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Isabelle's Alter Ego, Serious Academic

Over the summer I started an Masters in Fine Art program. My concentration? Fiction, of course. One of my main motivations for pursuing the degree is to increase career opportunities. Another motivation is to improve my own fiction.

Funny thing is, I'd never even heard of an MFA until about three years ago. When I heard about it, I thought--geez, you can go to school to learn how to write stories? People take that sort of study seriously? Well, I can tell you now the answer is yes, they do. And there are A LOT of MFA programs around. The programs come in two types, traditional--residency--programs where you regularly attend classes, and newer--low residency programs. The low-residency programs allow greater flexibility and are great for those who are not interested in moving. With the low-res students attend several intensive workshops and do independent studies.

If you're interested, come on over and check out my blog: Adventures in MFA Land.


Seeing ahead

School has started for the kids, the weather will be cooling (PLEASE) the holidays will be here before we know it. It is now time to look ahead to the end of the year with the upcoming months. It also means that within the next four months I have four books being released and too many to finish and submit!

In less than a month ( Sept 28th) The second book of The Were Chronicles will be released! Can I just say how excited I am. The first book received such great reviews and feedback from the readers that it reminds me why I wanted to be an author. To hear someone say "I just couldn't stop reading... I had to find out what happand!" That is the greatest of compliments.

The second book Pack enforcer holds high expectations for me. And just look at the cover! Total-E- bound does the best work with cover art! Can we all agree on that?

While I am pounding away at the keyboard finishing the final draft of the fourth book Pack magic I can look back and see how the characters and storyline has grown. The romance and love is still there but there is so many ywists and turns coming that sometimes i feel like a reader and get excited myself to see what is going to happan. They have moved well past the outline and taken me on one hell of a ride.

So I look forward to the coming months. Greatful for my place here as an author. That I have found a home to let my stories live, readers who enjoy them ,and the best authors whom support ine another.

What else can a small town texas girl ask for?

Crissy Smith


Please... Just The Facts

Ahhh, the infamous line uttered every week by Joe Friday, usually preceded by "the names have been changed to protect the innocent"... a favourite in my parent's house and one I've seen on reruns...(no I wasn't born yet in the late 50's and early 60's so I did have to see them through syndication, lol). But it doesn't change the question on whether there's some truth to the statement?

Over the last little while, between edits, reading and trying to write new material, I've been examining the use of factual information in our craft. For obvious reasons, there's a need to get some of the facts straight. Makes of cars, the kind of gun an officer carries, the proper procedures for an interrogation... all of these have to have accurate information in order to create a believable world for our readers. But what about other information? When do "just the facts" become bothersome and down right annoying?

I think every writer has their own take on this. I, for one, love making stuff up, lol. But on the flip side, I've come to realize, sometimes, I worry too much about having something correct instead of whether that particular piece of information is really crucial to the story. For example, in my novel coming out in November, Deadly Vision, I wanted to make sure the procedures carried out by my heroine, Fallon, while she's at work as a 911 operator were spot on. Having been one, I knew the correct terminology. But when my editor questioned me on a couple of the phrases, I realized sometimes being correct isn't the most important aspect if the general public doesn't understand what you mean. Simplifying, to a point, has some advantages, as long as it doesn't give the reader false information or make them feel like you haven't done your homework.

But what about characters? I was reading a great blog the other day that talked about breast size. Not being overly endowed in that department, I'll admit I don't tend to write large breasted women. I don't mind a lady with large breasts, but I wonder if it's necessary to tell me the exact size? Is it crucial to the story to know she's a 36DD? It's the same with men. Do I really need to have you tell me he's six foot five and a half inches tall? Is it enough to say he's long, thick and hard or do I need to provide exact dimensions? When are the facts too specific for the story?

I imagine it's a personal choice. For me, I prefer a little less information when it comes to the characters and just a few lines to give the general gist of things. Supply the basics and then allow me create my own luscious image in my head, because in the end, my idea of gorgeous, hunky, hot and dangerous might be different from yours.

I could argue this goes for every aspect of writing. Too many details tends to bore me and I'll find myself skipping pages to get to more interesting aspects. But at the same time, I don't want to get half way through the novel to find out the hero is really an alien with three arms. For me, I've had to step back and realize I don't need to time stamp every event to ensure you're following along, and giving you facts a bit at a time allows you to digest the scenario without blurting it all out in an endless stream of babble.

It would seem to be a fine line between just enough and too much. Information that will create the image you're striving for, and stuff that just pulls the reader out and leaves them shaking their head.

So how much "facts" do you like in your stories? Do you like the room described down to the wallpaper or do you want to know it's sparsely decorated with the typical male essentials? Do you like the author to give you an exact description of the characters down to the stylish mole above their lip, or just enough so you have that sexy image of your own hero stamped in your brain?

Well, that's all for now. I'd love to know your thoughts. Oh, and next month, I'll actually be able to do a bit of shameless promo mixed in with my post. My first story with TEB, Sacred Talisman, will be released October 26th as part of the Voracious Vamps collection and I'm tickled pink. Heck, I might be able to blog about Cover Art and everything! Yes, the rantings of a newbie... wide-eyed and awe inspired.

Have a great last go at summer and we'll catch you next month.
Romancing adventure at a time.


ConTEXT Weekend

Yes. As if right now I am on the road to Columbus Ohio for the ConTEXT speculative Fiction convention. Im on a few panels, including one on Loving your characters. I thought it was interesting, since thats what my blog post is about this week.

See, One month from today, our second series releases with TEB, called the American Satyrs series. The first book, Of Crimson and Collars is about one of our favorite characters Ben. Ben is a misfit in one world, the world of the demons of the Afterverse, and a well needed breath of fresh air in the Satyr world where he is an unlikely prince.

Why is Ben a favorite? Because hes a suvivor. His parents dumped him on his mother's people's doorstep when he was a baby and vanished, and he was met with disdain all his life. He is different then the Strigo, the time demons, because women find him irreistable. With that in mind, he has used those powers to keep himself alive. All Ben really wanted was a family, and people that cared for him... and he gets that, in spades, though its going to be hell to keep it.

We feel like you kinda have to love all the people you write about. Its the only way to really get invested in the story your writing, and if you are invested odds are the reader will be too. And We are hard at work on the second book in the American Satyr Series, called To Collar and Keep and its Ben's cousin, Harlequin's story. OOh and guess what? Next month we are blogging here on our release day, and Ill be giving away a really nice pair of earrings for the release... so stay tuned.


Where do you like to do it?

Where do you like to write, I mean? (What else could I have been talking about!)

I've been meaning to do a blog about my writing space for a long time (as testified to by the fact there are Christmas decorations in some of the pictures!)

A little while ago, work was done on the house and a few extra rooms added on. I was lucky enough to snag one as my writing space. This is it...

It's a nice big space, but I'm something of a clutter bug, so as you can see, it didn't stay empty for long...

But even if I do clutter things up a bit, I do my best to stay organised about my writing projects. Each post it note is a story. Each different colour is a different series...

And I try to keep the ones I've written nice or orderly to. Accepted stories on the left. Out of date drafts on the right. The ones that still need to be re-written in the middle. (BTW - the one in the middle in this photo - Yes! - has already been re-written. It was part of TEB's Friction anthology that came out last week!)

There's one part of the room I'm still decorating a little bit at a time, creating a border out of my cover art...

My desk. I tidied before I took the photo. It hasn't been this orgainsed since Christmas!

No matter how tidy things are, sometimes staring at the computer screen just doesn't work. This is my thinking chair, for those times when I just need to take a break and listen to the characters in my head without trying to type at the same time.

And that's it really. The space is working well for me so far. I just signed my 21st contract with TEB. I'll get those covers in my border all the way around the room yet!

If you want to take a peak at some of the things I've written here. I've recently added two free stories to the TEB site. You can find links to book of the stories here.

Take care,

Kim Dare


Practice Makes...It Easier?

Or, what I learned this summer in my coaching practice and in my life...

Practice may not make it perfect, but it does make it easier. I've spent a lot of time this summer working out, writing, relaxing, hiking, playing racquetball, and I can tell you I've had a lot of practice, but I'm certainly not perfect at any of them.

But there's a lot to be said for the art of practice, something I've often found myself impatient with over the years. I want to be good, damn it. I want to master what I'm working on. I don't want to spend my life always practicing. Boring, boring, boring.

Or is it?

I have climbed two "14ers" this summer. (A fourteener is a mountain whose peak is over 14,000 feet high.) Before I did those, I practiced on a number of other mountains, including Mount Audubon, a 13,000 foot peak. I can't say that climbing either of the 14ers was a walk in the park. They were a challenge, physically demanding, especially from the lack of air at altitude. I got snowed on, sunburned, hailed on, rained on, and battered to bits by the wind. But I did it. And I did it better than I did two summers ago because I've been working out with a trainer. What have we been doing? Practicing endurance and practicing stability, week after week.

I'll admit to playing a little racquetball. And I'll cop to being fairly bad at it. But I show up every week and I hit the ball (and since my partner is quite an expert), I get a lot of exercise.

And I've been building my coaching practice, and I've been writing.

But there's something to repetition. When I started writing after vacation, I wasn't as good at sitting still for long periods of time. I wasn't as disciplined.

Yet there's a skill set we tap into when we do something repetitively: muscle memory. That's part of the reason we can get on a bike after so long and it comes back to us.

Other things we love are the same, things like hiking, like racquetball, like writing. By doing things, we remember how to do them, and they become easier. We can tap into what we already know in order to repeat our success.

What is it that you can make easier in your life, with a little practice?


Turning the page...

As I read the last few entries on the blog, I wonder if this summer was one of introspection for many people. I know I took several weeks off, two to visit family, one to go camping, and a couple to just vegetate. After three years of writing nearly non-stop, it was nice to read for a change. However, along with my usual menu of thrillers/horror/adventure/romance books, I also spent some time dissecting the lessons offered in several works dedicated to improving a writer's craft. I've been most impressed with Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden. There are tips in there for every author, not just mystery writers. I've been taking lessons to heart and applying them to my own work.

I also feel as if I've turned a page in my personal life as well. My two young sons, adopted from Guatemala four years ago, are both in kindergarten this year. I finally have more than an hour or so to myself. I've begun crafting a schedule that includes exercise, housework, writing, and me time. What a concept!

The sad thing about all that time off is that I haven't written, I'm taking the next couple of months off from blogging here, there, and everywhere, so that I can concentrate on my "real" job...crafting seductive suspense. But rest assured, like that beloved character always says "I'll be back" -- if only in the comments for a while.

Ericka Scott


Thoughts on Aging

By Jenna Byrnes

I celebrated a birthday recently and while it wasn't a big one, it still meant another year has come and gone. I've always been a believer in the thought that a person is only as old as he or she feels, but dang...sometimes lately, that makes me old! Here are some other thoughts on aging.

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" - Satchel Paige

"It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like." - Jackie Mason

Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone.

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. ~ Mark Twain

Age only matters if you're cheese.

Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway; The good fortune to run into the ones I do; and the eyesight to tell the difference!

He who laughs, lasts.

I've gotten to the age where I need my false teeth and hearing aid before I can ask where I left my glasses.

I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.

If you laugh a lot, when you get older your wrinkles will be in the right places.

Middle age is when you burn the midnight oil around 9:00 PM.

My grandson asked me if I still look at young women. I said yes, but I can't remember why.

My mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely.

Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.

The big thing today is computer dating. If you don't know how to run a computer it really dates you.

The golden years: When actions creak louder than words.

There's nothing wrong with the younger generation that twenty years or so won't cure.


The Dreaded Shaky Wheel

It's really hard to follow up with the Fetish Fair (thanks, Kaenar), so I'm going in a completely different direction. Not a fetish, but more like torture.

Grocery Shopping.

It's the chore I hate the most. It's not sexy. There are no leather wielding mistresses or Leather Men in chaps. Depressing, I know. I battle various people with white hair, small, crying children, and the inability to move a cart from the &^%^$#@!! middle of the aisle. Added to this horror is the fact that the commissary (that's military talk for grocery store) has been undergoing renovations for months. The aisles are more narrow, the ketchup is now where the canned fruit is, and I'm hopelessly lost everytime I go inside.

What the heck does any of this have to do with writing, you might ask? Not a blessed thing. Except it takes up valuable time I'd rather spend writing, reading, or heck, pulling out my toenails one by one.

If you can't tell, I really hate grocery shopping. So wish me luck as I'm off. I SO wish I had a better picture than this, but hey, it's shopping.



It's That Fetish Time of Year Again

August 16, 2009. After waiting a whole year, the time for the Church Street Fetish Fair had rolled around again. August in Toronto is hot and muggy, but that doesn't stop people from coming out to take part or just stroll in the blazing, hot sun to check out the exhibits and the people. The people...are absolutely amazing. This is a totally different event from Pride. People really unleash their inner whatever. I'm going to take you on a little tour of Church Street.

Imagine the sun beating down on you, the smell of leather and sunscreen in the air, and you're eager to see what Toronto has to show. Grab your sunhat and here we go. I was there from noon until 10:00 at night, so I have lots of pictures to share with you.

I love the entry sign. I had to take a picture of it and the garbage containers.

People were dressed in the most amazing gear.

Lots of tattoos, leather and gorgeous men.

Lots of people strolling with their pet.
Some canine. Others not.

Lots of stuff to catch the eye.

I can't wait until next year when I get a chance to do it all again.

In the meantime, check out All Tied Up, my latest release from Total-e-Bound.

Here's the blurb and please check out the excerpt on my site,

As a government agent, Naymeen Renaud’s mission is to belay Aiden Blackshott’s role in treasonous activities. So how does she end up in the wealthy businessman’s playroom, tethered for his pleasure?

Captain Naymeen Renaud’s current assignment for the United League of Veluvian Planets is to thwart any contact between forces hostile to the League, and wealthy industrialist Aiden C. Blackshott. But she soon finds herself straddling a line between duty and lust. She loves it when Aiden captures and pleasures her in his sex playroom. But she suspects her new lover has ties to her former partner, now a rogue agent, she has sworn to bring in.

Aiden also has a mission, one which threatens to fall apart when Naymeen appears the very evening he will play his final role in his assignment. When he allows her to kidnap him to keep her from upsetting carefully laid plans, she whisks him to her star cruiser and ties him to her bed so she can return the favour. She wants to believe in him, but in the end, is he betraying her just as her comrade did?

Thanks for reading and checking out the photos.

Kaenar Langford
Tales to seduce and entice...