Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Pssst! I'm going to let you in on a little secret.
Are you ready? It's a big one.
Long before we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, we read. And read. And read. At some point along the way, I'm sure most of us said . . . It can't be that hard, I think I'll write a book. (Or we read a book that didn't end the way we felt it should and decided we could do it better!)
No, this blog post isn't about writing. Today it's all about reading.
I've been trying to do more reading recently. For one thing, it stimulates the creative process. Plus there are just so many doggone good books out there right now; it's like a smorgasbord of reader goodness. Nirvana of the written word.
So I thought I'd tell you, my special Plotting Princesses blog aficionados what I've been reading recently.
GHOST STORY by JIM BUTCHER. I've read every single book in the Dresden Files series, including the anthologies. The stories center about a wizard in Chicago who helps solve crimes. They are urban fantasy at its best and these stories just keep getting better and better. If you haven't tried reading about Harry Dresden yet, I highly recommend this series.
MAGICAL LOVER by KARILYN BENTLEY. This is a terrific story by a wonderfully talented writer (she guest blogged here at Plotting Princesses just last month). The story is about a dragon shifter and the world-building and romance in this fantasy is wonderfully lyrical and was a joy to read.
TEMPT ME IF YOU CAN by JANET CHAPMAN. I love all Janet Chapman's Highlander time travel books so I thought I'd give this one a try. This is a contemporary romance by this well-known author, the second in a trilogy (although I didn’t realize that at the time). The story centers about a man who gets an anonymous letter informing him he has a teenage son he never knew about. He tracks down the woman who raised him and all sorts of complications ensue. Delightful and filled with just the right amount of laughter and tears. I went back and got the first in the series to read, too.
CANYONS IN THE NIGHT by JAYNE CASTLE. This was book three of the Looking Glass Trilogy and it didn't disappoint. Set on the fictional planet of Harmony (which if you’re a fan of Jayne Castle you are all too familiar with) this takes us in a new direction which I hope she continues for future books. The paranormal and romantic aspects of this book were all you would except of a Jayne Castle book.
SWEET AS SIN by INEZ KELLEY. This is a contemporary romance by a fellow Carina Press author. I picked this one up because it was getting rave reviews and I'd read other stuff by Inez and had enjoyed them. Definitely have a box of tissues handy when you read this one. My heart broke for the characters as painful secrets from the hero's past come back to haunt him in this wonderful story. Definitely a book you won't be able to put down easily.
These are just a few of the books I've been reading recently. So tell me, what have YOU been reading?
NOTE: Please do not be mean or post negative or hurtful reviews here. This site/blog is not intended for reviews. I just want to know what you've read recently that you liked. (I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting authors I may not have heard about and I'm sure my fellow blog followers want to know, too.)
Monday, September 26, 2011
Admittedly, there is something strange about those who spend a great deal of their time in thinking up ways to do away with another of their fellow beings. Someone once wrote that a person who repeatedly tries to devise a way of killing another is either a psychopath or a mystery writer, and that sometimes the line between them blurs. They even use a similar line over the opening credits of the TV show CASTLE.
I resent that. I spend a great deal of time finding ways to eradicate some poor soul, but I don’t feel like a psychopath. At least, not most of the time.
So why do I do it? Why do any of us do it?
Aside from the fact I’m much too afraid of getting caught to even think of trying anything for real, I believe we do it because as writers and as readers we fans of murder have a very strict sense of honor and decency and justice.
Whether we’re plotting the demise of a nosy next door neighbor or creating a scheme to eradicate the populace of a distant planet, we are creating mayhem and chaos. Murder is against the natural order of things – it is unnatural, and the unnatural is disturbing to us. However – if we create it ourselves as writers, we control it. We know from the beginning that however bad things get, we can set it right and good will triumph again.
Now I can hear some of you muttering that there are many books where the killer is not punished, that he walks away unscathed. Yes, of course there are, but in the traditional mystery framework (even if it is set on a distant planet many eons in the future or the past) we know that the bad will be punished and order restored. Even if the law is not served, justice will be, and the two are not always the same thing. Sometimes a murder is a good thing, and to punish the killer would be unfair. As was written in
By contrast, real life is messy. People are murdered and the perpetrator is never caught, and sometimes even if he is he isn’t convicted. There is no guaranteed happy/good/righteous ending, and sometimes the uncertainty of that ambiguity is unbearable. I think people turn to mysteries both as readers and as writers because they need the framework of justice guaranteed to be triumphant. I know I do.
In the worlds we create horrible things happen, yes, but right and justice prevail. The murderer is going to be stopped some way. Our senses of balance and security and rightness are restored. All is well.
Would that it could be that way in real life.
Janis Susan May / Janis Patterson
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
My fall - Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Not much color yet--I could have sent the picture from the weekend of half a tree on the garage but didn't think it was as picturesque! My website.
Fall in Florida. Empty beaches
I'm attaching a photo I took this morning from my office window. That is what Fall looked like this morning. Also, here's a LINK to a series of photos taken by a photographer from the local paper.
Waiting for the sun to come out, North Carolina.
Lyme Park, where they filmed the BBC Colin Firth version of “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s just up the road from where I live and it looks lovely in the autumn!
In 2003 a friend and I traveled to Vermont for the fall colors. We decided to go in search of the state's covered bridges and had the adventure of our lives exploring back roads and meeting locals. Given the recent floods resulting in either the loss of or damage to these precious bridges, I am grateful we saw so many. Every fall I think of that special time in Vermont.
This is MY New Jersey. Not a reality show "star" in sight!
A picture of what fall looks like in Central Florida. That's my dear husband, chillin' on a September afternoon. Since the temps usually stay well into the 80s through most of October, this is where we spend much of our free time, getting in those last hours of warmth before the (albeit mild) winter. My website.
This is the Thames riverside near where I live in Surrey, not far from Richmond Park. Lovingly taken by my Hubby who was insulted I might use a stock photo!
Everything is still green in NYC but we do have our favorite squirrels hoarding and crisp fall apples are here.
I set my books in Lancashire but sometimes venture over the border into Yorkshire. This was taken at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Black eyed susans in the back yard. Right outside my office window, and my Freaky Epic Zucchini. Grows zucchinis as big as my thigh. Seriously.
No color change in the leaves yet here in northern Virginia, but the lake near my house sure does look pretty!
Autumn in Florida - not looking very autumnal, but authentic!
We hope you've enjoyed the pictures, we've certainly enjoyed seeing the same day from the viewpoint of many eyes, and many parts of the world.
Feel free to tell us what you love most about this season - what the view is like from your part of the world - and what you're looking forward to in the season to come.
Thanks for joining us!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Now that my book, Only Fear, is out there, available to the whole wide world, I received some unexpected feedback. I was scaring people. My killer isn’t a nice guy—he’s actually pretty gruesome—but I thought I had toned down most of his scenes. I certainly didn’t expect people to say how shockingly scary I was, or that they had to read with the lights on. (That one makes me laugh… of course you’d read with the lights on!)
But moi, scaring people? Am I more unbalanced than I thought? Apparently, editing the story a zillion times took the edge off of the fright factor for me. Or maybe I’ve got a talent for connecting psychologically with the villain’s point of view (let’s not dig too deeply there, shall we?).
So, what makes a truly chilling villain?
I think the answer lies partly in their psychological makeup. When I read about or see a villain on the big screen, I want to understand how they became that way, and why they’re doing what they’re doing. If there’s no good reason, I lose interest.
I also like the villains to be a true challenge for the hero/heroine. They need to be just as smart and strong as the protagonists to give them a real run for their money.
Finally, for me, the most chilling villains are the ones you don’t see coming. The ones you thought were the sweet next door neighbor or the caring coworker. But everyone has a dark side. Apparently, mine was darker than I thought!
Who are some of your “favorite” villains? What qualities chill you the most?
Monday, September 19, 2011
Here are a few of my favorite movie fight scenes:
1) The opening scene in Casina Royale (2006) ushered in the Daniel Craig’s James Bond and a reminder why this secret agent had a license to kill.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Here are some of the things that drive me to drink. Not really, I don’t need an excuse.
I’ll start with TV.
To begin with, I don’t watch a lot of TV because I HATE the way commercials are presented. Do these ad execs think we are all dumb as a box of rocks?
Saw a commercial for a drug-and since when does anyone take a med biased on a TV commercial? - any who-the narrator, in a serious voice, lists all the side effects you can have taking the drug if you are BREATHING.
I’ve never watched the show Toddlers and Tiaras, just seen the promos. Those alone are enough for me to ask why hasn’t Child Protective Services been called? And what about those animal hoarders? This I do watch. Looking for a clue that says this show isn’t for real, it’s a put on like those other reality shows. But no, it seems to be real. The physiologists go in all nice and help the hoarder understand why keeping 500 dogs or cats dogs in a house isn’t right. Head smack! What about the poor animals? I say go in there, push the hoarder out of the way and take the critters, no nice talk. And have someone check on them every day forever to make sure they never do it again. Geeze!
Why does an author think because I visited her web site ONCE I want her to email me her wacky weekly updates and newsletter to which they is no way to unsubscribe? And yes I have reported her as spam.
And businesses. I check a price on line and suddenly I get sales email from them DAILY. No matter how many times I unsubscribe I keep getting them. I was successful with one. But, they started sending me crap in the mail because they noticed I’d unsubscribed from email. Major head smack.
Does LT GEN So-In-So really get people to give out their bank accounts so he can send them money from Afghanistan?
And what’s up with emails selling dangly parts enhancers?
For my Canadian sisters. Why do people in Canada want to sell me their medication?
Why does Windows IE think it’s necessary to tell me it blocked a pop up with a pop up?
Why does someone think I’ll watch a 30 second ad to see a 20 second video on the net
If the caller ID is blocked I’m not going to answer no matter how many times you call. So STOP!
And people talking on the phone while driving. Holy Snockerdoodeles!!! I think the driving public should have paint ball guns with a different color for each day of the week. When we see someone on their phone and driving wonky we smack ‘em with one. An officer sees splats of three different colors or three of any one color, the driver goes to jail directly to jail with no get out of jail free card.
My final peeves are the people who tell you they don’t read THOSE kinds of books. Referring to romance of course. Truth be told I love giving them a good up and down look and saying with a big smile and knowing nod. “Oh honey, I can tell.” And the ones who say one day they’re going to write a book. They have NO idea. Smack THEIR head!
Whew! I feel better. I’m grinning and doing the happy chicken dance around my office. What about you? Wanna tell me what gets you to shake your head and mumble or want to reach out and touch someone?
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It would have only one key. And a lock on the inside of the door. There would be a window looking out on something big—an endless horizon of lake or a pasture without fences. At night I would be able to see the stars.
The window would have special glass: I could see out, but no one would be able to see in.
There would be a small kitchen, a bathroom with a tub that works, a soft bed.
There would be a desk, a good chair and an outlet for my computer.
No internet. No phone. (I will take my cell phone to call out—when I want to.)
One entire wall would be covered in books—all the books I’ve been meaning to read, or love to re-read, or that I think might inspire me. Maybe there’d be a stack of DVDs of all the movies and tv shows I’ve been wanting to watch too, for the stories. All the different ways of telling stories, at my fingertips.
I would spend 4 or 5 days at a time in my safety zone. Bring my food, like on a backpacking trip. I'd bring salad and potato chips, dark chocolate and black tea. A bag of nuts. One good bottle of wine.
I'd probably spend the whole first day sleeping. Set up my computer. Fiddle with my notes…after that, I would just sit in my chair until there was nothing to do but work. Nothing in my head but stories.
What would your safe house look like?
Monday, September 12, 2011
After learning she has become the target of a psychotic hit man, Katie is whisked off to Luc's house to hide. Once there, she's shocked to discover that she and Luc have an unexpected connection; a connection Luc already knew existed, but withheld. Will their intense attraction reach flashpoint despite their misunderstandings and the pain of the past?
And we'd like to announce our grand prize winner as Jane - congratulations!
Jane, please email Toni at tonianderson at shaw.ca to claim your prize. Also, please let Toni know what format you'd like for the e-books, as our authors will contact you direct. And in the case of print book(s), we'll need your snail mail address. Toni's your first point of contact on all this :).
Congratulations again, and many thanks to every else who chatted. So here's a browse through all our featured books - and also the links where they can be found if you're tempted to go and buy (more than) a few :).
She Can Run - Melinda Leigh
No One to Trust - Julie Moffett
Endless Night - Maureen A. Miller
Under Fire - Rita Henuber
Only Fear - Anne Marie Becker
Storm Warning - Toni Anderson
Blinded by Our Eyes - Clare London
Scene Stealer - Elise Warner
Desperate Choices - Kathy Ivan
Courting Death - Carol Stephenson
The First Victim - J. B. Lynn
On her Trail - Marcelle Dube
Presumed Dead - Shirley Wells
Harley Street - Lynne Connolly
Friday, September 9, 2011
**There's a teeny bit of strong language.
(A BOOK winner. You're already clearly a winner--because you follow Not Your Usual Suspects.)
“What the hell?” a man’s voice rose behind me.
I admit, I jumped. The branches I’d been holding snapped back into place. Ainsley jumped too, but he kept the camera up and running.
“Curzon. Sheriff Curzon.”
"At the end of the week we're giving away a stack of ebooks (possibly a couple of print books too) to one lucky commentator. The more times you comment, the more times you'll go into the 'hat'. We'll post the winner on the blog next Monday."
Scene Stealer by Elise Warner
A cozy mystery (Not your usual romantic suspense.)
After a chance encounter on the subway, Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired schoolteacher living in New York’s Greenwich Village, is determined to help the police in the search for missing nine-year-old child actor Kevin Corcoran. Never mind that she has no training in law enforcement—she spent decades teaching. She knows when someone is lying.
In Chap. 15, Kevin’s father, a suspect, sneaks into the hospital to see Jean, his estranged wife, and Kevin’s mother.
Excerpt from Chap. 15
The dream fades. Someone is sitting on a hard, plastic chair next to the hospital bed. Charles wasn’t a hallucination brought on by a combination of tranquilizers and fear. Her hand gripped the sheet.
“It’s all right, Jean.” He tried to pat her hand with his. Charles wasn’t used to small tender gestures.
“Kevin’s with you, isn’t he?”
“I wouldn’t take Kevin without telling you, Jean.” He groped for his next words. “I couldn’t hurt you or Kevin. You believe me, don’t you?”
She did. Charles Corcoran was not a liar.
“He could be sick or hurt or dead.”
“Kevin’s not dead. I’m going to find him. I swear it.”
“What will we do?” Her hand reached for his. The hand was cold. She studied his face; he looked emaciated. The penetrating blue eyes lost in shadowed cavities.
A quiver of fear made her hand tremble. Charles was different. Was he telling her the truth? She needed to trust him.
“Tell me everything, Jean. Does anyone have a reason to dislike you or the boy? Think. Someone, anyone, you might have forgotten to tell the police about?”
The photo in the gossip column. “Lawrence Dunn. He’s in a one man show at an off-Broadway theatre called Saint Genesis. He and Kevin auditioned for the “Cowboy Bob’s Big, Bad Burger” commercial.”
Jean hesitated. “At first, Dunn was charming and then they read together. Kevin was asked to wait; Lawrence Dunn dismissed. Actors are rejected more often than not, Kevin is just a little boy; it wasn’t his fault Dunn didn’t get the job.”
“Stage mother!” Dunn had hurled the words at her making them sound obscene.
“It’s my fault. I wanted Kevin to be an actor. I wanted everyone to know his name.”
“Jean, I’m going to find Kevin.”
Charles kissed her forehead. She buried her face in his chest but the scent of bay rum mixed with the acrid odor of sweat. An odor foreign to the man she had married. Jean slipped out of the embrace, rested her head against the pillows. She closed her eyes—wanting to tell him to go away—afraid to say the words out loud.
Steal Stealer is available at Amazon www.amazon.com/scenestealer-ebook/dp/B003NX7BSA www.barnesandnoble.com www.carinapress.com and wherever eBooks are sold An audio version has been produced by www.audible.com
To learn more about me:
As for myself, I love writing heart-racing stories and hope you enjoy this excerpt of criminal defense attorney Nicole Sterling’s story in COURTING DEATH, the third book in the Legal Weapons series. Carol Stephenson
~Stirring up trouble can be the best defense~
Oh God. I could see traffic on the road ahead of me and nothing but the truck’s grill and headlights in the rearview mirror. I couldn’t stop.
Praying, I gunned the gas and spun the steering wheel. Horns clamored, metal screamed. The rear of the Beemer fishtailed as I fought to control the turn. My heart stopped as for a moment when one side of the car lifted due to the over-correction, then righted and shot down Gun Club Road.
Sweat plastered my blouse to my back and rolled down my face. My eyes burned from the salty drips. I hunched my shoulder and swiped my forehead, checking the mirror. Although the last turn had gained me some distance, the truck was still behind me.
There. The large complex loomed ahead on the right. I waited until the last minute and yanked on the wheel. The Beemer shuddered but I sped along the drive to the back of the building. Spotting a ramp by a bank of doors, I pulled up, slammed the car into park, opened the door and bailed out.
I stumbled but a strong hand grabbed my elbow and steadied me. I barely had time to register that my savior was Sam before he propelled me to the side of the ramp. I looked over my shoulder just in time to watch the truck plow into the side of the BMW. Metal collapsed with a sickening sound. Glass crackled, exploded. Rubber burned as my car flipped.
Courting Disaster and Courting Death are available at http://www.carinapress.com/ and also in audio at http://www.audible.com/. The entire series is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine online bookstores.
Courting Danger, Courting Disaster, and Courting Death
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Okay, I’ll ‘fess up. I don’t write Romantic Suspense, at least, not yet. I do write things with lots of suspense, and I have written romance, but I haven’t gotten around to combining them yet.
So why am I here?
Because I snuck in when they weren’t looking, that’s why. You aren’t going to turn me in, are you? I do write good books, exciting books that can get your heart pounding in another way… Let me show you.
THE HOLLOW HOUSE is a cozy murder mystery set in
Out now is a tasty little horror novella called LURE OF THE MUMMY. It’s the first horror ever published by Carina Press or, if I have heard it correctly, by Harlequin. Set in my beloved
LURE OF THE MUMMY had its genesis in two incidents on my latest trip to
Right now I’m working on the revisions of another horror novella, this one entitled TIMELESS INNOCENT. It’s about a not-too-skillful lawyer who has to handle the strange will of some old friends and must deal with a lot of things she can’t really handle, including a crowd of demons.
Awaiting its turn at revision is perhaps the closest thing I have to a Romantic Suspense. It is a Traditional Gothic currently entitled DARK SUN, though I am told that will change. It concerns the daughter of an author of high fantasy novels; she never knew her father, believing that he committed suicide when she was a toddler and might have intended to sacrifice her. His books live on, though, and finally she attends one of the conventions held to honor her father and his works. This particular gathering is at the small college where he once taught, and sponsored by men who knew her father. What she does not expect is the appearance of an old love nor the threat of danger, and especially the fact she must face the possibility that the fantastical world her father created might not be totally fictional.
Both TIMELESS INNOCENT and DARK SUN (under whatever title) will be out sometime in the spring of 2012.
So, not a single real Romantic Suspense in sight, but a lot of pulse-pounding, heart-stopping action and suspense. And a little romance as well.
Ooops! I better go. I think someone just noticed I’m here. Thanks for reading Carina books!