Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cathy Clamp Spotlight

Cathy Clamp is one half of a USA Today Bestseller writing team. Together with C.T. Adams, she has written five books for Tor/Forge's Paranormal Romance line, earning an extensive amount of awards. Laurell K. Hamilton herself said she's looking forward to more from them. Sheesh! So, read on to find out more about Cathy...

KW: Your series with Tor/Forge revolves around the Sazi. Tell me a little about the shifters you've created.

CC: The Sazi world is our real world, rather than an alternate reality where shapeshifters are common. There are stories from around the globe of people who can take the form of animals, but there's no substantiation. Why? If such a creature existed, how could it be in today's world of cell phone cameras and blogs, that nobody has a picture? How would reasonable, intelligent people NOT notice someone (neighbor, co-worker, etc.) who is always missing on the full moon? We used those questions to create our characters.

Shifting is a magical event, so naturally there would have to be illusion magic to go along with it. Think that's a stray dog trotting down the street? Think again. It's actually a werewolf. How about nights when all the dogs in the neighborhood go berserk and start barking at once? Could there be a were-cougar slipping through the alley on his way home to tuck in his kids? Naturally, they would have to stay hidden from the humans--hiding in plain sight.

We like to think of ourselves as a tolerant nation. But really think about it: If there were shapeshifters who could blind you to their presence, who were stronger and faster, could smell emotions and lived for centuries, how do you think Homeland Security would respond? The "relocation" camps of Native Americans and Japanese-Americans during WWII would only be a start. So, they're cautious. They have lawyers to get lawbreakers out of jail, and a police force to handle tougher cases. They are senators and doctors and business owners, to make sure the secret stays secret and their people stay healthy and happy. Each shifter in our world is their own person and they're indelibly tied to their animal. The werewolves are family oriented. They like big families. The great cat shifters are more solitary and are loners in their "real" lives. The raptors have well developed chests and slender legs and have quick, almost jerky movements and sharp voices. How many people can you think of around you that fit those characteristics? Lots. That's the point. :)

KW: What is the future for that series? Do you have a set number of books planned?

CC: Not really. We do have a couple of overarching plotlines going on that are about mid-plot right now. We're already planning for more books into 2009, and books for 2007 and part of 2008 are already at the publisher in some stage of completion.

KW: Would you like to be a shifter? Why or why not?

CC: I don't really know. I think there would be some really cool things about it--enhanced eyesight and scenting, and long life would be nice. But it would a harsh world, and ruled by the moon. I don't really think much about the moon cycles right now. It would take time to wrap my life around what's happening in the sky. I could probably DO it, but I don't know if I'd like it or not.

KW: Tell me how you go about writing with a partner.

CC: Cie and I have different strengths. She's exceptionally gifted at characterization--making real people just happens for her. I have to work at it. She's also great at getting plot ideas. We could write forever on just what's tucked away in her filing cabinet, not even counting what she'll think of tomorrow. I, on the other hand, am better at action scenes and romantic scenes. I think really logically (all that legal background, I guess. LOL!) so I can spot plot holes or logic gaps. Between the two of us, we usually can handle most anything.

KW: Who in your life has supported you the most in your quest to be published?

CC: Oh, most definitely my husband. I didn't discover an affinity for writing until fairly late in life. It was shortly after the death of my mother that I started on my first novel. He's really helped me in a bunch of ways, by cleaning house while I write, cooking dinner when I get wrapped up on the computer and completely forget to eat, and other stuff like that. And when I decided (a HARD decision, I assure you) to turn the writing thing into a full-time job, he agreed to pay the bills on his salary until I could start to make a living at it. So far, it's only a well-paying hobby, but we're still plugging away at it.

KW: Do you believe in the paranormal? Have you ever had any first-hand experience?

CC: Absolutely, I do. I don't have any first-hand experience, but know plenty of people that have--from ghosts to abnormal coincidences. Things like that.

KW: If you could win an Olympic medal, what sport would it be in?

CC: Probably weight lifting. I always enjoyed that and, in fact, was a competition power lifter in my early 20s. I wasn't too bad at it, either. I (briefly) held the state record in the bench press in Colorado for my weight class. Lost it in the same meet, but hey--them's the breaks!

KW: If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would you choose and what would you eat?

CC: I'd say Mary Shelley. From what I've read, she was a truly fascinating person, interested in science and math, sociology and the environment. And all with a horror twist! What could be better?

KW: How important do you think it is that a writer read? Should a writer read outside of her genre? Do you get enough time to read?

CC: Oh, absolutely writers should read, and read outside their chosen genre. I was just commenting about this the other day on a writing forum. A number of people had a negative impression of the romance genre. They truly believed it was merely a "craft," rather than a "skill." They based this on the mistaken belief that so long as you stay within the "formula" the publishers set out, ANYONE could publish a romance. EEK!! After I pulled my jaw off the floor, I started to explain how very difficult it was to write a double-arc book. People complained about the HEA requirement--calling it an "out-dated convention." It took awhile, but I finally convinced them that ALL genres have conventions. Mysteries require the mystery to be solved, horror novels require there be fear, science fiction requires the use OF science, etc., etc. Afterward, I realized that we all have preferences in reading and because of those, we sometimes become prejudiced to anything that isn't our chosen genre. If we pick up just ONE book in some other genre and don't like it, it colors our entire perception of the genre (and hence, the writers within that genre.) Mixed genres are becoming more normal. Paranormal romance only occurred because fantasy and horror readers wanted HEAs IN ADDITION to the fantastical elements. Same with thrillers, and mysteries, etc. Blending genres keeps writing fresh. But if you don't read other genres, how can you blend? Yes, definitely, READ!

KW: What's your favorite possession?

CC: Probably a collection of McCoy pottery from the 30s. I've been collecting it since I was about ten (my mother was BIG into the antique game, and I spent many a formative weekend in my youth at auctions and flea markets. Heh.) I'm only missing one or two pieces in this particular collection. I sold a bunch of them--for a lot more than I paid--in my 20s, but held onto one set of vases and have moved it from house to house. So, I'd have to say they're favorites. I'd miss them if they disappeared.

Thanks for having me on! Happy reading!

Cathy and C.T.'s new Sazi book, Howling Moon, comes out in January. I encourage you to go to her blog or website to check out all those amazing awards, read some excerpts, and find out more about these stellar (or should I say lunar?) authors!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Parmesan Spirals

I served these at Thanksgiving, and they were yummy. I'd go easy on the salt, though. Parmesan is plenty salty!

Parmesan Spirals

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp paprika
coarse salt and ground pepper
all-purpose flour, for rolling
1 sheet puff pastry (from a 17.3 oz. pkg), thawed
1 large egg beaten

In a bowl, mis cheese and paprika; season with salt and pepper. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to 10 x 14 inches. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with cheese misture; using a rolling pin, roll mixture into pastry. Roll up pastry, straing from short end. Refrigerate until firm, about 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 400. Cut roll into 3/8 inch thick slices. Place on rimmed backing sheet; bake until golden, 20 -250 minutes. Cool five minutes on sheet; transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in air-tight container up to 1 day.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jenna Bayley-Burke Spotlight

Jenna Bayley-Burke is a gal after my own heart! Besides writing romance, she's also a recipe developer. She also has no shortage of book ideas. She has four --count 'em, four! -- books in progress. Read on to find out more about Jenna.

KW: The hero of Just One Spark is a firefighter. My favorite Starbucks is visited often by firefighters, which is a very nice perk in addition to the coffee! There’s something so delicious about those guys in those baggy pants… But I digress. What kind of research did you do to make Mason believable as a firefighter?

JBB: Ahem. Well...since there are no fires in the book, my research was only reading a book on careers and party conversation with two firefighters...both women. I know, not sexy, but true!

KW: What do you feel is your strength as a writer? What do you do best?

JBB: I come up with LOTS of ideas. Finding time to write them is my issue.

KW: If one of your books was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters? Why?

JBB: Well...I use pieces of people...In Just One Spark Hannah is Charlize and Mason...well, he's an actual fire fighter who gave my boy a sticker in a grocery store. For Cooking Up A Storm I pictured Kate Winslet and Elvis. Young Elvis.

KW: Have you ever cried while writing an emotional scene?

JBB: Ugh. Too often. I could never write a weepie. There is a scene in Just One Spark where Hannah and Mason are fighting that makes me cry, and in Cooking Up A Storm when Cameron breaks down I lose it.

KW: What was your favorite book when you were a child?

JBB: Where the Sidewalk Ends

KW: Tell me about the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to you.

JBB: I need to show my husband this question, it comes up a lot. He's...well...not romantic. But, he does do the boys' baths every evening so I can write. That's better than roses any day!

KW: If you were to choose a vegetable most resembling your personality, what veggie would you pick and why?

JBB: At the moment I'm shaped like an apple, but that's a fruit. Hmmm. Lettuce? I'm all over the place like lettuce leaves.

KW: What physical characteristic would you change if you could?

JBB: I want to see! I have terrible eye sight and plan to have it fixed as soon as I sell two more for each eye! If it's something people can see...I'm having health issues and it caused a big weight gain this year. I'm working to lose that.

KW: Is there a skill you don’t have, but wish you did?

JBB: I wanna be Britney. Singing, dancing, booty-shaking.

KW: I saw on your website that you’re an award winning cook! How cool is that?!

JBB: Pretty cool. I won a new dishwasher and a killer coffee system from Better Homes & Gardens. And having a recipe in magazines is a good excuse to call friends. I also contributed recipes to the upcoming Pocket Diet.

KW: Care to share a simple recipe with us?

JBB: On a non-diet note, my boys and my dad love peanut butter quickies - a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar and an egg. Mix, make into balls, flatten with a fork and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. My eldest requires I dip them in melted chocolate. But, he's right cute, so I don't mind.

I can't make those Peanut Butter Quickies, because my kids don't like peanut butter, so I'd end up eating them all! Do check out Jenna's Phaze HeatSheet, Daisy, and her website: www.jennabayleyburke.comThanks so much, Jenna!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hostile Takeover Released!

At long last, I'm proud to announce that Hostile Takeover is on sale now at Moxie Press. My editor did an excellent job picking an excerpt. To save you a click, I'm posting it here today. The entire first chapter is available here for a free preview.

Rockwell was in a class of his own. It wasn’t just his muscular body or handsome features. He exuded a power that made her body hum with awareness. Confidence, intelligence, and a dominant stance called directly to her femininity and if he’d been a wolf, there was no doubt in Fiona’s mind that he’d be the alpha male.

Impeccably dressed in a dark plum shirt, black tie, and slacks, Rockwell leaned on his pool cue, waiting for his turn. He seemed at ease, concentrating on the game, so Fiona took the opportunity to admire his physique, knowing exactly what he looked like under his shirt. Before diving into the pool that morning, she had watched him cutting through the water with athletic grace, and afterward, she couldn’t help staring at the muscled planes of his lean body as he toweled off and how the wet trunks clung to him. In fact, she hadn’t been able to focus at all on her studies all day, nor could she look at him without fantasizing what it would be like to be fucked by him. Not made love to. Not slept with. Fucked.

She just knew that Rockwell would be demanding and authoritative in bed. He was polite and deferential in company, but everything about him, his stance, his expressions, even his sardonic laughter, spoke of power. This was a man who was used to getting what he wanted and that turned her on. She got wet whenever she was in the same room with him.

Like now.

This is the first novel I ever completed, so it has a special place in my heart. However, it's also the most envelope-pushing work I've ever written. You've been warned...!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Leap of Faith Review

Romance Divas gave me a terrific review. I'm still shaking my head with a silly grin on my face. Here's what Cora Zane said:

In Kate Willoughby’s Leap of Faith, Kira de la Fuente crosses a suspension bridge on a Peruvian immersion tour and finds herself caught up in a land of limbo with handsome Incan guide, Amaru.

Amaru has spent centuries trying to atone for his past mistakes, and when he sees Kira, he believes he may have finally found the one woman who can set him free. Cursed by the Incan god Inti, his punishment is to relive the same horrific event over and over until a woman can love him enough to break the fated chain. Is Kira the one?

At only 28 pages,
Leap of Faith packs a dramatic punch. The characters are rich, the setting is beautiful, and the romance that unfolds is haunting. When Amaru risks rejection and reveals his horrible past to Kira, you can’t help but be drawn in by his sorrow and regret. You love him for his pain and his courage in facing it, and you can only hope that Kira will love him too.

Kate Willoughby delivers a tense and satisfying ending to Kira and Amaru’s unique story. The plot is fast paced and fresh—a perfect alternative for the paranormal romance reader who is looking for something a little different.
Leap of Faith is a compelling love story not to be missed.

4.5 Kisses


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Laura Bacchi Spotlight

Laura Bacchi is a gal after my own heart, writing an eclectic mix of erotic romance -- contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, BDSM, and M/M. She is also a talented artist. I especially liked "The Rajah's Beautiful Daughter." Her newest release, The Heart of a Hunter, received the Over the Moon Award of Excellence from May Reviews, and continues to garner rave reviews. So without further ado, let's meet Laura!

KW: Laura, if you had to live out one of your stories, which would it be? Why?

LB: I write a lot of futuristics, but I wouldn’t want to leave the planet and my family just because I met some alien hottie, so I’ll pick my first contemporary, Lucky in Lust. When a female art professor gets an old flame as a nude model by accident, she has tons of fun using his body while creating a new series of work in clay. I have a BFA in Visual Arts and fondly recall the time we had a male model for a change. It was very, um, inspiring…

KW: Do you have a weakness for certain themes in your reading and/or writing? What are they? Why do you think that is?

LB: Definitely! I’m into the alien-meets-Earth-gal-and-must-have-her theme, and “wanting what you can’t have” figures into the mix a lot. Two of my currents WIPs deal with what happens with the ordinary becomes extraordinary; just one tilt of the pinball machine, one twist of fate—and boom!—life will never be the same.

I suppose the sci-fi angle comes from my closet Trekkie tendencies. I’ve always dreamed about visiting new worlds and that kind of thing. As a reader, I prefer BDSM and kink. I like boundaries pushed. When I first wanted to write, I joined an excellent critique forum for erotica writers called The Fish Tank (, and I highly recommend it. Perhaps learning the ropes, as it were, at this site opened my eyes to the many variants of erotica.

KW: Which of your books has been the hardest to write? Why?

LB: Without a doubt Topping Tora. It’s my longest work to date, and I’m more of a novella/short story gal. It was also my first with serious kink for the erotic romance market. Readers of my earlier work may not expect that kind of fare from me. The “thriller” part of it isn’t pretty, and I’m still worried about how it’ll be received. I know many readers can handle darker tales, but I have a feeling people will be surprised. Maybe unpleasantly so. But it stretched me as a writer, and that can’t be all bad.

KW: I adore reading thrillers, but doubt I could ever write one. Is there a genre you’d like to write, but don’t think you could?

KW: Literary fiction. To get the words just right—enough poetry and lyricism, enough down-to-earth talk to not be too high-brow—I would love to be able to accomplish that. It’s a fine line, and to succeed, to really have your words and themes resonate with readers, is quite a feat. There’s a lot of great literature being published today; the competition must be incredibly stiff. My second choice here would be Young Adult. Again, a tough market. Young adults are savvy readers, and they want books that are edgy and sharp. If you don’t have a finger on the pulse of this readership, you simply won’t make it.

KW: If you were teaching a course on popular fiction, which books would be on your reading list?

LB: Oh, tough question! I guess I should go ahead and admit that I prefer non-fiction when reading for pleasure. My picks would come from my experiences chatting with patrons while working in the library field for many years: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Harry Potter. Some Anne Rice. I’d have to give Stephen King his props—not sure which of his tales I’d pick. Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series for suspense. I’m not a fan of Danielle Steele, but I’d feel obligated to include her since she sells so many dang books. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Nora, of course, and something from the J. D. Robb “In Death” series. For sci-fi, I’d select Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And I’d have to include the romance book that first got me hooked: A Rose in Winter by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.

KW: What would you do with $1000 in spare cash?

LB: Get a new pair of glasses, new jeans, and enjoy a weekend getaway. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

KW: What would your “I’d rather be…” bumper sticker say?

LB: I’d rather be writing smut.

KW: What is your fondest memory?

LB: Now that my daughter is seven, I’m flooded by memories of growing up, and I really feel bad that she won’t enjoy the kind of freedom I experienced as a kid. I’d disappear for hours at a time, roaming the hills and playing with friends in the neighborhood woods. Kids can’t just wander off these days, and if there had been a homocidal maniac in our town, I’d have been a goner for sure. I guess my favorite memories involved snow. We had plenty of hills and one kid on the block had a sled we all shared. One blizzard in particular, Dad tunneled out paths to get to the car and mailbox, and the resulting shoveled snow was higher than our heads. My sister and I played “igloo” until our toes were numb!

KW: If you were a Bond Girl, what would your name be?

LB: The Cuntess of Pleasure? Puss in Boots? Ivana Lickalot? Sorry, dirty mind at work here.

KW: Tell me about the work-in-progress that you’re most excited about.

LB: One plot that has me intrigued right now is for a historical erotic romance entitled Relentless. When Emma Chatsworth discovers her betrothed desires the kind of marital relations she cannot possibly perform, let alone enjoy, she turns to her future brother-in-law James Duncan for advice—and instruction. Together, they journey through the seedy streets of London in search of dark pleasures to prepare her for the inevitable wedding night… but how can James let the woman who can fulfill his own fantasies marry another man? This will definitely have a BDSM theme, but I have yet to decide who’s “on top.” I tend to let the characters tell me how to write the story as we go along, so this plotting business doesn’t always go as planned!

Great questions, Kate! I really enjoyed answering them.

And I really enjoyed your answers. The Cuntess of Pleasure? OMG! I'm spitting diet Pepsi on my computer. Topping Tora is on my list of books to buy. Please, check out Laura's blog and website! Thanks, Laura!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Praline Pumpkin Dessert Bars

It's been a while since I shared a recipe. This is the best pumpkin dessert I've ever eaten, and it's SO easy. The bottom layer is like pumpkin pie, the top layer is sweet/salty praline crunchy goodness. It's to die for. Oh, sure, it's chock-full of calories, but it's the holidays!!! Credit goes to Betty Crocker for the recipe.

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 package golden vanilla cake mix
1.5 cups chopped pecans, *toasted
3/4 cup melted butter
whipped cream (opt.)

Heat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of 13x9 pan. Beat pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in medium bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Pour into pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with pecans. Pour melted butter evenly over top of dessert.

Bake 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired. Store covered in fridge. 12 servings.

*To toast pecans, bake at 425 until they start to turn brown (about five minutes), but watch carefully, they burn quickly! Or you can toast them in a dry frying pan.


Friday, November 10, 2006

The Wonder Jock

Found this article and thought it might be fun to share.

Size really does count, just ask Australian underwear maker AussieBum which has just launched the "Wonderjock" for men who want to look bigger.

Since the launch seven days ago, AussieBum says it has sold 50,000 pairs of "Wonderjock," mostly on its Web site and a handful of stores around the world.

"The design of the underwear, separates and lifts. The fabric cup protrudes everything out in front instead of down toward the ground," said "Wonderjock" designer Sean Ashby.

"There is no padding, rings or strings," said Ashby, a co-founder of the Internet-based AussieBum firm.

Ashby said the idea for the "Wonderjock" was the result of online feedback from customers who expressed an interest in looking bigger, just like women using the "Wonderbra."

"When you go to a department store to buy underwear you usually get a grandmother serving, which is not the ideal way to get feedback," said Ashby. "Our customers give us feedback. We didn't realize that big is better."


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Zinnia Hope Spotlight

West Virginian, Zinnia Hope, is another erotic romance writer. The three books she has published with Freya's Bower all have very interesting premises, and all dabble in one way or another with the paranormal. Reviewers have said her book Free Spirits is about "a love that transcends time," and that Honeysuckle and Wild Roses "is a story anyone in love with myths and legends will adore."

Let's find out a little more about the author who inspires such glowing comments!

KW: What do you feel is your strength as a writer? What do you do best?

ZH: I convey people as they really are. Sugar coating something just doesn't feel right to me. I'm not sure if my style is my best writing quality, but I'm told that the way I write instantly sucks readers into the story.

I adore reading thrillers, but probably couldn't write one to save my life!

KW: Is there a genre you'd really like to write, but don't think you could?

ZH: Hard, techie science-fiction. I adore sci-fi, and if I can mix it with horror or fantasy, I'm fine, but writing one that's technology-based just isn't my cup of tea.

KW: Which of your books has been the hardest to write? Why?

ZH: Well, if you're talking about e-books, that would be The Sexual Science of Witchery. The overlapping time eras and facts were really hard to keep straight, LOL!

As for WIP's or Conspiracy of Angels (that one will be in print and e-book format), I'd have to say Conspiracy has been a pain in my back porch swing. It shows people without any of that sugar coating I mentioned earlier. Traditional publishers raved about how great I write, but were afraid of the content. It's not racy like my material is known for online. It's mainstream romance that involves a church community and a shocking scandal. It has tangy sex, tastefully written ie no graphic words or descriptions.

KW: Who are your top five favorite authors?

ZH: Tess Gerritsen, Philippa Gregory, Stephen King, Sue Grafton, Terry Brooks

KW: What's the craziest trend you've ever followed?

ZH: Lordy, me follow a trend? Nope. Never. I've been known to set them though. In high school, I dyed my hair jet-black and frosted the front part (no bangs, all long) snow white. I had very long hair (still do) and had a zigzag of white through the French braid I wore every day. Wasn't long before the other girls started experimenting with similar effects, LOL!

KW: What makes you laugh? What makes you cry?

ZH: Anything and everything makes me laugh. I've stubbed my toe and laughed about it while tears of pain streamed down my face. Same thing for crying. I can see a stupid commercial about a little girl getting a puppy for a present or some guy simply kissing his girl--and mean the kiss--and start sobbing like a baby. My boys think I'm deranged.

KW: Is Zinnia Hope a pseudonym? If so, why did you pick it?

ZH: Heheheh...

KW: What physical characteristic would you change if you could?

My back porch a.k.a. my butt. My husband loves it. Did a bit of modeling a few years ago and the photographer was an African American who fondly labeled me as his only white soul sister, ROFL! I'm tall with a booty. I'd love to wear low-rise jeans, but gals with the type of backside God originally intended just can't wear them without a crack attack happening.

KW: If you could be a man for a day, what would you do? Be specific. ;)

ZH: I'm perfectly happy as I am, so I wouldn't want to be the opposite sex, but if I could be anything I wanted to be, then I'd choose something like a cat or a fly (as long as I could go unnoticed) so I could get the scoop on some things I've always wondered about.

KW: Do you believe in the paranormal? Have you ever had any first-hand experience?

ZH: Yes, I do. I have a very long background in the paranormal. Let's just say I grew up on an interesting farm, and my family has a history steeped in the paranormal.

Ahhh, such a mysterious answer. Makes me wonder if some of the events that happen in her book aren't purely from her imagination! ;) Anyway, visit Zinnia at and or buy her books here. Thanks for the interview, Zin!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Little Manhattan

Today I'm recommending a family movie, of which there are far too few. Seems like I go to the video store and see horror flicks up the yin-yang -- movies I've never even heard of -- but hardly any flicks I'd let my kids see. They're getting older now (11 and 12) but not old enough that I'll completely trust a movie's appropriateness, even if it's rated PG-13. Those rating people are unpredictable.

Anyway, the movie we watched last night was Little Manhattan. Not sure why they named it that, other than the fact that it was set there, but it was very cute romantic comedy about two kids. I liked it much better than RV with Robin Williams, which we watched last week. I found RV to be very predictable, relying far too heavily on toilet humor and trying to be an updated version of Vacation, but failing.

There was one part where the boy has to face the bully of the movie, who actually has a smaller part than one might expect. Usually the bully is the prime conflict in the main character's life, but as an unexpected treat, this bully isn't. The writers surprised me with a twist of the usual confrontation scene. I won't spoil it for you by telling you what it is, but if you watch the movie and have the same reaction, let me know here! Also, the ending surprised me, as well.

Go rent it, especially if you've got kids and want a movie you can all watch together.


Thursday, November 02, 2006


I'm thinking that most of the people who read this blog (all three of you) might get a kick out of The Seventh Sanctum, a story/idea generator. They use several phrases to describe their site, but here's the one that I saw first: The whole infinite monkeys and typewriter thing without the smell.

I spent a really amusing half an hour here wasting writing time. Here is one of the plot ideas I could actually envision someone (not me) writing.

In this story, a mysterious prince falls in love with a fighter pilot who tends to annoy demonic beings. It seems a death will bring them even closer together.

Here's one that just cracked me up.

This story starts in a university town on a world that has all but forgotten its magical past. In it, a generous king is in love with a poised park ranger. Yet, how can a CEO tear them apart?

Have fun!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shelly Munro Spotlight

Shelly Munro is a native of New Zealand, but luckily we can get her books here in the States. She writes in a variety of romance sub-genres, and with twenty-one books under her belt from four publishers, she shows no sign of stopping. Read on to find out more about this prolific and talented author.

Apart from romance, what do you usually read?

I’m a bit of a romance-aholic. I love romance because of the happy endings and tend to stick to the genre because of that. To vary my reading diet, I do read widely across all romance genres, from historical to romantic suspense and gay fiction. On the few occasions I venture outside romance, I’ll go for a thriller or a cozy mystery. I also read lots of non-fiction books on travel, history, and other various topics I might need to research for my writing.

If you were teaching a course on popular fiction, which books would be on your reading list?

Hmmm, I’d probably give the course a romantic slant to showcase what a great genre romance is and how there’s something for every taste. I get tired of people who are snobby and put down romance with snarky remarks about Mills & Boon.

I’d include a JD Robb book, probably a Nora Roberts, maybe a Linda Howard and Jenny Crusie to highlight humor. A CJ Barry or Susan Kearney for sci-fi. I’d pick some of my favorite authors for each genre.

Switching gears now, what TV show are you embarrassed to say that you like(d)?
You know, I can’t think of a single show I watch that would embarrass me. I love detective shows, comedy (if it’s British), the odd reality show such as Idol and some of our local shows are excellent. Half the time I switch off and read an ebook on my laptop or I’m writing. Hubby likes watching TV, so once he’s home we’ll sit down together. He watches TV and chats with me while I multitask and watch TV, write, read, and chat. It’s surprising how much I manage to write during these times.

You travel a great deal. If you had to leave New Zealand forever and move to another country, which would you choose and why?

Both hubby and I love Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and also Ireland. I’d happily settle in any of these places. They’re not too different from New Zealand, they drive on the same side of the road, and even better none of these countries are far from Europe and the States. It makes traveling so much cheaper and easier!

And now, back to the writing… tell me about the work-in-progress that you’re most excited about.

For me, it’s always the current book I’m working on—apart from the book I’ve just finished. That book was a problem from day one! I’ve put the problem book aside for a while to gain a little distance and meanwhile have picked up a tiger shapeshifter I’d started. I’m very excited about this story. It’s set in India and the hero is blind but still very alpha.

Do you ever get bored writing sex scenes?

Yes, sometimes I get to screaming point when it comes time to write another love scene. I guess it’s because there’s so many in each erotic romance and they all need to be a bit different and still propel the plot forward. Sometimes I leave a gap and go back and fill it in later or I’ll switch to writing a sensual romance or I read one of my favorite books. All the above methods work, and the truth is that I love writing erotic romance. I get over it and finish the book!

Your Middlemarch Mates series with Ellora’s Cave features, from what I can figure out, a community of shapeshifters. I adore shapeshifter stories. Tell me a little about the shifters, the world you’ve created, and how it’s different.

There’s a small town in the South Island of New Zealand called Middlemarch. The town and its inhabitants came to my attention when I saw a special interest piece on the news. It seems that Middlemarch is short of women of marriageable age. For some reason they all leave to work and live elsewhere while the men tend to stay to farm the land. To combat this problem they decided to hold a special dance in the hopes of attracting women to the area and romance springing to life. I filed the idea away in the back of my mind because I thought it was such a great idea.

Not long after I came across a story in the NZ Herald about mystery black cat sightings in the South Island. The two ideas combined and Middlemarch Mates was born.

My shifters are black leopards. They are a close knit community who live in the town of Middlemarch. Since the community is a mixed one with normal humans as well, their existence is a close-kept secret. My series is centered around the Mitchell family—five brothers who are also shifters. I think it’s a little different because it’s set in New Zealand and includes some of my trademark humor as well as great stories with a hint of mystery. And it doesn’t hurt that the Mitchell brothers are very nice to look at!

I see that you also write M/M stories. What would be the best part of being the opposite sex?

I’d be able to study my spam in greater detail because I’d actually have a penis.

Scenario: You are stranded on a deserted island for a month with one of your heroes. Which one would it be and why? What three items would you take with you?

I think I’d take Nikolai from Summer in the City of Sails. He’s military and knows about survival and stuff. I’m sure the stay would be very comfortable with Nikolai along and I wouldn’t starve to death. Just to make sure I’d take a loaded picnic basket, my Alphasmart so I could write (I get fidgety when I can’t write) and some sun screen because I’d burn to a crisp otherwise and that wouldn’t be very comfy.

Sounds like a good plan to me. Who wouldn't want to be stranded with a hunky soldier? If you'd like to get to know Nikolai out more thoroughly, go to Shelly's website. Also, if you want to delve into M/M fiction, look at Fallen Idol, coming out this month from Ellora's Cave. Or check out her blog.

Thanks for joining me, Shelly!