Thursday, December 27, 2012

‘Tis the season for...chocolate!

I confess—I love chocolate. But I’m also something of a chocolate snob these days. If I’m going to eat chocolate, I want it to be real chocolate, not the imitation stuff that fills Easter baskets and Christmas stockings. Those chocolate bunnies? Forget it. And don’t even get me started on that thing called “white chocolate.” I don’t mind carob-coated raisins; they’re actually quite good in snack packs. But if a product’s not chocolate, it shouldn’t be labeled as such.

I’m not even sure that artificial stuff has the same benefits. For instance, real chocolate is a mood elevator. Does the fake stuff have enough of the active ingredient that makes us feel better? I doubt it. No wonder we feel so icky after being conned into eating it.

When I was a kid, I happily scarfed down chocolate bunnies and Santas because, hey, it was candy. Now, though, in this era of “healthy” dark chocolate, I’ve discovered the world of Dove and Bliss. They’re mainstream products, so I’m not truly a snob in the sense my chocolate has to be expensive. However, it definitely has to taste like the real thing. If it has some caramel or truffle or coconut in it, so much the better. And if someone really wants to make me happy, stuff my dark chocolate with some marzipan.
What’s your chocolate preference? Are you particular about the kind of chocolate you like?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"The Next Big Thing" Blog Tour

I’ve had the pleasure of being tagged for “The Next Big Thing” Blog tour by two talented fellow romance authors,

They are both working on exciting projects, so be sure to link back to their websites to see their Next Big Thing posts after reading mine.  I’m excited to share what I’ve been working on.

Ten Interview Questions for “The Next Big Thing”:

What is your working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

From a fairy tale and a myth:  Beauty and the Beast & Cupid and Psyche.  I also have visited many ruined fortresses in the United Kingdom, and the Rock of Cashel in Ireland (pictured here) is partly the source of inspiration for the ruined fortress Drakkonwehr.  Also much of the story  takes place in a forested no-man’s land called the Wehrland.


What genre does your book fall under?

 Fantasy Romance


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My hero, the Shadow Man, is completely shrouded in black—face and all—for almost all the story, so any male actor with an athletic physique that would look good in form-hugging black clothing and who could handle a sword would do. Emma Watson with her “Hermoine hair” has the right spunk, athleticism, and courageous determination that Mirianna has.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To save her father Mirianna promises the Shadow Man she’ll do "anything," but the beastly, insensitive creature needs her heart, freely given, and all her courage to help him defeat the mage who cursed him.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully it will find a home with a publisher.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A good 6 years.  I got diverted halfway in by my first book THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE being published and all that involved, and then I got stuck at the turning point until I had a brainstorm that unlocked the rest of the story.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Kathleen Eagle’s THE NIGHT REMEMBERS has a similar theme but in a contemporary setting.  Honestly, I try to avoid making comparisons, but I’ve been told my first book, which I think of as a Cinderella-type story, resembles GAME OF THRONES while BLOODSTONE is very much a beauty-and-the-beast romance combined with the legend of a guardian holding back evil and an unraveling spell that the characters have to race against.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Cupid and Psyche tale where a beautiful but lonely girl is carried away by a creature she is forbidden to look upon and who she initially believes to be a monster.  It’s a story about how love develops when appearance isn’t a factor in the attraction.  And it’s also a story about accepting oneself, flaws and all.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s magic, petrified dragon’s blood, and a mysterious she-lion I very much enjoyed creating.

Now that I’ve had all the fun talking about my book, I’m passing the torch to the five authors I’m tagging.  Please visit these blogs and see what “The Next Big Thing” is coming from them:

Anne Parent:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Books that have influenced me—


I don’t remember how I encountered this short fantasy novel, but its theme speaks to me. LeGuin is a masterful writer, creating the world of Earthsea out of nothing but her imagination and filling it with beautifully described places and vivid characters on a par with Tolkien’s Middle Earth. But what sticks with me is her light and dark, sun and shadow, good and evil symbolism that pervades the Earthsea series but is fully realized in this first book.

The hero, Ged, is a young boy with enormous talent, sort of like Harry Potter, and when he’s discovered to have this power, he’s apprenticed to a wizard to learn the craft. However, Ged, unlike Harry Potter and more like Lord Voldemort’s young self, becomes impatient and wants to use the power he’s been given before he’s ready. When his master isn’t home, he pulls out the spell book and works a spell that tempts him. If only he’d learned from that disastrous encounter, but his ego won’t let him. His master reluctantly sends him off to wizard school, where he blossoms. That is, until his ego tempts him once too often and he spends the rest of the book trying to first escape from and then contain the evil he’s unleashed.

Heroes (and heroines) that commit grave errors of judgment in the beginning of a book and then spend the rest of the book trying to make up for their mistakes are frequently found in all genres. What impresses me here is LeGuin’s theme of acceptance played out by the very human capacity for both good and evil contained within one person who is neither fully evil nor fully good but capable of both. That’s what it means to be human—to accept both natures and find a balance between them.

THE WIZARD OF EARTHSEA isn’t a new book, but it should be on every writer of fantasy’s bookshelf.

Sunday, December 2, 2012



Today is about the adjustments we make when something new comes into our lives.  For me it’s a refrigerator and a blog.

A refrigerator?  Really?  We got a new one thanks to a Black Friday sale, and it replaces one that had to be close to 30 years old, one we’ve used for over 20 years.  Honestly, it was held together with duct tape inside, but it ran and I knew just what I could stuff into it and how to arrange the contents.  Now I have a brand, shiny new one that’s actually larger with more door storage space, but it takes up more floor space and has fewer racks.  So now I have to learn how not to bump my head on the freezer door handle that sticks out farther than the old one did, and I’ve got to figure out how to arrange the interior to maximize the use of space.  It’s a work in progress.

A blog?  I’ve known for some time that as a romance author, I should have a blog, but the learning curve seemed intimidating, so I put it off.  Instead I had help setting up my website first.  Then I stretched and did my Goodreads page myself to gain a little confidence.  Now I’m opening this blog to see what I can make of it and I hope to make some new friends.  In the meantime, the design is a work in progress.

I plan to talk about books that have made an impression on me, profile friends whose writing I admire, and talk about writing and all its pleasures and challenges.  Please stop by and see what’s up from time to time.