Dreamsayer Print Book Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dreamsayer by Carrie Olguin


by Carrie Olguin

Giveaway ends January 14, 2012.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.
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Dreamsayer - Released Today!

Available on Amazon, "Dreamsayer" The Five Worlds series. "On the Five Worlds, Jewel and Wolfe fight for love and survival as pawns in a political game."
DreamSayer Cover "In protected isolation in a castle on planet Damal, Jewel dreamed her own ending with the same gift she uses to save the lives of the people of the Five Worlds. With a choice between  burning or continuing in desperate loneliness, she chooses to burn.

Married when she was five, to form a political alliance, she was widowed before the Unification at age fourteen. Five years later and she's destined to live her 300 year lifespan as the pure and chaste Dreamsayer. No other living man is deemed suitable as her mate.

Wolfe, born of Jorandal heritage on the planet Majien, has the tiger stripes and eyes of a forest hunter. He sees Jewel crying in solitude and decides he must save her. Make her his own. He has the right. She's his wife. Everyone thinks he is dead.

He steals her away from her castle prison without telling her who he is. They must hide from the powerful forces that tried to kill him before their Unification. Those same unknown persons seek to use Jewel's gift for their own political gain.

War is brewing between the Five Worlds. Can the Dreamsayer stop the conflict in time?"

Heat rating 2, 58K words

Available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006JPNE8A

The Ultimate Alpha Female

When the Alpha Female meets her Alpha Male, the sparks fly. In fiction, she is the kick-ass female, the one who gets things done.

Alpha Females exist in real life, but historically society has forced women to hide their Alpha tendencies. All women have some alpha female characteristics, but not all and not to the extreme.

The Alpha Female is physically different. For most women, the ring and index fingers will be the same length. On about 10% of women – those exposed to higher levels of testosterone during pre-natal development – have longer ring fingers. Although heterosexual, the brains of these women are neurologically wired to think like men – but they do so with feminine flare.

How is she different from the other women?
  • Task focused. Single minded.
  • Athletic, more physical than other women.
  • She is determined, bold, and a competitive high achiever.
  • Career is part of their identity.
  • Does not want to be tied down to family. She is not primarily interested in children and may not want children.
  • Higher sexual libido. Can enjoy one-night-stands with no regrets.
  • Emotionally self sufficient.
  • More aggressive. Actively pursues power and status. A risk taker.
  • Enjoys recognition but doesn’t need approval from peers.
  • Gets straight to the point without social chat (a trait expected in Alpha Males, but makes the Alpha female seem rude, abrupt, aggressive, arrogant, a bitch).
  • Closer relationship to father than mother.
  • Tend to be left handed.
  • Fiercely independent – not looking for a man to take care of her, she takes care of herself.
  • She may outright reject social conventions like marriage, religion, and government.

Traits She Shares with Alpha Males
  • Self-confidence - comfortable in her skin, loves her body, takes car of herself, works out and eats right.
  • Always dresses to impress. She is properly groomed, clean and smells sexy.
  • Doesn't spend time in front of a mirror. Not vain. Knows she looks good.
  • Her eyes speak for her. If she wants you to know what she is thinking or feeling, she will show with her eyes - but also won’t hesitate to tell you in words.
  • She leads and expects everyone to follow.
  • She doesn't care what people think of her.
  • Gives her opinions - doesn't wait to be asked.
  • Intelligent, well informed, resourceful.
  • Not afraid of the unexpected or unknown - she knows she can handle any situation. Fights for what is hers.
  • Honor, integrity, and loyalty - demands the same qualities in those she considers her friends/allies.
  • She's busy, has a full life, enjoys a variety of activities (many considered male), finds pleasure in everything she does.
  • Recognizes others - she remembers the people she's met, laughs at their jokes, acknowledges their ideas, makes them feel important.
  • Self-focused but not selfish.
  • Well-developed sense of humor - laughs at herself and the rest of the world, makes others laugh.
  • Sucks people into her world; she's interesting, charismatic, makes people feel comfortable and welcome.

The Protector of Pack and Home
  • Tend to “run in packs” with other Alpha females.
  • Fiercely protective of herself, her family and everyone she loves.
  • Nature created her to lead her family and community.
  • She is selective about who she invites into her private life.
  • She is well prepared for her own survival and for those she loves.
  • Cares about others and all her relationships. Enjoys the comfort of close friends
  • Looks for the best for others.
  • She won’t allow others take advantage of her or those she loves
  • The leader in the workplace and in her community.
  • Prevents others from trying to take advantage of her, her family and her friends. If anyone should try, the alpha female will shun them, leave them, find ways to eliminated or hurt them. She will hurt those who mess with her and her pack.

Other Alpha Female Characteristics
  • Good at persuasion. She asserts herself. Can use intimidation elegantly until others agree or close their mouths.
  • Charisma; charms others into getting her way and accomplishing her goals. Pleasing personality; warm, friendly, and emotionally strong. She knows how and when to move from charisma to intimidation.
  • Tough and ready for whatever threats may come. Uses her personal power.
  • Intelligent, blessed with wisdom. Doesn’t neglect her common-sense.
  • Knows she is unique; she is sure of herself.
  • Feels she deserves the best in everything.
  • Strong and brave in all she does. She is fearless. Oozes self-confidence.
  • Knows when to be a lady.
  • She has her own style, uniquely herself and guided by her own values.
  • Her ideas are most important; she’s at the top of the food chain.
  • She can hold her own in the boardroom, bedroom, or on the street. She commands respect.
  • She is dynamic, has presence and doesn’t blend in with the crowd. She’s charismatic and can work a room.
  • She knows what she wants/feels/needs and expresses her desires.
  • She’s easy-going and doesn’t throw tantrums, whine, bitch or nag. Doesn’t act like a child. She isn’t needy.
  • She is comfortable with herself. She has a sense of humor and smiles and laughs, even at herself when appropriate. She enjoys life. Knows when to admit her weaknesses.
  • She is a good conversationalist, not about gossip or daytime TV. She has opinions, interests and passions.
  • Actively purses dreams or goals; building her own empire to rule.
  • Solitude nourishes her.
  • She gets what she wants, when she wants it.
  • She follows her feelings and reasons for those feelings.
  • She was the childhood buddy that went on adventures with boys who morphed into the vixen who gives a man adventures in the bedroom.
  • Has a hint of masculinity, i.e. likes sports, sex, politics, intellectual interests.
  • Revels in her femininity.

The Alpha Female and Male Relationships
  • Alpha females step over non-Alpha men if they let her.
  • May select men who are at her beck and call.
  • She doesn't doubt she has the ability to get any man she wants.
  • She draws the attention of the available men in the room.
  • She isn't always the most beautiful or the one with the best personality. She is mysterious, interesting, a challenge.
  • Pays close attention to the signals of males around her. Yet she knows how to put them off if she isn't interested in them.
  • She will not beg for expensive gifts.
  • This woman likes to have fun, especially with men.
  • She wears the things that make her look pretty.
  • She moves her body in ways that make men think of sex.
  • She openly flirts with men.
  • She may anticipate a future in which she dies alone, without a partner or children.
  • She may not realize that the characteristics that bring her success in the outside world may undermine her romantic relationships.

How Men See Alpha Females
  • Men find Alpha females intriguing – women tend to hate them.
  • Men find them a challenge and love the thrill from the competition to gain her attention.
  • Men want to capture, tame and dominate her. She knows and won’t let them.
  • Chasing an alpha female is intriguing but also exhausting for most men.
  • She can be seen as an Ice Queen.

The Dating Game for Alpha Females
  • She dates more than one man at a time.
  • She sets up the dates and will often be busy when HE asks.
  • She pays for the movie tickets, to get into clubs, and for food.
  • She won’t put herself in a position where she owes a man.
  • Men have to use more than charm, smile, or her flowers to appeal to an alpha female; they need to be creative.

When She Finds “The One”
  • Sparks fly when they meet and learn about each other. “The immovable object (him) meets the irresistible force (her).”
  • They constantly fight (with great make-up sex) in their struggle to find a compromise.
  • Her Alpha Male has the courage to take the lead in the relationship.
  • He will NOT be someone she needs to mother.
  • Her femininity makes a man feel like a man.
  • He appreciates her for who she is, doesn't attempt to change her.
  • She may choose to submit to his dominance (for the most part) because he allows her to be herself.

Body Language
  • Smiles with her eyes and her lips.
  • Radiates the goddess within.
  • Enjoys her body and the way it moves.
  • Stands tall, head up, shoulders back.
  • Deliberate movement with grace and elegance.
  • Walks with confidence, accentuates hip sway.
  • Doesn't scan the room. Knows she is the center of attention.
  • Maintains a comfortable stance, doesn't shift positions.
  • Stance accentuates curve of the waist and/or lower back
  • Hand gestures are slow, deliberate, and animated.

In fiction, Ultimate Alpha Females are often used as antagonist, blocking character or fem fatal due to their aggressive (not seen as feminine) behavior and thought patterns.

But the Alpha Female has become the heroine of choice in paranormal/fantasy stories. She is the kick-ass vampire hunter and the ardent adventurer.

Written with the correct mix of female charm, charisma, and athletic ability, the Alpha Female makes for a complex heroine, one who is as intelligent, strong, and determined enough to safe herself from the villain and earn the everlasting love of the Ultimate Alpha Male.

Characterization: Age Five Philosophy

I'm rewriting a my very first WIP, an urban fantasy, working title for the series The Nuhu Saga.

Today, I'm working on character development with The Age Five Philosophy, which helps define and set the unconsious behavior of the characters.

According to psychologists, every person makes a decision about life based on what they experienced in the first five years. This philosophy (not a conscious one), colors every decision and action a person makes.

Age 5 philosophy: “Life is a place where ______ and the way I can best fit into it is _______.”

Here are a few examples from characters in "Shadow Need" part one of the Nuhu Saga:
  • Emily Shadow (Heroine) "Life is a place where powerful people make up the rules and the way I can best fit into it is to pretend to be human, watch, learn, and wait until I can take away their control."
  • Brent Cambers  (Hero) “Life is a place where the people you love hurt you and the way I can best fit into it is to never love anyone.”
  • Chaos (Antagonist) “Life is a place where I am the most superior being to ever exist and the way I can best fit into it is to force people to worship my greatness and punish those who refuse.”
  • Mr Red (blocking character) “Life is a place where grief is the only real emotion and the way I can best fit into it is to rage against those who cause me grief.”
  • Filo (sidekick) “Life is a place where I can experience exciting adventures and the way I can best fit into it is to seize the moment and live life on the edge.”
When I first started writing, I was panzer all of the way. But the more writing tools I discover, the more of a structuralist I become, especially for complex works like this one.

 I'll keep you posted.
Carrie Olguin

Dreamsayer, Cover Art

Fantastic design by Dawné Dominique for the next Five Worlds novel currently in production.

Book Blurb: (Word count aprox 57K – ebook or print, heat rating 2 of 5)

“In protected isolation in a castle on planet Damal, Jewel dreamed her own ending with the same gift she uses to save the lives of the people of the Five Worlds. With a choice between burning or continuing in desperate loneliness, she chooses to burn.

Married when she was five, to form a political alliance, she was widowed before the Unification at age fourteen. Five years later and she’s destined to live her 300 year lifespan as the pure and chaste Dreamsayer. No other living man deemed suitable as her mate.

Wolfe, born of Jorandal heritage on the planet Majien, has the tiger stripes and eyes of a forest hunter. He sees Jewel crying in solitude and decides he must save her. Make her his own. He has the right. She’s his wife. Everyone thinks he is dead.

He steals her away from her castle prison without telling her who he is. They both must hide from the powerful forces that tried to kill him before their Unification. Those same unknown persons seek to use Jewel’s gift for their own political gain.

War is brewing between the Five Worlds. Can the Dreamsayer stop the conflict in time?”

Release Date To be announced.

I'll keep you posted.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fire and Ice, Five Worlds Series by Carrie Olguin

Fire and Ice, Five Worlds Series

by Carrie Olguin

Giveaway ends October 05, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Goodreads is an excellent place to meet people who like to read. To celebrate the print release of "Fire and Ice" I am giving away two copies. Click the above link for more information.

Edin Road Podcast Link Available Here

For those of you who couldn't make the live Edin Road broadcast, there's a direct link to the show on the right hand side of the screen.

What a wonderful experience.

Ms. Jesse V Coffey is an excellent hostess. She knows how to keep the show moving. I was rushed by nerves in the beginning. Her friendly voice helped me relaxe, after a little while.

In preparation for the reading, I scripted my excerpt from "Fire and Ice" so it flowed more like free form poetry and then rehearsed for time (about 15 minutes). I understand by experience the suggestion for writers read their prose aloud. I admit, I read some of my work aloud before submitting for publication. It's time consuming when in the writing process. From now on, I will make the time so I can experience underlying the beat and flow of the prose and make adjustments before publication.

After this experience, I wouldn't be opposed to doing a live reading at a library, school, or bookstore. No, I won't be pursuing a career doing vocals.

Instead of a book trailer, I have the podcast on my web sites with a reading and discussion of the series. An awesome tool.

Yes, I will do this again.

I'll keep you posted.

Carrie O.

Edin Road Podcast 7/21/2011 @ 6:30PM EST

Join Carrie Olguin on Tuesday 7/20/2011 at 6:30PM EST (3:30PM PST) on Edin Road Radio with host Ms. Jesse V Coffey.

The topic is The Five Worlds series, specifically “Fire and Ice.” The recorded show will be available at iTunes and on the Edin Road web site.

Click this link for information about Edin Road Radio and scheduling information. http://www.edinroad.com/radio.html

I've got flutter-moths in my tummy, I'm so excited!

I'll keep you posted.

Carrie O.

The Ultimate Alpha Male

The alpha male is charismatic, dangerous, and mysterious - the bad boy to tame and possess. Romance novels reveal the alpha, pealing away his layers, exposing his inner core, giving women insight into the ultimate male.

What makes this type of man the way he is? What is it that makes up his undeniable charisma? To create an ultimate alpha male character, a writer has to understand his reality.

Here's a list of ultimate alpha male characteristics I complied from various sources:

  1. Self-confidence - comfortable in his skin, loves his body, his skin is his favorite outfit.
  2. Always dresses his best - his body was designed for worship. He is properly groomed, clean and physically fit. He looks good in any type of clothes from formal to casual to naked.
  3. Doesn't spend time in front of a mirror. He knows he's the best looking man in the world.
  4. His eyes speak for him - he has a range of "Looks" that speak volumes. If he wants you to know what he is thinking or feeling, it's in his eyes.
  5. When he walks in, the room seems to shrink - no space is large enough to contain him
  6. He leads - expects everyone to follow
  7. People look to him to make decisions
  8. Doesn't care what people think of him
  9. Either he doesn’t answer questions or gives basic responses. The alpha is in control of the game and keeps his strategy to himself. This forces others to guess what he's thinking - usually guessing wrong, which helps the Alpha maintain control of the game.
  10. Gives his opinion - doesn't wait to be asked
  11. Happy in any situation - aloof, untouchable
  12. His ego is never a problem - only insecure men need to protect their ego
  13. Always ahead of the game - intelligent, well informed, resourceful
  14. A man of action - takes control of the situation, acts first, thinks later
  15. Lives by his rules - when his moral code and the law overlap, it is merely a coincidence
  16. Exudes an air of danger and unpredictability - you want him as a friend not enemy - he destroys his enemies and runs over anyone in his way
  17. Not afraid of the unexpected or unknown - he knows he can handle any situation
  18. Fights for what is his
  19. Gives the impression that he is a predator always stalking potential prey.
  20. Takes what he wants - the world and everything in it belongs to him.
  21. Hangs out with Alpha - has no use for the weak. When with other alpha males, there is a pecking order. Never know when a fight for dominance will break out, even if the alphas are best friends. The Ultimate Alpha's level of dominance forces other Alphas to be submissive to his authority.
  22. Enjoys the challenge of maintaining his dominance over everyone - not threatened by the presence of strong personalities. He knows he can put them in their place.
  23. Honor, integrity, and loyalty - demands the same qualities in those he considers his friends/allies
  24. He's busy, has a full life, enjoys a variety of activities, finds pleasure in everything he does.
  25. Recognizes others - he remembers the people he's met, laughs at their jokes, acknowledges their ideas, makes them feel important.
  26. Self-focused - he is superior to everyone, the world revolves around him, people exist to entertain him.
  27. Takes the glory - will tweak the ideas, jokes and opinions of others and present them as his own without giving recognition to the original author.
  28. Can be a genuine nice guy at times - because he doesn't care what people think. If being nice, down to earth, and caring helps him obtain his objective, he will do so.
  29. Well-developed sense of humor, sharp wit - laughs at himself and the rest of the world, makes others laugh. His humor can he sarcastic and twisted.
  30. Sucks people into his reality like a black hole, he's interesting, makes people feel comfortable and welcome in his world.
A list of nevers:

  1. Never apologizes - unless jesting
  2. Never explains his actions
  3. Never boasts or brags about his accomplishments - knows others will do that for him in their effort to gain his attention, respect, and affection.
  4. Never does anything to bring attention to himself - all he has to do is walk into a room for that to happen
  5. Never nervous or fidgety
  6. Never stresses over a situation
  7. Never asks others to do something - he tells them
  8. Never acts surprised by what happens around him - calm, composed, focused
  9. Never admits to failure - to him, a failure is a learning experience, one more step toward his goals
  10. Never admits he is wrong
  11. Never lavishes his attention on anyone. He is the only one who deserves such treatment.

His attitude toward women (in romance novels, the Heroine is the only possible exception - symptoms of the love disease):

  1. Not possessive
  2. Not needy
  3. Not the jealous type
  4. A woman is lucky to gain his attention
  5. Does not use gifts or flowers or favors of any kind to impress a woman.
  6. Women are a secondary life goal.
  7. Sex is important but not the focus of his life, women are an activity to be enjoyed.
  8. Knows women benefit from his attentions
  9. Rejection doesn't hurt - a woman is lucky to come to his attention. Her refusal is her loss.
  10. He doesn't smother women when in a relationship
  11. Doesn't put women on pedestals
  12. Tears do not sway him - he walks away

Body Language

  1. Doesn't scan the room - not concerned what others are doing, knows he is the center of attention, everyone is looking at him, that is why he exists.
  2. Uses his peripheral vision to take in a scene
  3. Positions himself so that everyone has to see him, becomes the focus
  4. His body stance takes up space - elbows slightly out, legs apart, head held high
  5. He looks down on others - even if they are taller than him
  6. Maintains a comfortable stance, doesn't shift positions often.
  7. Hand gestures are slow and deliberate.
  8. Breathes slowly from deep in his chest
  9. Controls the pace of a conversation with thoughtful pauses or well-timed interruptions
  10. Moves at his own speed - expects others to match his
  11. Speaks slowly - uses fewest words necessary.
  12. His forward motion is smooth and purposeful at any speed.

All men have alpha tendencies, but only the rare few are Ultimate alpha males. Thank heaven for that or there'd never be a moment's peace anywhere in the world! A man with all of these tendencies can also be classified as a sociopath.

Alpha tendencies are what women both love and hate about men in general. We hate that they are stubborn, egocentric, insensitive, chauvinistic and unbendable. But we love that they are loyal, funny, sexy, protective, and unbreakable.

Did I miss anything? Please let me know.

I'll keep you posted.

"Highland Rebel" by Judith James

Highland Rebel: A Tale of a Rebellious Lady and a Traitorous LordHighland Rebel: A Tale of a Rebellious Lady and a Traitorous Lord by Judith James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jamie and Catherine are not standard H/H romance characters and the story (with HEA) isn't typical fair either. What does that mean? Refreshing! Let go your expectations and enjoy the ride. The characters feel like real people. Not the pretty people but beautiful in their own way.

Jamie's wit made me laugh out loud. Loved his dialogue. He knows who he is and jokes about himself. Self-confidence is so sexy.

Cat is a one of the rare “warrior woman” and leader of her clan, she’s smart, mature, and well educated, which according to James is correct for a woman of this time frame. Since all I know about this time period I’ve learned from reading Romance novels, I’ll take her word for it.

The novel is full of historical details, facts, and people from the past woven in. If you prefer fantasy to history, there may be too much. But the facts made the events come alive. Especially life in London with all the politics and gossip, how easily one person can use words to destroy another person. The character’s trips into London brought alive, parts I never knew existed and made me wonder what the modern equivalent of “Penny Universities” are – and it’s not the Internet!

I was left fascinated with the past she wrote about. After finishing the story, I was tempted to find the history books she talks about in the back of the book. Okay, so that passed and I’ll continue to collect my history from my favorite format – romance novels.

Bravo, James. Outstanding job!

View all my reviews

Vacation and the Muse

We returned from a much-needed nine-day vacation. It's so good to be home. While we toured five states (Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho), I took landscape pictures. Yummy fodder for my Five Worlds.

The Tetons with snow on the mountains and wildflowers in bloom below.

Yellowstone is like visiting another planet. The geysers, waterfalls, canyons, paint pots and hot springs are unique and colorful, giving my muse much to chew on for my out of this world WIPs. Walking around on a sleeping volcano was so cool!

Yellowstone's Grand Canyon.

Artist's Paint Pots 1

Artist's Paint Pots 2

Geyser Basin

Western Thumb - Hot Spring

Western Thumb - Elk

Yellowstone Waterfall

White Wolf Fishing
(Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, Montana)

Hard to believe I took  these pictures with my cell phone camera. Oh, how technology has progressed!

I'll keep you posted.

Show and Tell, Revisited

At my kidlet's school, there is a poster of the school mascot, which upon closer inspection is made up of little pictures of all the kids enrolled there that year.

That montage concept can be applied to fiction as a bunch of little “snapshots” that when joined create a larger impression. Authors do this using both the “show and the “tell.”

A “show” requires more words than “tell” because it draws a mental image. By combining the show with tells, a writer sends a clearer message. Here are some examples from my experience.

Sometimes you have to share boring information to the reader quickly. There are ways of hiding exposition and foreshadowing inside a scene. In Fire and Ice, which takes place on another planet, I have to explain the alien technology, economy and political system.

Here is Sarica's POV for a piece of technology, description mixed in with actions and her emotional response:

Jolted awake, she examined the brown metal {bracelet} with the small blue flashing light. Proximity sensors of different styles—wrist, ankle and collar—were designed to keep a servant from running away from their master. If the servant moved too far away, the servant received a large dose of ouch. The same pulse could also be used to send a pain wave for punishment. He snapped the control bracelet onto his left wrist.

Shows (motion and emotion): “Jolted awake, she examined...” “...flashing light.” “If the servant moved...running away.” “...dose of ouch.” “...pain wave.” “He snapped the control bracelet onto his left wrist.”
Tells (description, exposition): “Proximity sensors of different styles—wrist, ankle and collar—were designed to keep a servant...” “The same pulse could also be used...for punishment.”
Big picture: He is the master and she is the servant.
Foreshadowing: “The same pulse could also be used to send a pain wave for punishment.”

By mixing the show and tells together, information is passed onto the reader through motion, sensory information and the POV character's emotional response.

Search and find “telling” type words in the MS. The easiest to find are emotion nouns. Also look for the words “felt” or “feel.” Here is an example from Fire and Ice.

Rosche, the hero says: “Whatever I need to surrender or sacrifice for your happiness, I will do so willingly.”
Sarica, the heroine has a reaction because she has been unwilling to do the same. In a tell: “His confession made her feel guilt and shame.”

This gets the point across, but the reader doesn't feel her emotions. I need words with texture, something to stimulate the reader's senses.

The Show: “His confession stung.”

The above works okay, but in this part of the story, her feelings of guilt and shame are an important turning point. All along the hero has been, well, I'll say selfish, and his confession proves to her he has changed, profoundly. She needs a bigger reaction, and I want to make certain the reader knows exactly what she is feeling. So, I combined the tell and with show imagery.

The Show and Tell: “ His confession stung – like an insect called guilt, which brought along a biting spider friend, called shame.”

Another example:
In her Fever series, Karen Mari Moning has an excellent “show” for rage. Her main character could have said: “I was very angry with him.” Notice the emotion word? That indicates a tell.

Instead she says: “I needed to hit something. Lots of things. Starting with him.”
Notice the lack of emotion words? And yet, the rage is clear.

For the opening of Fire and Ice the reader meets the hero first.
Here's the tell: Rosche is an arrogant, callous man who believes his wealth and power (which his thinks are his only real assets) give him the means and the right to obtain whatever he wants. He has the ability to generate intense heat from under his skin, fueled by emotions, which he struggles to control. He masks his despair and vulnerable core with arrogance. In the first chapter, he is on his way to meet Sarica, a woman who has the ability to generate intense cold from under her skin, whom he lusts for, but also has a crush on. He wants to “trade” Sarica as his wife for the credits to finance her father's expedition.

Rosche “shows” who he is with his thoughts and actions, by interacting with the world around him. Here he has a bouquet of flowers for Sarica in is hand (can you say, “awe, romance.”) and is on his way to meet her for the very first time:

     Sarica could save him from endless torture. Her gift of cold generation had calmed the beast. She embodied hope for the normalcy that his curse had prevented. He would know passion again, with her wrapped around him to chill his blood-boiling lust.
     The beastly heat surged through his skin. Damn. He dare not feel. He clamped down the emotional burst. The heat built, nearing combustion. Steam spiraled from the stems; the blossoms wilted, dried and then burst into flames. Holding the torch up, he spat curses. He dropped the bouquet and stamped out the fire.
     With a grunt, he tugged down the hem of his heat resistant shirt. His burnt hand complained. The healing itch began and he watched the red skin fade to tan. He lifted his chin, strutted up the steps of the building and glared at the grimy city dwelling students. They stopped and stared for a moment before scampering away like little rats.
     Stockley had suggested they meet in his office, where Sarica would be more open to his offer. Rosche had counted on flowers to soften her for the discussion. Instead, he must rely on the impressive benefits of the arrangement. Most importantly, if she married him, he would finance her father’s expedition.
     What woman didn’t dream of a man who provided protection from harsh reality and a simple life of domestic bliss? Rosche would spoil Sarica, give her the life of a princess, and remove her from the stench of the city. In his care, she would want for nothing and never come to harm. He was considered a worthy husband candidate and women all over the Five Worlds pursued him. If it wasn’t for lust flaring his gift—scorching the woman while they engaged in sex—he would have already settled for an alliance marriage with a Noble woman.
     Though as a city dweller, Sarica wasn’t Noble, and didn’t have a tribe to form an alliance with his, he could overlook her shortcomings in exchange for the use of her Anom gift. She could turn the intense heat of his passion into a large family. Women had to willingly say the public vows to gain the legal Blessing. Only children produced from a Blessed wedding were considered legal heirs. And he needed legal heirs to rebuild his Noble line. As an educated woman, Sarica would see the wisdom of his offer. He didn’t need flowers when he had wealth.

His arrogance: "What woman didn't dream of..." "He lifted his chin and strutted..." "...before scampering away like little rats." "...rely on the impressive benefits...""...he could overlook her shortcomings..." "He didnt' need flowers when he had wealth."
His despiration: "..save him from endless torture." "The beastly heat surged through his skin. Damn. He dare not feel." "Rosche had counted on flowers to soften her..."
The flowers bursting into flame foreshadows their meeting and the start of their relationship as well as to show the damage his Anom gift can do.

Do you see the montage working here? Do you get a sense of who he is, what he wants and his emotions, especially those that I don't use the word for in a tell?

Now contrast that with Sarica's impression of Rosche during a discussion with her father.
The Tell: She is intensely aware Fosche of and pretty much has him pegged, she just doesn't understand why he is who he is. She believes in coms gossip, and has never experienced lust. Sarica is a recent collage graduate without much life experience, due to her over-protective father, whom she adores. Sarica believes her father is the smartest, bravest man in the world – but Stockley is too “chicken sh*t” to tell his daughter about Roshe's offer, especially after this conversation:

     With an uplifted chin, Noble Rosche carried himself as if he judged the world based on a secret standard. He wore his rugged face like a mask; not even the twitch of a muscle betrayed his emotions.
     While she had stood stupefied at the sight of him, her normally well-behaved Anom gift had threatened to burst free. Some strange mixture of emotions triggered the problem, which she could not identify, having never felt it before. As with fear, primal and powerful, she had nearly lost control. She had to keep a tight hold on her emotions lest she ice someone. It had happened once; she’d not let it happen again.
     Intrigued by the man and her body’s dangerous reaction, she had researched him even before her father’s suggestion.
     Tilting his head, her father peered up with honest curiosity. “What do you think of the man?”
     She shrugged one shoulder with faked indifference. “Typical of a Noble, his personal life remains private. I can find nothing about his upbringing, tribal ties, or family. What I did find comes from the people who have stood before him in court. ‘Excellent judge. Impartial. Emotionless. Rule of law prevails. No mercy. No compassion. He easily makes the cold, hard decisions, even if all parties in the case suffer. Judge Rosche presses for a quick resolution.’ Do you know he once had a puppy cut in half to end a dispute?”
     Her assessment: he was dangerous, heartless, and cold as stone. Enjoy the view, but stay away from the edge.
     Her father asked, “No one you would want to spend an extended amount of time with?”
     With girlie pleasure, she could ogle Judge Rosche. Beyond that, they probably couldn’t even maintain a conversation. “Not at all. Why do you ask?”
     The wrinkles on his forehead deepened. With a tense sigh he leaned back in his chair. “No reason.”

"She shrugged one shoulder with faked indifference." shows her internal conflict that plagues her throughout the story: she lusts for Roshce but believes him to be completly unsuitable as a husband. That one shoulder shrug shows one side of her conflict. The shoulder that doesn't shrug shows the other side of her conflict.

Notice the subtext to the conversation. Stockley knows that Rosche is on his way to talk to Sarica and starts this conversation hoping his daughter will have a good report about Rosche. When she doesn't, he drops the subject. Coward. That's the show for him.

I'll keep you posted.

Carrie O.

Review: Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon

Intentions of the Earl (Scandalous Sisters, #1)Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rose Gordon did good with this story. The three sisters, Liberty, Madison and Brooke (I'm assuming this trilogy is about them) are all different from each other (Americans in England seeking husbands).

Brooke is genuine and likeable. Andrew is a nice guy with bad intentions for (almost) the right reasons and he corrects the error of his behavior. Well, love does have that affect on people.

The plot is refreshing (doesn't rely completely on communication problems between the genders, a little bit but not much).

The description of the hideous parlor room will remain in my memory for a long time.

I'm going to read the other two books in the series, already available and on my e-reader.

View all my reviews

Ruth Langan "Highlanders Bundle" Review

Ruth Langan Ruth Langan "Highlanders" Bundle by Ruth Ryan Langan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The copyright is 2006 for this bundle, which includes five stories (The Highlander, Highland Barbarian, Highland Heather, Highland Fire and a short Highland Christmas), all could use a serious facelift. The age is showing. When first released as individual works (I don’t know the years), these stories might have been the height of style for the sub-genre. But readers now have more sophisticated tastes and expect more from the characters.

If you like head-hopping every paragraph, an omnipotent POV that sometimes including the thoughts and feelings of an entire group in a single sentence, and lines of prose that are reused from book to book, then this is the series for you.

If you like physically perfect, beyond beautiful, teen-age, petite, virgin heroines who are good at everything from the domestic castle duties to the field of battle, who are the leaders of their clan, who make "roll your eyes" stupid decisions, who decide to give up everything for the man they love, without asking him to make any sacrifices, then you will love these stories.

If your like heroes with nicknames like Savage, Brute and Dark - who can't win a fight when their lives depend on it, who rise from near death and still recovering from their injuries, later defeat the villain who nearly killed them, and other “roll your eyes” plot points that defy reason, then you just have to read these stories.

If you enjoy knowing the heroine will almost be raped - more than once - as a plot device, with villains who are flat, just born bad, with an abusive hatred for women; if you prefer that your heroines be abducted in order to fall in love with their captors, then hey, you just cannot resist this bundle.

Why did I finish the stories? Each one is like a train wreck, I knew what would happen, but could not look away until it was over.

For romance writers, study these stories so you know what cliched, overused, overdone, items to avoid in your modern work.

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Darkest Secret Review

The Darkest Secret (Lords of the Underworld, #7)The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series needs to be read in order. Start with "The Darkest Night" or the Gena Showalter Lords of the Underworld Bundle with the the first five books and the prequel "The Darkest Fire".

Pure fantasy delight. Not gritty reality. Magic often solves mundane problems. Anything is possible in this universe (death is just the beginning for some characters). And those are the *reasons* to read this series. The characters are interesting, complex and funny. I swear she has actually spent quality time with her fictional people.

Even with Showalter's habit of using sentence fragments, I love the way she writes. Funny and passionate and fast paced. Though not the best of the series, it is definately worth the time to revisit old friends and make new ones.

This is Amun and Hadiee's love story (Amun is the keeper of the demon Secrets and Hadiee murdered one of Amun's best friends - a long time ago).

We also spend time with Strider (his thought pattern cracks me up) and William - bad boys who haven't found their women, yet. And we take another trip into Hell. Many of the other characters make an appearance in this Underworld Soap Opera. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy.

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His Enemy's Daughter Review

His Enemy's Daughter (Harlequin Historical)His Enemy's Daughter by Terri Brisbin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The hero starts out dark. Though I understood why, he made me uncomfortable at first. I didn't like him much and didn't feel all that intrigued by him either. Fortunately, I have read enough of Terri Brisbin's books to know that she would rescue the story, his blackness would eventually pass, so I kept on. I'm glad that I did. Though not one of her best stories ever, I enjoyed experiencing the hero's transition as he changed from dark to light. This was an entertaining read. I don't know if I will remember the characters a few months from now.

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Soul Swap - Promises, Available Now!

Soul Swap - Promises (32K, Heat Level 1)

On planet Del'noshe, Tenor vowed to be Telima's Protector. The Tribal Chief refuses the match. Instead, he send Tenor to acquire new blood for the tribe. At the Warrior games, Tenor wins Annie. He decides to trade his Prize for Telima. On the trip home, Annie proves to be everything he would ever want or need in a woman. Can he chose between honoring his vow and his burning need for Annie?

On 21st century Earth, Annie's life is in the toilet, no job, no boyfriend and no family. She makes a drunken wish, which the Universe grants, sending her to different planet – as the prize of an all-too-sexy warrior. Is the soul swap permanent? If she solves Tenor's problem, will be sent home? Or if she wins Tenor's heart, can she stay? The magical Anom Tribal Counsel has the answers, if she dares to seek their help.

This short story introduces life on planet Del'noshe of the Five Worlds. The short story (32K) is available for free on Smashwords - or purchase for $0.99 and the proceedes will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The story will also be available at most of the major ebook retaliers (not for free, though), such as iTunes, Sony Books, Barns and Noble and the Kindle store.

Available now at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/54420 in ten different ebook formats.

I would appreciate reader reviews on Goodreads, Amazon or Smashwords.

Someone said the best promotion idea is a backlist. This is the beginning for me.

I'll keep you posted.

Carrie O.

Selecting a Headshot or Mugshot

My publisher asked for a picture of me promotional purposes. Apparently, a picture of my dog isn't good enough though she is cuter and more memorable. Oh, well.

I've never thought of myself as photogenic and never had dreams of being a runway model. Getting in front of a camera for any reason is not my favorite thing to do. I'm the family photographer.

Today, I took out the spackle and bright paint to make repairs to my face. Hubby took the pictures for me in burst mode. What a sweatheart. A few times we got to laughing so hard, the pictures came out blurry. Lesson learned, next time use a tripod.

Maybe when my kid no longer plays expensive ice hockey we will be able to afford simple luxuries like professional photography and food.

Please help me select a headshot. I picked these four as the best of the lot. "None of the above" is also an acceptable answer. And if you are wondering, yes, I always do look somewhat like a shaggy dog.

1. Stargazer

2. Almost weeping.

3. A bit serious

4. No, really?

I'll keep you posted.

Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance

Kate Walker has over 40 titles published with Harlequin, contemporary around 55K words. Because this is what she writes successfully, the entire book sways toward her personal writing process.

Most of the book is pretty basic “need to know” for someone who is thinking about writing romance but has never attempted the genre before. That would not be me. Each chapter ends with suggested exercises that makes this into a workbook. Here's the high points.
  • A romance is about the emotional journey - because the destination (the happy ending) is guaranteed.
Walker has an organic, character-based process very similar to my approach, which may account for the familiarity of the information she presented. We both start with the characters, interview them, get to know them, have their history understood before creating the plot. She has a character worksheet in her book that I am going to try out.

Putting characters in a book is like matchmaking two people you know really well. Their story should naturally evolve. or be told by the characters, without much effort if you do know them well. (Easier said than done!)

She does not use the standard 3 act play formula. Instead she uses a simpler design:
Hero + Heroine + conflict + getting to know you + the black moment + resolution + happy ending
  • She suggest the story should be written like a sexual experience: interest to arousal to passion to emotional climax.
  • She believes that the external conflict should always resolve before the internal conflict.
  • The black moment should be a rearing up of the external conflict, thought resolved, that stirs up the internal conflict of the characters and the final resolution of the internal conflict puts at rest the external conflict for good.
To illustrate the black moment: if the external conflict is “the secret baby,” a common plot for Harlequin where the reunited couple has to deal with a child conceived in the past that the hero doesn't know about, then the black moment should surround the baby. Possible black moments for this common plot:

  • He decides he wants her and the baby, but she interprets his behavior as him only wanting the baby and being resigned to having her around, too.
  • He not only decides he wants her and the baby, but he wants more children. She interprets that all he really wants is a broodmare.
 Other points she makes about her process:
  • Dual black moment endings are acceptable.
  • 60% meaningful dialogue (mature, that moves the story forward) – 40% narrative
  • Don't use dialogue tags like whisper or shouted. Instead, use “business” that show the character's mood (body/face language) -- the action and the pace of the action -- and dialogue that supports the whisper or the shout.
  • The H/H should be passionate about everything they do and say.
  • No matter how much emotion you have in the story, add more.
  • The plot should look like a series of Ws, where the characters take two steps forward and one step back until they reach the destination.
The modern heroine:
  • is neither passive nor aggressive
  • wants to pleasure as much as be pleasured
  • is sympathetic, not pathetic
The modern hero:
  • can be aggressive but not abusive
  • must take responsibility for contraception
  • must show personal and moral integrity
  • can be either an alpha or a beta male (she explains both)
Walker writes about the importance of knowing the Who, When, Where, What and How and Why.

  • Who: hero and heroine (she doesn't do many side characters, says it takes away from the main romance which is the focus)
  • When: era, season, when in the character's life in relation to traumatic past events, age of characters or maturity level, when in relation to the “point of crisis” what is also called the inciting incident.
  • Where: setting (geographical location, buildings, apartments)
  • What and How: the plot
  • Why: the motivation of the characters, every scene should have a purpose and be able to answer the why: why do they act as they do, why do they fall in love.
She showed one synopsis without the “why” and a revised one with the “why.” Since writing synopsis is a chore that I struggle with, this bit alone should help with my future synopsis writing and was worth the price of the book.
Her best quote:

  •  “Love is not only blind but the complete opposite. It sees things in other people that no one else can find.”
Like I said, most of this I already knew. I'm not seeking to write 55K word contemporary stories so I didn't find what I really hoped to find. I'll keep looking.

I'll keep you posted.

Fire and Ice - The One-Line Pitch

I completed the AIS (Author Information Sheet) for Moongypsy Press and emailed it. Pretty soon, I should have the cover art and ISBN number to start plastering where ever I can. Until then, I thought I'd show my process for writing the one-lines and blurbs. Today, the One-Line Pitch.

Condensing a 100K novel down to a single sentence is not an easy task. One-lines are harder to write than a synopsis - and I hate writing synopsis. Though I'm still waiting for approval from the publisher on my selections, I thought I'd show my process.

When you read the TV guide for a show, that description is the one-line pitch (or premise). In one sentence, the entire story should be there showing the Who, Where, What, Why and When. Leave the How as the contents of the story.

I start by listing the components.

For the characters, I search for labels that will give character insight. In a romance there are two Whos. In Fire and Ice, the pair have conflicting goals and are opposite in many ways.

  • Rosche is a Drakond, a judge, a warrior and a Noble tribe leader who has a heat control problem ignited by emotions so his personality is cold.
  •  Sarica is a Din, a recent academy graduate, a city dweller whose father died leaving her with a debt she can't pay. The law makes her an indentured servant until she earns her freedom. She has the ability to generate cold by using her emotions. She has a fiery personality.

Where: Planet Majien of the Five Worlds.

When: doesn't matter for this story since we are on another planet. If this took place on Earth, the era would be important - past, present or future. Mentioning the season might be important for Holiday stories. This isn't one of those so I don't need to add this information.

Why: He needs her to use her gift to control his. She needs to answer Fate's call to find Almona City.

The Whats are the conflict, premise and plot. I picked these highlights.

  • Rosche is in love with Sarica and wants her as his wife. He buys her servitude. He plans to keep her forever.
  • Sarica fears (and desires) Rosche and will do whatever she must to attain her freedom to find Almona City.

That is way too many words for a one-line (but are juicy bits for the back of the book blurb). The object then is to simplify. Pick the most important details to form one sentence. I condensed to this:
  • Where: On planet Majien of the Five Worlds (goes to sub-genre or audience - very important.)
  • Who: a judge and an indentured servant, or a warrior and a scholar, or a Drakond and a Din, or cold-tempered man and a woman with a fiery personality, a heat generator and a cold generator (I could make a huge list here of their differences, but you get the point).
  • What: He wants her love; she wants her freedom
  • Why: the why here takes too long to explain - all about what a Gifted Anom is and how their gifts work and interact. I'm going to use that in the blurb, not the on-line.
Now that I am closer, it's time to start building the sentence.
  • On Majien of the Five Worlds, a Noble wants the love of his indentured servant who will do anything to attain her freedom.
Closer but I need to paint the whole story because the above is a standard romance plot (Boy wants girl but girl wants something else). What makes this story different? Time to add descriptive adjectives.
  • On Majien of the Five Worlds, a Drakond Noble struggles to win the heart of his tenacious Din indentured servant, who fights him in the attempt to attain her freedom which makes his life unpredictable.
Closer but this can be further condensed by using descriptive words and trying to show the characters instead of telling about them. This is my final selection for the one-line pitch (the editor may suggest changes).
  • On Majien of the Five Worlds, a callous Drakond Noble struggles to win the heart of his Din indentured servant, whose exploits to gain her freedom disrupt his impeccable lifestyle.
I hope this process will help you write your one-line pitch. Some people suggest this be done before the novel is written. My muse isn't that organized.

I'll keep you posted.

Moongypsy Press to Publish the Five Worlds Series

I feel like I've grown wings! I hope so, because I'm going to need the extra mobility to achieve my massive to-do list! Now the real fun begins, with whole new learning curve to climb.

“Fire and Ice” will be the first release in spring/summer, my debut novel. Now that I have something interesting to talk about, I will be sharing what I learn about the publishing process with Moongypsey Press.

After the deal was done, I was sent an AIS, the Author Information Sheet contains the following to-do list.

1. General Information – title, series name, author name, pen name, word count, page count, genre and heat level.
2. Cover Art Information – describe the main characters, the setting, mood and tone.
3. A small, one line tag/hook/blurt for the front cover
4. Brief Synopsis that includes the beginning, middle and ending.
5. Author's Bio
6. List of other titles with the same publisher
7. Dedication, acknowledgements
8. Brief tag/hook
9. Back of the book blurb (brief)
10. Excerpt
11. Reviews
12. Personal Marketing Plan

Fortunately, due to my failed attempt to self-publish The Tool series (failure for me means “A Huge Learning Experience” because I only really fail when I give up trying.) I have many of these items ready or understand the concept, having spent so much time on research and practice with The Tool.

When I sought a publisher for this series, I was forced to write much of the AIS information. So if you wonder why you have to do all that stuff to satisfy an agent or a publisher, well now you know. It is not wasted time.

The back of the book blurb is the pitch for query letters. Synopsis are normally required for submission with the pitch. Over a year ago, I wrote my author's bio when I was trying to get reviewers to read Shadow Nexus – without success. The other items I can pull from the book or write quickly.

Filling out the AIS left me with another to-do list: My Personal Marketing Plan. Plus I was given yet another to-do list by the publisher to begin the "buzz." More on those as I move forward.

I'll keep you posted.