an internet radio show that introduces new authors reading excerpts from their work. She is a member of ASCAP and the Erotic Authors Association.

Book Blurb:

Stephan Cameron is impetuous and lusty; William Cameron is measured and romantic. Only one thing can divide the brothers--an attraction to the Lady Jessica Chynoweth, a flirty redhead who seems to have eyes for both--and the baron besides. Only one thing can bring them together again--bringing the murderer of their father to justice. If it doesn't kill them first, they will!

About Jesse
Jesse's website
Edin Road Radio
Edin Road Press
Jesse on Facebook
Jesse on Twitter

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001 Remembered

The following is my unabridged, uncensored journal entry from September 11, 2001.

Today will always be known as a black day in American history. I know that I will never forget it.

It began ordinarily enough. I had awakened at four thirty to pee, and found that I'd started my period. I went back to bed and woke up around 7. [Tit Elingtin] wanted to go for a walk, but I was feeling too lazy. Then we started fooling around, and he got up to take a shower. While he was in the shower, I was thinking about what I'd read of Susie Bright last night. I was thinking of making a list of some of the sex scenes I've read in books.

I turned on NBC, as usual.

But the news was not usual, not at all.

It started with a picture of a plane crash. They - the Today show anchors, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer - reported that a small private plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Sad, I thought. Weird. I remarked jokingly, "At least we know it wasn't Aaliyah this time." An accident, it seemed.

That impression was shattered a moment later. I heard terror in the reporter's voice as there was a second impact. A second plane had hit the World Trade Center, striking the other tower. This was a deliberate act, a suicide mission. Later in the morning, both towers of the World Trader Center would collapse onto the streets of New York City, crushing rescue workers who went in after the first victims.

Soon we would learn that both planes were commercial airliners, full of passengers. They had been hijacked. And that was not the end of the terror.

Two more planes had been hijacked. Within the hour, one crashed directly into the south side of the Pentagon, killing perhaps hundreds of office workers as well as the plane's passengers. The fourth place was perhaps headed for the White House, but ended up crashing into a field in Pennsylvania. I heard that perhaps the military was forced to shoot it down. After the second plane hit, all commercial and private planes were grounded. Every airport in the country was closed, and only the military was allowed to be in the air.

No one knows yet how many died today. Many hundreds were wounded; New York's hospitals were so full they were using cafeterias as emergency rooms. Worse, no one has claimed responsibility for the horrible actions. Unlike after Pearl Harbor, we don't have anyone to declare war against.

The chief suspect, though, is Osama bin Laden, a known terrorist who is supported by the government of Afghanistan. He is thought responsible for the horrible bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the destruction of the U.S.S. Cole.

[Tit Elingtin] and I sat, stunned, watching the news coverage. But we also managed to keep our 9:20 appointment to take Kitty to the vet. She had to get a checkup, some blood work to check for diseases, and a round of yearly vaccinations. She also had to have one of her anal glands cleaned out because it was blocked.

On our way home, we listened to the awful news as well as Kitty's meows. We were hungry, so we went to McDonald's. As we left Mickey D's, we saw Mikel [a friend] walking along, so we offered him a ride. He was worried about his uncle, who works in an office building near the now-destroyed World Trade Center.

We went home and ate. I had a fruit and yogurt parfait. I was really hungry, and it was pretty good: vanilla yogurt, crunchy granola with a hint of cinnamon, blueberries and delicious strawberries. I felt guilty to be enjoying it while so much horror was happening on the East Coast.

I went to work at 11:30, but I didn't stay as long as usual. The schools let out a little bit early, and most of our 3-5 and 3-7 kids got bussed home instead of bussed to [the mental health facility where I worked]. A few showed up, either because their parents weren't home or because of a miscommunication between school and bus driver. But we all went home at 5 instead of staying until 7 or 8.

When I got home, [Tit] was home too, watching news coverage. We decided we wanted to tape some of it, so we went to Osco to buy videotape and some mothballs. Our apartment was all infested with moths, and not the pretty moths that look like butterflies, either. We walked home from Osco and spent the rest of the night camped in front of TV, hearing about hijacking, plane crashes and fallen skyscrapers. We heard the agonizing news that New York City believed it lost over 200 firefighters and police officers. It was a truly sad, frightening, horrific day.

Image attribution: World Trade Center in March 2001 photo by Jeffmock, Creative Commons license. I took the other photo, of the actual notebook from which I took this entry.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday - A Little Romantic Suspense, A Little Mystery...

K.S. Brooks: I'm K. S. Brooks: novelist, children's book author and photographer. My two latest books, the suspense/romance Night Undone, and the educational children's book Mr. Pish's Woodland Adventure, were just released in the beginning of August 2011. So right now, I'm working on those press campaigns.

My WIPS are Postcards from Mr. Pish Volume 2, and the sequel to Lust for Danger. That novel introduced my recurring paradoxical anti-terrorist agent - Special Agent Kathrin Night, who manages to cheat death to conquer a diabolical faction in the fast-paced action-adventure thriller. I’m looking forward to having drafts of both books complete by the end of this year, and hopefully published in 2012.

My website is

Stephen L. Brayton: Currently, I’m promoting the upcoming action mystery book entitled Beta. It’s about Mallory Petersen, a private investigator/martial artist, on the trail of a kidnapped eight-year-old girl. The book will be released October 1. I also have one previous book published, Night Shadows, available at Amazon,, and

I’m currently working on the sequel to both books, plus a new private investigator novel, tentatively titled New Year Gone. I write a weekly blog and a weekly book review blog.

Stephen L. Brayton

Are you an author? Are you currently working on a book (any genre), short story, a fascinating article, a future blog post you can't wait to share? Come tell us. To sign up for the next WIP Wednesday, e-mail me: erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Interview with Mitzi Szereto!

Erin: Were you a fan of Jane Austen before you started writing Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts?

Mitzi: Yes, most definitely. And I have to credit the BBC TV adaptation of the novel for inspiring my interest in all things Austen. The series was perfection and the actors really brought to life the characters in a way that I believe will never again be achieved. What particularly appeals to me about Jane Austen is her wit and sense of satire. She points out with great cleverness the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of “society.” I bet a lot of people would love to hear what she’d have to say about our modern times!

Erin: Did you find it was easy to add erotic tension to Pride and Prejudice? Do you feel as if some of it was present in the original?

Mitzi: Yes, I did find it relatively easy. However, I should add that I wanted to keep the characters in, shall we say, character, and for their sexual hijinks to be exactly the kind of thing we’d expect them to get up to. As for erotic tension in the original, it was most definitely there, particularly between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Those two were buzzing with sexual tension! Lydia Bennet was also a highly sexualized character, and Austen was giving us a lot of not-so-veiled hints about her promiscuity; I just ratcheted it up to the next level. Well, several levels, actually.

Erin: Are you currently planning to bring your blend of humor and erotica to any other public domain works?

Mitzi: It’s quite possible, yes. I really enjoyed writing Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and I hope readers enjoyed reading it, too. There has been a lot of controversy about my version, but frankly, I think these people need to get a sense of humor. The book is just a bit of good harmless fun, and in today’s world, I think we can all use some of that. As for combining humor and the erotic, I love it! People need to get a sense of humor about sex as well. Seems like everyone takes it too seriously. I say lighten up and have a laugh!

Erin: As a transplant from the U.S. to the U.K., do you feel more American or English?

Mitzi: I definitely feel more English. I never felt American, even when I lived in America. Maybe it’s the English eccentric thing that fits me, I don’t know. I definitely have more of a kinship with the English sense of humor as well. I wonder if when I grow old I’ll turn into a female version of Victor Meldrew?

Erin: You have a quirky sense of humor. Where does that come from? Other than your own writing, what do you find funny?

Mitzi: I’ve always been quirky. It’s part of my personality and has been ever since childhood, so naturally it translates into my sense of humor. I have no idea where it comes from. To be honest, I’ve never really sought anyone’s approval for what I do, so perhaps that gives me more freedom to just be myself. ­As for what I find funny, it’s quite wide-ranging, though I will say that I do not find the majority of contemporary American humor remotely funny. Just the opposite, in fact. Unfortunately, a lot of contemporary English humor is following suit, particularly with regard to television, in that they are trying to parrot the unfunny American sitcoms and crude comedians that are repeatedly shoved down our throats. I quite liked the earlier season of the League of Gentleman BBC series, but for the most part I’m a bit of a dinosaur in my tastes. I love the older English comedy series such as One Foot in the Grave and Keeping Up Appearances.

My taste in American humor goes even farther back to The Marx Brothers and those madcap comedy films from Hollywood’s Golden Era. Give me Cary Grant any day! I also enjoy Jackie Mason. Classic stuff!

Erin: Your next project, editing Red Velvet and Absinthe, an anthology of paranormal erotica, took a completely different tone. What caused you to switch gears?

Mitzi: I love switching gears. I think it would be boring to keep doing the same thing over and over. I actually had Red Velvet and Absinthe on the back burner for a number of years. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gothic fiction, and I’m surprised that I didn’t go this route a lot earlier in my writing career, though, without giving too much away, I will say that the Gothic is going to make another appearance in a future work. It was just down to luck and timing that RV&A got off that back burner and finally came to fruition. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. The quality of work is extremely high and each story has something different to offer. It was a pleasure working with so many talented writers.

Erin: Other than the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, what's your favorite Colin Firth movie?

Mitzi: I have to say P&P is the absolute pinnacle of Colin Firth for me. I know he’s said that he doesn’t want to be forever known only as Mr. Darcy, but I think it’s a testament to his talent as an actor to have brought that character to life in the way he had. I’m not really keen on his comedy roles. Not that he isn’t good in them; it’s just that I prefer his more brooding side. It’s very sexy.


Author website:
Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts website:
Red Velvet and Absinthe website:
Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto's Weblog:
Facebook Author Fan Page:
Mitzi TV:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Literary Musings and Links to Love III

True Blood thought #1: If the Bontemps Musical Theatre Society ever puts on a production of Tommy, Lafayette would be perfect to play The Acid Queen.

The last movie I saw in the theater was The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel. I did not read the novel, but my mother and Irish granny did. They agreed it was a great book. Since the last one they agreed on was Lisa See's amazing Shanghai Girls, which I read and loved last year, I was eager to see the movie. It was a very good movie, dramatic and funny, and also a good reminder of how ugly racism is.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette on True Blood, in it. He has a small role, but looks amazing in 1960s vintage.

True Blood thought #2: What if Eric's maker Godric and Godric Griffyndor, founder of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, were the same person? They could be. Both Godrics were noble and brave. Eric's Godric was older than Jesus, so clearly he was around for the founding of Hogwarts. Vampires exist in J. K. Rowling's world: Honeyduke's sells blood-flavored lollipops for them.

If you're only familiar with Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels and not the TV show based on them, you won't know about Godric. Eric's maker in the books was a frightening ancient Roman who had a creepy relationship with Eric's younger "brother," a Russian prince made a vampire at 13.

Literary Links to Love:

For the month of September, all books by Ellen Margret are only $3.99 at Melange Books

Literature Graveyard (cemeteries of famous writers)

10 Books for the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer's Shelf

Good Girl Gone Bad (Word) - Rihanna and the c-word

Not books, but movies: Screen career women who kick ass

Nelsan Ellis image: Kristin Dos Santos, Creative Commons generic license.