10-04 Angela Quarles - Must Love Breeches

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Near-Death After School Program

By Robin Weaver

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and since my parents worked long hours and had a lengthy commute, my non-school time involved very little supervision. In those days (and it really wasn’t that long ago), leaving eight- and ten-year-old children alone during the time between school bus drop-off and arrival of the parents after a day at the factory didn’t constitute child-neglect. My eight-year-old brother had a more structured existence.  He was supervised by ten-year-old me. Translation: it’s amazing we survived childhood. 
What could possibly happen in those three hours each day? We had chores to keep us busy, right?

Here’s what we actually did…
*Had races. On real horses. At full gallop, through the woods.
*Had tin can fights. Did I mention we loaded the cans with rocks because the weight made the throw more accurate?
*Went swimming in the lake. Said-lake had been created from a gravel pit, and thus had a very deep drop-off.
*Went fishing in the beaver pond. Several water moccasins enjoyed the same water.
*Had contests to see who could climb the highest tree. And jump down.
*Played circus knife-thrower. You guessed it—with the kitchen butcher knife.
*Tried to create fire by rubbing stones together. Fortunately for the hundred-acre forest, we never succeeded.
*Had target practice with B-B guns. Enough said.
*Played Zorro. Sword fights involved sticks sharpened with the circus-play butcher knife.
*Tested bed sheets to determine if they could be used as parachutes. Testing involved jumping from the roof. Note: Bed sheets do not make good parachutes.
*Drove the tractor to the neighbor’s house (in first gear the entire trip). Note: The neighbor gave us a lecture but
never ratted us out. I don’t think the tractor ever ran the same.
*Made up stories. Probably the only safe thing we did. At least until we turned the stories into live-action plays.
Did my mom know about our activities? Of course not. She would have killed us.
My childhood didn’t seem like a near-death experience at the time, but a few years later, I freaked because my five-year-old daughter went roller skating without a helmet. I guess times really have changed. J
The Christmas Tree Wars, a contemporary romance novella, will be available this holiday season.
Styrofoam Corpse, a mystery/suspense novel, will be available in November.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spirit Trilogy - Books of My Heart

Growing up in an area rich in Native American history has made me curious and empathetic to the band of Nez Perce who summered in Wallowa County many generations before Lewis and Clark entered their lives.

The Wallowa, or Lake Nimiipuu as they call themselves, are a band of the Nez Perce(Nimiipuu) who moved like nomads across the Pacific NW and into the plains with the seasons. They wintered along the Imnaha River in the lower warmer regions of Wallowa County, spent the early spring in the camas meadows of Idaho, and summered at Wallowa Valley, fishing the Columbia in the fall and returning to their winter home before the snows became too treacherous. The warriors and some of the women went out on hunting expeditions to the plains for buffalo.

They were nomadic, but they had a fierce love of the land in their hearts.

The spirit entity in these books is all a figment of my imagination, but it felt real to me. My fascination with the Native American culture, their healing herbs, chants, legends, myths, and vision quest all primed my imagination when I came up with the spirit siblings who are the main characters in the books. 

Spirit of the Mountain

ISBN 9781940064833

Evil spirits, star-crossed lovers, and duty…which will prevail?

Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, loves the mountain and her people—the Lake Nimmipuu.  When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, she knows it is how she must fulfill her vision quest. But she is torn between duty and her breaking heart.

Himiin, as spirit of the mountain, watches over all the creatures on his mountain, including the Nimiipuu. When Wren shows no fear of him as a white wolf, he listens to her secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he must watch her leave the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin rushes to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…

Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/spirit-of-the-mountain-3

Spirit of the Lake

ISBN 9781940064857

Can a spirit set upon this earth to see to the good of the Nimiipuu stay true to justice when revenge burns in his heart?

Wewukiye, the lake spirit, saves a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and bringing shame to herself and her family. Learning her people ignored her accusations against a White man who took her body, leaving her pregnant,Wewukiye vows to help her through the birth and to prove the White man’s deceit.

Dove slowly heals her heart and her distrust as Wewukiye, the warrior with hair the color of the sun, believes in her and helps her restore her faith in her people and herself.  

On their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But will these abilities seal their future or tear them apart?

Buy Links:

Spirit of the Sky

ISBN 9781940064871

Can enemies not only work for peace but find love?

Sa-qan, a Nimiipuu eagle spirit, must take a human form to save her mortal niece when the Nimiipuu are forced from their land by the U.S. Army. Sa-qan strives to remain true to her spirit world and her people, but finding an ally in a Cavalry Officer has unraveled her beliefs
During battle with the Nimiipuu, Lt. Wade Watts finds a blonde woman hiding a Nez Perce child.  He believes she is a captive when her intelligent eyes reveal she understands his language. Yet she refuses his help. Their paths cross several times during the skirmishes, and she becomes his savior when renegade warriors wound him.

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spirit-of-the-sky-paty-jager/1110762147

Saturday, September 27, 2014

YA Horror/Paranormal Romance Author Catrina Burgess

::: Giveaway – I’m giving away to one winner a package with some of my favorite chocolate, cookies and tea. How do you enter to win? Comment below. Tell me what is your favorite paranormal element? Do you love vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, magic?:::

I’ve always adored ghost stories. I devoured all the spook filled stories I could find as a little kid. Over the years I’ve never gotten tired of reading books or watching shows about the paranormal. When I started working on the Dark Ritual Series, of course I took my love of all things paranormal and created a world full of dark magic. In that world is Colina Campbell. She is a girl who is trying to find her way. She is trying to survive against incredible odds and to do so she has to turn her back on everything she believes. Everything her people have taught her. I love working on the Dark Ritual Series and I can’t wait to finish Book 4 so I can share with everyone what happens next in Colina’s adventures.

Awakening is a YA Horror/Paranormal. There's a romance, some ghosts and a zombie or two.

Seventeen year old Colina is desperate to become a Death Dealer. It’s the only way for her to survive, and get the revenge she seeks. But, to become a Death Dealer she will have to court death itself, suffer the possession of another, and if she makes it to the third ritual, she'll have to do the unthinkable. Can she survive the horrific trials long enough to gain the dark power? And if she does, what will she become?

Her guide on this journey is Luke, a seventeen year old Death Dealer who reluctantly takes on the task of training her. But the more time he spends with Colina, the more he worries about her safety, because he’s falling hard for a girl with too many secrets.

Read The Dark Rituals series on Wattpad. http://www.wattpad.com/user/catrinaburgess

Awakening – Book 1
Possession – Book 2
Revenant – Book 3
And Legion – Book 4 coming this winter

Read An Excerpt:
I reached out, grabbing for anything, but there was only empty space. I fell a long way before slamming hard against the surface of…water? I plunged down into cold, wet darkness. The shock of the cold forced the oxygen from my lungs. My head went under, and my momentum carried me down. I kicked my feet, my lungs near bursting for air. I struggled to go up, to break the surface. When I didn’t think I could survive a moment longer, I found myself bobbing above the water’s surface. I could breathe again. I sucked in oxygen, sweet oxygen and frantically moved my arms, trying to stay afloat. I did my best to swim as my clothes, heavy with water, pulled me back down.
I looked up and saw lightning zigzagging across the sky. How far had I fallen? Ten feet? Twelve feet? I kicked forward, reached out, and made contact with smooth stone. My fingers followed the stone around. A perfect circle--I had fallen into a well. I looked up at the sky again as I brushed against the smooth rock. There were no handholds. No way to climb up and out. The water was cold. A chill seeped into my bones, and I began to shiver. I forced down the panic and tried to stay calm.
And I realized I wasn’t alone.
An unnatural chill ran down the back of my neck. A breeze moved past me, and I had the sense that whatever hovered near me wasn’t of this world.
I heard a whisper. My ears strained to make out the words, but there were none, at least none I could decipher. More noises that didn’t sound human. Then a growl to my right.
I spun around in the water. “Who are you?” My words were forced out between chattering teeth.
Another growl, this one louder and closer.
“What do you want?” Desperately, I tread water, trying to keep my head above the surface.
You” echoed in the darkness, and as it rang out, something grabbed my foot and yanked me under.
I kicked hard, forcing myself back up. I broke the surface and sucked in a mouthful of air only to be pulled under again. Whatever had me was strong. I kicked and struggled, frantic to break free from its grip. I couldn’t breathe. I did a couple of hard scissor kicks and for a moment my head bobbed above the water again. I sucked in another lungful of air before it dragged me under.

About Catrina Burgess:
I write because it helps keeps the darkness away and reminds me there is magic in the world. I live in a small mining town in Arizona. The place at night is definitely spooky. I swear I've heard the wind giggle and sometimes there's a very odd breeze that blows at night. There's something unnatural about it--it's truly spooky and sends shivers down your spine. I love all things that go bump in the night. I adore old movies.I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan. When I grow up I want to be a super hero. I want a cool red and black costume and I want some rockin' powers. I've been known to eat pizza and cold Chinese food for breakfast and I’m the queen of the board game Stratego. I’ve never been beaten. NEVER! ;-)

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: Tell me what is your favorite paranormal element? Do you love vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, magic?

I'd love to have you visit me:

Twitter - https://twitter.com/

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cliché: Yo-Yo Relationships

By Linda Lovely

I write Romantic Suspense-Romantic Thrillers. The genre marries spine-tingling suspense with romance—the degree of heat ranging from tepid to wildfire. However, one romance cliché seems to thrive in every segment of the genre, and it makes me grind my teeth.

What’s the cliché? Each time it appears the hero and heroine might find eternal love an internal conflict arises to tear them apart. This relationship yo-yo is credited with building tension and prompting readers to eagerly flip pages to see if the (IMHO often quarrelsome) lovers will eventually hurdle over their emotional roadblocks and/or stupidity. Of course, since a happy ending is mandatory, the novel ends with the hero and heroine—who have fought like gamecocks throughout the book—pledging undying love. Given their prior habits, I always wonder what would happen if there were more chapters. Would another imaginary insult pop up and lead to divorce?

Based on conversations with other authors, I suspect writers knowingly incorporate this yo-yo cliché in their novels because they believe agents and editors consider it essential for the romantic story arc to succeed. I’m not buying. Romance readers are more savvy/intelligent than that.

I do understand that internal conflicts up the emotional stakes and build tension. Yet I find it difficult to swallow that a heroine and hero will squander time squabbling if they’re fighting for their lives. Once the hero and heroine join forces and begin working as a team against the exterior threat, I think all their energies would be directed toward eliminating the threat not nitpicking their relationship.

October 1 release date. Pre-order now.
RYes, the couple might have private reservations about their long-term relationship because (fill in the blank). In my newest romantic thriller, DEAD HUNT, those “blanks” include a past romantic interlude that ended badly, feuding families, professional conflicts, planted evidence, and, yes, a few impetuous mistakes.

However, I tried hard to avoid conjuring stupid misunderstandings to pry the heroine and hero apart at a crucial moment simply because it was “time” for another breakup. For instance, when the heroine in DEAD HUNT is presented with “evidence” of her lover’s deceit, she does not accept it on face value. She investigates.
I think author J.D. Robb has aptly demonstrated that a couple (Eve and Roarke) can have a hot romance, fight bad guys, and treat the reader to lots of tension without wasting time on meaningless quarrels that make a reader want to scream “You idiot!” at the hero or heroine or both.

Okay, romance readers, do you agree?

Thursday, September 25, 2014



I write historical romance, so maybe my take on this topic is different.

I like –

Love lost and found
The rogue makes good

The poor girl and the rich man
The soft sweet heroine taming the ruthless hero. (This is a particular favourite of mine and one I use a lot).

Then there are the three “Rs” – Revenge, retribution and redemption. (I use that a lot too.)

There again, what about the clichés used in the romance novel. You know what I mean, those overused phrases:

Crushed her against his hard maleness
Her heart fluttered like a caged bird.

The night was as black as ink.
A million stars twinkled

She ran like the wind
He covered her face with hot kisses.

His warm breath fanned her cheeks

I have to confess to having used them myself, but in all honesty, I doubt that there would be one romance author who could say she hadn’t used these lines at some time or another.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with using these clichés, I think they set the scene very well. Many editors don’t like them, of course. The secret is – use them sparingly.

My take is this:  If you want to use clichés be selective. If all else fails you can invent a few of your own.

Margaret writes historical romance set mainly in Australia. Her latest release, The Loves We Left Behind, is a 3 book Combo (three separate novels, all stand-alone stories in the one book.)  This is a special release to mark the centenary of the 1st World War.

It tells the stories of three different women who triumph over loss, heartache and betrayal.

A hundred years ago, from the far flung corners of the British Empire, young men rushed to fight for Mother England. They left their wives and sweethearts behind. Many of these brave women waited in vain for their men folk to return. How did they cope with the loss and heartache? Could they ever hope to find happiness with another man? Three full novels, each telling a brave young woman’s story of triumph over tragedy and adversity. Allison’s War, Daring Masquerade and Lauren’s Dilemma.

Available in Print also from your favourite on-line bookstore.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I (heart) Romance Cliches...

...because it is so much fun to break them!
by M.L. Buchman

I actually started writing romance based on exactly that concept. I began as a science fiction and fantasy writer. I discovered romance and began incorporating stronger and stronger love stories into my writing (still not romances).

I wanted to try a romance, but I did want to write along a cliche. Why? One, I actively despise cliches and stereotyping (this is one of my rabid platform things, so don't get me started [don't believe me? Check out this Publisher's Weekly Radio interview.]) and two, I had seen the success of those who find the cliche and buck the trend.

Sandra Brown looked out at the world of romance and the world of mystery and made a huge success that practically created romantic suspense.

Suzanne Brockmann read an article on Navy SEALs and military romantic suspense exploded onto the market.

Both of them had looked at a cliche and wondered how to turn it on its head.

For me I was doing research for my Dead Chef thriller Swap Out! My hero had to be rescued by a cool helicopter. (I don't know where my writer brain comes up with these ideas, but I trust it and went looking for a really extreme helicopter.) While researching, I stumbled on the U.S. Army's 160th SOAR, the secretive, helicopter-flying Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as the Night Stalkers.

That still didn't do it for me. Cool, might use it some day, but it didn't have the cliche-breaker I'd been looking for.

And then I found the Night Stalkers application: "Must be male to apply." (After 30 years, this finally changed in 2013, but I was back in 2008 at the time.)


I knew I had it! Was I going to create a whole new genre with this idea like Brown or Brockmann? No, but fitting right in as "Buchman" struck me as a good sign.

What did I create by spotting the cliche and breaking it?
Cliche: The alpha male hero and the woman he falls for along the way.
New: The alpha female hero who meets the alpha male on the common ground of the military, and  who gets the man she happens to deserve.

Thus was born The Night Stalkers series:
(this includes the first reveal of the draft cover for Michael's story coming in Spring 2015!)

And the Firehawks series:
(Full Blaze is coming Dec 2, 2014 and takes the wildfire battle Down Under.)

And I just sold two more "First Women of..." series that will be launching in 2015 & 2016. Maybe they're all just one big series: Buchman's "First Women" of Military Romantic Suspense... I like it!

M. L. Buchman has over 30 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and Booklist “Top 10 of the Year.” In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. 

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world. He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I love stories with cliches that have been given an uncommon twist. For example, as a little girl my favorite Cinderella movie was one entitled Cinderfella.

Remember the way the movie SHREK twisted cliches? The hero is an ogre, the Fairy Godmother is a villain, the evil dragon is only misunderstood. And in the end, the hero is not transformed into a handsome prince. Rather, the Princess becomes an ogre permanently. Loved this!

The twisting of plot and character cliches shows up in my writing on a regular basis. In the short story, Curse of the Neahkahnie Treasure (in the LOVE & MAGICK Anthology from Windtree Press), I used the girl-disguiied-as-a-boy trope. The twist? My hero figures out the boy his dog rescues from drowning is a young woman right after he gets her aboard his sailboat. As soon as she regains consciousness, she learns he knows the truth. The cliche is a hook, not a plot line.

My Paranormal Romantic Suspense novel, BLINDSIGHT, will be out this fall, also from Windtree Press. The heroine is blind. Near the beginning of the book, she needs the hero's help to escape from the bad guys' fortified wilderness compound. The first twist in this story is that in order for the hero to help her escape, the blind heroine must first rescue him from a  drug lord's torture chamber. And she does.

How do you feel about story cliches?

Thank you for reading my post. I'd love to have you visit me at www.sarahraplee.com