Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Win a $25 Gift Certificate for Amazon

I just did an interview at The Long and Short of It. I am also running a contest there. The winner receives is a $25 gift certificate for Amazon, so check out the link to enter: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/LASR/contest.htm

I am also hosting a chat there tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24th. So check out the link for more information about that.

Here is my interview:

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to have Doralynn Kennedy with us today. Doralynn’s debut novel, Sleeping With Skeletons, was released by The Wild Rose Press last fall.

She’s currently working on a crime book she’s absolutely in love with called Spiders and she thinks it’s the best manuscript she’s ever written. “I consider it a cross between Tami Hoag and Stephen King,” she told me. “I don’t want to give anything away, but I can tell you that the crime my villain commits in this book has never been done before.”

She admits her favorite author changes frequently, but said that, currently, her favorite is Tami Hoag.

“I have a law enforcement background and many of her books center around characters who are in law enforcement. She has a great grasp on how cops think and act. Her characters are completely convincing,” she explained. “I swear they’re in the room with me. It takes a real talent to bring characters to life in such a vivid way. She also writes an engaging mystery that keeps me turning the page. But mainly, I think I just love the leading men in her books.”

Mr. McIntyre, her 8th and 9th grade English teacher, started Doralynn writing. He gave his students contracts at the beginning of the year, and the students could choose which grade they wanted to earn. The options were A, B, or C and each option required a different commitment. One of the things Doralynn had to do to earn the A she wanted was to write several short stories.

“That’s when I discovered I could write,” she said. “Mr. McIntyre started reading those stories to the class. It was exciting for me to hear my fellow students laughing at all of my jokes and cheering my characters on. One day I turned in a story, and he shook his head and gave it back. ‘I know what you’re capable of, and you can do better than that. Never do anything less than your best.’ It was the best piece of advice any teacher ever gave me.”

By the time she finished his class, she knew she was a writer and has been writing ever since.

“I’ve never been very practical, I’m afraid. Very few people actually succeed in this profession. There are so many hurdles to overcome. Not just the hurdle of writing something that’s good enough to be published. In some ways, that’s the easy part. It’s the hurdles you face after you’ve written the book. It’s so difficult to find an agent. And, the way things are now days, you can’t find a publisher unless you can find an agent first. But agents, if writers can get them to respond at all, typically turn away most queries with a form rejection letter. ‘It doesn’t meet our needs at present.’ Really? How would you know? You haven’t read it! It’s so frustrating. I just want to scream. It’s why so many writers are turning to small, print-on-demand publishing house—or just self-publishing. I’ve read some self-published work recently that was 10 times better than some of the books coming out of the big publishing houses by well-known authors.”

Doralynn is very much a “pantser.” She told me she doesn’t really develop her characters or plots—they develop themselves.

“With me, a first sentence pops into my head, and then I start writing,” she told me. “Within a few paragraphs, I have a general idea of what is going on, who my characters are, and what the plot is. But the story mostly writes itself. I just jot down the action as it plays out in my head. It’s almost like watching a movie and then telling others what I saw.”

She sees writer’s block as not really, in her case, a problem, but more just a natural rhythm in her writing life. “I don’t really do anything,” she said. “I enter into a long ice age where I just can’t write. Eventually the ice starts to thaw, and I start to write again—fast and furious.”

“What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?” I wondered.

“I think that’s a blend of the writer’s voice and the characters. If the characters don’t leap to life and jump off the page, then the book doesn’t work for me. But it doesn’t work if the writer’s voice doesn’t have a certain magic to it either. Some writers just have a writing style that pulls me into their world. A successful writer is almost like a snake charmer. They draw you into their story, and all you can hear is their music until you close the book. And if they’re really good, you still hear the music after the book is closed.”

Agatha Christie is the writer who most influenced Doralynn. She would walk to the library almost every day after class when she was in middle school and check out books. Usually, it was an Agatha Christie mystery she picked out.

“Her books gave me a love for mysteries that has lasted my whole life. They have also influenced my own writing. Generally, when I sit down to write, I’m sitting down to write a mystery,” she shared.

On a personal note, I asked Doralynn, “Do you really, really want a dog?”

“Well, I’m getting one—whether I really, really want it or not. My niece can’t take care of her dog anymore, and since my last cat just died, I’ve agreed to take Tequila. (Tequila. What kind of name is that for a dog? I’m not sure why, but all young girls nowadays name their pets after alcoholic beverages.) But I don’t really consider Tequila a dog. She’s a Chihuahua. She shakes constantly, weighs less than a pound, and reminds me of a terrified mouse. She’s incredibly sweet though, and she loves me. It’s hard to resist something that loves you—even if it is one of the strangest things you’ve ever seen.”

She hates how she looks in pictures. “I used to steal cameras from my friends and remove the film if I was on it,” she admitted. “I curse the invention of cell phones because someone is always taking my picture.”

“Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your R’s or dotting your I’s with heart (or anything like that)?” I asked.

“Maybe, but it’s hard to tell. I can’t read my handwriting. I often look at it and think Who on earth wrote that?”

She claimed to be completely normal and without any strange habits, but when she was young (before the invention of Skittles and Starburst) she thought anything with a pretty color belonged in her mouth.

However, the strangest thing (besides crayons) she’s eaten would have to be octopus.

“That was an accident. I was traveling in Italy and stopped at a cafeteria. I thought I was getting some kind of chicken noodle dish,” she explained. “When I got to my table, I stuck my fork in, lifted the first bite, and stopped in mid-motion. Long, dangly legs like rubber bounced off my fork. There were little hairs and suction cups on my noodles. I turned to my traveling companion and asked what kind of noodle it was, and she informed me that it wasn’t a noodle. It was a squid. I decided to be very brave and try a nibble—which turned out to be a mistake. I gave it to my friend. Fortunately, she liked squid. I can honestly say that I prefer crayons to squid.”

“Have you ever made a crank phone call?”

“I grew up before caller ID, so yes. But they were silly little pranks that never terrorized anyone. We’d call, giggling, and ask stupid questions, like, ‘Say, is your refrigerator running?’ If they said ‘yes,’ we’d laugh hysterically and say, ‘Better go catch it!’ Then we’d hang up and our neighbor would call our mother and tell on us.”

Finally, I wanted to know what advice Doralynn would give to a writer just starting out.

“Not to give up and not to stop believing in themselves,” she said.” I think it’s important to study the craft—take classes, read books, join groups. Writing is like any other profession. It requires study and serious work. All of us, no matter how much innate talent we possess, can always improve. I know there are a lot of people who dream of being published, and many times they give up their dreams. Don’t do that. We miss out on so much because of that. I think the best advice I can give to aspiring authors is, ‘Don’t give up. Keep everlastingly at it.’ And remember what Mr. McIntyre told me, ‘Never do anything less than your best.’”

You can keep up with Doralynn on her blog, http://www.dlynnkennedy.blogspot.com, and she will be visiting with us tomorrow at our Long and Short Romance Yahoo group.


I am running other contests as well. You can find out more information on them here: http://www.doralynn.net/contest.html.

Good luck in the contests!


BOUND BY HONOR is now available at Amazon.com.

Harrison Jackson must defend his family against British spies, Colonial advocates, and himself. Secret meetings are destroying his good name, and nightmares from a life he thought buried threaten more than his reputation.

Victoria Greyson steps onto Boston streets and back into Harrison's life without warning. She wouldn't blame him for hating her, but his rage will have to wait. Her sister is dead and Victoria intends to extract revenge on the man responsible.

While Harrison fights to keep his past a secret, Victoria and Colonial Independence demand more than he wants to give--and neither of them will be denied.

Consciousness thudded against Victoria's brain and forced her to face reality. The effort it took to open her eyelids has rewarded with stabbing spears of light striking the backs of her vision. A fuzzy shadow walked toward her. Her tongue flicked at the wadded linen in her mouth, surprised that nothing was there. His arm tormented her shoulders as he lifted her and pressed something cold to her lips.

“Drink,” he said.

The words reverberated around her head like a kite bouncing in a windstorm. Her jaw screeched open and he poured the liquid in. She sputtered and gasped, but he continued until the glass was drained. “Are you trying to poison me?” she asked.

“You did enough of that on your own,” Harrison said.

“I never want another glass of wine.”


She positioned her fingertips around her face for support. “Wasn't I drinking wine?”


“Bourbon? I don't even like bourbon.”

“You mentioned that.”

She scrapped her tongue against her teeth, flinching at the riveting noise then looked at him through bleary-eyes. “What else did I say?”

“Nothing I'll hold against you.” He opened the window but mercifully left the curtains drawn.

“Why not? I'm sure I gave you ample ammunition.”

He sat next to her and she grabbed the side of the bed to offset the pitch. Please don't bounce. Gently, gently.

“Because as much as I have fought against it, and I truly hate to admit it, I still love you Victoria Greyson.”

“I'm gonna be sick. Move.” She shoved against him and stumbled to the chamber pot, dragging a sheet tangled around her ankle. It started with dry heaves, and she prayed she'd make it in time. She pushed the pounding in her head to the side and clutched the cold metal to her cheek. It was soothing, but temporary. Belching loudly, she reinforced her dislike of bourbon. In between waves of burning bitterness, she begged God to kill her. Now and fast would be glorious, anything to end her agony.

Relatively certain she would no longer need the pot, she staggered toward the bed with a cloth pressed to her mouth. Her bed had been straightened and turned down, her pillows fluffed. Harrison stood at the side of it.

“Oh. No,” she said. “Are you still here?

He laughed and held the blankets back for her.

She crawled in and hugged her pillow. “Don't think this will undo what you said.” She shivered and closed her eyes. “But I will need it repeated when I'm better.”

“Endlessly. Now, rest.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Does the Date Matter?

It's almost Valentine's Day. What will we do? Probably not go out to a special romantic dinner. Restaurants are overbooked, many choose a "special" (translation—limited) menu, and service is likely to be under par. Normally, if we're going to celebrate with a restaurant meal, we'll go out the day after.

Does the day itself matter? We'll acknowledge the holiday with cards and hubby might provide some chocolate (unlike the year he gave me an electronic tire pressure gauge), but we feel no obligation to celebrate on the 14th. Maybe this got started early on, when his travels almost always had him out of town on my birthday, so we'd choose another day to celebrate. (And to my reckoning, since I only count birthdays when he was home to celebrate on the official day, I'm at least 10-15 years younger than my passport says.)

Between workshop presentations and conferences, my schedule would be full enough without including packing and moving, much less adding holiday celebrations. Hubby and I are thinking we ought to find time to choose at least one special thing and have one special dinner. We can consider it a 'going-away' dinner and have the official Valentine's Day and birthday dinner another time, when things are less crazy and stressful.

Last night, instead of either packing or working on my next workshop (yes, I had submitted to two different conferences, and didn't realize they were only a week apart – someone keeps leaving a few days off the end of February), I'll be attending our annual Adult Literacy League Volunteer Appreciation dinner. Truthfully, I was going to beg off because I didn't feel that I'd done enough this year to warrant the money they're laying out on food for use. But now that the house is under contract, it'll be my last chance to say good-bye to some of these folks I've volunteered with for almost 2 decades.

Now, if you're looking for something for Valentine's Day, I can suggest one of my short stories from The Wild Rose Press. It's one of the few stories I wrote where I had a theme and a deadline before I decided to sit down and write it. First challenge: it had to meet a specific word count range. That's enough of a hurdle for me, since it was short. I have trouble with short. It had to be a romance. And it had to somehow tie into Valentine's Day.

I know that still gives a lot of latitude, but my stubborn streak seemed to kick in, and I had to keep reminding my characters that Valentine's Day had to be part of the story. On the other hand, I didn't want it to be a story that would only be relevant near the holiday, because there's no market for those things once the big day has passed.

And, to attempt to tie this into my plotting theme which has been prevalent lately, how did I start? You'd think with Valentine's Day, right? Actually, all I had when I applied fingers to keyboard was an opening line. Something about hearts, candy or cupid, you're thinking right? Nope. That's too "inside the lines" for me. My starting point for draft #1 was the line, "Bah Humbug." But it did end up being a light-hearted romance.

"Romancing the Geek" turned out to be a Pygmalion story, only in this case it's the guy who's in need of a makeover. Here's a blurb, and then I'll get off my promotional intrusion. If you'd like to read the story, you can find a variety of buy links here. Email me a copy of your receipt/confirmation of purchase, and I'll make a donation to the Adult Literacy League as a thank you.

Stephanie's lifelong dream is to design toys--sweet, cuddly toys. Instead, she's hired as a glorified typist. And not even with the rest of the marketing department, but way downstairs in the only available office, which she has to share with Brad, who's a total geek. A geek who's happy programming computer games full of explosions.

They agree to ignore each other while Stephanie waits for a desk to open upstairs. But when Brad has girlfriend troubles--like he can't get Lianne, the cocktail waitress to notice him--he swallows his pride and asks Stephanie if she'll teach him how to talk to women. She agrees, but he's having trouble passing her exams.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Design for Life releases today!

by Cate Masters

I love release days! Today The Wild Rose Press releases Design for Life!
Joanna Aislinn is graciously allowing me to celebrate at her blog. Come on over! I'll be giving away a PDF copy to a random commenter. [As I write this, we're getting round 2 of Snowmageddon: another foot to two feet expected on top of the weekend's two feet of snow, so fingers crossed that the power and my Internet connection holds! If I'm not there, you'll know why!]

Here's the story blurb:
Becca Lyndon puts her dreams on hold by leaving art school to care for her ailing mom. Working full time at The Flower Basket leaves precious little time, but she squeezes in night classes at the local college. When Mike Hunter fills in as a substitute teacher, she worries about a repeat of the critical reviews he gave her work when he substituted at her high school three years earlier. His reason comes as a complete surprise, but can she trust him? Or will he disappear like her father? When that possibility looms all too real, she’s determined never to let the design for her life unravel again. Following her bliss requires work, but pays off in more ways than she ever imagined. She also learns that one door might close, but another can open—and lead to unexpected opportunities.

Here's the excerpt:
“Morning, ladies!” Becca took a moment to inhale the scent of fresh flowers permeating the air.
With a smile, Steffie waved as she talked on the phone.
Hitting a series of keys, Grace turned. “Hey, Becca.”
Donica Laurent entered from the back of the shop. “Good morning!”
The homey atmosphere in the shop always unraveled Becca’s wound nerves. Walking to the counter, she reached into her handbag, oversized to double as a briefcase to carry her art supplies. Her presentation last night had gone well, but she hoped this morning’s would surpass it.
“If you have a minute, can you take a look at these designs and let me know what you think? I used them for my class project last night.”
Grace laid a hand on her arm, her face alight. “Did you wow them?”
With a grin, Becca pulled out her sketch pad. “Not exactly. But Mr. Hunter said they were good.”
Her brow furrowed, Donica stepped next to her. “Who’s Mr. Hunter?”
“A substitute teacher.” Her words came out in a sing-song tone.
Steffie clucked her tongue. “Something about the way you say that makes me think he’s kinda cute.”
Becca couldn’t help but smile. “Not kind of. Very.”
At home last night, she found herself sketching Mike Hunter. His dark hair, tapering to the top of his collar, made her want to run her fingers through its waves. She wanted to remove his black rectangular-framed glasses, peer into his dark brown eyes that sparkled when his gaze met hers. Press her lips against his and push his corduroy jacket from his shoulders. Drawing his features gave her a sense of intimacy, one she wanted to experience.
Hoping the women didn’t notice, Becca fanned the warmth from her neck.
Thank goodness they were too busy laughing. Since she’d been hired at The Flower Basket, the three co-owners had come to feel like her sisters. Warm. Supportive. On the days she had to bring Mom to her doctor appointments, all encouraged her not worry about them, even though the shop had attracted so much new business, they sometimes put in sixteen hours.
Becca hoped to give something back. Something worthwhile.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

There's A New Cowboy In Town...

Presley West is coming to a Wayback novella near you this month! On 2/24 to be exact.

In the meantime, you can rack up some entries in my giveaway by commenting on ANY post in my regular blog (www.crystalrainlove.blogspot.com) and using the tag #CRLwin along with your comment. Leave comments on as many posts as you want, just be sure to include the #CRLwin with the comment for it to count. On 2/24 I will draw a winner from all entries entered by 2/23. The winner will receive a free copy of Guardian Cowboy.

After a failed bodyguarding assignment, the last thing Presley West wants is to save a damsel in distress, but the spunky woman he finds standing on the side of the interstate in the pouring rain brings out his protective instincts.
Amber Barlow ran from the clutches of a demon, and into the arms of an angel. But the closer she gets to her guardian cowboy, the more her fear grows, because a southern gentleman like Presley could never want a woman with a past as soiled as hers


Amber walked forward until she could see the gun. The cowboy hadn’t set it on the hood like she’d thought, but had placed it under a windshield wiper to keep it from sliding off under the onslaught of rain. Staring at the weapon, she felt stupid holding the rock and let it fall to the ground. There were four miles between her and the next town, and she had no working vehicle. No shelter. No food. No water. Her clothes were soaked through, and her only protection from the elements was a Stetson. “What do I do?”
As if answering, lightning streaked across the sky followed by a deep roll of thunder, then rain came crashing down harder. Amber grabbed the gun, double-checked it was in firing condition, and trudged toward the passenger side of the truck.
She jerked the door open and aimed the gun at the cowboy, who looked at her with raised eyebrows. “I will shoot you, cowboy.”
He nodded his head, still looking at her sideways. “Fine, but can you get in and close the door first before you let all the rain in?”
Amber let out a huff of breath, irritation from his lack of fear easing back a little of her own. She could feel the warmth coming from the vents in the dashboard and craved more. She swung inside the truck and closed the door, keeping the gun steadily pointed on the large man next to her. “I mean it, cowboy. One wrong move and there goes a testicle.”

Like it? Love it? Want more of it? Enter to win!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New Author with Wild Rose Press

I'm thrilled to be part of the Wild Rose Press and look forward to a new short story release in 2010 called, "To Love A Thief".
The story takes the reader on a wild ride through Italy with a charismatic security specialist and an enigmatic jewel thief...or is she?
I look forward to a long relationship with Wild Rose Press. I hope you'll join me at my blogs, websites and view my book video trailers.
Chérie DeSues