Happy Halloween!

Eeks! Halloween already? Indeed it is.

I love Halloween. The one and only time I ventured into paranormal was for a Halloween short. I feel in love with these characters. Sarah Latham and William Fuller have the kind of love that can last centuries. And has.

 

latham postcard2

I’ve been asked several times if I’m going to revisit these characters.

Hmm…Maybe. But until there, here’s a little snippet of The Legend of Sarah Latham:

SSARAH LATHAM COVER_300arah stormed toward her new home, glaring at the front door until the force of her anger threw it open. She marched in, and the door slammed behind her, rattling the old house as the wood hit the jambs.

William stepped from the dining room, a towel in his hands, and looked across the open foyer at his wife. “Bad day?”

“You will not believe what this town thinks of us.”

“A witch and her demon summoned from Hell.”

She stared at him. “You heard?”

“I went to the pub while you were looking for your sons. Did you find them?”

Sarah exhaled her frustration and smiled. “I found Ethan and Jasper. And I met Jasper’s descendent. Her name is Sarah Elizabeth.”

“Isn’t that lovely?”

She rolled her eyes. “Not exactly. She was named after me in hopes that I wouldn’t drag her to the depths of Hell.”

“So she told you of the curse?”

“Yes, she did.”

“Well, did it work? Naming her after you. Do you still plan to kill her?”

Sarah slid her arms out of her coat and draped it over a chair. “That’s not funny. Anyway, she calls herself Elizabeth. She’s a police officer. She told me I was trespassing.” A bitter laugh left her. “Trespassing at my own children’s burial ground. Can you believe it?”

William gently caressed her cheek. After almost four centuries, she no longer noticed how his vampire skin was eerily cool. His touch was nothing less than soothing to her.

“Why are you so upset, love? It’s just a silly legend.”

“It’s not silly. What little there is left of my family thinks I’m a monster.”

“Generations ago they were your family, Sarah. This Elizabeth is a stranger. I am what is left of your family, and I know you are no monster. This story is a legend—a myth—nothing more than a tale to frighten children.”

Sarah looked up into his dark eyes, eyes that could resonate a dangerously menacing soul at times, but that now were soft and sorrowful. She slipped into his arms and cradled her cheek to his chest. “I think I’d have rather been forgotten than remembered as something evil.”

“No one believes it.”

“But they used to, years and years ago they believed it. They feared me. Elizabeth probably fears me now, even if she doesn’t know it. Why must every witch be believed to be wicked?”

His chest shook with a slight chuckle before he said, “Maybe the next civil rights movement will be for supernatural beings? Hmm? Maybe we can live loud and proud and be accepted among the mortals.”

“Maybe.” She leaned back and took in his face and soft features. There was nothing threatening about him. No one would ever suspect him to be a so-called creature of the night, a vampire. He went against everything history had made him out to be, as did she.

Deciding h
e was right, she slid from his arms. “She told me there is a museum.”

“A museum? Are we going?”

“Yes. Well, I’m going. With Elizabeth. I’ll take you another time if it’s worth visiting, but she is going to tell me all about myself. Now, what were you doing at a pub?”

“Getting to know the townsfolk, of course.”

She instantly grew suspicious. He never got to know the townsfolk. The temptation was too great for him. “William?”

“I know you’ve
been feeling down. I brought you something.”

Her eyes widened and she shook her head slowly. “No. We can’t feed so close to home.”

“I was very careful.”

“Darling, I appreciate that you want to cheer me up, but getting us hanged isn’t the way. Have you learned nothing?”

Check out the creepy trailer too!

 

Getting to Know You

Like others before me, I decided it was time for a reintroduction. Many of you know I haunt this blog as Robin Danner and Christy Gissendaner, but who is the real Christy? (I say Christy because that’s my actual, real first name.)

Keep reading to know more about moi!

I love visiting the zoo. Monkeys are my favorite.

IMG_0062

I can’t tell the difference between my two youngest sons in baby pictures….unless they’re in the picture together. (They still sleep like this.)

The Manns 087

I played clarinet in my high school’s marching band. (I hated the white uniform pants.)

Capture

My grandparents have been married over 75 years! (My Big Momma’s had dementia over twenty years, but they’re still going strong.)

IMG_0021

I married my first boyfriend after dating for 11 months. We honeymooned in Biloxi one month after my 29th birthday. (He started pursuing me the night of my 28th birthday.)

hard rock

I hate taking pictures, which is why you’ll typically see me behind the camera instead of in front of it. (And there’s not a selfie yet that my hubby hasn’t closed his eyes.)

002

I’m rereleasing The Princes, a series that is my favorite to date. Here’s a first glimpse at the new and improved cover for Bound, Book One ~ an exclusive reveal for Love, Lust, and Laptop fans.

the princes bound

Now that you know a bit more about me, check back as we bring a new, exciting post every weekday ~ with special treats on the weekends!

Push Those Buttons, Hit That Wall!

Hello! This is my first blog at Love, Lust and Laptops, and I’m very excited to be part of this group. I’ve been quite jealous of these authors and was beyond pleased at being invited to participate!

So. To start:

Here are some things I hate in my personal life:

Cheating. On a partner, on an exam, on your taxes. When I’m with someone, they know they have one shot with me. I have no compunction about ending it when I’m cheated on. Same goes for lying. Or even withholding the truth. I don’t like cheating in romance. I don’t like it in any way, shape or form.

Spanking. Don’t even consider coming near my ass with your hand. I will bite it off, chew it up…and swallow.

Twincest in romance. Ew. Just…ew. It’s the kinda thing that puts people in counseling.

Yelling. I hate it. Don’t do it unless you’re yelling at Lassie to untie the rope and rescue Timmy from the well so he can go get the little neighbor girl off the train tracks. Yelling puts me into automatic flight mode.

Television. Guns. Bullies. Tailgaters.

Mansplaining.

What does this have to do with writing books?

When we write, there are so many elements that go into the construction of a story: characters, an engaging plot, conflict, tension, setting and so forth. Way back when…in my early days of writing, I stumbled across a story that offended the hell out of me. It made me feel so icky, and I went online for days, doing anthropological research. It was a twincest story and the damned thing just rattled my brain. Was it bad? Good? I don’t really know. Remember my comment about people being in counseling over that sort of thing? I worked in Children’s Protective Services for a stretch of time and saw too many kids in unwanted sexual situations. Not always with adults. So I had issues with that story.

Nevertheless, I recognized that my reaction to this book was extreme. To make the scenario acceptable in my hysterical lizard brain, I dug back into my university days and found information on cultures around the world that practice variations of twincest. I eventually found a cultural mythos that was so beautiful, it worked. I can’t remember right off hand, but I believe it was a Mescalaro Apache tradition. They believed that an opposite sex pair of twins had been star-crossed lovers in a previous life, so the parents married the children at birth so they’d never be parted again.

I integrated elements of this mythos into the creation of the Somian species in Belle Starr. I created a species that believed twins were one spirit in two bodies, and a brother/sister pair would eventually marry and produce offspring who advanced the evolution of the species. Since it was removed from Earth and humanity, I was able to make some peace with the idea of such an extreme kink.

I pulled the same trick with spanking. I have such a violent reaction to spanking that I literally feel sick when I read it in a BDSM story.  So…I write spanking scenes. I make them make sense to me. I make those scenes playful or cathartic. I make those spankings something *I* can understand and accept.

This is how I take control my personal hot buttons. It’s not only like psychoanalysis on the cheap, but I believe it’s a method of instilling some potent tension into a story. I jokingly tell people I’m a Method Writer. I let emotions and sensations generated by my visceral reactions color my stories. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just feel crappy afterward. Sometimes I feel better about myself and sometimes I write a bit of power into a scene.

Don’t be afraid to write or read out of your safety zone. Push your boundaries, hit those personal buttons. Take time to consider your reaction…physical and emotional. Even if you don’t understand what you’re feeling, embrace the fact that you are feeling.

I think indifference is poison to an author’s soul. Don’t be afraid to charge that boundary and hit that wall.

You’ll get up again.

Belinda McBride

http://www.belindamcbride.com

Belinda’s newest release is the Bad Angels trilogy, now available through Pride Publishing, and at all major outlets. Now available in paperback!

thebadangels_series_print_800

http://www.amazon.com/Belinda-McBride/e/B003LDKSZ0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1446101139&sr=8-1

Let’s Talk Shape-Shifters

Hey there! My name is Tami Lund, and I’m a newbie to the Love, Lust, and Laptops Blog. I’m thrilled to be here. *Waves* *Frantically* *Clenches teeth, keeps smile on face*

Whew. There you are. Just checking that someone’s out there, reading.

So I’ve spent the last two weeks agonizing over what to blog about today (which is funny, because my very first post was actually on Saturday, and it took all of twenty minutes to put together). I desperately wanted to make a good first impression, of course, but truthfully, I needed to get back to writing, so I couldn’t spend a ridiculous amount of time on research and analytics and statistics – and then I realized you all probably don’t give a shit about all that stuff anyway. You’re here for a blog post, not a doctoral candidate course. (Let’s not kid ourselves – even with research and analytics, my post would never be at the level of a doctoral candidate.)

And then, about a week and a half ago, I sent final edits for my next release to my editor over at my publisher, Liquid Silver. I still have to go through line edits and a proofread, and I don’t yet have a cover, but that first round is always the most intense, and whenever it’s finished, that’s the point at which it feels real to me.

This book – which comes out on January 4, 2016, by the way – is the fourth in my Lightbearer series, and is called Change in the Light. This series is about magical beings called Lightbearers – and the shifters who hate to love them.

Yep, I write shifters. Which (finally) brings us to the point of this blog post. Let’s talk shifters, shall we? I actually have two shifter series out – the Lightbearer series, and the first book in the Twisted Fate series, which released in July, 2015. The second book in that series is with the publisher right now, awaiting the decision to (hopefully) publish it next year. You see, I have a thing for shifters.

Here’s a question: why shifters? When I started the Lightbearer series, it was supposed to be about this brand new, entirely made up magical being called, well, Lightbearers. And then I threw shifters into the mix, and suddenly, the series became about shifters. How did that happen?

Shifter_Image

The answer is simple: shifters are one of my favorite genres to read. So not coincidentally, I also happen to enjoy writing about them. They are sexy, strong, powerful, hot, did I mention sexy? In my reasonably extensive research, I have learned a few things about these seductive alpha beings.

I’ve learned they all have one thing in common. All shape shifters have the ability to change from human form into…something else. And that, as far as I have been able to determine, is the single aspect that defines every shifter in every book I’ve ever read or written. Beyond that, well, every author interprets them a little differently. Which is the way it should be, right? We’re talking magic, and magic is defined by the imagination of the person writing it.

Some shifters can only change into the form of one animal. These are typically referred to as were-animals (werewolves, were-bears, were- you get the picture). Others are able to shift into pretty much any animal, or, as I like to explain in my books, the form of any warm-blooded being. The shifters in my Lightbearer Series can even shift into the form of birds, if they are so inclined. This comes in handy when one wants to escape rapidly and he’s on the second floor or at the top of a cliff (both situations occur in Into the Light, the first book in this series).

LightbearerSeries4x6

Many shifters’ clothing cannot shift with them. The clothing is either shed before the shift or, if the shift must occur with little notice, the clothing is torn to shreds when the body changes and alters, and the shifter must figure out another means of covering his naughty bits when he returns to human form.

The shifters in my books can shift while wearing clothing, and when they return to human form, their clothing returns to their body exactly as it was before the shift. I admit, I made this decision out of convenience. I considering the no-clothing route because, let’s be honest, that makes more sense, from a non-magical standpoint. But I was having a difficult time writing the whole, “Hold on, I have to strip and hide my clothing for later” aspect into the various scenes and plots and sub-plots of the series. So I decided if magic can make a person change from human to animal, then magic can make that person’s clothes reappear when they return to human form.

Some shifters have the ability to speak to each other telepathically. Some are able to harness other forms of magic, too. Some have glowing eyes. In my Lightbearer series, the shifters’ eyes glow when they are feeling strong emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, passion. Even if the shifter is trying to act stoic and passive, the object of his desire, if she is perceptive enough, can figure out pretty easily that he feels something, if his eyes are glowing. It’s practically a declaration of love.

Or lust.

Some shifters eat only red meat. Actually, the desire to eat red meat might possibly qualify as the second thing all shifters have in common, now that I think about it. Or maybe not. A vegetarian shifter could make for an intriguing storyline.

Many shifters have obsessive, jealous personalities. Like a dog, protecting his bone. Or his house. Or his mate. My shifters have this trait. In fact, it plays heavily into the third book in the Lightbearer series, Light Beyond the Darkness.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few common traits. What other traits do you notice in your favorite books about shifters or weres? Which traits are your favorite?

###

If you want to learn more about the Lightbearer or Twisted Fate series (or any of my books, really), check out my website (there’s also a free read): CLICK HERE.

I’ve also started a Facebook group called Come Wine with Tami Lund. It’s a place for readers and authors to gather, chat, and tip a glass or two. Once a month, we feature an  exclusive author Q&A. Check it out HERE.

Come Wine With Tami Lund-2

Writing + Real Life = Madness

Sara DanielI’m Sara Daniel, and I am so excited to join the fabulous ladies of Love, Lust, and Laptops. The group first hit my radar when they released the Lucky’s Charms anthology a couple years ago. Emilia Mancini clued me in, and I snapped up my copy. When I received an invitation to join the group, I felt like I’d won the lottery—only better, because where I live, the state budget is so messed up that lottery winners aren’t getting paid their winnings!

Since Emilia introduced me a couple weeks ago and Jianne Carlo provided a really fun interview last week, I thought I’d offer some different insight with a couple stories to illustrate how my writing life and my “mom life” mesh—sometimes very wrongly!—together.

When I start a new book, one of my favorite parts is pulling out my collection of baby name books and pouring through the possibilities until I hit on the perfect names for my characters. I was sitting in my living room doing just this a few months ago when my teenage son walked into the room. He looked at the book, and his eyes grew wide. “You’re having a BABY?!” he exclaimed, in a horrified, my-parents-just-ruined-my-life kind of voice. Hahaha! His days of begging for a little brother are definitely over!

This month, my tween daughter has been bring home something called “KenKen” for math extra credit. It is basically a sadistic form of Sudoku where instead of having some numbers already filled in the grid, all the numbers must be figured out using basic math facts within separate caged-in areas to produce a target number. We’ve been working on these puzzles for hours in the evenings to the point where my brain aches when I go to bed. So imagine my horror last week, when I was revising my latest manuscript, and in the throes of passion, my heroine exclaimed, “Ken, Ken.” Suddenly, the mood was gone, and instead of experiencing incredible pleasure at the hands of the hero, my heroine was now crying out over KenKen math puzzles. Yeah, no. I’m keeping hero’s name as Ken (for now), but my heroine will NEVER speak it twice in a row.

Pumpkin with frecklesDoes anyone have any odd, funny or creepy collisions between their personal and reading/writing lives? I’d love some assurance that I’m not alone in the madness that is my life. Meanwhile, enjoy the not-too-creepy Halloween pumpkin (with freckles!) carved by my family this weekend.

Not Me by Lynn Lorenz

First, let me say there is no defense for plagiarism. It doesn’t just happen. You don’t accidentally take someone’s story and change the names and pronouns, switch a few sentences around, and then say, “Oops! Did I do that?” I’m pretty damn sure my laptop doesn’t have a F key for that.

No. All you can expect to hear are excuses, or what some might hope are reasons. When you say reasons, it makes it sound as if they are valid. Reasons are just excuses disguised in fake rational. There is only one basic reason to plagiarize someone’s work, and that’s to make money. And like so many bad things, money is usually the cause, or the reason. Lack of. Need for. I wish we all had great sales, then maybe such crimes wouldn’t exist. And in a tightening market, does it really surprise us that someone would do this?

See? Excuses.

What is the real answer? Why would someone do this? Why risk your good name, your reputation as a writer, the only thing we really have, to make some money? Hundreds? Thousands? Is any amount worth damaging your reputation? Destroying your career?

I can’t understand it. I couldn’t understand it, when in my corporate job, we were asked every year to sign a document saying we’d never taken bribes, or received gifts from companies, like Christmas hams or tickets to football games. Or failed to report them if we were offered them.
I thought, who would risk a steady job, good pay, and the respect of their co-workers for seats on the 50 yard line? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I figured it’d be my luck to get caught on the JumboTron, with that ham in my lap. I needed my salary, my health benefits, my friends’ respect. But someone must have, since there is this document. Someone, somewhere, broke the rules, and now we all had to stand up and say, “Not me.”

And fuck, it’s this. This is why it hurts other authors. Why it taints all of us, even if you didn’t co-write a book with her or even know her. Because on Facebook, I’ve witnessed a rash of authors stating, “Not me.” Of writers “signing” the document. It’s the horrible need that those of us who didn’t take the easy way out, who struggle every day to create characters and stories, must now assure everyone we know that we didn’t cheat.

Not me.

Of distancing ourselves, and our reputations, from the offender. Of taking that big step back and leaving that person standing alone, like the old comedy routine of the reluctant volunteer.

Only no one stepped back. This person stepped forward, out of the line. Intentionally. Made a choice as she sat in front of her computer to step over the line, no matter what her “reasons”.

Now, I see posts about readers who have doubts about all of this person’s books. Of returning them. Asking for their money back. Of deleting them.

And I wonder if my readers are doubting me. Doubting others. Doubting all of us authors. And that hurts me. It hurts all of us.

It sucks the big one.

But as much as I hate this, I understand how they feel, because they’ve been betrayed. Cheated. Insulted.

I have a copy of the Deuce book. It’s the only book by her I own. I think it cost me a few bucks. Do I want my money back? No. Not worth the email, for me.

I think, instead, I’ll keep it, right there on my Kindle. To remind me, every time I scroll past it, that there are some things more precious to me than a few bucks.

Like my reputation.

Lynn

Bewitching Desires Antho – The Down & Dirty

Once upon a time, I was chatting online with a group of authors. We affectionately refer to ourselves as the Writing Wenches – a small group, from all walks of life, all over the globe, and all different stages of our writing careers. Some write paranormal, some write contemporary, some write both (me!), some write erotica, some don’t really write romance, but they like to read it and incorporate love scenes into their otherwise entirely different genre books. One thing we all have in common: a love of writing.

So back to once upon a time, which was actually last spring. A handful of us wanted to do an anthology. Somebody threw out Halloween. Somebody else suggested paranormal. We talked timing, created a shared document, a private Facebook group, and an anthology prep group was born.

Bewitching DesiresFrom paranormal, we focused on witches. From there, we decided they should all belong to the same coven. We discussed various places readers would recognize that were also connected to Halloween or witches or hauntings, and then we selected Savannah, Georgia. So the Savannah Coven was born.

Then we took it a step further, and decided the stories should all connect to one another. Not only would at least one of each of our main characters belong to the Savannah Coven, but they would show up in each other’s stories. Their happily ever afters would interconnect. We created a shared document, describing the tie-in. Here’s what we started with:

The afternoon of Halloween, around two, the Coven gets together in the back room of the Occult shop owned by Rose. The store is full of anything a witch or other paranormal might need. In the back is a private room used by the Coven.

(Note: as our stories came together, the coven room was modified, to be down a set of crooked stairs, below the shop, hidden by a blue curtain and a variety of spells. As you walk down the stairs, you pass hand-drawn pictures of the past Supreme Witches of the Savannah Coven.)

Everything inside the store feels a bit old, although exceptionally clean. All the shelves are made of wood. The floor is covered in runes. On the right side is the counter. Behind the old checkout counter are jars upon jars of different items; spices, specimens, herbs, etc. There is also a locked dark glass case. The case glows with an eerie light and occasionally you can see something inside scurry past or screech or shake. It is full of the darkest elements for magic and cannot be come by easily.

There are so many rows of books, occult items, scrolls, candles, etc. that you cannot see all the way to the back of the store. It is hard to say how far it goes since it seems to go on forever. On the left side of the shop is a round staircase that goes up to a second level of bookshelves. This area is off limits except to the coven as well as a few select clients. The books upstairs are thousands of years old and contain powerful magic incantations. 

The Coven’s room is behind the counter area. To the left of the counter is a doorway with a deep blue curtain. The wooden floor is ancient and worn. The threshold of the back room has sage hanging from the sides and an inlay of dead sea salt and ash from the Salem Witch Trials on the floor which is replaced daily by Rose.

The inside of the room is a store room with shelves around the perimeter and a large wooden table with a pentagram in the middle. White candles sit in the center constantly burning but never getting smaller. 

The chairs are each unique in appearance. Above the table hangs an ancient bronze chandelier with twelve black candles lighting the room.

(PS – We even created a Pinterest board so readers could check out our visual inspiration!)

The table and chairs sit on a rug. On the rug are various different runes that are constantly changing and morphing into new ones. From under the rug sometimes whispers can be heard, or a scream or a cry. No one but Rose knows what is really under the rug.

The meeting itself is just a check in to see what everyone has planned for Halloween night. To remind everyone to report any sightings of spirits or zombies immediately to the Supreme witch and to remind everyone to be careful with their magic.

A simple meeting to the point and a basic check in since it’s the most powerful day of the year.

The meeting needs to be mentioned in the story. You can go into detail about showing up and the store and who you see when you sit down, but I suggest that no one really go into detail about who said what at the meeting so we don’t have inconsistencies through the stories.

If people want to meet up and intertwine their characters. Please post in the database who you are either arriving with, sitting with or leaving with.

Rose, the shop keeper, will be in the store for the meeting but leaves at sundown every day. The Supreme Witch (Tami’s character, Adanna) will have a key for emergencies.

From this document, we each created our twelve individual stories. The shop owner, Rose, turned out to be besties with my character, Adanna, who is the (reluctant) Supreme Witch. Another main character, Micah, is Adanna’s brother, and covets the position of Supreme, even though it’s something you’re born into, and he, unfortunately, wasn’t. In Adanna’s story, she wishes she wasn’t the Supreme, while in Micah’s story, he takes steps to attempt to become the Supreme. Luckily, both end up with happily ever afters and an unbroken sibling relationship, too.

Alls Fair_Love & Warlocks_Updated_CoverIn both Adanna’s and Micah’s stories, another main character, Brior, is sitting in the tavern where many of the witches hang out. And Cook, the owner of the local tavern and bed & breakfast, shows up in at least half the stories.

Some of the stories are based in Savannah and pretty much stick around the area. Others start there and end up traveling to other places. One story heads off to Romania, another to Phoenix, another to a motel in the middle of nowhere. Besides witches, the anthology contains reapers, angels, shifters, zombies, and assorted other paranormal beings.

Sometimes it was hard keeping up with each other, constantly fact checking, adjusting storylines accordingly. But in truth, I loved the process. It was fun. I love the way it turned out. I especially love the fact that each and every story ties in with the others in the anthology. That is my favorite aspect of them all.

So, happy Halloween, and happy reading. Bewitching Desires is only 99 cents at the moment – a steal for twelve interspersed short stories. How about I make it even more of a steal? Comment below – tell me your fave Halloween book or movie – and I’ll randomly select one winner, who will receive an e-copy of Bewitching Desires – free!

The contest will stay open until Friday, October 30, 2015. Now, comment away (and be sure to include your email address, so I know how to get in touch with you)!

Bewitching Desires_Promo 2

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an author. And a wine drinker. And a blogger. Really, all she cares about is figuring out how to give her characters a happily ever after. Okay, she wants to drink wine, too. Check out her work HERE.