I’d just finished visiting the quaint town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a town steeped in tradition yet bustling with a mix of industry, shops and services, when I started thinking about how much I’d like to live there. Lunenburg is not only known for its hard working fishing vessels, it’s a place where many Stephen King movies were shot, including Deloris Claiborne, and where the television series Haven is filmed.
Later that day upon returning home I was chatting on line with the talented and very sweet Nikki Duncan. Before we knew it we were talking about doing an anthology together. We knew we wanted a third author, and both instantly agreed that we’d love to have our very good friend, Mackenzie McKade – another Samhain writer, and one of the wicked writers from our chat loop – on board.
Much to our delight Mac agreed and we set a time for brainstorming. We all agreed to do a reunion story with overlapping characters. This was fun, but challenging to keep time lines and characters consistent. Next came location and since we wanted a small town I couldn’t think of a better one than a coastal fishing village I’d just finished visiting. (Hey, I might not be able to pack up and move there but it doesn’t mean I can’t live there through my characters!) I shared my Lunenburg pictures and we all agreed to model our fictitious Maine town after this quaint little fishing village in Nova Scotia. Here are some pictures to give you a feel for our town and characters.
I hope you enjoy Lunenburg, or as we like to call it, Whispering Cove as much as we do!
Enjoy the stories we created: Wild, Wet and Wicked in Whispering Cove AND Burned, Bold and Brazen in Whispering Cove!
This is the house where one of Stephen King’s movies was shot.
Movie references tend to creep into my stories a lot; in my most recent paranormal release, In the Company of Witches, my heroine Raina (half-succubus, all witch) is a big fan of the movie Titanic, and she and Mikhael, my hero (a Dark Guardian, something like a cop/sorcerer), end up necking in a theater where they’re showing New Moon (I’m not ashamed to admit it – I LOVE the Twilight movies!). Anyhow, though I’m a bit of a movie addict…(ahem – 500+ DVD library and counting!), the movies serve a creative purpose, as any source of good storytelling does. In fact, this week they helped me turn a flat, ugly scene into something worth reading. To make that happen, I employed what I call the “Moment of Stillness” exercise. Let me explain, with a few less parentheses (lol).
There’s an amazing movie called The Legend of Bagger Vance, with Matt Damon and Will Smith. It centers around a golf game between Matt Damon’s relatively unknown character, Junuh, and golf legends Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. During the movie, there’s a part where Bagger (Will Smith) tells Junuh to watch Bobby Jones when he steps up to the ball to take his swing. Once Bobby arrives at the tee, everything else disappears. He clears his mind completely, and when he does, a synergy of instinct and experience happen—and so does a great shot. It’s as Bagger tells Junuh: “All we got to do is get ourselves outta it’s way.”
I have noticed this theme in other movies. In Finding Neverland, Johnny Depp portrays playwright J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan. Caught in writer’s block, he strikes up a friendship with a widow and her children. As he gets lost in the enjoyment of being with them (rather than worrying about his stale play), he starts “seeing” a new story, Peter Pan. There’s an extraordinary scene where the boys are jumping on their beds but, in J.M.’s imagination, he sees them bounce, bounce, and then begin to fly through the air, finally soaring out the window, just as will eventually happen in the Peter Pan story.
In Star Trek – Insurrection, Captain Picard meets a people who have slowed down the aging process. In a lovely moment with one of the female leaders of the community, he is sitting by a stream with her where she helps him “stay in this moment”. We see a hummingbird’s wingbeats get so slow we can see the delicate wing structure, everything in slow motion.
Final example – Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law. In both the first and second installment of these incredible movies, there are times Sherlock, with his amazing ability to anticipate action and reaction, shows in slow motion what will unfold and plans his response to it, all before it happens. Though in reality, it all happens very quickly, it is slow and steady in his head, the rest of the world tuned out.
Anyhow, this process of slowing down the mind, opening it up, “getting out of its way” is vital in almost every creative endeavor. It becomes absolutely essential to find this method when you evolve from doing something you love merely because you love it, and doing it professionally. Business and creativity have always had an uneasy relationship. For instance, the athlete who is pure poetry on the broken asphalt of the inner city basketball court, must learn to hold onto that craftsmanship when playing for a million dollar contract, with the demands of team owner, fans, etc piled on his back.
On the same note, writers have to make the transition from scribbling away in their glorious solitude, where getting published is no more than a distant pipe dream, to being an author who writes on deadline, meeting promo requirements, answering copious amounts of email, social networking, etc… Yet every subsequent story must be a creative and fresh as the ones they created in the beginning, in their little private cubbyhole.
Impossible? Nope. Not with that moment of stillness. At the beginning of this post, I claimed that “moment of silence” had really helped me this week. I was working on the latest book in my Vampire Queen Series, Taken by a Vampire, which features a threesome—Evan, my vampire hero, his Scottish servant Niall, and Alanna, the rigidly trained Inherited Servant who has come under their protection until her treasonous Master is apprehended. My editor needs a partial sooner than expected, so over the past several weeks I’ve been typing furiously, getting that first draft vomited out onto the pages (yeah, no better way to put it than that). But now I’m in the first edit. I can do the “barf to meet deadline” for only so long before my soul shrivels up into a husk.
So I take a deep breath, slow it all down. Surround myself with that creative stillness, and tap deeper into who and what my characters are, where they are, etc. As such, what was a pretty bland, bare-bones section became the following, which I like much better, even though this is still only a rough first draft. I’m too proud to give you the first version for comparison; just imagine blah blah blah, vomit, vomit, vomit, and you’ll have the essence of it – grin. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday’s winner, chosen by random number generator is…Suzanne! Congratulations, Suzanne! Be sure to email me and let me know which email address you’d like your download of Cowboy sent to!
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Sunday Report Card
This week was all about refining. I worked on the first round of edits for Laying Down the Law, which my editor loves by the way. She adores my hero and heroine. I had fun with a suspenseful plot which included a bank robbery in the opening scene. Can’t wait for y’all to read it! It releases in September.
Then I turned my attention to Smokin’ Hot Firmen, a new anthology for Cleis Press that will release at the start of next summer. There are some super yummy stories including my homage to Magic Mike in the form of “Johnny Blaze.” I was busy swapping out stories, editing and taking a look at story order again. Did you know story order is important to an anthology? I have an amazing lineup for that book, but can’t announce it just yet. I need final approval from Cleis first.
Then I kinda lost focus. Might have been because I had TWO blog tours going on at the same time. One for Fournicopia and one for She Shifters. It wasn’t so bad at the start of the week, but by the end of the week, I had more and more sites to follow up with and comment on… Thanks to everyone who came by! I’ll be busy contacting winners today.
So no new pages at all this week. That scares me. I have so much on my plate. Guess I’ll spend today trying to figure out the best approach for getting the most work done over the next month. I have to finish the sequel to Fournicopia, A Perfect Trifecta, by mid-August. And I have to be half way through the full length novel I owe Grand Central shortly after that. Right now, the only solution that comes to mind is a clone.
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Guests this Week
I have a stellar list of guests coming this week, so be sure to drop by and see what’s happening: Joey Hill, Nikki Duncan, Anne Rainey, and Melanie Atkins. I don’t usually schedule that many guests during a week unless I’m going to be out of town, but I kinda sorta screwed up. Hang in there. I think I get to pop in mid-week. I’ll bring a brand new contest and the winner to The Fugly Bottle Contest.
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Speaking of which…
The Fugly Bottle Contest continues! The bottle is truly hideous, something you can use as a gag gift, scare children with, or something you might want to give your mother-in-law (if she has a sense of humor!). And you know I’ll send along some fun stuff in the package you’ll actually want to keep! 🙂
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Just a heads up for those of you looking for a book fix!
August 14 is the official release date for Cowboy Lust! You can hit the Cowboy Lust website for more information about the book and the awesome lineup of authors! Amazon is already shipping the book if you can’t wait for your local bookstore to stock it.
I plan to release my indie-published novella, Dragon’s Desire on August 24th! If you’d like to read an excerpt, click on the cover!
Thanks so much to everyone who followed me around the blogosphere this week!
Winners should be named shortly! ~DD
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I wrote my very first cowboy story in 2007. It was a short story and my first attempt at writing in first person. Something I wrote for a friend who was starting up a new publishing company. I loved this cowboy so much, I wrote another and another…
Post a comment here today and you can win a free download of COWBOY.
Caught in a sudden thunderstorm on a lonely stretch of Texas highway, I pull into a dingy little diner to wait out the rain, never dreaming the cowboy of my dreams would follow me inside. Now I have a couple of choices, play it coy and safe? Or go for the big brass buckle…
Lightning clawed the dark like a crow’s foot, illuminating thick thunderheads that glowed yellow-green and ominous. The color of the sky before a tornado twisted its nasty tail.
Glad to be out of the rain and safe from the jagged, streaking light, I shivered against the cool vinyl booth as another flash lashed out like the end of a whip, lighting the horizon so intensely that for a moment the darkened parking lot was bright as high noon.
That was when I saw the large pickup roll in, pulling a horse trailer. It ground to a halt beside the diner’s plateglass window. The driver wasn’t going to bother trying to park it in the flooded lot.
I heard the muffled slam of the truck door, but the end of the lightning strike flickered out, plunging the parking lot back into darkness. The driver would be soaked before he even hit the door. Only twelve feet, but the rain was coming down in sheets. I’d been lucky, arriving before the worst of the storm struck. Mostly dry, I’d peered through the window at the deepening night, waiting for a lull. Read the rest of this entry »
One of my favorite ways to relax is to sit down with a book and a cup of tea. Though I usually drink plain black tea, I enjoy different flavors as well. Some of my favorites are orange, blueberry, mint and lemon. If I’m feeling stressed and I can find the time, I’ll have a cup of tea and read a favorite book.
I remember when I first became obsessed with romance novels. I was in my late teens and I couldn’t get enough of historical romance novels–the bodice rippers. One of my favorite memories is of drinking orange tea on a Saturday afternoon in the summer while reading a romance novel set during the civil war.
Now over twenty-five years later I still love romance novels and I still love tea. Some things never change and in this case that’s a good thing. When I’m depressed or stressed a good book, whether it’s romance, horror, fantasy or sci-fi, can help lift my spirits.
My love for tea has sometimes influenced my characters. Many of them prefer tea to coffee. In my novel, Back to Haunt You, the main couple first meet in a tearoom.
What are some of your favorite ways to relax or some of your favorite pastimes? If you’re a writer, do your favorites sometimes appear in your books?
The following excerpt is from one of my older titles, Back to Haunt You. It focuses on the first time the hero and heroine cross paths. Hope you enjoy it!
Morgan playfully shoved Uma’s shoulder before they left the car and headed for the tearoom’s entrance.
They walked up three steps and opened the door to the soft tinkle of bells.
“Morgan! Uma!” Deb, thin and dressed in a flowered print dress, hurried from behind a glass case filled with delicious-looking cookies and pastries. Her thick-soled leather sandals thudded on the floor before she stopped in front of the mother and daughter. “I’m so glad you finally came. It’s really quiet this morning, so for now you’ve got the room to yourselves.”
They followed her through a door to a room decorated in pastel colors. Five charming little tables were set up, three in the center of the room and two by the picture window overlooking the park in the town square. Across the room, two cushioned high-backed chairs with round end tables flanked each side of glass double doors leading to the porch.
Deb guided the mother and daughter to a window seat.
“I’ll be right back with your tea. You’ll have to excuse me for darting back and forth, but my employee called in sick this morning, so I’m on my own.”
“No problem,” Morgan said.
Several moments later, the two were enjoying tea and cookies while discussing their favorite movies, a subject that rarely incited arguments between them.
Tons of prizes are at stake! If you’ve missed a few stops, be sure to circle back to all the links on the HOME page. No prizes have been awarded yet!
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I have so many irons in the fire right now. I won’t list them now. You’d be bored, and I’d start to feel panicked. So instead, I’ll share a little excerpt from something coming your way in August. It’s been ready for release for a while, but there hasn’t been a good time for me to upload, so I’ll wait a few weeks. Enjoy the excerpt. This is the only glimpse into the past. The rest of the book takes place in the present.
Ragged wisps of clouds crawled across the face of the full moon, lightening then darkening the barren precipice. Local villagers called it The Dragon’s Atoll. The bürgermeister had given him directions, told him when to begin the climb, warning him the atoll only existed during the full moon before it disappeared for another hundred years.
An hour earlier, the knight had climbed the rocky precipice and now hid behind a stone pillar, sword drawn. He listened to the soft sobs of the girl the villagers had chained to the pillar according to rules handed down for a millennium, or so the elders had said. She was their sacrifice, their gift to the winged demon to pacify its hunger and spare them its wrath.
The knight had silently scoffed at their fear. He didn’t believe in dragons or demons. At least, not mythical beasts. He’d seen enough in his travels to Palestine and back to know evil existed. True evil resided in the hearts of greedy, bloodthirsty men.
Still, the purse filled with gold the villagers offered him to slay the dragon and rid them of their curse convinced him to remain where he was.
“I shall die,” the girl whispered, “savaged by the beast.”
“You won’t die,” he whispered, casting her a sideways glance. “’Tis only a tale.”
“You weren’t raised on tales of the horror. Do you think they are only stories told to frighten children?” she said, her voice rising toward the end.
She was a comely thing with golden hair and gentle curves. He’d fought shock and disgust when the old men had cut her clothing from her body to leave her nude. The night was chilly and the sound of her teeth clacking as her body shivered had him reaching for his cape. If they were bound to wait together, she needn’t freeze.
Come morning, he’d lead her from the mountain and deliver her to her father, the bürgermeister who’d hired him, safe and sound. He stepped around the pillar and bent over to slip the cloak around her.
Instead, she shook her head. “You mustn’t.”
“You are cold.”
“I’ll not be the reason my village suffers.”
He sighed and dropped the cloak, trying not to let his gaze slide down her naked frame but failing. Her nipples were ruched, the tips drawn into tight buds on her round, firm mounds. “How were you so unlucky to be chosen?” he asked quietly, leaning his back against the gray granite rock so he looked out across the atoll rather than at her.
“A lottery of maidens is held. All our names are entered.”
A Quick Note: The She Shifters Blog Tour and Fournicopia Blog Blitz continue!
Up for grab are a ton of great prizes. Be sure to hit Megan Slayer’s blog
and Seductive Musing today for yet more chances to win! ~DD
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What Robs You of Your Time to Write
My intentions to stay on track are great or that’s what I like to tell myself. Time management is a balance. A precise schedule that holds everything together. But there are days when no matter what I did nothing worked out and these days would run into weeks. I had to find out what was robbing me of my time so I made a list.
What took up time in my day.
Work, eating, cleaning, feeding animals, laundry, e-mail, blogs and sleep. By the time I got home, cleaned up, ate and worked on e-mails I was exhausted. In my head I had hours during the day to write. Why wasn’t it working out in my real life?
I found an article and it talked about writing out a time log. Spend a few days and jot down everything you do. It worked out great and showed me how I was wasting so much time. So I decided to share.
Preparing and writing your time log
You don’t need to keep writing a time log permanently. It is sufficient to do it for 3-7 days. When you write a time log, make sure you don’t miss even the minor activities. Don’t let your time wasters hide there. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into columns listed below.
Then continue with activities you would normally do that day. On the way, update your time log. Do it either every time you switch to a new activity or at some short time intervals, like 10-20 minutes. Add entries to your “Time” and “Activities” column, and try to put marks like “Yes” or “No” in the “Scheduled”, “Interrupted”, and “Urgent” columns. Where relevant, make short notes on what people you spend time with too.
When you have your time log written, you can move to the most important part, the analysis. Review your records and try to get answers to the following questions.
What percentage of your time is spent in each of the different areas of your life? How is it divided between Work, Business, Family, Recreational, writing?
What percentage of your activities are important?
What people you spend more time with?
What percentage of your activities go as planned?
What are main interruptions?
Then think of possible adjustments and action steps. For example:
Are there any activities you can cut back on?
Is there anything you can delegate or simplify?
Can you save time by grouping related tasks, like shopping?
Once you see everything you do on paper it will amaze you on how you can add a little more time to your writing.
My time is better spent now on getting my book ready for its release.
Rescued from the Dark
Set to be released end of 2012
Published through Black Opal Books
What if you woke up from a nightmare, trapped in a world of darkness, with no memory of how you got there? Rescued from the Dark is a passionate, gripping story about FBI agent, Jason Michaels, confronting his duty to his country, and struggling with his feelings for a woman with no memory of their love.
Undercover Agent, Jason Michaels, infiltrates the terrorist cell and risks everything, even his life, to save the FBI intern who stole his heart, then walked away. Once Mercy wakes from her coma Jason struggles with the fact that she does not remember what happened, but anguishes with the idea that she believes their unborn child belongs to her ex. Jason soon realizes the terrorists vow to get her back to claim their secrets locked in her memory, no matter what the cost.In a race against time, Jason and Mercy struggle to fight their attraction, and put their differences aside, as they launch a manhunt to save their country and each other.