Category Archives: Monday Musings

Karen’s Killer Book Bench: MACKENZIE’S DISTRACTION by Angie Dokos #NewAdultRomance #recipe ~ Sweet Potato Crunch

 読書KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!

Continue reading Karen’s Killer Book Bench: MACKENZIE’S DISTRACTION by Angie Dokos #NewAdultRomance #recipe ~ Sweet Potato Crunch

Thursday Musings: RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” Diary Part Deux

THURSDAY MUSINGS: RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” Diary  Part Deux
By Karen Docter

Welcome back to my RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” photo diary. If you missed Part One on Monday, I’ll wait while you dash back to catch up with the first day of the conference. Da-da-da-da-da-da-dahhhhhh (Jeopardy theme song running through your head now? 🙂 ) Waiting…waiting…wa–oh, there you are!

Ready for Day Two of RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” conference? Let’s get started.

As a romantic suspense author, I was thrilled to start my second day of conference moderating the suspense panel with (L-R) Kat Martin, Rebecca Forster, Terry Odell and Linda Conrad. It was wonderful to learn about their different writing styles and techniques, things that inspire them, tricks they use to keep writing, and lots more.  I have more than one of these ladies’ books on my Keeper Shelf!

Then, I was off to Speed Date with readers. You can meet quite a few wonderful readers in two minute spots over an hour! I wonder if their heads were reeling as much as mine by the time we finished. 🙂 This was first time I’d ever done this and it was F.U.N. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat. To all of those readers who chatted with me, it was great to meet you. I hope we meet again at next year’s conference!

Several intimate lunches and dinners were held on Friday and Saturday so readers could meet and chat with their favorite author.  My roomie, Lori, brought all of her copies of Alexandra Ivy’s books to get them autographed by her favorite author. She got to sit next to her, too. How cool is that?

Guests of the Titanic Tea Party were welcomed aboard by the “Captain” Billy Frieda and CJ Hollenbach.

Deeanne Gist, who writes those wonderful historical romances we all love, teaches passengers about tea preparation and etiquette. The hotel chef (a former Iron Chef!) researched and prepared the recipes for the four courses that would have been served on the Titanic at tea time.  I’d never had clotted cream, or cucumber and watercress sandwiches, or lemon tarts or….well, it was a wonderful way to learn about the people who sailed on the Titanic, about their way of life.

Authors moved from table to table sharing information about their books and playing short games so guests could win a prize. I learned things about the Titanic I never knew before.  Teresa Medeiros (left) Kat Martin (right) each sat at our table looking lovely in their tea hats!

Authors Linda Conrad and Heather Snow read clues about their books that reveal which passenger won the prize. As one who doesn’t like hats, I think I could be persuaded to wear them if they made me look this elegant!

  

Authors Rebecca Forster and Isobel Carr share their game clues with passengers. There were enough games to make sure all guests won a small prize.

Authors Kimberly Killion and Jenn LeBlanc sitting pretty and sharing their book clues.

Author and critique partner, Cynthia Woolf, (left) plays game that taught us the ranking of Titanic crewmembers, from Captain to Stewardess.  Our table did not do well with this game! 🙂 Learning the language of the fan from Deeanne Gist, historical author, Jenn LeBlanc, (right) practices one of the signals. Don’t know what she’s telling her beau because, like names, my memory is like a steel collander. I’d be a wallflower at Almack’s!

Met lots of wonderful readers — waving at Zina right now! — at RomCon booksigning.  Autographed my book, SATIN PLEASURES, as well as trading cards for KILLING SECRETS, the first of my upcoming romantic suspense series. A treasure box filled with chocolates and two free raffle baskets inspired by a bubblebath scene in SATIN PLEASURES rounded out my swag. I LOVE swag!

RomCon booksigning was a real treat sitting at the same table with two FABULOUS writers I’m fortunate to have as critique partners.  Meet three members of Scripsi: Moi, Jennifer Zane (hilarious contemporaries), and Michele Callahan (the best combination of SciFi, Paranormal, and Time Travel)! The other two members of our productive band of writers (not pictured)  is CJ Snyder (romantic suspense with Special Ops & intense action) and Cynthia Woolf (SciFi/Futuristic romance and Westerns). Next year, I’m asking for two tables so we can all sit together!

RomCon 2012 – The Legendary Hero Contest final round included (L-R) Brooks Johnson, Julian Christian, Benny Bekro, Len Gun, & Scott Nova. And the winner is…..Scott Nova!!  I do love a man in uniform. He’ll be back in 2013 to defend his title. I know I’m going to be there to see that!

Just because…Brooks has a special place in my heart since I met him at RomCon 2011 AND have his picture taken with me sitting on top of my file cabinet AND his face was covered by Naughty Girl in the last picture.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Finally realized my dream of participating in one of the Hot Damn Design’s photo shoots. My hero needs to hurry up and kiss his heroine or move his left hand lower…yeah, yeah, I know my husband is reading this. Cardboard, honey, cardboard!

Attended my first Chocolate Mangasm party and have to say I’ve been missing something! All that chocolate capped off RomCon events Saturday night. Billy Frieda (pictured) did sidetrack me for a moment. And no, this is the only picture I’m sharing from that fun and naughty event. I was texting my husband from the party the rest of the time…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

 

RomCon’s Michele Callahan (top center) announced the winners of the Readers’ Crown Awards at Sunday Brunch. It was thrilling to have three of my Scripsi/critique partners final in the contest. Authors had to have been rated at 8.0 or higher by READERS! Cynthia Woolf (not pictured) had two entries final in the SciFi, Fantasy, Time Travel Romance category, while CJ Snyder (left) won the Reader’s Crown Award for Contemporary Romantic Suspense and Jennifer Zane (right) won awards for both Contemporary and Best First Book. Jen and I were clearly so excited when I took the picture, neither of us realized one of her awards is upside down. Hope she didn’t hang them in her office that way! 🙂 Congratulations to everyone who finaled and won the Readers’ Crown Awards!

     

Remember those wonderful SATIN PLEASURES baskets I had on my booksigning table? Winners were Gwen Farley (pictured with me) and Kelly Parker! Congratulations, ladies. I hope you enjoy many relaxing bubblebaths…and SATIN PLEASURES!

Saying goodbye to all of the new friends I made at RomCon 2012 was a bit sad. But it was wonderful to find so many like-minded readers and lovers of romance. Readers Stacy Richman (South Carolina) and Samantha Stafford (Kansas) shared one last glimpse of that love by wearing their favorite Ts. Looking forward to seeing you both again online and at RomCon 2013!

We’ve reached the end of my RomCon 2012 photo diary. Despite all of the wonderful pictures I shared, keep in mind that I hardly scratched the surface of the events offered this year. I missed so many workshops. Intimate chats, luncheons, dinners with my favorite authors…The Genre Wars…Historical Trivia…Taste of the Highlands…The Jury’s Out, just to name a few. I want to clone myself in 2013 so I don’t miss a thing.  I hope to see some of you next year, either as first-timers or returning fans. We will have a ball together!

Note: I will upload the photos from Monday Musings and today’s Thursday Musings, as well as some others that just didn’t make the cut here. (Yes, I did cull it down to a manageable level. I took over 100 pictures! 🙂 )

 Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Monday Musings: RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” Diary


MONDAY MUSINGS: RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” Diary

By Karen Docter

 

Okay, so I’m really behind sharing my RomCon 2012 “Where Readers Rule” conference experience. After all, it did take place June 22-24. I have a long line of excuses about why I’m just getting to it — it all started with the loss of the camera cord — but I promise not to belabor the point.  I should have shared the highlights of my RomCon diary more than a week ago. In fact, I should have shared photos while I was at conference. But, you know what? The bottom line is I had fun and now I’m sharing. (Better than last year’s RomCon. None of those pictures ever got posted. I don’t remember those excuses!)

For those of you who don’t know what RomCon is it’s a weekend conference for romance readers and authors. We all get together and mingle and chat and play games and dress up and share our love of romance with each other. We talk books and authors, and authors and books. This was my first year attending as a published author (I was a reader first!) so I was in Heaven celebrating romance on both sides. Oh, and did I mention there were sexy men all over the place competing for the 1st Annual Search for a Legendary Hero Contest? Wait! I’m getting ahead of myself…or maybe I was just focused on the wrong thing…will try to stay on track which might be a challenge when I get to those pictures.  Hmmm, I hope there are other pictures!

Ahem. Straightening up in my chair into my professional author pose.

Stop laughing!  This is a difficult pose to maintain! 🙂

Okay, starting at the beginning I’ll hit the highlights. (Actually took over 100 pictures and I’ll upload most of them on Facebook. Apologies for the dark, grainy photos. Hotel lighting gave me loads of grief!) I went a day early to help set up the conference. Someone has to stuff all of those wonderful conference goody bags!! 🙂 Then, met with some fabulous new reader buddies.

  New buddy, Lois (below) and I met up a few times through the weekend.

Teresa Mediros, one of my favorite authors, launches the conference!

Had a wonderful time moderating the “Build a Hero” workshop where readers and authors created the perfect hero. Then, each table shared their hero’s attributes. Some hunky heroes I’d love to meet between the pages of a book came to life under the care of the authors and readers! Author Hillary Seidl shares the hero their table created with one of the Legendary Hero candidates, Julian Christian, standing at her side.

  

I also helped moderate the “Strip a Hero” workshop (detecting a theme here?) where romance came to life with Kim Killion, Jade Lee and Jennifer Jakes reading short romantic vignettes with the participation of good sport Legendary Hero candidates, Julian Christian, Scott Nova & Brooks Johnson.

Meet all of the good sports (L-R): Billy Freida, Julian Christian, Brooks Johnson, Benny Bekro, Len Gun, and Scott Nova.

Despite a few warmongering species, the Paranormal Dine-In for Interspecies Peace ended peacefully for all delegations. I represented my Trill homeworld.

Author Hillary Seidl, one of the pretty people who attended Monte Carlo Night.

 

Authors Shannan Albright and Lizzie T. Leaf strike a pose! (Left) The Murder Mystery players. (Right)

Casino RomCon Monte Carlo Night, a Musical Show and Murder Mystery hosted by Princess Play Texas Hold’em, Roulette, Craps, and blackjack while your chips lasted – not real money, just fun and games!

 

Fun and games on Monte Carlo night!

Roomie, Lori, strikes a pose with Legendary Hero candidate, Scott Nova.

Reader guest, Aimee Neff, flew into Denver to hang with everyone again. She meets up with Michele Callahan, RomCon coordinator, at Monte Carlo Night.

Roomie, Lori, realizes her dreams of being in a cover photo shoot.
These shoots weren’t supposed to be photoshopped, were they? 🙂

I found me a cowboy! Can I keep him? 🙂

AND THIS WAS ONLY FRIDAY!

Come back for Thursday Musings, when I’ll share what happened on second day of RomCon 2012 conference!

Monday Musings: Karen Docter’s birthday book giveaway….

Dear readers!

My birthday is coming up in almost a week so, to celebrate, I’m going to give one lucky reader a present! Beginning with today’s Monday Musings, through Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench,  and ending with Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog on Friday, readers who comment will have a chance to win a digital (PDF) copy of my Valentine’s Day release, SATIN PLEASURES.  Comment on all three blogs for three chances to win! (Only one comment per  blog, please!)  I will announce the winner at 6 p.m. (CMT) on my birthday Sunday, March 18th.  Good luck!

If you enjoy series contemporary author, Janet Evanovich, you’re in for a treat with this tender, cute, and spicy story….

 

Back Cover Blurb

Bustiers, Birds, and the Blues…

Dan McDonald walked away from the American dream, a life full of money, glamorous women and power. Now nothing can lure him back into the corporate death trap. Except….

Dan’s scheming aunt snares him into opening a lingerie shop in Tess Emory’s shopping mall. Tess is everything Dan has vowed to avoid…sexy, smart, and obsessed with work.

Tess is determined to make her life a success and right the wrongs of her past, no matter the cost.

They’re both going to discover that true love breaks all their rules.

~~~~~~~~~

SATIN PLEASURES
Copyright 2012 by Karen Docter

EXCERPT

Chapter One

“Colby, if I’d had that brunette in my bass boat instead of you Aunt Mary would never have talked me off the lake.” Dan McDonald tore his gaze away from the view in the truck windshield to grin at his dog, affectionately named Colby, after the cheese the German shepherd loved so much. “Bet she doesn’t kiss like you…the brunette, I mean, not Aunt Mary.”

The dog whined, then attempted to wriggle his massive bulk into his master’s lap. Dan pushed his muzzle away. “Phew! Chances are she doesn’t smell like you, either.”

Colby bared his teeth in a grin.

Dan laughed. “You won’t think it’s so funny when we reach San Francisco and you get a bath.” He considered the stalled traffic. “That’s assuming we get across the bay.”

A fully loaded semi had jackknifed across both lanes of the westbound bridge and wedged in tighter than a cork in a genie’s bottle. The truck was to be dismantled for removal, the freight unloaded, and there appeared to be a debate as to which part of the process should be completed first.

He smiled at the speed with which the shock wave of information ran down the line of commuters. Many spilled from their cars to chat. A few lounged on their hoods, faces raised to the warm March afternoon sun. A pair of students in Stanford jerseys zipped a fluorescent orange Frisbee between the cars with all the ferocity of Kamikaze pilots.

Dan shook his head when he realized he’d pushed his old life behind him far enough to find amusement in the scene. He’d come a long way in the past year. Was it far enough? He’d been happy—well, content enough—with his solitary lifestyle…until his aunt tracked him down in Florida a couple of weeks ago.

She’d convinced him she and his mother needed him in California through June. However, he’d had three thousand miles to wonder if his temporary return to the rat race might prove to be the biggest mistake of his life. His impulse to turn the truck around had grown with each passing mile and he wondered if this traffic snarl was his last chance to save himself.

He certainly couldn’t complain about his first glimpse of San Francisco Bay. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sun stirred bright color into the murky waves and streaked light across mirrored office buildings on the opposite shoreline. A light, salty breeze gave wing to a variety of raucous sea birds over his head and teased long tendrils of toffee-rich hair out of his brunette’s French twist.

His brunette.

Desire coiled deep in his gut as he watched her wiggle her bottom onto the hood of her car. With one hand resting on the driver’s side mirror on the open door, she

talked briskly into her phone, her expression hidden behind sunglasses. The straight lemon skirt and fitted jacket she wore accentuated her rich, dark hair, full breasts, and slender waist. Spiked heels showcased legs long enough to fuel a man’s fantasies for months. Her hand waving in emphasis to whatever point she was making spoke to Dan of urgent caresses and wild passion.

The blend of cool professionalism and hot sensuality fostered the illusion a man only had to peel away one layer to expose the passionate woman beneath. He’d never seen a woman who made him feel so needy, so primitive, with barely one look…which is why he hadn’t bothered to pursue a woman since Charlotte Betham opted for her career over him last year. He might have made an effort to change her mind if she’d turned his crank this way!

Only a caveman would dream of ripping the phone from his lady’s hand. Only a cretin would throw it into the bay before he dragged her away to his cave for a year or two. Only a sex-starved man would allow such idiotic impulses to get out of hand.

“Maybe Aunt Mary dragged us back to civilization in time.” Dan scratched behind his dog’s ears. “Maybe I should go out on a date or two while we’re here. Take the edge off.”

Colby barked, and then rested his muzzle on the dashboard, pointing the way.

“No, it won’t be with my sexy brunette.”

The last thing Dan needed in his life was another career woman to tempt him back to the competitive edge like the one he’d ridden in Chicago. He’d leaped off that fast track without a backward glance—nearly dying did have a way of changing a man’s perspective, after all—but he could still spot a workaholic when he saw one. He’d lived with one all his life. First, his father. More recently, Charlotte and himself. And since he didn’t know yet if he’d beaten that particular inclination, once and for all, he wasn’t taking any chances.

The odd thing about chance, though, was the way it tended to come up and slap him when he wasn’t looking. Dan stared with consternation at the bright orange saucer veering out of control across his vision, aimed directly for his brunette. “Watch out!”

He jumped from the truck in time to see the rigid plastic disc slam into her right cheek with a sharp thwack, angle over her head and disappear over the bridge railing into the bay. Her cell sailed right behind it.

Dan sprinted in her direction but she’d fallen off the hood of her car and slumped to the pavement, her back settling against the front fender before he could reach her. Kneeling, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you all right?”

She didn’t respond.

“I didn’t mean to hit her!” The Frisbee thrower squatted next to Dan and watched him remove her cracked sunglasses. “Oh, man, she’s out cold.”

Dan clamped a lid on his own spike of concern and thrust both hands into the woman’s silky twist of hair. In the time it took him to run from his truck he’d seen her fall against the side mirror on her downward slide, and then ram her head against the open car door. So, it came as no surprise when he located a sizable lump over her left ear.

He examined the welt rising on her cheekbone, his curse short, succinct. Her head cradled in his hands, he brushed his thumbs against her temples. “Can you hear me?”

The woman’s eyelids fluttered, lifted. “W-What happened? H-Harry? Where’s Harry?”

Who the devil was Harry? Dan gazed into cinnamon brown eyes fogged with confusion and experienced a surprising surge of possessiveness. He couldn’t drag his hands away from her fast enough. “If Harry’s the one on the phone, I believe he’s now conferencing with the sharks.”

“Oh. Oh! He’ll kill me!” She shifted, wrinkled her nose in obvious bewilderment at the sight of her legs stretched in front of her. “Why am I sitting on the ground?”

The student piped in. “My Frisbee hit you. You fell.”

“Frisbee? Fell?”

Dan frowned. A concussion wasn’t out of the question. Although her pupils didn’t appear unequal or dilated, there was a large goose egg behind her ear and a welt across her cheek that grew more red and ugly by the minute. He searched his brain for the standard questions used on concussion victims. “What’s your name, and who’s the President?”

“Tess Emory, and Stuart Webster.”

“One out of two isn’t bad,” he murmured. For all he knew, Tess Emory wasn’t her name either.

“Oh, man, she doesn’t know—”

Dan glared the student into silence, motioning the kid to her other side so they could both help her to her feet. “Which is which?” he asked, aware he needed to keep her talking.

“I’m Tess.” She wobbled on her spiked heels. “The president’s Webster.”

Dan quickly calculated the distance to the camper in the back of his truck. “I think we have a problem. Webster is not President of the United States.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh. Wait. I thought you meant the president of my company!” She assured him she did indeed know her country’s president. “Now I know two presidents’ names and my own, but I don’t know your names.”

The student introduced himself and apologized for her injuries. He wanted to share his doctor’s phone number but, when she refused his assistance, he shrugged and walked off to rejoin his buddy sitting on the hood of their car.

Which left Dan where he shouldn’t be now that the danger had passed…overwhelmed by the appeal of toffee hair, cinnamon eyes, and spicy scent. Gasping for air like a wide-mouth bass in the bottom of his boat. Alone…with his brunette.

“And,” she said, “your name?”

“Daniel McDonald.” His fingers itched for more contact with her satiny skin, if only to shake her hand. He opted to tuck his hands in his pocket instead. “Now, you know five.”

“Five what?”

“Names. Two presidents, yours, mine, and Frisbee Killer over there.” He nodded at the student. “That makes five.”

“Six. You forgot Harry.”

As far as he was concerned, Harry could commune forever with the sea anemones. However, the reminder of this woman’s single-mindedness also tempered Dan’s lingering response to her. Not that he appreciated it. “Why did you say he’ll kill you?”

“That’s his phone resting at the bottom of the bay. I don’t imagine he’s too pleased thinking I hung up on him, either.” Tess tentatively touched her cheek, winced. “I need to call him back. May I borrow your phone?”

“I don’t have it on me,” he said thinking of where he’d last seen it. To break his final connection with the world he’d left behind, he’d tossed the phone into a storage box along with everything else. “Let’s take care of your injuries first.” Dan eyed the welt marring her delicate skin, the bruise already forming on her cheekbone. “How bad does that feel?”

“The way my head’s pounding, I guess I’m lucky to feel anything.” She peered at her face in her damaged side view mirror. “Sweet mercy, I’ve got a meeting in twenty minutes! I can’t go in there looking like this!”

Dan hated to burst her bubble. “I heard on the radio it might be a couple of hours before this accident is cleaned up.”

“Please,” Tess straightened, “tell me you’re joking.”

The haunted look shadowing her eyes was familiar. He’d seen it in the mirror, millions of years ago, before he came to his senses and dumped his stressful career, pristine penthouse, and empty lifestyle. This woman was wound entirely too tight. It was only a matter of time before she snapped under the strain. “I’m sorry. We’re stuck here until further notice.”

“I’ve got six suits waiting for me.” She threaded her fingers through her hair and yanked pins out, stuffing them into her jacket pocket with all the intensity of a search-and-destroy mission. “I can’t be stuck here!”

He was surprised when she punctuated the last word with a stamp of her foot, and even more intrigued by the flush which bloomed under her skin when she realized what she’d done. He’d known his share of businesswomen with tempers, but businesswomen who blushed?

“I can’t believe I did that,” she said, faintly.

Bending over he quickly picked up her heel, snapped off her right shoe in her flash of temper, and then arched an eyebrow at her. “I’d be happy to jump up and down, too, if you think it would help.”

Tess ducked her head on a small laugh. “Thanks for the offer, Mr. McDonald. I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Daniel.” He barely touched her palm when he laid the heel in her hand, and a blast of sensual heat struck him so hard he nearly groaned out loud. “Call me Dan,” his voice rough, “since we appear to be neighbors.”

She looked in the direction he indicated where his pickup camper sat in the next

lane. “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

“Thanks. I think I’ll like this one.” He hadn’t reached San Francisco yet but, if Tess was representative of the women he’d find there, he was going to be one happy camper for the next three months.

No!  He reeled in his runaway hormones.  You’re going to be pretty damned lonely.  No workaholics, remember?

As if able to read the rejection on his face, she looked away toward the wide, open space of the bay beyond the bridge. Then, she pressed a trembling hand to her forehead and swallowed convulsively. “You’ll have to excuse me. I need…to lie down. I feel diz—” Her knees buckled.

Monday Musings: Building castles in the clouds….

MONDAY MUSINGS: Building castles in the clouds….

“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.”
~~ Gilbert K. Chesterton ~~

I love this quote.  It’s made me think about how I find balance between structure and creativity.

I’m one of those right brain/left brain people who can run an accounting office and write an emotional novel. Not at the same time, of course. It can also be difficult to turn one off and get the other one moving. But, I digress. Suffice it to say, after reading this quote the first time, the practical side of me wanted to argue out loud that there are always rules and structure in everything I do, while the creative side of my brain gently blew raspberries in my ear and taunted me into playing hide-n-seek in the castle gardens.

As writers, we spend a great deal of time and effort working to design the architecture of our novels, the doors we walk our characters through or the windows we throw them from (hmm, haven’t done that in any of my suspense novels yet 🙂 ), even the strange worlds we set our buildings upon. Although it’s necessary for us to frame this architecture, we can’t forget that we are building castles in the clouds.

Those of us who’ve been doing this awhile have heard it all. Use multiple POV. Don’t head-hop. You should plot. You should let your muse flow. Don’t do it that way. Do it this way. You write too much sex. Not enough. You should use these words. Avoid the LY and ING words. Keep your synopses down to three pages. Five.  Seven.  Outlining. Storyboarding.  Collages.  Brainstorming. The list goes on and on if you’ve pursued your craft as long as, well, me.  I’ve even added to the mélange with my own plotting classes.

Then there’s the ever-changing reader market. Readers can’t get enough vampires this year. Oops!  They’re into werewolves now. They hate sports heroes.  Love them. Humor is picking up. No, the tortured hero is all the rage….

It’s great to have all of this guidance when we’re trying to build stories someone actually wants to buy.  In today’s competitive book industry, it’s necessary to learn everything we can from the industry professionals and from our readers. There’s a lot of useful information out there simply waiting for us to pick up and incorporate into our writing. But all the techniques and guidance in the world won’t do us much good if we bury the story of our hearts in a viscous bog.

It’s all too easy to get sucked down into the mechanics of writing so that we forget the joy of creation. Or we kill the beauty of what we’ve created because we’ve honed our story to death in some misguided attempt to jam our castle between a brownstone and a 60-unit apartment complex. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been guilty of both of these extremes at one point or another in my career.  Now that I’m aware of those mistakes, I’ll be able to avoid them in future. Maybe.

I believe the trick to building castles in the clouds today as a writer is to always keep in mind the architecture is the underpinning, not the mantle. All of my training and workshops and techniques are designed to give me a “loose” container so I have just enough structure to capture the magic I want to share with my readers. After all, that’s what my readers are searching for…the magic.

Have I found my balance between structure and creativity?  Yes.  No.  Maybe.  I certainly found the magic when my debut contemporary romance, Satin Pleasures, released on Valentine’s Day…a magical day for romance.  I also know there’s still a lot for me to learn about building castles in the clouds so if you’ll excuse me, my muse just called, “Ollie, Ollie, oxen, free!”

I wonder what we’ll play next?

Oh, no! Was that my serial killer dashing into the rose garden? I’d better go see what that man is doing!

Monday Musings: “I Quit” slugs it out with “Persistence”….

MONDAY MUSINGS: “I Quit” slugs it out with “Persistence”….

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. ~ Isaac Asimov ~~~~

I quit! These were the words I wrote in my now defunct monthly newsletter (I do enjoying blogging more often) back in the summer of 2010. Oh, I wasn’t talking about not writing any more. In fact, after rereading the newsletter today, I have to say the sentiments and goals I shared then haven’t changed. Thank goodness!

I thought it might be fun today for you to read my original newsletter article. Then, I’ll share what I’ve learned and how far I’ve come in the past year and a half.  So pour a glass or cup of your favorite beverage and settle in because this trip down memory lane might be a tad longer than my usual Musings. (The trip is worth it though!)

It was the summer of 2010…

I quit! The sentiment has been on my mind a lot recently. No. I won’t quit writing, although I will admit I considered it…for about 2 nanoseconds. The moment the thought escaped its bounds, my brain stood up, pushed its way to the bully pulpit and shouted in my head, “Hi! My name is Karen Docter, and I’m addicted to writing. It’s been six months, four days and ten minutes since I last wrote my last full chapter! ”

Yeah, not only is my brain entirely too independent for my peace of mind but it’s stubborn as well. It’s a good thing we do love to write together. Most of the time. 🙂

For those who don’t know me well, I’ve been at this awhile. This meaning working toward a career in writing. Awhile translates to when I joined RWA in the latter part of 1991. That’s when I began to think my writing could become my career. Who doesn’t want to make a living out of something we love? I wish we all had the ability to get paid to do what makes us happiest. The world might be a better place!

Sorry. I digress.

And that’s what this Musing is all about. I wish I could say I’ve been walking hand-in-hand with Persistence during all of those intervening years. I did well until after the new millennium kicked in. I was writing traditional and short contemporary full time. I had seven books under my belt and had generated interest in my writing with New York and Canadian editors, even if the projects weren’t quite what were needed at the time. I can write well. I even had an agent who believed in my projects as much as I did.

Then I got hit with several whammies. The publishing lines toward which I’d aimed my projects kept shutting down, forcing me to evaluate my goals and my genre. My agent closed her doors around the same time. I started a personal relationship with debilitating medical issues. My writing hit a long dry spell. While many authors can write through anything, I discovered my threshold didn’t match my yearning. Persistence rolled off the wagon beneath just about everything else.

Yet I’m still not prepared to give up my writing career. Why?

Persistence has been whining in my ear for months now. Every morning she’s right there as I brush my teeth whispering schedule changes in the mirror. “Take 20 minutes between lunch and organizing online classes to review the two prologue versions for KILLING SECRETS.” Persistence is there when I take a break from teaching a class, tugging me toward my laptop. “Kick up your feet to ease the pain and, oh, by the way, take a minute to finetune the victim’s emotional distress after she’s kidnapped.” Persistence accompanies me into the kitchen when I throw dinner into the microwave at 9 p.m. after I’ve shut down my desktop with the intent to decompress from 14 hours of computer work. “Come on! You can at least read through what you wrote last week for IN DANGER’S SHADOW so you’re ready to pick it back up in the morning…after I’ve whispered tomorrow’s schedule changes into your ear!”

Persistence has become…persistent. I’m not quite sure what kicked her in the backside. I can’t say I even noticed it much until she became downright ornery. But, clearly, she’s been sneaking up behind I quit for months and wearing her down.

Hey! You don’t have to hit me up the side of the head twice! Wait. Yes. Evidently you do. But this writer’s getting the message. So I quit.

I quit fighting the inevitable. I quit allowing other things to get in my way, even if my friends throw puppy dog eyes at me to get me on board with a project. I quit dwelling on my health to the detriment of my writing. If I have to go through two surgeries to fix the problems, so be it. I quit pushing my writing, the one thing besides my family and friends that means the world to me, to the back burner of my life. I quit because Persistence is a lot stronger and she’s going to keep kicking my butt until I quit quits.

So. I’m back. Did ya miss me?!

It’s now February 20, 2012….

A lot has changed in the last year and a half. When I wrote that original Musing, I launched back into my life and career with a completely different mindset. I’m now taking better care of me. I split my genres. And last, but not least, I’ve taken my career in my own hands and published my first book.

• Taking better care of me was an imperative first step. In addition to some serious health issues I was not cognizant of or simply ignoring, I had run myself into the ground trying to juggle too many balls. The ball with the word write on it wasn’t even in the air much of the time. It sat on the ground looking up at me with reproach until I picked it up and tried to juggle it with all the others. And my health suffered.

I’ve since learned that Wonder Woman is a comic book hero and I just can’t wear her tights with any panache at all. Many of us, as women, overextend ourselves in some misguided attempt to be the perfect mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, friend, and writer and, the truth is, there’s no such person! If I were to encourage you, writer or reader, to take anything from what I’ve learned it’s to give yourself permission to not be perfect at everything. You’re not doing anyone a favor by killing yourself with unrealistic expectations.

• Splitting my genres gave me room to be truly creative once again. I wrote traditional and short contemporary novels for a long time. I loved the books I wrote. I did well even though I didn’t actually sell for one reason or another. But line closures and my growth toward romantic suspense told me I needed to move on. At the time, it was a good decision but with the recent industry changes, I realized I’d thrown the baby out with the bath water. Moving on to romantic suspense didn’t mean I had to give up on my contemporaries. Besides, my romantic suspense has taken a much darker tone than expected and I find the cute contemporaries are the breath of fresh air I need to offset the darker suspense. Splitting my genres was the best thing I could have done for my creativity.

• Taking my career into my hands and publishing my own projects, quite honestly, had never been on my radar. I didn’t want to go with a digital publisher. Not to diss any of the wonderful digital publishers out there or to the great authors who publish with them, it was impossible for me to see me going that route. I’m “old school” and I had my heart set on print. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

Sweeping changes in the industry with the Kindle, Nook, and other self-publishing digital formats, changed my mind quite recently. Like late last fall recently! My critique partners were encouraging, okay, pushing me to finish my current suspense project to take advantage of the new publishing opportunities. I wasn’t ready to push my unfinished baby onto the world. Their response? “So publish one of your contemporary romances. They’re great and readers will love them, and you can take a break from serial killers once in a while.”

I love my critique partners! I have no doubt part of their reasoning was that they had started to get as buried in the darkness of my psychological suspense as I was, but they do know me and my writing. And as they so often are, they were right. That next day, I split my genres, tweaked my website to accommodate two genres, and pulled out one of my favorite contemporary romances – a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest – and got to work.

That leads me back to the Isaac Asimov quote I pulled from the internet a year and a half ago. I’ve come full circle. Persistence has finally K.O.d, knocked out and obliterated, I Quit winning the championship round on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the day I published my debut contemporary romance novel, Satin Pleasures. Since last week, I’ve been feeling like Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, my hands thrown high as I pump the air with my fists at the top of the stairs in celebration.

I know this is only the beginning. I’ll have to go through the entire process with the next book and the next, and the next after that because I want you, my readers, to get the very best stories I can write for you. I have six brothers in my upcoming romantic suspense series, Thorne’s Thorns. I plan to have the first brother, Patrick Thorne’s story out this summer.

I’m still learning – we won’t even discuss how I’ll add promotions and blogging and reviews, etc. to the balls I’m now juggling — but as long as I keep company with Persistence, I just may see my way clear to recapturing a bit of the Wonder Woman in me.

Nah! Never mind. That’s just so wrong…I still can’t fit into her tights!
~~~~~~~~~

[If you’re interested in reading an excerpt of SATIN PLEASURES, I’ve posted one on my website at www.karendocter.com. The book is now available on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Satin-Pleasures-ebook/dp/B0078VSY6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329777162&sr=8-1 and Nook at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/satin-pleasures?keyword=satin+pleasures&store=book for only $3.99.

~~~~~
 ANNOUNCEMENT: Yesterday, at noon as promised, I randomly pulled one of the names from the five (5) comments on my February 13th blog post. I’m happy to announce the winner of the #FREE digital copy of SATIN PLEASURES is Gerri Bowen! Congratulations, Gerri! I’ll contact you privately to get your email address so I can send your PDF copy. Thanks, everyone, for commenting!

Monday Musings: Satin Pleasures releasing Valentine’s Day!

I am thrilled to announce that my contemporary romance novel, SATIN PLEASURES, will release on Valentine’s Day!!! This novel has been a long time in coming. It began its life as a series contemporary, however, the publishing house I wrote it for ultimately closed the line.  It was one of my favorite stories and finaled in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest but, with nowhere to go, I tucked it away.

With the advent of Kindle and Nook and Smashwords and other new publishing opportunities, I am now able to breathe new life into this special story and share it with you.

To celebrate SATIN PLEASURES release I’m giving away copies here on my blog, my Facebook author page, and on Twitter.

1.  I will choose one (1) winner from readers of this blog post who leave a comment. (Only one comment will be counted. 🙂 )Comments will be accepted until noon on Sunday, February 19th. The winner of this random drawing will be announced in next Monday’s Musings post.

2.  I will give away one (1) copy to a new Facebook friend at Karen Docter, Author. Please “like” me at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Karen-Docter-Author/112017712223396 and be my 250th friend and the book is yours!

3.  I will give away one (1) copy to a new Twitter friend @KarenDocter. Please “follow” me at https://twitter.com/#!/KarenDocter and be my 1,650th friend and the book is yours!

Good luck to my three winners! I hope you like SATIN PLEASURES!!

BOOK PEEK – Satin Pleasures

Bustiers, Birds, and the Blues…

Dan McDonald walked away from the American dream, a life full of money, glamorous women and power. Now nothing can lure him back into the corporate death trap. Except….

Dan’s scheming aunt snares him into opening a lingerie shop in Tess Emory’s shopping mall. Tess is everything Dan has vowed to avoid…sexy, smart, and obsessed with work.

Tess is determined to make her life a success and right the wrongs of her past, no matter the cost.

They’re both going to discover that true love breaks all their rules.

EXCERPT

Chapter One

“Colby, if I’d had that brunette in my bass boat instead of you Aunt Mary would never have talked me off the lake.”  Dan McDonald tore his gaze away from the view in the truck windshield to grin at his dog, affectionately named Colby, after the cheese the German shepherd loved so much.  “Bet she doesn’t kiss like you…the brunette, I mean, not Aunt Mary.”

The dog whined, then attempted to wriggle his massive bulk into his master’s lap.  Dan pushed his muzzle away.  “Phew!  Chances are she doesn’t smell like you, either.”

Colby bared his teeth in a grin.

Dan laughed.  “You won’t think it’s so funny when we reach San Francisco and you get a bath.”  He considered the stalled traffic.  “That’s assuming we get across the bay.”

A fully loaded semi had jackknifed across both lanes of the westbound bridge and wedged in tighter than a cork in a genie’s bottle.  The truck was to be dismantled for removal, the freight unloaded, and there appeared to be a debate as to which part of the process should be completed first.

He smiled at the speed with which the shock wave of information ran down the line of commuters.  Many spilled from their cars to chat.  A few lounged on their hoods, faces raised to the warm March afternoon sun.  A pair of students in Stanford jerseys zipped a fluorescent orange Frisbee between the cars with all the ferocity of Kamikaze pilots.

Dan shook his head when he realized he’d pushed his old life behind him far enough to find amusement in the scene.  He’d come a long way in the past year.  Was it far enough?  He’d been happy—well, content enough—with his solitary lifestyle…until his aunt tracked him down in Florida a couple of weeks ago.

She’d convinced him she and his mother needed him in California through June.  However, he’d had three thousand miles to wonder if his temporary return to the rat race might prove to be the biggest mistake of his life.  His impulse to turn the truck around had grown with each passing mile and he wondered if this traffic snarl was his last chance to save himself.

He certainly couldn’t complain about his first glimpse of San Francisco Bay.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  The sun stirred bright color into the murky waves and streaked light across mirrored office buildings on the opposite shoreline.  A light, salty breeze gave wing to a variety of raucous sea birds over his head and teased long tendrils of toffee-rich hair out of his brunette’s French twist.

His brunette.

Desire coiled deep in his belly as he watched her wiggle her bottom onto the hood of her car.  With one hand resting on the driver’s side mirror on the open door, she talked briskly into her phone, her expression hidden behind sunglasses.  The straight lemon skirt and fitted jacket she wore accentuated her rich, dark hair, full breasts, and slender waist.  Spiked heels showcased legs long enough to fuel a man’s fantasies for months.  Her hand waving in emphasis to whatever point she was making spoke to Dan of urgent caresses and wild passion.

The blend of cool professionalism and hot sensuality fostered the illusion a man only had to peel away one layer to expose the passionate woman beneath.  He’d never seen a woman who made him feel so needy, so primitive, with barely one look…which is why he hadn’t bothered to pursue a woman since Charlotte Betham opted for her career over him last year.  He might have made an effort to change her mind if she’d turned his crank this way!

Only a caveman would dream of ripping the phone from his lady’s hand.  Only a cretin would throw it into the bay before he dragged her away to his cave for a year or two.  Only a sex-starved man would allow such idiotic impulses to get out of hand.

“Maybe Aunt Mary dragged us back to civilization in time.”  Dan scratched behind his dog’s ears.  “Maybe I should go out on a date or two while we’re here.  Take the edge off.”

Colby barked, and then rested his muzzle on the dashboard, pointing the way.

“No, it won’t be with my sexy brunette.”

The last thing Dan needed in his life was another career woman to tempt him back to the competitive edge like the one he’d ridden in Chicago.  He’d leaped off that fast track without a backward glance—nearly dying did have a way of changing a man’s perspective, after all—but he could still spot a workaholic when he saw one.  He’d lived with one all his life.  First, his father.  More recently, Charlotte and himself.  And since he didn’t know yet if he’d beaten that particular inclination, once and for all, he wasn’t taking any chances.

The odd thing about chance, though, was the way it tended to come up and slap him when he wasn’t looking.  Dan stared with consternation at the bright orange saucer veering out of control across his vision, aimed directly for his brunette.  “Watch out!”

He jumped from the truck in time to see the rigid plastic disc slam into her right cheek with a sharp thwack, angle over her head and disappear over the bridge railing into the bay.  Her cell sailed right behind it.

Dan sprinted in her direction but she’d fallen off the hood of her car and slumped to the pavement, her back against the front fender, before he could reach her. Kneeling beside her, he placed a hand on her shoulder.  “Are you all right?”

She didn’t respond.

“I didn’t mean to hit her!”  The Frisbee thrower squatted next to Dan and watched him remove her cracked sunglasses.  “Oh, man, she’s out cold.”

Dan clamped a lid on his own spike of concern and thrust both hands into the woman’s silky twist of hair.  In the time it took him to run from his truck he’d seen her fall against the side mirror on her downward slide, and then ram her head against the open car door.  So, it came as no surprise when he located a sizable lump over her left ear.

He examined the welt rising on her cheekbone, his curse short, succinct.  Her head cradled in his hands, he brushed his thumbs against her temples.  “Can you hear me?”

The woman’s eyelids fluttered, lifted.  “W-What happened?  H-Harry?  Where’s Harry?”

Who the devil was Harry?  Dan gazed into cinnamon brown eyes fogged with confusion and experienced a surprising surge of possessiveness.  He couldn’t drag his hands away from her fast enough.  “If Harry’s the one on the phone, I believe he’s now conferencing with the sharks.”

“Oh. Oh! He’ll kill me!”  She shifted, wrinkled her nose in obvious bewilderment at the sight of her legs stretched in front of her.  “Why am I sitting on the ground?”

The student piped in.  “My Frisbee hit you.  You fell.”

“Frisbee?  Fell?”

Dan frowned.  A concussion wasn’t out of the question.  Although her pupils didn’t appear unequal or dilated, there was a large goose egg behind her ear and a welt across her cheek that grew more red and ugly by the minute.  He searched his brain for the standard questions used on concussion victims.  “What’s your name, and who’s the President?”

“Tess Emory, and Stuart Webster.”

“One out of two isn’t bad,” he murmured.  For all he knew, Tess Emory wasn’t her name either.

“Oh, man, she doesn’t know—”

Dan glared the student into silence, motioning the kid to her other side so they could both help her to her feet.  “Which is which?” he asked, aware he needed to keep her talking.

“I’m Tess.”  She wobbled on her spiked heels.  “The president’s Webster.”

Dan quickly calculated the distance to the camper in the back of his truck.  “I think we have a problem.  Webster is not President of the United States.”

Her eyes widened.  “Oh. Wait. I thought you meant the president of my company!”  She assured him she did indeed know her country’s president.  “Now I know two presidents’ names and my own, but I don’t know your names.”

The student introduced himself and apologized for her injuries.  He wanted to share his doctor’s phone number but, when she refused his assistance, he shrugged and walked off to rejoin his buddy sitting on the hood of their car.

Which left Dan where he shouldn’t be now that the danger had passed…overwhelmed by the appeal of toffee hair, cinnamon eyes, and spicy scent.  Gasping for air like a wide-mouth bass in the bottom of his boat.  Alone…with his brunette.

Monday Musings: One-Minute Romance Novel….

MONDAY MUSINGS: ONE-MINUTE ROMANCE NOVEL….

A friend shared this with me some time ago, labeling it “One Minute Romance Novel.”  I had no clue this was a commercial when I opened it, let alone what was being advertised, but it didn’t matter. I simply enjoyed the romance story. When I got to the end of the commercial I was surprised, yet not, by the product being sold.  It is a creative approach to product placement.  But that’s not what my Musings are about today.

Let’s talk about the romantic appeal of this one minute “story”, about expectations and every woman’s dream man.  Our heroes.

Don’t we all want to wake up married to a sexy, loving man who lives only to make us happy?  Many of us grow up with some version of Prince Charming living at the back of our minds ready to charge in, slay our dragons and hug us close on top of his white charger as he whisks us away to his castle.  That doesn’t mean we all want tons of money, rocks on our finger the size of a goose egg, and a man catering to our every whim.

Too much cloying attention screams stalker to this damsel! Just saying…there are limits to my Prince Charming fantasies!

No.  It’s the idea that a man loves us so much he’s willing to go that extra mile to give us everything we need and want that appeals to our feminine psyche.  We want our men to be attractive and strong and successful at whatever he does for a living. We’re instinctually hardwired to seek the perfect mate.  It’s embedded in our DNA.

Heroes are the reason I read and write romance novels.  I fall a little in love with each hero I meet.  Or not.

This bank commercial brought that dichotomy home to me.  As women, we have differing viewpoints on what is important to us.  You may want a man with strong protective instincts, while another woman wants a man who can give her the lifestyle to which she’d like to become accustomed. Maybe you want an alpha male and your best friend finds a Beta male more to her liking.  A man’s drive for a higher position in the social hierarchy might turn you on, while driving the next woman away because she wants to be the center of her hero’s world. The point is that the individual appeal of a hero is directly connected to what we look for in a man, either consciously or subconsciously.

With this in mind, let’s go back to my reaction to the hero in the commercial.  I know millions of women love George Clooney so the producer’s choice of hero makes sense in the grand scheme of things.  But, at the risk of being tarred and feathered for even suggesting such blasphemy, Clooney leaves me cold.  Oh, he’s handsome enough, I guess.  I just don’t like him.  He doesn’t do it for me.  I wish I could tell you specifically why.  I suspect it’s partially wrapped around his playboy good looks.  Even before I learned anything about him personally, I somehow knew he was a player and not to be trusted to take anything seriously, especially regarding a woman’s heart.  He’s a grown up Peter Pan. Not the type of man that turns me on at all!

Now, throw some of my favorite movie heroes into the same commercial role, I’d be running to that bank barefoot through a blizzard to open an account.  Especially if the hero is Jason Statham—actually, at the moment, that man reigns supreme over my feminine psyche—Sean Connery, at just about any age, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson, Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Tom Selleck, Patrick Swayze (miss him!), and several others…I can go on!  🙂

In analysis, I know I adore all of these men because they play strong heroes, both emotionally and physically, who go above and beyond to protect the people they love.  Even to the point of dying for their loved ones.  In practicality, dying for me isn’t what I’d want from the man I love. It’s the concept that he’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to protect me that appeals to me.

Knowing what kind of man turns me on, I’m not surprised by the type of hero I find in every book that hits my Keeper Shelf whether it’s a contemporary, suspense, historical, or paranormal.  These men are not all classically tall, dark and handsome.  They don’t all have millions to keep their heroines in jewelry and classic cars. They may be bad boys or the boy next door. They are, however, all completely invested in their love for their heroine and loved ones.  This is what fits my vision of the truly heroic man.

What kind of hero turns you on when you pick up a romance novel?  The Greek God? The warrior?  The friend? The sexy bad boy?  What about movie actors who do it for you?  What is it that makes you willing to shell out your hard earned cash just so you can spend two hours with them on a leisurely Sunday afternoon? Who are your favorites?  There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions but, if you’d like to share, enquiring minds want to know.

Okay, the truth is I want to know!  I’m always on the lookout for another hero to place on my Keeper Shelf. 🙂

Monday Musings: Split personality of a writer….

  MONDAY MUSINGS: Split personality of a writer….

I had hoped to have an extra-special post today.  As many of you know I’m preparing for the release of my first contemporary romance, SATIN PLEASURES, by the end of this month.  Alas, I must wait to share my new book cover and book blurb with you. The cover isn’t finished.  Sigh. With any luck, I’ll have it for you next Monday along with the announcement the book’s available for sale.

It drives me crazy when I don’t have control over absolutely everything!

There, I said it. I’m a control freak. A nice appellation is “Type-A Personality” but we all know that simply means that I worry things into perfection.  I write and revise and write and revise my manuscript pages daily.  This blog post will be revised half a dozen times as I write it.

Blast through an entire story and then go back and edit?  Pshaw!  Each scene I write is completely revised at least ten times before I type THE END on a manuscript.  I can’t go on until I’ve gone back over the previous 2-3 scenes.

In theory, I know this methodology was born as a result of the years I spent in revision as a pure pantser.  Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe I was ever a pantser but, believe me, it’s true!  I used to get up each morning and write whatever came to mind.  I didn’t plot anything and went wherever my muse took me.  I wallowed in the creativity I didn’t allow anywhere else in my life.  Completely unfettered, I wrote one of my earlier novels in eight weeks!

I don’t know where that writer went.  I can’t even pinpoint exactly when she disappeared into the mist.  It was a gradual thing and can be attributed to a number of factors.  Spending months, years in perpetual revision was only part of the transition.  I learned a lot about the craft of writing during that time.  POV (Point of View).  Characterization.  Plotting, etc.  Each skill I added to my repertoire made it more difficult for me to separate my creative side from my pragmatic side. When I made the subconscious decision to turn my love for writing into a career—yes, it was subconscious long before it became a conscious decision–my business background took hold, my stories became creative products, and the rest, they say, is history.

I’m not saying this transition was all bad. Writing a novel in eight weeks doesn’t guarantee the story’s good enough to publish.  Interestingly enough, SATIN PLEASURES was that novel.  Creatively, it wasn’t a bad story. In fact, it was a RWA® Golden Heart® finalist back when the only thing they looked at was the first three chapters and synopsis. (The book didn’t need to be finished then to be entered.  I only had the first three chapters and synopsis, but I was the Queen of Pristine Proposals!)  But I didn’t win, the story didn’t sell despite the fact several editors like many things about it.  I just hadn’t grown into my skills. I wasn’t quite “ready for prime time.”

I’ve since forged a comfortable balance between my creativity and my skills.  Well, most of the time, it’s a comfortable balance.  The editor perched on my shoulder does have 12-inch talons embedded in my creative soul!  I plot using the “W” technique I teach.  I focus my attention on making sure I use my technical skills to create a coherent, compelling story.  And my muse has learned to dance in whatever scene she wants in whatever order she wants. (Yes, I’m a non-sequential writer 🙂 ) Thanks to this alliance, I’m now ready to present my book to the world.

Yet, I’m discovering there are still things I can’t control.  Like my cover art.  My creativity doesn’t include drawing a straight line with a ruler, let alone designing the gorgeous cover I want.  So, I have no choice but to let someone else do it. Which means I have no control…and that just makes me crazy. 🙂

Monday Musings: Book Peek CENTAURI MIDNIGHT….

**BOOK PEEK**

CENTAURI MIDNIGHT

by

CYNTHIA WOOLF

 

“Audra, please.  You’re my queen, but you’re also my friend.  You must grant me this last request.  Let me go after him.  Please you know how much this means to me.”  Tensign Kiti Dolana paced the Her Royal Highness’s beautiful sitting room.  Bile rose in her throat and threatened to strangle her.  Finally, she collapsed into a chair its soft cushions swallowing her as she sat across the small, highly polished and gleaming, coffee table from the Queen of Centauri.

The Queen, pregnant with triplets, her beautifully distended abdomen disallowing much frivolous movement, reclined on the couch.  She sat up to pour the tea but had trouble reaching the tea pot in the middle of the coffee table.  “Kiti, would you pour our aeta?  I’m a bit like a beached whale right now.”  Audra was anything but a beached whale.  Kiti knew the colloquial term from her study of Earth.

Her queen was radiant.  Her long, chestnut hair fell in waves to her waist, gathered on one side of her head.  Her clear silver gray eyes shone bright in her pale face.  She wore a beautiful royal purple empire-waisted dress that highlighted her pale features.  She was beautiful.  Kiti remembered a time, on their trip back to Centauri from Earth, when she’d not thought so, because she was jealous.

That was before Audra’s marriage to Darius, when she’d still been betrothed to Anton.  Kiti had thought herself in love with Anton.  They’d been seeing each other for years, and Kiti was jealous of Audra.  Some of the things she’d said had been unkind, but Audra had seen her jealousy for what it was and forgiven her the words.  They were now best friends.

Kiti poured the tea and continued to beseech her queen.  “Audra, you have to let me go after him.  Tybold killed my brother, Joridan.  His actions directly led to Anton being captured and tortured.  I need to see they both get justice.  They deserve it.”

“And you are sure it’s only justice you seek?” Audra softly asked.

“Damn it, Audra.”  Kiti got up and paced the room again.  Her long black hair, tied in a high tankipa tail, swung back and forth, slapping against her back with each step.  The thick, plush carpet kept her boots from clicking on the floor.  “I’m begging you to let me go with Garrick Marcus.  It’s not just revenge I need.  I need closure.  I’m the one who should deliver Tybold to the authorities.  Garrick Marcus is the best captain in the fleet and I know Darius is sending him after Tybold.  Joridan needs us both to avenge his death.  To bring his murderer back to Centauri for justice to be served.”

“Kiti, are you combat trained?  We don’t know what to expect from the Gregarians.  By this time, Tybold could have convinced them we are conquerors and he’s their only salvation.  We don’t know.  It could be a suicide mission.  I don’t want to lose my best friend.”  She went on.  “I know you’re grieving.  Joridan’s loss and Lara’s return has been very hard on you.”

“Stop.”  Kiti held up her hand.  “I know what my life has been like.  I mourn the loss of Joridan and I’m still angry about Anton’s capture and torture.  Joridan was my little brother.” she smiled at that.  “Even though he was a head taller than me, he will always be my little brother.  I still smell Joridan’s scent in his room.  Sometimes it’s so fresh it’s like he just passed by.”  Her eyes filled with tears.  “I miss the closeness that Anton and I once shared, but I do not bemoan him finding Lara.  I’m very happy he found his lifemate.  It was something he never thought to do.  After the torture both Anton and Lara suffered at the hands of the Slavariens, it’s amazing they found each other.  I wish I had a lifemate out there somewhere.

“Audra, I’m a historian and anthropologist, but first I’m Dragonera.  Of course, I am combat trained.  All Dragonera are.  We are the Royal Guard.  The best soldiers Centauri has.  For that matter, the best anywhere.”

“You’re right, but I worry anyway.  Must be my maternal instinct.”  Audra patted her abdomen.

Kitty smiled at the thought of Audra as a mother.  She would be a good one, even if she was a might over protective.  At least she was of Kiti.  Kiti could only imagine how she would be with her own babies.

“You know the people of Gregar are centuries behind us technologically.  I’m the only person who can go on this mission that knows anything about their culture.”

“I don’t know,” Audra hesitated.

“Admit it.  Garrick needs me.”

“We don’t interfere in the development of other planets’ civilizations.  You know that.”

“Tybold has already interfered.  I say we’ll be evening the odds for the tribes involved.  And it’s not as though Gregar doesn’t know we exist.  They already trade with other planets.  Just because they’re not our technological equals doesn’t mean they aren’t advanced.”

Kiti saw Audra hesitate again before she answered.  “I’ll have to confer with Darius before I can give you my answer.”

At that moment Darius came in accompanied by Garrick, Anton and Lara.  The three men were in their Dragonera uniforms as was Kiti, the only differences being the color blocking.  All wore the royal colors of amethyst and cream.  Darius and Garrick wore amethyst uniforms with cream colored sleeves, denoting their status as starship captains.  Darius’ uniform also had a cream colored stripe from the left shoulder to the waist, denoting that he was Captain of the Royal Guard.  As a general in the Royal Army, Anton’s uniform was solid amethyst.  Lara, Audra’s twin sister, still had the tanned skin from someone who’d spent too much time in the sun.  She wore the House of Danexx royal colors like everyone else did.  Hers were an amethyst jumpsuit and long cream colored duster.  Kiti’s uniform was solid cream.  Her rank as Tensign was denoted by a patch on her left arm.

“What do you need to discuss with me?” Darius asked as he took his wife’s arm and helped her to rise from the couch.  She gave him a quick kiss.  Darius rubbed her stomach then bent and said, “Hello, my children.  Are you being nice to your mommy today?”

Kiti swore he expected an answer.

“If you don’t quit that people are going to think you’re crazy,” said Audra.

Darius laughed and kissed her abdomen.

“I am. Crazy in love with my wife.”

Lara made gagging sounds.  ‘Will you two remember that you have an audience?”

“All right.  But you and Anton are just as bad as we are,” Darius said to his soon to be twice over sister-in-law.”

“Never,” retorted Lara.  “No one is as over the moons as you two.”

“I don’t know, I’m pretty much over the moons about you,” said Anton waggling his eyebrows at her.

The banter was not aimed at Kiti.  She didn’t think the two couples even remembered they were not alone.  Kiti glanced at Garrick, who rolled his brandy colored eyes at her.   “Audra, the mission.”  She reminded her queen to hurry by tapping the comulator at her own wrist.

“Oh, yes.  Darius, Kiti has requested to be assigned to go with Garrick to Gregar, to apprehend Lord Tybold.  I told her I would discuss it with you.”

“I don’t know if she will be needed,” Darius responded.

Garrick spoke for the first time since entering the room.  “I think an anthropologist would be very useful on this particular mission.  Tensign Dolana would be a definite asset to me in bringing in Tybold.”

“Thank you, Garrick.”  Kiti was warmed by his words and agreed with him one hundred percent.

“Very well,” said Darius.  “You will receive your orders tomorrow.  In the meantime, can we eat dinner?  I’m a starving man.”

~~~~~~

From Cowboys to Space Captains…true love has no boundaries

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