Monday, December 22, 2008

Meet Mark La Flamme

Mark LaFlamme is a crime reporter and columnist at the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine. In his weekly column Street Talk he often vents his frustration with and disdain for editors, comparing them to bats, spiders, extraterrestrial slugs, and other beings too diabolical to describe. The column has been named both Best in Maine and Best in New England. Mark is also the author of several novels, all of them just fantastic. The latest is Dirt: An American Campaign

A grieving man disappears with the body of his dead bride and a mad race is on to find him before he can destroy his father's campaign for the White House. An exploration of the dark side of politics, "Dirt: An American Campaign" delivers a plot teetering on the cliff-edge of madness as one candidate tries to bury his own scandals while exposing the dirt of others.


1. Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

It doesn't seem like I was given a choice in the matter. When I was a kid, I used to write weird, gloomy stories about ghosts in the woods around my house or rocking chairs that rocked all by themselves. I don't remember not being a writer. I wrote long before I realized that a person could do this as a career.
In 1994, I became a newspaper reporter and columnist and started making money for my efforts. But I still wrote short stories and eventually novels. Some people gamble, others build birdhouses.
I think if you're a writer, it will never occur to you to ask yourself whether you are or are not.

2. What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?

No matter what's going on in my life, I know that when I get home, I'll be flying off into that make believe world and doing anything I want to do. I like that quite a lot. An alcoholic will remind himself, during a particularly rough stretch, that if he can just tough it out for a while longer, he can get home and get that fizzy fix. It is the same for a writer. At the end of the day is the sweet relief (and occasional indigestion) of words.
There is nothing I dislike about being an author. There is the grind of query letters and long nights with The Writer's Market, but the act of authoring itself is apart from that.

3. How do you balance your personal and writing time?

I work in the newsroom until late in the evenings, covering live crime or other forms of chaos. Sometimes, that chaos brings me back out in the wee hours of morning. But no matter what, I'm coming home at some point to pound out a minimum of 2,000 words of fiction because to not do so makes me itchy.
If you're a writer, you tend to crave it. You will delay heading to that bash downtown until you get the night's writing out. Or you will lock yourself in your room when the bash is over and sensible people have gone to sleep. If you're a writer, you have an inate need to write and will find the time for it without much of a fight.

4. How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?

Typically, I have one little dot of an idea that might make an interesting novel, just one simple scene or scenario. When I pursue that thought further, a character naturally develops to fit into the role. I begin to explore him, wondering about his background, his motivations, his strengths and weaknesses. I'll give him a history and hopefully, a name. With this personality born, the original story idea begins to broaden. I see strange things happening, other people being introduced. At that point, I'll start jotting down some notes or throw caution to the wind and just start writing.

5. What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I write a lot of horror and a lot of thrillers. I make conscious efforts to steer away from these genres and find myself back there, anyway. I'll be five thousand words into what is meant to be a simple drama and suddenly, a dead girl is creeping from a closet or a plant is attacking a man as he drinks a martini.
A girlfriend once challenged me to write a love story and I took on that challenge with confidence. I started out alright, but within two or three pages, four people were dead and many others were on their way there.
I don't know why my writing tends toward the grim. Writing is often a supreme exercise in self-psychoanalysis and for now, I find it best to ignore what that might imply.

6. What is the biggest misconception about being an author?

I hear this all the time: "I hear you have a few books out there. Man, it must be nice to have money."
You want to give these people noogies until they fall down. With my first couple of books, I spent more money than I made. Easily. Advertising, buying your own copies to flog to the brick and mortar stores, promotional efforts that don't work, more advertising...
Smart writers will tell you that writing a book is the easy part. Promoting and selling is like a real job. Absolutely true. Ultimately, you want to discover the winning formula or get that big break (I'm still waiting for your call, Oprah) and that job becomes easier. When that dude makes the comment about all the big money that comes with book writing, you won't be there to hear it because you'll be in Biminy.

7. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I might pilfer a particular quirk or characteristic from a real person, but generally, characters in my book are complete works of fiction. The exception, sometimes, is their names. In desperation, trying to name a character on the fly, I am sometimes forced to recall an old school teacher or boyhood friend to come up with a fast moniker. I love you, Miss Mayberry.

8. Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?

Presently, it's a tie between the drunken author Billy Baylor, and the wisecracking mercenary Thomas Cashman, both from "Dirt: An American Campaign." Individually, they are marvelous characters, each very dynamic. Together, they become some SUPER character, somehow elevating one another to new levels of richness. Plus they bicker a lot, like a married couple, and that is just entertaining as hell.
I was also very fond of Jonathan Cain from "The Pink Room." I identified with his personality quite a lot, though he was much, much braver than I about things like haunted closets.

9. If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?

When a producer from Paramount approached me about the rights to "The Pink Room," a group of my bloggers actually created an entire cast for the potential movie. A slightly known actor named Peter Hermann (husband of actress Mariska Hargitay) won the lead role of Jonathan Cain. Angie Harmon (from Law & Order) was cast as his deceased wife.
For "Dirt," the only role we've nailed down is that of Thomas Cashman, the mercenary. That one was given to Patrick Warburton, most known as Elaine's boyfriend on "Seinfeld" as well as the voice of Joe in "The Family Guy."

10. What would you want readers to take away from your books?

I want the readers to remember and carry with them whatever it is about the book that strikes them. I've heard from hundreds of people who have read "Dirt" and they do not all report the same thing. Some rave about the story itself, all the gorgeous twists and turns. Others have fallen in love with the characters. A few insist that the story has changed the way they view politics in general. Almost everybody who has read the novel have been struck by something and they continue thinking about it long after the last page has been read. That's good enough for me.

11. Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?

Just sit yourself down and get going. Make a few notes if you want to and give your initial characters some names. I know so many people with great ideas they want to write out but they never do. They get stalled because they fear that first chapter won't be great. Or they can't get going because they don't know how their story is supposed to end. Pure procrastination. Start writing and let the weird, writer's voodoo take over.
In "The Pink Room," I was two-thirds finished before the ending came to me like a poke to the eye. I don't know where it came from exactly, but I loved it and I began writing 4,000 words a day after that just to get to that beautiful conclusion.
In "Dirt," I was probably halfway through when I had an "Aha!" moment that led me to the ending. A powerful relief it was, too, because before that point, I was wary of how I would wrap things up.
I think writers who become overwhelmed in the thick of their stories should put a little faith in the writing mind's ability to sort things out. The next great twist or mind-blowing idea for an ending might come in a firecracker flash while you're sitting at the keyboard, or it might come when you're not working on it at all. A good bulk of unexpected inspirations have come to me while shaving, showering, driving or – in one inconvenient incident – trying to enjoy an intimate moment.
Doctors tell insomniacs all the time that no matter how long they stay awake, the body will eventually insist on going to sleep. I think my rambling point here is, if you start writing, things will work themselves out naturally.

12. Who are your favorite authors?

Edgar Allan Poe is my man, of course. I started reading him when I was too young to really understand the intricacies of his stories but the music of his work always played nice in my ear. I head down to Baltimore every other Halloween to ghoul around his grave.
I'm a huge fan of the recently deceased Ira Levin. Read "Rosemary's Baby" or "The Stepford Wives" and I challenge you to find one wasted word. He was a master of conciseness and I try to emulate that style in my own work.
Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson are other influences. From Jack Ketchum I learned to never take the easy way out and I consider John Sanford, of the Prey series, to be the master of dialogue.
Of course when it comes to sheer story telling brilliance, Stephen King can't be beat. I grew up on his work and blame him for both warping my mind and teaching me the fundementals of the craft. His book "On Writing" is very good for aspiring authors.

13. What are you reading right now?

I'm taking a break from novels and reading real accounts about the Donner Party, the unfortunate group who became stranded at the Sierra Nevadas during the westward expansion and were forced to eat each other. There are a lot of books on the subject and they won't cost you an arm and a leg. You can really sink your teeth into this stuff.
I could go on and on.

14. Do you have a belief in certain spiritual things? (For instance, souls, nirvana, God, invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, or heaven.)

On all of that, I consider myself supremely openminded. I have no firm beliefs, but I'm also not arrogant enough to dismiss anything outright. In recent years, I've become enamored of things like string theory, m-theory, parallel dimensions and the associated weird concepts. I think everything we've believed in for millions of years is rooted in science. We just haven't made all the big discoveries yet.

15. Which of the following motivates you more to accomplish something?

I consider my motivation blind faith. I have a nagging feeling that's always with me and it tells me that things will work out – that they are meant to work out and I just need to put in the work. It's not fatalism, exactly, or any sort of religious notion. Just a hunch, I guess, and I believe in hunches.

16. Which of the following best describes you? And give us an example of how emotions or logic show up in your work.

Seems like I might be missing something here. The "of the following" part does not appear to be listed.

17. Tell me about a decision in your book that you made which was a bad one for your character. Did you keep the scene in the book or did you delete it?

In the original first half of "Dirt: An American Campaign," it occurred to me that Calvin Cotton, who made off with the body of his dead wife, was appearing far too much in the story line. I began to believe that he was better off on the periphery, imagined but not directly seen by the reader. How is the poor yutz going out to eat, checking into motels, stopping to take a leak, when he has a cadaver riding along with him? I wanted the reader to ponder those ideas on their own. So I hacked out some of those scenes and only alluded to them. The impact is obvious. It makes for a more titillating read and only adds to the squirming uneasiness of the plot.

18. What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to writing?

My strengths are my characters. To the reader, they are real people. This is not my own assessment, it is something repeated over and over as I talk about my books with those who have enjoyed them. I also write with tautness and avoid veering off into dreamy digression. I want the reader to get hooked and stay hooked.
My weakness is impatience. If I have a great idea for a new twist or development, I can't wait to get there. I might hurry through a scene with childlike ancitipation and the result is sloppiness. I have to scold myself and then go back to clean it all up.

19. Describe a time when you had to sacrifice quality for a deadline, or visa versa. Would you try to extend a deadline to stay true to the quality of writing you aspire to?

Sacrificing quality for a deadline is something that happens in journalism quite often. Many of the stories I get break just minutes before the paper is due to go to press. I have to crank out a piece on a downtown shooting in ten minutes or less, so there is no room for flowery writing. You rely on the inverted pyramid style, reporting the most important elements at the top. The beauty of this is that deadline writing in journalism utterly prepares you for writing outside of the newsroom. You write more concisely and waste few words. You have greater discipline because you know that to not finish on time is to invite chaos. I have never blown a deadline in 15 years of reporting and don't plan to in the writing of novels. Agents and publishers take note.

20. Tell me about a project you have been working on and how you organize the your paperwork, chapters, writing goals, etc.

These days, when I have an idea for a story, I start poking around various websites to research the areas on which I need educating. Right now, I have an idea for a book about what happens in the mind during the final seconds of life. I've pulled up some good websites on the workings of the human brain and created a folder into which to bookmark them. I've also taken notes on some of the characters I have in mind and created folders for them, too. The idea is to have the basic research either done or materials at the ready. When you get hot and start writing like a fiend, you don't want to have to pause to run for an encyclopedia. You will have to make such pauses here and there, but the fewer the better. Interruptions to the writing spree are enemies to an author.

21. Describe for me two improvements you have made in your writing in the past six months. Greater word count. More emotions. Better able to describe a character. Etc. What have you improved?

I think every new day of writing comes with improvements. You look over last night's work and find something sloppy. You think: "Man, that's horrible. I won't make that mistake again."
Since writing "Dirt," I've reminded myself that the first draft is for writing. You can go back and weave in all that clever symbolism and foreshadowing the second time around. I don't get as hung up on these things when I'm on a roll.

22. What aspect of your past books did you enjoy the most?

It's always the "Wow!" moments, when a knot in your plot suddenly becomes loosened. One moment you don't know where your story is going and then, bam! Out of nowhere, a gift of inspiraton from the literary gods. It happens several times with every new book. I love those moments. They lift you out of periods of pessimism (of which there will always be many) and back up into the grand idea that, hey! This story is going to work after all.

23. Now that we know you better, how can we buy your book "Dirt: An American Campaign?"

The book can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any of the other major booksellers or directly from Splinter Press. Links to all of that can be found at my website, found at There is a ton of information about my work as a journalist and novelist in there as well as a lot of less serious stuff, like my blog "The Screaming Room." Readers should feel to contact me through the website if they have thoughts or questions. I get lonely, you know.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meet Pamela Samuels Young - Author of Murder On The Down Low

Pamela Samuels Young
Author of Murder on the Down Low

1. Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

I knew pretty early that I wanted to be a writer, having worked on school newspapers in junior high, high school and college. When I decided to major in journalism at the University of Southern California, I didn't give much thought to creative writing. At the age of 18, I didn't have the guts to even consider a career as a novelist. The writers I enjoyed reading—James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Joan Didion—were incredibly talented literary writers. I knew I didn't have that kind of poetic writing talent. So I pursued a career in journalism, working as a news writer at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and as a news writer and associate producer at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

I later found myself burned out after a few years of the daily newsroom grind and decided to go to law school. Flash forward several years and I somehow gathered the courage to give fiction writing a try. As it turns out, writing legal thrillers is the perfect combination of my journalism and legal careers.

I'm so proud to have published three books: Murder on the Down Low (2008), In Firm Pursuit (2007) and Every Reasonable Doubt (2006). Getting published was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but nothing has been more rewarding.

2. What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?

I love sitting down at a computer and seeing my imagination come to life on the page. It's so cool to get an email from a stranger who enjoyed one of my books. It can be a little weird, however, when someone sees me at a book signing and wants to discuss a character like she's a real person. I don't particularly like the business side of the publishing industry. Many writers will tell you they don't see eye to eye with their editor regarding cover design, promotional angles etc. But it comes with the territory and you just have to deal with it.

3. How do you balance your personal and writing time?

Personal time? What's that? I have none. I work fulltime as a lawyer for a large corporation. All my free time goes to writing.

4. How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?

The story premise is where I begin. I will then spend anywhere from a few weeks to as long as three months outlining a book before I sit down to write. I also mull over my story quite a bit. I'm thinking about it in the shower, while I'm standing in line at the grocery store, during my 45-minute commute to work. I can almost see each chapter as if it were a scene in a movie. Only after I have a completed outline do I start writing. And when I write, I go from page one to the last page without doing much editing. For me, it's psychologically motivating to complete that first draft, even if it's so bad I'd never dare show it to anyone. Once I have a first draft, then the real writing starts. I revise, and revise and revise some more. That process can last six months or more.

5. What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

All three my books fall within the legal thriller genre. I'm a lawyer and I've always loved reading mysteries, particularly those that involve fascinating legal cases. My desire to see more diversity in legal fiction is what caused me to take a stab at writing my first book. It bothered me that the legal thrillers I read never depicted women attorneys or African-American attorneys as lead characters. So . . . I decided to fill the void.

6. What is the biggest misconception about being an author?

That you're making lots of cash. Not so! (At least not yet!)

7. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Many of the characters in my book are based on people I know. Some are from my imagination, and some have some element of friends and family members. It's so funny when friends ask me, "Did you base that character on me?" Even if I didn't, I tell them I did.

8. Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?

Special who is in all three of my novels.! She is indeed Special. She's smart, street savvy and a true friend.

9. If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?

If I were casting Murder on the Down Low, I'd like Jada Pinkett Smith to play Special, Sainaa Lathan to play Vernetta, Queen Latifah to play Nichelle, Angela Bassett to play J.C. and LL Cool J to play Jefferson.

10. What would you want readers to take away from your most recent book, Murder on the Down Low?
I often have a hard time recalling exactly when or how the idea for a particular novel originated. For the most part, the ideas simply pop into my head from some unknown place. That's not the case with Murder on the Down Low. I have a crystal clear recollection of watching an Oprah show featuring J.L. King, author of On the Down Low. As I listened to him discuss this secret world of men on the down low—guys who insist that they're heterosexual but have sex with other men—I was completely stunned. My emotions went from shock to anger to fear. The next day, while driving to work, the premise for the book popped into my head: What if attractive, prominent, successful married men were being gunned down on the streets of L.A. and no one knew why? And what if they all shared a dirty little secret?

Writing Murder on the Down Low gave me an opportunity to both entertain and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. It's my hope that Murder on the Down Low helps people understand that HIV is not a gay disease. Many people – male and female, straight and gay -- don't know their status because they haven't been tested, so they're unwittingly spreading the disease.

11. Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?

Don't let the naysayers discourage you. Agents and editors have rejected lots of writers who went on to major success in the publishing world (e.g., John Grisham, Terry McMillan, Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling). So when you get that rejection letter, take a minute or two to whine about it, then move on. Your day will come. Just keep writing!

12. Who are your favorite authors?

Too many too name, but here are just a few . . . Terry McMillan, Greg Iles, Tami Hoag, Sandra Brown, Walter Mosley, and a new writer Scott Pratt.

13. What are you reading right now?

The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffrey Deaver and I'm loving it. This is my first novel by Deaver. I am now a fan for life!

14. Do you have a belief in certain spiritual things? (For instance, souls, nirvana, God, invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, or heaven.)

Without my faith in God, I wouldn't have the success I've had so far. My day begins with prayer. I couldn't survive this tough publishing industry without it.

15. Which of the following motivates you more to accomplish something?
The prospect of fame or self-fulfillment.

Definitely self-fulfillment. I wrote for three long years without making a dime and, unfortunately, I still haven't socked away a fortune though I have published three books. I write because these engaging stories drop into my head and I feel compelled to put them down on paper so I can share them with others.

16. Which of the following best describes you? And give us an example of how emotions or logic show up in your work. I am emotional and base my decisions and writing on feelings. I am a thinker and I base my decisions and writing on logic and research

I am definitely emotional. Just ask my husband! I want readers to feel what my characters feel. I'm pleased when readers tell me they identify with my characters' rage or fear in Murder on the Down Low. That was indeed my goal. One of my favorite characters, Special in Murder on the Down Low, is a good example. Her rage over her cousin's death leads her to do some crazy things. I actually felt her rage as I wrote the scenes.

17. What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to writing?

My strength is my background as a journalist, specifically a television news writer. I spent seven years writing news under the gun, so I can get my first draft down on paper pretty quickly. I also write quite a bit as a lawyer, so writing comes pretty easily to me since I do it so much. I love writing dialogue, but I have a lot of room for growth when it comes to the narrative portions of my chapters. I often have to close my eyes and try to imagine the scene where the chapter is taking place. Descriptions, whether people or inanimate objects, are difficult for me.

18. Describe a time when you had to sacrifice quality for a deadline, or visa versa. Would you try to extend a deadline to stay true to the quality of writing you aspire to?

I'm glad to say I've never run up against a deadline I couldn't meet. (Knock on wood!) I hope to never have to sacrifice quality. If I wasn't happy with the final product, I wouldn't send it in. I would definitely ask for an extension if I thought I needed more time. Readers are very unforgiving. It you write something that sucks, they will never forgive you.

19. Tell me about a project you have been working on and how you organize the your paperwork, chapters, writing goals, etc.

I'm working on a new thriller called Buying Time. It's the tale of a recently disbarred lawyer who unwittingly finds himself in the middle of murder scheme where his former clients are the victims. I practice law full time, so I write whenever and wherever I can. Usually in the evenings and on weekends. I recently started using Dragon, a voice recognition software. It allows me to dictate into the computer. It's amazingly accurate. I recently dictated a few chapters into my digital recorder during my 45-minute commute home, then downloaded them to my computer when I got home. It allowed me to use time sitting in traffic writing my book!

20. Now that we know you better, how can we buy Murder on the Down Low?

All three of my books, Murder on the Down Low, In Firm Pursuit and Every Reasonable Doubt, are available wherever books or sold. If you don't find them on your local bookstore shelf, please ask the stores to order them.

Pamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and author of the legal thrillers, Murder on the Down Low, Every Reasonable Doubt and In Firm Pursuit. You can find Pamela's articles on writing at, where she is a featured fiction writing expert.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels - Young

This is not the kind of book I normally read. I'm more of a sci-fi and fantasy kind of girl. To be honest, when I picked up the book with reviewing in mind, I felt a bit of trepidation.

However, I discovered an author, Pamela Samuels Young, who writes a riveting mystery. You see, one reason I generally don't read mysteries is that I get tired of knowing who dunnit before the book ends. Ms. Young did an excellent job of dropping hints of who the criminal was and an even better job of misdirection. The criminal was in plain sight from the beginning and yet wild geese were everywhere.
I really enjoyed the mystery.
More importantly, I learned some imperative information. MURDER ON THE DOWN LOW is based on some horrifying facts of which every woman should be aware.
Imagine for a moment -- You are dating an amazing, gorgeous, wonderful man who by his actions or his inaction kills you. Now go one step further. You have the ability to stop being murdered by very simple steps but you refuse to take those simple steps.
MURDER ON THE DOWN LOW addresses this very real scenario. It's a must read for every modern woman.

D r. Quentin Banks was a man's man. The kind of guy other men liked being around. Handsome, but not a pretty boy. Wealthy, but not a showoff. Versatile enough to host a fundraiser one night and chill out with his buddies over a game of dominoes the next. Standing outside Exam Room 5, the doctor scanned the chart of the first patient he was scheduled to see after his lunch meeting. His office suite in the Horton Medical Plaza was tastefully decorated with muted walls and dark slate tile. Colorful prints of jazz musicians lined the long, bright hallway. The place was classy, but not over the top. Just like Dr. Banks. He checked his watch. It was almost eleven-thirty. Time to leave. The doctor closed the chart and dropped it into the plastic casing posted at eye level outside the exam room. He strode into his private office, locked the door, then retrieved a throwaway cell phone from his desk. "I'm about to leave," he said. "The President's Suite, right?" It was always that cut and dry. He was a happily married man who did not have the time or the need for emotional connections. His lunch meetings were all about the sex. The doctor slipped out of his white coat and hung it on a metal rack. Casually but impeccably dressed, he wore a khaki-colored shirt and black slacks made from an expensive linen fabric. The kind that didn't wrinkle much. He was forty-two years old, just shy of six feet, and a hearty 215 pounds. He had the build of an aging ex-football player. Not nearly as lean as in his prime, but thick and firm enough to advertise that he still hit the gym on a regular basis. After telling his office manager that he'd be back by one-thirty, Dr. Banks took an elevator to the parking structure. He eased his black Jag onto Hillcrest Street. At the light, he turned left on Manchester Boulevard and headed for the northbound ramp of the 405 Freeway. Without question, Dr. Banks was one of the best OB/GYNs in Southern California. From the day he had applied to Howard Medical School, he had vowed to return home to Inglewood to set up shop. And despite the sacrifices, he'd kept his word, turning down opportunities that were far more lucrative, in terms of both prestige and compensation. Having a predominantly black and Latino patient base meant keeping late office hours and working one, sometimes two, Saturdays a month. The people he served couldn't afford to take time off from work. Not even for medical care. When he wasn't working, the doctor cherished his family life. Though he now lived just a few miles from his childhood stomping grounds, in many respects it was a world away. View Park was a haven for L.A.'s black elite. Professionals with six and seven-figure salaries who actually liked the idea of having neighbors who looked like them. The doctor's residence spanned five thousand square feet and had a full-length basketball court, a circular swimming pool, and a guesthouse. The Mrs. was a stay-at-home mom who loved her job as wife and mother to their two sons as much as she loved her husband. All in all, life was good.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happily Ever After or Not?

Happily Ever After or Not? Current mood: annoyed Category: Writing and Poetry
.. I write Adventurous Romance. That means, at least to me, the heroine and the hero are thrown into danger, intrigue, harrowing escapes, monsters, betrayal, suspicion, disaster and so forth. They run, they fight, they hide and they sometimes distrust each other. But each and every time, they discover that they are the ones they can trust in. The hero discovers that no matter what happened, he can rely on the heroine. She learns that no matter how badly things have gone, the heroine is able to trust the hero. By the end of the book, The monster has been destroyed; The villain has been defeated; All is right with the world; and The hero and the heroine live happily ever after.
Some how that seems to be changing.
The other day I was reading a book that was heralded and reviewed as a romance. It was Urban Fantasy and both the location where I bought it online and the numerous reviews I read of the book before I bought it touted it as a romance. (No, I am not going to tell you the author, the name of the book or the place I bought it.)
The book was exciting. The plot was a page-turner. I stayed up until 2 AM reading it. The hero was dashing, handsome, tortured, heroic, all the things you want in a hero. The heroine was heroic, strong, self-assured, independent, learning to rely on the hero, growing, opening up, becoming less of a pain in the ass and more of the love of the heroe's life, in other words, everything you want in a romance heroine. I wanted to finish the book - I had to finish the book. I had to see how everything turned out.
..Everything Went to Crap.
The hero was killed. The heroine was mentally and physically destroyed. The object of the adventure was taken away and not rescued. The villain disappeared, not defeated, and not destroyed. The bad guys won, the good guys lost.
Now, I will admit, perhaps this is a book that is supposed to be the beginning of a series, sort of like the Star Wars saga. But I was terribly disappointed with the ending. The adventure throughout the book was great but the ending ruined the entire book for me.
I want a happy ending when I read. Life, the Universe, and Everything (with a nod to Douglas Adams) gives me enough of bad endings. If I want heroes to die, all I have to do is listen to the news. The same thing for the bad guys winning - listen to the news. I want my heroes to stomp the daylights out of the bad guys. I want my heroines to be taking a deep breath of contentment when everything is said and done. I don't want my heroine to be left crying her eyes out feeling bereft and alone when the book says The End.
What about you? Do you want your romances to be reflective of real life - as in the good guys do not always win and the bad guys walk away untouched? Or do you want a Happy Ever After in your romance?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Mini-Adventure

A Mini-Adventure
This last week I encountered a mini-adventure.Well, it may not have been an adventure to anyone but me. You see, my current computer, a laptop, decided to start giving up, rolling over and expiring. I say start because I am currently using it. But I have an added keyboard because the laptop keyboard no longer works. So the added keyboard is attached at the usb hub. My dvd/cd drive no longer works. It tells me that there is no disk in the drive, no matter how many times I put a disk in. The memory (I discovered I only have 37 GB of memory on the harddrive) is now half full - and that is only with my writing and some cover art. The other half has to be used to actually make the programs work. So the computer is slow, at a crawl. It doesn’t save like it is supposed to. At times it doesn’t even hibernate when told to. Basically, the 5 year old laptop is tired and needs to retire.So I set out on my adventure to find another computer at a reasonable price.Yeah, I know, an impossible mission, but that was my quest.My adventure took place on the internet. You see, because of being caregiver for two invalids I can not go out shopping for a computer. So I have to do all my shopping online.Fifteen years ago, I was a computer whiz. I knew computers backwards and forewards. My hubby used to say I could make the computers do everything including make coffee and dance. Sadly, this week, I discovered that I am a has been. You see, (I seem to be saying that alot) technology has passed me by.I entered a jungle with brands I never heard of: Asus, Acer, Lenovo, Vaio, to name a few. i was surrounded by them. I feared for my life, my sanity. And the alphabet soup was fearsome. XGA, WXGA,NVIDIA, HDD, GMA threatened to overwhelm me. It was all I could do to slog my way through. I approached Consumer Reports, asking if they could guide me through the pathways of confusion. They gave me a map. With that map I traveled the world of online computer dealers.First, one wanted to roll over me with prices too high and memory too low. I escaped, only to find myself face to face with dealers that wanted me to settle for less memory than I have now. Ah, the life of an adventurer.Finally, after wrestling the internet into submission, I found my treasure. In a place called the pyramids of LapTop were opened to me. I wandered euphorically through tunnels and passageways filled to the brim with laptops of every discription, size and price.I had to choose carefully. I could only take one.A Sony Vaio NR, rated excellent in performance and display by Consumer Reports, is the prize I walked away with.Well, I didn’t walk away with it. The lovely little beauty will be shipped to me in 3-4 days.Then I get to delve into the adventure of tranferring my data from one computer to another and hope I don’t lose anything.I’ll let you know how that adventure goes

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stone of Cruento reviewed by Simply Romance Reviews

Stone of Cruento reviewed by Simply Romance Yea!
Stone of Cruento
Cerridwen Press
May 2008
ISBN: 9781419916984


Claren Maxwell felt she was misplaced, like she belonged somewhere else. Even as a vampire she was not like the others. Claren didn’t like to kill. She avoided intimacy with human men. It was too dangerous. Claren wanted to fit in. She wanted to be loved and protected. So she dreamed, but the dreams were becoming too real. She dreamt of three men. In real life she would have to choose one, right?The three men in her dreams materialize. Belgretor, a giant of a man from Cruento, protects her. Daniel is a vampire from Earth who desires her. Jamros is a centaur from Cruento who is drawn to her by destiny. Together the four of them must find a way to stop the destruction of Earth and Cruento.Can Claren choose between the three men she loves while saving the worlds she inadvertently put in jeopardy?
Lynda of Simply Romance Reviews gives Stone of Cruento the SRR GRADE: A

Vampires, goblins, centaurs….a vastly different alternate reality, that’s what you get from the Stone of Cruento. I loved the depth of the characterization and the story building in this riveting fantasy.Claren was a vampire but not the same as other vampires. Repeated dreams of three men and love only served to make her desire a love of her own. Though attracted to vampire Daniel, she doesn’t trust him and resists his charm. Her constant companion is Belgretor but she has yet to learn his full potential, and then there is the prophecy.One plot twist after another with love, sex, intrigue, back stabbing centaurs, you name it this story delivers. Charlene Leatherman weaves this story tighter than a rug and hands us a story that will leave us breathless and hoping for more.The Stone of Cruento is a great story and so much more. Claren has to juggle the relationship of three totally different beings let alone men while being in the middle of a prophecy she has no idea about. This is just excellent story telling. Don’t hesitate to pick up this exceptional book. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hazel Statham's Book His Shadowed Heart

His Shadowed Heart at
Get your copy Now!!!

Can a shadowed heart be healed? Can love grow where least expected? The Earl of Waverly believes not. How wrong can he be!

After the death of his wife, the Earl of Waverly, believing his heart irreparably damaged, enters into a marriage of convenience. However, he is not prepared for the healing influence his new young bride has on his life.

Despite the couple’s new-found happiness, nefarious deeds abound and strange happenings are attributed to the ghost of his former wife. Will their love stand the test or will the perpetrator emerge the victor?
Traversing the long corridor to his bedchamber, he paused momentarily outside his wife’s door, but as no light shone from beneath, he continued on to his own apartment. Closing the door quietly behind him he paused in the centre of the room. All was in darkness except for the pool of light cast by the candles he held and for a moment, their flickering caught the handle to the connecting door. Yielding to an irresistible temptation, he pressed the handle, and finding no resistance there, entered the chamber.

As in his own room, all was in darkness, but turning to where he knew the bed to be he raised the candles higher so that their glow spread across the room, illuminating the sleeping figure there. Crossing to the bed, he knelt at her side and extinguishing all but one of the flames, placed the candelabra on a small table at the side of the bed.

The shadows of the remaining light played across Caroline’s sleeping countenance and he smoothed a lock of hair that had strayed across her forehead. He knew the desire that his lips should follow his finger’s course, but even in his state of inebriation, he knew this would be foolish. For several minutes, he watched his wife sleep, eventually placing his head upon the pillow beside her. His lips curved into a loving smile as his eyes drank in her sleep-softened countenance and he felt her breath caress his cheek. The longing to hold her became an almost physical thing and his arms ached with the suppressed desire. Eventually she stirred, muttering incoherently in her sleep, and he raised himself up. What foolishness is this, he thought. I am acting like a callow youth, and immediately he was on his feet. Snatching up the light, he went quickly out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
~ * ~

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Rose By Another Name

Lovac followed the trail with ease. Like most lionesses, this one did not give him much of a challenge. He sighed. Except for the entertainment of the audience Lovac didn’t see the need for the hunt at all. It would be easier on him and the lionesses if they just threw them in a room and recorded their sex act. A different type of entertainment, probably not one that the people would want to broadcast to an audience filled with children. Better to have the thrill of the hunt ended with copulation.
Still, he thought the way the lioness looked at him at the starting gate she would have given him a greater challenge. She was not hiding her tracks at all. He didn’t have to look for the bent blade of grass or search for the gentle press of a foot print. This lioness wanted him to follow her, wanted him to catch her, and wanted him to bed her.
Or so Lovac thought.
He pulled up short when the tracks took on a decidedly different feel. Instead of being hard footed and obvious, the lioness began to step softly. The tread became lighter and lighter until no one except a trained hunter like he was could have followed the trail. Lovac knelt beside a single bent sprig of grass, the only sign the lioness passed by.
“What are you up to, my pretty?” Lovac asked no one in particular and everyone on the broadcast feed. He followed the barely noticeable trail to the edge of forest next to a tunnel of some sort.
Lovac had never been in this part of the hunting field before. He saw delicate, soft tracks near the cave-like entrance. He also saw the deep claw marks on the tree limbs as though a large cat had scrabbled up the tree in a hurry.
“Exactly what you want me to think,” Lovac whispered. One of his requirements as a participant in the ‘Hunt’ was to make sure the audience was aware of his deductions. “Yet, these prints near this…this tunnel seem a bit too convenient as well. Where are you, my pretty?”

Zna rankled when he called her his ‘pretty’. She had a name. She was introduced to him, yet he continued to view her as a piece of property. From her hiding place above the Hole she watched the hunter stand and look around. He was better than she thought. Better than other hunters she encountered.
Better looking too. Zna let her eyes swing over the hunter below her. What is my attraction? Zna smiled to herself. Besides the broad chest, and narrow hips. He is muscular. I wonder what it would be like to have his arms wrapped around me? My legs wrapped around him. Zna caught herself. His pheromones must be extremely high. I want to crawl down from this tree and make him mine. From what I hear he is quite a stud.
Zna swallowed her feelings. Bescjen is my only concern. Besides, his is a hunter. I am a lioness. No matter what my body desires I have to stay focused.
She had to wait until he stepped into the entrance of the Hole following her fake foot steps. Then she could push him through its mouth. It would take him more than thirty ticks to get out of the Hole, even if he was only at the mouth. Doing it that way, she would be free of the Hole and would achieve her lead. The mouth of the Hole would not do Lovac a tremendous amount of harm, merely delay him. She did not want to push him deeper, nor did she want to follow him into the Hole. It would mean possible death for him and the end of her winning the hunt. It would take too long to get out of it. Bescjen would be in jeopardy.
Zna tensed, ready to pounce.

Lovac raised his head, sniffing the air. He was a skilled hunter. He followed tracks that no other hunter could. He shot truer and knew traps from superbly simple to agonizingly complex. He knew a trap when he saw one. He also knew scents.
He was looking at a trap. He smelled the scent of a lioness.
His pheromones were biologically enhanced. One of the reasons he was a preferred stud was that the lionesses were attracted to him by scent. For some reason, this lioness, this Zna, resisted him. She played the game of making him think she wanted him, leaving well defined tracks. Then, at the mouth of this…cave, her method changed.
Lovac backed away from the blackness facing him. He slung his rifle over his shoulder. The weapon was armed with two kinds of ammunition. The first was a marking pellet. It would mark Zna showing that he captured her. The second type of bullet was a tranquilizer. It wouldn’t put her to sleep. What amusement would that give? It would relax her and make her willing to accept his mating with her. Most of the lionesses he hunted never needed the second bullet. Lovac couldn’t remember when he fired a second bullet.
Looking around the trees that edged the clearing he stood in, Lovac wondered if he would need the second bullet this time. Would he need a real bullet, one that killed? Would she be one of the lionesses that attempted to kill her hunter? It happened rarely, but it happened. Most of the time, death during a hunt was of the lioness. Hunters, poor hunters, got carried away with adrenaline and the lionesses scent. The feline woman was beaten to death.
Lovac gave a bitter laugh. Another thing that was destroying the true beauty of the Hunt. The government gave hunters carte blanche. They could kill lionesses with immunity. Unconsciously he reached for the knife in the sheath at his belt.
Was she one of the ones that refused to give in to the government? According to her profile she has not been mated since she was inducted into the Hunt. Lovac racked his brain trying to remember if any of the hunters had been injured or killed. He had not read the file on Zna as he should have. He committed a cardinal sin of hunters. He did not know his enemy.
A bird flew out of a tree nearby jerking Lovac back to the Hole. He scanned the tree line and saw nothing that indicated a lioness. Either she was gone through the trees like her deep claw marks indicated, or she was hiding in the trees watching him. Lovac did not believe that she went into the cave in front of him.
Cave. Tunnel. Neither name seemed appropriate. He could admit he was whipped and communicate to the Handlers for information about this area of the hunt zone. He had not traveled to this location before. It was an unknown. And he was led here.
Lovac put his hand into the darkness of the cave mouth. In a normal cave, he would see his hand in the shadows. He would see the gradation from light to dark on his skin. He didn’t. His hand simply disappeared. Lovac pulled his hand back. It was his hand, unharmed. Yet when he put his hand into the darkness it was as if his arm ended at his wrist.
Backing from the cave Lovac searched around the ground for a long branch. He found one and moved to the darkness. He stuck the branch into the darkness about three feet into the darkness.
Nothing, just the illusion that the stick ended where the darkness began.
Suddenly something took hold of the stick and tugged. The branch was pulled out of Lovac’s hands. He jumped back, bringing his rifle forward in one fluid motion. Whatever was in the darkness would not be hurt with the bullets he carried, but maybe he could slow them down. If it was the lioness he would fire twice rapidly, subduing her. He was tired of this game she played. He wanted to get the mating done and get back to his quiet life.

Zna bit her lip to keep from growling in anger. The hunter was not supposed to test the Hole. He was supposed to walk in, following her steps. Her whiskers twitched as she tried to decide her next course to take.

“Lovac,” the Handler’s name spoke over the com-link the hunter wore at his ear.
“Here,” Lovac answered. It was voice activated. He did not move his hands from his rifle. It was useless against a real attack, but it made him feel better as he stared at the darkness that swallowed the branch.
“I took the com off line. The audience is getting restless. Do something.”
“Give me a reading on that,” Lovac nodded his head toward the darkness.
“Are you giving up?” the voice on the other end asked. “I don’t think I have ever heard you ask for a reading.”
“You said we were off line, right?” Lovac waited for the assent. “Give me a reading on that cave or you will be my next target. I won’t have these useless tranquilizer bullets either.”
Lovac smiled as the pause on the other end lengthened beyond the normal for checking equipment.
“Mister Lovac,” the voice of the Handler was respectful and wavering. Lovac heard the voice of the Handler’s supervisor in the background. Lovac was valuable. He was not to be mocked. “According to the readout, there is nothing there.”
“Can you see what I am looking at?”
“Yes, sir.”
“And you still tell me there is nothing there?”
“I can see the…the whatever it is, but according to the scanners nothing is there.”
“A hologram?”
“No,sir. Just nothing. It’s like there is a hole in the universe where nothing is. Not even anti-matter like a black hole. Just nothing.”
Lovac took in a deep breath. “Where is the lioness?”

Zna heard the hunter talking to the Handlers. They were off-line according to what she heard. No audio, no vid for the audience. Probably some kind of government announcement going on. And they were going to pinpoint her location in just a second. She had to act, now.
Screeching from her perch, Zna leapt for the hunter. She angled her leap and landed square on his back. She sank her claws into the heavy jacket Lovac wore. The hunter rolled as she knew he would. Instead of trying to gain purchase and get to her feet to fight, Zna used the momentum of the roll to continue forward. She pushed with her back legs and her tail and shoved. Zna and Lovac rolled into the Hole.

“Lovac? Lovac? Come in. Lovac? What in the name of the Spirits is going on?” the Handler’s voice shouted over the com-link that was knocked off Lovac’s ear as he and Zna fought. The handler looked at his supervisor. One moment he had readings on the hunter and the lioness. The next they were gone. Not moved. Simply gone. The scanner said there was no one there, only a space of nothing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

His Shadowed Heart by Hazel Statham

I hope you will allow me to introduce you to the romance of Regency and Georgian England.

Romance means many different things to so many different people. A glance, a word, just a little unexpected gesture, all have the power to charm. In Regency and Georgian times when young girls were chaperoned in almost every situation, the language of the fan was used to convey messages to would-be suitors and lovers. Hearts could be broken across the space of a ballroom if a lady’s gestures were not favourable.

There were fans for every occasion and the owners lost no chance to wield them to their advantage. A fan placed close to the heart means I love you. A half-opened fan pressed to the lips – you may kiss me. The fan resting on the left cheek, means no, the right cheek, yes. However, there are many gestures and all are not favourable, for example a fan held over the left ear means I wish to be rid of you.
Gentlemen, not to be outdone, often resorted to the language of flowers to express their feelings and whether it be a single flower or a huge bouquet, the message would be clear. There appears to be a flower for every emotion, Acacia - Secret love, Ambrosia - Love returned, Anemone - Unfading love, Arbutus - Only love. Not only did they show love, but withered flowers show rejected love.
These are just a few examples of the messages that could be conveyed by these methods but give you some idea of how love could be lost or won without a word being spoken.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Let Me Introduce Guest Blogger and Author Hazel Statham

Hazel Statham will be gracing us with a visit during her Virtual Blog Tour during the month of July. She will be talking about her lastest book
Here is a blurb:
Can a shadowed heart be healed? Can love grow where least expected? The Earl of Waverly believes not. How wrong can he be!

After the death of his wife, the Earl of Waverly, believing his heart irreparably damaged, enters into a marriage of convenience. However, he is not prepared for the healing influence his new young bride has on his life.

Despite the couple’s new-found happiness, nefarious deeds abound and strange happenings are attributed to the ghost of his former wife. Will their love stand the test or will the perpetrator emerge the victor?
Let me introduce Hazel:
Hazel lives in Staffordshire, England. She started writing at fifteen and has written on and off ever since. She has always been fascinated by history, especially the Regency and Georgian eras and it is the romance and elegance of these times that she tries to recreate in her work.
When she was a child, she often told herself stories and this just progressed to committing them to paper to entertain family and friends. There have however, been gaps in her writing years where marriage and employment intervened, but now that she no longer works, she is able to return to her first love and devote her time to writing. She had her first two novels published in 2005.

She has been married to her husband Terry since 1969 and they have a grown daughter and beautiful grandson. Apart from reading and writing historical novels, her other ruling passion is animals and until recently, she was treasurer for an organization that raised money for animal charities.She currently shares her home with two lovely yellow Labradors named Lucy and Mollie, who are her constant companions. Mollie is a recent addition to the family and at five-months-old is keeping everyone on their toes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Writers, Emotions and Reviews

One major attribute of a fiction writer - whatever the genre - is to feel emotions. The writer has to be able to feel the emotions so they can put those same emotions on paper well enough so the reader feels the same emotions. Adventure writers have to make their reader's heart pound, their pulse quicken and those pages turn. Romance writers have to make their reader's heart go pitter-pat, their pulse quickens and depending what kind of romance, tears fall, body parts go 'oh my' and a sigh escapes when the happy ever after happens. Mystery, suspense, thriller, horror writers all have to feel the emotions they want the readers to feel - fear, tension, anxiety, startle, checking behind doors and under the bed for spookies. Writers have to know and feel these emotions so they can write them.
But therein is the problem. Writers also live in a real world with real life that creates real emotions. That is probably why, historically, writers are drawn to alcohol and drugs. Because writers feel things intensely, whether it is in real life or in imagination.

So, when a writer gets a bad review, life crashes around them. After all, it is not just rejection of an object. It is rejection of the outpouring by the writer of personal emotions into a medium that everyone can see and someone had the audiacity to reject.

We all learn how to deal with negative reviews. We pout, stomp our feet, drink, eat chocolate, and myriad other things to get rid of the negative emotions the review puts into our psyche.

This blog is not about a negative review.

When a writer gets a good review there is just as much emotion - but this time there is dancing, singing, yelling it from the rooftop, eating chocolate (there is always chocolate no matter what emotion, at least for me there is) and all sorts of things to do to savor the wonderful emotions we gratefully receive.

I was doubly blessed this week. I got good reviews for Prophecy of Vithan
and for Stone of Cruento.

Jean of Fallen Angels Reviews gave Prophecy of Vithan 5 Fallen Angels and said it is a recommended read.

Every once in a while, I find a book that grabs me and draws me into the emotional life of the protagonist, making it almost impossible for me to stop reading. Prophecy of Vithan is such a book. This is a complex, multi-layered science fiction novel with a great love story mixed in. It includes the stories of a mentor protecting her student, a woman trapped by slavery, a man and woman chained together by an emotional connection they cannot resist, a rogue organization attempting to gain absolute control over the true government, and the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy that will save the world. That’s a lot to cover in one book! The love story will be very satisfying to the romantics among us, with a few moderately explicit erotic love scenes for spice. I wholeheartedly recommend this very interesting science fiction romance as great summer reading.

Amy of Bitten by Books gave Stone of Cruento 4 Grave Stones and said

This is an enjoyable story of adventure, love, betrayal, faith and belief that kept my full attention from the moment I started reading the first page. Did I mention the love scenes are hot and wild?

So, I am breaking out the chocolate, dancing on the rooftop while yelling and soaking in all these good feelings. I will then sit down and write like crazy a scene that will give my readers something to feel deeply.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Serial Novel - The Hunt

The lioness sniffed the air. Lovac was near. Zna slowed him down by giving him a false scent trail to follow. The hunter was fooled for only one hundred ticks or so, but it was enough for her to find what she was looking for.
The only way she would be able to keep the thirty tick advantage Mister required would be to run the hunter through the ‘Hole’. Most lionesses did not want to risk the hole. Most hunters didn’t either. The Ministry did not have vids that could follow into the area. If she and the hunter went into the hole, the only way the audience would be able to follow the hunt would be through the biological cameras imbedded in each of their skins. It would be less exciting than watching the big bad hunter chase the sensual exotic lioness, but it would serve her purpose. Mister did not say he needed a good show. He only needed a thirty tick advantage.
Zna raised her head to the wind. Her whiskers twitched. Lovac was nearing.
This hunter is good. I wonder if he is good in bed as well. Spirit Leana, what am I saying? Zna snorted in derision. Of course he is good in bed. Has a high sperm count as well I bet. Otherwise he wouldn’t be the most successful hunter. I wonder how many lionesses have simply let him catch them. I wonder how many half-breeds he has sired.
Zna walked into the mouth of the hole. She could only take a few steps without it closing around her. She only needed to take a few steps into it to accomplish what she wanted. Pressing down with her foot, allowing her claws to sink into the soft ground, Zna made a foot print. She then stepped away from the track into the hole. Moving to the side the lioness again stepped into the soft soil. This time the prints barely made any impression. She moved several steps forward into the hole in this manner.
Leaping with all the strength she could muster, claws extended, Zna caught hold of the edge of the hole. The ‘Hole’ was really a cave entrance. About fifty steps into the cave was a field that was black. No light penetrated it. No sound came from the cave. Lionesses and hunters alike who passed through the field were lost for hours at a time. Very rarely did the biological cameras record anything but darkness. The times the cameras did, the images were erratic, frightening, and bloody and filled with sounds that came from the depth of hell itself. The lionesses and hunters that came out of the Hole were never the same. Some went insane. Some simply didn’t care what happened to themselves. Others became violent and uncontrollable. Then there were the ones that made it back whole.
Zna had a secret. She knew what was on the other side of the field and how to battle it. Her mate and she had ventured into the hole when they were young. Stupid, foolish, dangerous, and very informative. As far she knew, no one else, lion or hunter, had ever gone into the hole.
Zna never ventured into the hole during a hunt. She never needed to. All Mister needed on previous hunts was for her to avoid being caught and mated. This time he wanted a thirty tick advantage.
For Bescjen’s sake I have to lead the hunter here. I don’t like what it does to people, but I can’t risk not having the thirty tick lead and losing Bescjen. I will emerge unscathed. Lovac will not.
Finishing her leap from the leading edge of the cave into the trees above, Zna scratched first one then another and then another tree further and further from the hole. the scratches were deep and obvious. Moving among the branches without a sound, Zna moved back to the first tree she leapt into. She pulled herself into a small package, curling her tail around her body, crouching on a smallish limb. her breathing slowed to less than a whisper. She watched, waiting for the hunter to come, to show himself, to fall into her trap. The lioness waited for her prey.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Adventure Peril and Intrigue All Day Long June 18

I am co-hosting Danger Zone Theme Day on Catanetwork Message Board on June 18. It's an all day marathon where you can come read some excerpts from authors of Action and Adventure novels. You'll have a chance to ask questions, participate in contests, and discover that perfect book for your summer reading.
Authors, if you write Action, Adventure, Suspense, Thrillers, and everything that makes the reader's pulse race, then stop by and share some of your work.
You have to register first, so be sure to do that today so you will be able to participate in the Theme Day first thing Wednesday, June 18th. The link to the registeration form is

Look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Zna Menita - The Serial Continues

Zna moved, twisted first one way then the next, stretching in preparation for the hunt to begin. There always seemed to be something that delayed the beginning of the hunt. Sometimes it seemed the broadcasters did something purposefully to increase their viewers. Suspense! Anticipation! All the elements of drawing in a larger audience. She glanced at the hunter, Lovac. He seemed as nervous and edgy as she was. Zna wondered what went through a hunter’s mind prehunt. She slightly shook her head. No, she didn’t wonder what went through hunters’ minds, only this hunter’s mind. She watched as the referees discussed something in low tones. She caught herself just before she reached for the key Tosca gave her. She couldn’t give away the location of the key.
The Minister of the Hunt appeared on the floating vidscreen hovering over the starting gate.
“We at the Ministry of the Hunt regret to announce that due to the lack of audience each night, we must cut back on expenses. As such we will be eliminating certain positions.”
Tosca and the other Handlers walked quietly onto the staging platform. Tosca had a look of resignation on his face, uncovered by his mask. The other Handlers looked confused, a little frightened. The referees moved away from the platform.
A light flashed brilliantly.
Zna blinked, partly at the light, partly to keep the tears from falling. Her feline eyes adjusted to the light immediately. She knew the humans, the referees, the hunter, all were blinded for several seconds. They did not see the bodies destroyed, disintegrated by the light ray. Rather they only saw the empty platform when the light cleared.
“We no longer need the Handlers. They have been transferred to another place,” The Minister announced over the vidscreen .
Zna heard the humans in the audience murmur in understanding. Those standing on the platform had been moved from one place to another place where they would be useful. Zna resisted the urge to extend her claws, leap into the audience and rip the throats out of the people. They are so stupid. They choose not to see the truth. Some day the government will turn on them. Leana will have her revenge someday.
The Minister of the Hunt bade everyone a good night. The vidscreen shimmered and changed to the view of the first lap of the hunt. Cheery lights and popular music danced around the staging area.
The hunt was about to begin.

Friday, June 6, 2008


A few thoughts about failure:

There is much to be said for failure. It is more interesting than success. Max Beerbohm

There s no failure except in no longer trying. Elbert Hubbard

From The Internet from unknown sources

Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.
If there exists no possibility of failure, then victory is meaningless.
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.
Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
The only real failure in life is the failure to try.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.
Success builds character, failure reveals it.
There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them.
Failure is the tuition you pay for success.
A man may fall many times, but he won’t be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.
Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Moshe Arens

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Agan. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett

Success doesn't come to you . . . you go to it.- Marva Collins
Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire.- Fred Shero

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.- William Feather
Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one's horse as he is leaping.- Augustus Hare
If you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end.- Arabian Proverb
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein
In order for you to profit from your mistakes, you have to go out and make some.- Unknown
Success doesn't mean the absence of failures; it means the attainment of ultimate objectives. It means winning the war, not every battle.- Edward Bliss
Failure is success if we learn from it.- Malcolm Forbes
Success does not consist in never making mistakes, but in never making them a second time.- George Bernard Shaw
The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.- Paramahansa Yogananda
Get up one more time than you're knocked down.- Peter's Principle of Success
If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.- John Kenneth Galbraith
We are not retreating - we are advancing in another direction. - Douglas MacArthur

My favorite and the reason for this blog:

From my close observation of writers, they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review. - Isaac Asimov

I recieved my first review of Stone of Cruento. If you would like to read the review here is the link

My response to the review? I thanked the reviewer for her reviews, it gives me another direction in which to advance, and give me something to learn from. I let you, the reader, know that Stone of Cruento might be something for you to think about. I will get back to writing Vials of Aquilonia all the while making corrections in my writing course.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name continues

Lovac rolled his shoulders, stretching, readying himself for the hunt. He despised what the government called entertainment. The hunt was a tradition centuries old. His father and grandfather were hunters. In the old days, a hunter sought a lioness, pursued her then if he captured her he was given the right to compete against the lions for her attentions. It was the way of Dyad to keep the gene pool level between the feline based humanoids and the covjecji, or the non-lion humans.
Female covjecji used to hunt with the lionesses, bringing game to the lions to compete for the attentions of the male feline. The government stopped the female covs, as they were called, from hunting. Human females could only mate with human males.
Lovac watched as the gene pool became weaker. It had been ten years since a healthy baby was born to a totally covjecji couple. Dyad was simply not meant to have the species separated. Lion and cov were meant to compete, to couple, to mate. It was the way the Ancients planned it. The Spirit of Dyad, Leana was pictured as a woman with the head of a lion. The two species combined.
The government changed the way it was meant to be. The government chose blood-thirsty hunters out of the thousands of registered hunters. They sent the men out to destroy the lions. Wiped out hundreds of lions. Orphaned thousands of cubs and widowed hundreds of lionesses.
Probably took the husband of the beautiful lioness standing before him. She certainly held the look of hatred in her eyes.
The government also took advantage of the mating instincts of the lionesses. The female felines were almost driven to mate. The powers that be wanted to keep the lion gene pool unchanged. They wanted the lioness to mate with the covs.

Lovac didn’t know the reason why, he didn’t care.

The government also wanted the process broadcast over the moon-wide holovision.
Lovac took a deep breath. He hadn’t been given a choice. If he had he certainly would not have chosen to be part of some twisted Minister’s idea of entertainment. His father, in his old age, became a prolific gambler. Lost everything his family ever owned. Lost more than everything. The government took Lovac as a young man and enslaved him. He could have run, but the government still had his mother and sister as hostage. If he didn’t hunt, the Ministers would kill his mother and sister. So, Lovac hunted. And he hunted a lot since he was the choice of most of the audience.
Hunters were chosen for their gene appropriateness. Lovac was considered a perfect mate.
Perfect! Yeah, I’m perfect. A perfect stud. I hunt, or pretend to hunt depending on how badly the lioness wants to mate. I capture and impregnate. There is no hunt anymore. No thrill in the chase, no pursuit, no competition. All there was any more was a moon-wide broadcast of my sexual exploits. I’m perfect alright, a perfect whore.

Lovac eyed the lioness before him. Perhaps she would be different. There was something challenging about her. The way she stood perhaps. The confident swish of her tail. The way her ears laid back. Not to mention her curvaceous body. The hunting jumpsuit did nothing to hide her lush hips, the full globes of her breasts and her flat stomach.

Lovac could feel arousal thrumming through his veins. He inhaled deeply, pulling from his training as a hunter to remove the evidence of his attraction. The Ministers would not be happy if he displayed too soon.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Congratulations to Winners of the Contest

Congratulations to Cathie, Rain, and Ute in the contest I had. Each of them emailed me with the correct name of the heroine in my serial novel "A Rose By Any Other Name". The heroine's name is Zna Menita. Each of them won a copy of Stone of Cruento. Hope you have a good time reading, Cathie, Rain, and Ute.

Zna Menita
If you would like to purchase a copy of Stone of Cruento, visit
Charlene Leatherman
Author of Adventurous Romances
Defeat the Villain, Destroy the Monster, Deliver the Hero, and Never Break A Nail

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name page 3

Zna suppressed the growl growing in her throat as the Handler locked the collar around her throat. Of all the humiliating and maddening parts of the Hunt, having a collar locked around her throat like she was some kind of house cat, was the worst. The Handlers always had masks on to protect them from any kind of retribution. But they couldn’t suppress their smell.
“Do you ever get tired of being a Handler, Tosca?” Zna asked the hooded Handler.
“As much as you are tired of the hunt. We each have to do what we must to survive,” Tosca answered.
The Handler was a friend of Zna. They had known each other since childhood. Tosca was from the species Grlica. Zna had heard off-world hunters call him a turtle. She was sure that was misspoken. Tosca did have a beak instead of whiskers like she did. He also had scaly skin and a hard shell on his back. But he also had wings. Tiny useless wings, but wings nevertheless.
Zna was knocked out of her revelry when Tosca pressed a tiny object into her hand. She opened her hands slowly, under cover of their two bodies. Shiny and hard, a metal key rested in her palm.
“What is this?” Zna asked.
“The key to the collar,” Tosca whispered as he pretended to adjust the collar. “You know I see visions sometimes.”
“Yeah, your mother was a Psy. So?”
“I don’t know anything precise. All I know you will need the key and,” Tosca leaned in. The mask touched Zna’s check. She felt Tosca’s beak touching her, kissing her cheek. “This is good bye. You will not see me again. I want to give you a present, that is why the key.”
Zna placed the little piece of metal in one of her pockets in the jumpsuit she wore.
Tosca backed away as the hunter approached.
Zna inhaled steadying herself for the first look at the man who would hunt her, and if she lost, mate with her. She always dreaded this instant.
The last hunt she ran the male was not only humanoid, but he was white and pasty as though he had not gone outside for several moon cycles. His belly hung over the belt that held his trousers up. His face was jowly and pock-marked. Zna had suspected that he was a hunter more due to money paid in the dark than hunting skills. It would have been an easy hunt if it had not been for the fancy tech traps he used. She had nearly lost her leg with one of the traps he set. However, she won and the Mister had his money.
Turning toward the harsh, solid thunk of boots walking along the wooden platform, Zna let her breath out with a whoosh. She had to consciously remember to start breathing again.
The hunter coming at her was breath-taking. His powerful well-muscled body moved with easy grace. The rich outlines of his shoulders strained against the fabric of his hunting jacket. His compelling blue eyes pierced raked over her taking in her body in one swift glance. The set of his chin suggested a stubborn streak. The hunter smiled at one of the people sitting beside the platform, not at her. His teeth, even and white, contrasted pleasingly with his olive skin. This hunter spent a lot of time active and outside. He had an air of authority and the appearance of one who demanded instant obedience.
The tantalizing smell of his spicy after-shave and the musk of his masculinity wafted to Zna. She felt her body respond to his pheromones. Zna bit into her tongue to put her body back where it belonged, ready to win a hunt. She raised her eyes to find him watching her. His captured her eyes with his, holding her mesmerized for an instant, studying her. The light of desire flashed in his eyes. He looked at her for a sign of objection or acceptance. Zna kept her face passive and her eyes hooded. She wanted to give nothing, not a shred of advantage to the hunter.
“Well, now, let’s get this thing on the road,” the hunter said breaking his gaze away from Zna.
The referee, a member of the Ministry, came forward. “Lovac, this is the lioness you will be hunting, Zna Menita. She has triumphed in seventeen hunts. She will give you a good run.”
Lovac laughed. The sound rumbled deep within his chest. Zna felt his laugh all the way down to her toes. The last time she felt this draw toward a male was when her husband was alive.
The remembrance of her husband, his mane matted with blood from a hunter’s machete, dying in her lap made her blood run cold. It was this type of human that destroyed her family. It was this type of human that held her daughter hostage.
Zna vowed that no matter how much she was drawn to this human male, she would not lose this hunt. She would not be mated to a despised human. And to make the thirty tick advantage she would kill this Lovac if necessary.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I am having a contest.

I have put up a couple of pages of a serial novel. Here and on

The contest is this:

Find the name of the heroine in the Serial Novel A Rose By Any Other Name and email me the name at

Whoever emails me the name of the heroine wins a copy of the eBook Stone of Cruento.
No picking name. Everyone wins. Just email me the name.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name, page 2

If you like reading fantasy with an adventurous twist. If you like erotica but like it as part of the story instead of the focus of the story. Check out my latest book Stone of Cruento available at Cerridwen Press.
Charlene Leatherman
Defeat the Villain, Destroy the Monster, Deliver the Hero, and Never Break A Nail.

Now for the next installment of A Rose By Any Other Name

Zna shifted nervously as she waited for the hunter to arrive. She glanced at the com-link on her wrist. She didn’t want to here from the person on the other end of the com. She jumped when the device on her wrist buzzed.
“Another hunt?”
“You know all about it. You arrange all my hunts,” Zna said with venom.
“Yes, I do. We are almost to the end of our relationship.”
“We don’t have a relationship. You have my daughter. I am trying to get her back. That does not create a relationship.”
“I have a lot of money riding on you this hunt.”
“When don’t you? Let me speak to my daughter.”
“Perhaps after you win.”
“No, now. Let me speak to her or I don’t run.”
The voice on the other end of the com-link chuckled. “You are not in a position to barter. If you don’t run, your daughter dies.”
“She may as well be dead already, since I never see her. If I don’t run you lose your money.”
“You have a point. I do not want to lose my money nor do I want to kill your daughter. She is too valuable to me, to you, to Dyad for that matter. I will concede, but with a condition.”
Zna sighed. “There is always a condition with you. What do you want this time?”
“I want a larger spread on the points. You have won each hunt but there has not been any odds on the outcome. I want you to win with a thirty tick advantage over the hunter.”
“Thirty ticks? I am out there running for my life and the life of my daughter. How do I know the hunter is not going to want to kill me? Six lionesses were killed instead of mated last cycle. I have to run as though it is my life. I am not willing to slow down. Not only do I not want to mate with a hunter, but I want my daughter back. But how in Leana’s name do I run a hunt and win with a thirty tick advantage?”
“The how is not my concern. If you want to talk to your daughter you have to agree to win with a thirty tick lead. If you only want to win, then you do not need to talk to your daughter. It is simple.”
Zna felt defeated, trapped. “Very well. You will have your thirty ticks. The hunter doesn’t have to survive, does he?”
The voice at the other end of the com-link laughed. “Not at all. Losing a hunter might even create more audience. But that is your call. Here is your daughter.”
“Mama?” A tiny voice timidly spoke over the communications device.
“I am here Bescjen. I wanted to hear your voice before I ran again,” Zna could feel the tears building behind her eyes and a lump of emotion grew in her throat.
“I am well Mama. I do as I am told and I behave myself. The Mister allowed me to have some sweets last night. He said that you ran very well and made him a lot of money. Mama, if I refuse sweets will you come home and stop running the hunts?”
Zna wanted to cry. She wanted to hold her baby in her arms and hear the soft purring deep in her child’s chest as they nestled together.
“Bescjen, the choice for me to stop running the hunt is up to the Mister. Although, if I win this hunt there will only be two more to run.”
“Then we will go home?” Bescjen asked.
“You had better get ready for the hunt. Bes has school work she must complete,” the voice of Mister interrupted. “And remember thirty ticks.”
“Yes,” Zna replied. “Thirty ticks and only two more hunts, then you free her.” Or else. Zna said in her thoughts.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name - Serialized Novel

A Serial Story

I am writing a serialized novel. You can catch the serial at
Here is the first installment. For the rest of the story, stop by my blog or stop by
A Rose By Any Other Name
“I hear you. I hear you,” Zna slammed her hand onto the annoying alarm.“Zna Menita, hunt commences in 45 ticks. Report to hunt initiation site in 45 ticks.”Zna grit her teeth against a growl rising in her throat. She hated the mechanical voice that nagged at her every time she was scheduled for a hunt.
And she was scheduled almost every day. By her choice. But still, it was tiring and irritating to hear the computerized voice call out her name.Zna stepped from her bed and into the shower. Water was scarce on Dyad. Zna couldn’t remember when she last had a water bath. Pressing the button to start the cleansing cycle, Zna let the sonic pulses tap over her body. The sound waves were at a range she could not hear. The waves pushed dirt, sweat, dead skin off her body and left her fur silky smooth and shining. She twitched her ears and wiggled her whiskers. The sonic pulses tickled. She heard the computerized voice calling her again. Flicking her tail, Zna punched the off switch and went to her closet. She pulled out a skin-tight jumpsuit. It fit her like a glove, and moved with her. It did not hinder her in any way. It was the perfect outfit to wear for a hunt.She liked at her image in the mirror. She was desired in the hunt. Her curvaceous body was covered with the tawny colored fur of the lionesses. Her hip-length red hair framed her face and the pert ears that sat on top of her head. Her whiskers were sensitive and strong. The claws on her hands were sharp and retractable. Likewise she had human feet instead of the clawed feet of the less desirable lionesses.
Zna slipped the tools of the hunt into specially made pockets in her suit. A small compact phaser. It was set always on stun. It was the desire of the Ministry that lionesses have an equal chance against the hunters, not kill them. A knife that would slice through metal. Her claws were effective against cloth, flesh, wood, and most other substances other than metal. Some hunters used metal nets to trap lionesses. The knife gave the lionesses equal footing. The whole idea of the hunt was not only to give the hunters access to the best of the lionesses as mates, but to give the Viewers a show.
Zna sighed. She had run and won seventeen hunts. Each hunt she won gave her greater prestige, kept her out of the mating market, and kept her daughter safe. She had to win.
If she lost her daughter would lose her life. She only had to complete three more hunts to win her daughter’s freedom.
“Zna Menita, please report to the hunt staging area,” the mechanical voice intoned.
Zna took another deep breath.
Only three more.
Charlene Leatherman
Author of Adventurous Romances

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