08-02 Award-winning author MATT BUCHMAN

Friday, August 1, 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles and ????

By Judith Ashley

About this time last year, Sarah and I met with our co-author and fellow Genre-ista, Diana McCollum at Detroit Lake, a small town situated in the Cascade Mountains about half-way between where we live. Sarah and I carpooled so we could take care of Romancing The Genre’s business on the way home. 

What was on our agenda? 

Brain storming the list of Guest and Genre-ista themes – and for August, 2014 we chose Planes, Trains and Automobiles. 

What’s missing? We covered travel by air and land but we missed water. Why is that important? It’s important because in the time period of Sarah’s short story Curse of the Neahkahnie Treasure a major mode of transportation was by boat/ship.

So I’m amending this month’s suggested Genre-ista theme and including “ships and boats” because I want to stick with the theme and want to introduce you to this well-written, entertaining, creative short story.

A friend of mine, who has never met Sarah or read any of her work, called me up shortly after Love & Magick: Mystical Stories of Romance was published. Our conversation went something like this:

Friend: “I had to read the first page of the first story a couple of times.”

Me: “Why, what was wrong?” (hear a tad of anxiety in my voice here?)

Friend: “Nothing was wrong. I had to read it more than once because it’s so powerfully written.”

Me: “Yes, it is. Sarah’s a great writer and Curse of the Neahkahnie Treasure was the perfect story to start us off.

I’ve included the first couple of pages of the story below. 


Curse of the Neahkahnie Treasure
by Sarah Raplee

Father was dead.
Sorrow as strong and bone-chilling as a Pacific gale snatched Samantha Moore’s breath from her lungs. A wave of dizziness threatened to overwhelm her. She forced herself to draw another breath, and then another.
In the weeks since her beloved father had been knifed and robbed in broad daylight, she’d discovered grief lies in wait like a panther, ready to pounce and tear one’s heart out without warning. Warm tears trailed down cheeks chilled by the damp spring winds of the northern Oregon coast.
Turning away from the bustle of stevedores unloading wagon loads of supplies onto the dock, she pretended to study a huge sailing ship floating at anchor. One swipe of a dirty cotton shirtsleeve removed the evidence of tears, as well as a good deal of sweat and windblown brine from her face. Boys are not supposed to cry. She must take her emotions in hand or she would draw attention to herself. The last thing she needed was to be identified as a young woman.
A sunbeam found its way through the clouds to glint off the rippled water of the mighty Columbia River. Gulls soared on the wind. The odors of fish and pitch mixed with the tang of salt water. Astoria, Oregon, was only seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. Here the river stole salt from the sea tides the way Samantha planned to steal food and coin from the tides of people swarming the docks.
She pressed her lips into a grim line. She had never in her life broken the law, but she hadn’t eaten since stowing away on a schooner in San Francisco two days ago. The men who had murdered Father had taken his money as well as his life. She was out of funds and alone in a strange land. And she must honor her father’s dying wish.
After glancing around the docks to make sure no one paid undo attention to her, she surreptitiously ascertained the safety of her precious, accursed secret cargo. Placing a hand at the small of her back, she arched as if to stretch out a kink. First her backbone poked her palm through the fabric of her shirt. She explored the hard outline of a small spyglass case with her fingers. She had sewn a secret pocket for the brass cylinder into the rear of the baggy drawstring trousers she wore as part of her disguise.
Her mouth twisted into a grimace. Father had died because of the furled map hidden inside the metal cylinder, a map he’d discovered hidden in the false back cover of a hundred-year-old book. He was conducting research for a historical treatise on Spanish exploration in the Americas when he noticed the back cover of Las Expediciónes del Pirata Don Carlos Moreno was much thicker than the front cover. So, being Father, he investigated and found the treasure map. Unfortunately, being a man of science, he had dismissed out-of-hand the inscription on the map that stated the pirate had cursed the gold so “no man may take my treasure.”
All things considered, Samantha had come to believe the curse was real.

To find out what happens next, Love & Magick is available through Windtree Press and other major e-retailers.

© Excerpt from “Love & Magick” Copyright 2014 Sarah Raplee
© Copyright 2014 Judith Ashley

Check out more of Sarah's writing at Free Reads from the Genre-istas.
Visit her website.

You can find Judith at Windtree Press and her website as well as on our Free Reads site.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tethered - new #scifi #romance #release

My new scifi romance Tethered released just last week, and I'm so excited! It's my first book with my new publisher Breathless Press, as part of their Cyber line. You can find out more about it and read an excerpt on my blog HERE. Enjoy the blurb!

She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man's grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?
For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn't simply something she was trained for. It's the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she's about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless. 
For Zander D'joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way. 
Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there's more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

Currently available direct from Breathless Press, or from Amazon, Smashwords, Bookstrand and All Romance eBooks. Sign up to my no spam newsletter HERE for details on new releases, free samples, giveaways and events. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


My latest release from Books We Love, is Falsely Accused. Several years ago it was published with a title of Savage Utopia, but it has now been revised and has a lovely new cover from the talented Michelle Lee.
This book is set in the 1820's, against a background of the transportation of convicted felons from England to the penal colony of Australia.
It is available on Amazon

On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.

On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?

Maryanne woke up with a throbbing headache. Her vision was blurred and her throat felt so dry and scratchy, no sound would come out. Vaguely she remembered liquid being forced past her lips, noise, the movement of a carriage and the words “seven years”.
Where did that vile smell come from? She tried to focus her eyes but couldn’t. Her bed felt cold and hard. Suddenly memories came flooding back, Fiona’s death and Sarah attacking her with a knife. Her body twitched with the shock of remembrance. She had been found guilty of assaulting her stepmother, and was sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of Australia. To be incarcerated there for seven years.
Maryanne still felt hazy about the happenings of the last few weeks, except the final verdict. Seven years incarceration might as well be life, because few people ever returned from exile. The authorities called her a vicious mad woman, and would not listen to her version of what Silas and Sarah had done to Fiona.
“You awake now?”
“What?” She blinked several times in quick succession trying to clear the haze from her eyes. “Where am I?” The question sounded like hers, but the low guttural voice didn’t.
“Newgate prison. I’m Libby.”
A young woman’s face came into focus, a woman with flaming red hair that even the dirt and dinginess around them could not hide.
“They brought you here from the insane asylum, said you tried to murder your stepmother.”
“She deserved to die, both of them did. It was an accident; we were fighting over the knife and…”
“You won’t last long on the convict hulks, my pretty.” A toothless old crone leered at her.
“Shut your mouth, you dirty old hag.” Libby shoved the woman away, and the old thing cackled loudly.
“What does she mean?”
Shivering uncontrollably, Maryanne glanced around. She lay slumped against a slimy wall, and her clothes looked as filthy as those of twenty or so other women in this dungeon cell. Her hair, like scattered rats tails, straggled about her shoulders, and she gave a shudder of revulsion because she must smell as dreadful as everyone else.
“What’s your name?” Libby asked, with a slight Irish brogue.
“Maryanne Watson. I want to get out of here, I’m innocent.”
“Stay where you are,” Libby hissed fiercely. “Don’t attract attention to yourself. Everyone in Newgate says they’re innocent.”
“But I am, I am,” she babbled, trying to get control of herself. Why wouldn’t anyone believe her? The slap on her cheek, little more than a tap, instantly stopped her anguished flow of words.
“Do you want to stay alive, Maryanne Watson?”
“Yes, doesn’t everyone?”
“Well, say nothing to attract attention to yourself. Some of these women would kill you, just like that.” Libby snapped her fingers next to Maryanne’s ear. “The turnkeys won’t save you either, here or on the hulks. They only have one use for women.”
Bile surging into Maryanne’s mouth tasted foul and bitter. Her flesh crawled with terror and she clenched her teeth to stop herself from becoming hysterical.








Monday, July 28, 2014

Overheard on . . . Romancing the Genres

"We're proud to welcome members of our military for early boarding at this time. We appreciate your service."

Quick... picture a military novel. What do you see? A helicopter swooping low over a battlefield? A group of men crouched low in a bunker? A sexy female JAG officer questioning the ethics of a good-looking lieutenant?

Or.... two friends, dressed in uniform but jumping on-board a flight for a quick break in Arizona?

Sure, it is easy to fall into typical stereotypes when we write. One of the very positive purposes of using a stereotyped character or situation is that it saves words.... the reader automatically knows where we are going with something and so we, as writers, can move on to a bigger plot point or more important character.

Of course used as a main character or main plot point stereotypes become cliché, trite, and shallow. This is why putting our characters into an unexpected environment, or finding an unexpected character in one of our settings, provides depth and interest to our stories. At the same time, this isn't always easy to do. It requires that the writer take time to really understand that character or that environment.

I'm thrilled to say that in August Romancing the Genres gets to spotlight a bunch of Military writers who do just that. They have taken the time to delve beneath the surface of what military (whether in character or environment) means, and draw us into that world through excellent writing.

Come back in August for these guest bloggers:
08-02 - Matt Buchman
08-09 - Linda Lovely
08-16 - Terry Spear
08-23 - Jessica Scott
08-30 - Catherine Mann

And learn more about the reality of the military.... early boarding privileges and all.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Writing the Historical Romance Novel. No - Writing the Suspense Novel. Wait - Writing a Disabled Hero? Throw them all into one!

God bless the era of ebooks.

Just four years ago I pitched my deaf private investigator in 1700s Norway to an editor. She literally turned up her nose and said, “I have no idea how to sell that!” and walked away. One year later I pitched the same book to Gail Delaney, Editor in Chief of Desert Breeze Publishing, and she bugged me until I sent her the manuscript. Five contracts later, my “Discreet Gentleman of Discovery” is winning fans everywhere.

What was the difference? Shelf space. Or rather, virtual vs. actual shelf space.

Historical Romantic Suspense books cross three genres – so where would a bookstore put them? A digital first publisher (ebooks with print-on-demand copies) doesn't have to worry about that, freeing them up to accept cross-genre books with unusual characters or themes. In fact, the latest numbers from Amazon show that small presses sell the majority of ebooks on Amazon, probably because of this very freedom:

There were three reasons I decided to write these hybrid stories:

1. I write historical romance. It’s what I love to read, so it’s what I love to write.
2. I write Norwegians. It’s time for sexy heroes who don’twear kilts.

But why a deaf man? And why suspense?

3. I read an article which stated that “women love a man who looks at them like they are the only person in the room.” So I thought, who does that? A deaf man would.

Having that decided, I needed to give him means for supporting himself. What sort of work could a deaf man do in the early 1700s? He can solve crimes. As he says: When people find out I’m deaf, they forget I’m in the room.

Next hurdle: Brander Hansen does not actually speak. He and the childhood cousin brought in to be his “ears” worked out a gesture language together. And of course, he can write what he wants to communicate. This required some creativity on my part, to let the reader know how the dialog was being delivered:

“Was it spoken aloud?”
Was it written down?
Brander set the pencil down: Perhaps I used my hands.

Now came the fun part – deciding what the crimes should be. Murder is as old as humanity. Cain and Abel, anyone? Theft is good. I mean, to write about. Spying, kidnapping, stolen identities, serial killers; almost anything happening today could have happened then.

Of course, there were no fingerprints to go by. And limited medical knowledge. No quick phone calls to be made, and correspondence was only as swift as the next ship’s journey.

So my hero has to be very observant – a skill which is enhanced because he is never distracted by sound. And he has to be very clever to assemble the evidence, and know where to look next. Being a master at disguising his changeable looks comes in handy as well.

His most powerful tool, however, is the assumption that because he cannot hear and chooses not to speak, he is a “dummy.” So he stands off to the side and reads lips. Oh, the things one “hears.”

But Brander’s deafness is only one aspect of his character, and not the plot of any of the books. To write them, I had to figure out all of the same things any crime writer needs to know: who did it, what did they do, and why. And then, how will the evidence be discovered, by whom, and in what order. Of course, any good suspense story has a red herring or two tossed in, so those must be figured out as well.

Added in are the personal stakes involved to Brander and his wife Regin in every crime – what do they stand to lose?

Over the five books, Brander’s character deals with a sudden wife, issues with his estranged father and brothers, teen-aged foster sons, deadly deceptions perpetrated by his wife’s first husband, and international intrigue.

And did I mention, murder?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Critique Partners with 'Unlike' Minds

I love to write (and read) mysteries and romantic suspense/thrillers tailored to an adult audience. That’s why I initially sought critique partners who focused on the same genres and shared my sense of humor and fondness for snark.

They “got” me—and my writing style.

However, mostly by happenstance, I’ve widened my critique/Beta reader circle. I belong to a five-person local critique group (four women and one very secure man). We meet one afternoon each month for an intensive critique session. We’ve been at this for several years.  We limit the size of the group to five so we have the time to provide in-depth critiques.

Here's our gang at Danielle Dahl's book launch for her fabulous memoir, Sirocco. From left, me (Linda Lovely), Jean Robbins, Danielle Dahl, Donna Campbell, and Howard Lewis. 

Howard's working on a young adult fantasy. Donna's an author who focuses on Southern-flavor, character-rich short stories. Danielle is busy penning the second installment of her coming-of-age memoir loaded with family conflicts and set in war-torn Algeria and a France less than welcoming to refugees. And Jean continues to explore psychological mysteries with a deft literary hand. 

Our backgrounds are as different as our writing styles and reading tastes. Our birthplaces include Algeria, two Southern states and two Midwestern states. Our former professions include English teacher and labor union representative, engineer, translator and manager, GED teacher, and me handling all types of public relations and advertising projects.    

To prepare for monthly in-person sessions, we each email five+ pages from a work in progress. These submissions may or may not be sequential. For example, I may choose a love scene I’m insecure about, pages with troublesome dialogue where I’m trying to surreptitiously shoehorn in some backstory, or a section where I want to see if my attempts at humor are actually funny.  We also read completed manuscripts for each other once we’ve polished them and feel we are nearing the finish line.

While I’d never give up the invaluable feedback I receive from fellow hard-core mystery/romantic suspense authors, I find the questions, suggestions, and comments from authors who don’t share my mindset to be equally valuable. A male critiquer—no matter what genre he writes—is priceless, because he can warn when a hero’s dialogue is pure nonsense—“No man would ever say that.”  Having critique partners from different parts of the country helps you discover which regional sayings are fun versus ones so puzzling they cause a “huh?” reaction that takes readers out of the story. 

I firmly believe the more diverse your critique circle the more likely you are to appeal to a broader audience—plus you become a more nuanced writer and reader. I didn’t know how much I could enjoy fantasy, short stories, memoirs and literary turns of phrase until I joined this group.

I also have recruited members of my book club as Beta readers. The more (and more diverse) the merrier. 

Who critiques your manuscripts? Who are your Beta readers?

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Collaboration. – The dictionary defines this as:

Working together or working with another.

To co-operate with an enemy of one’s country.

I have collaborated.

I have worked with other authors on a Western anthology (Rawhide ‘N Roses), where there were fourteen of us who each supplied a short story.

I have also worked with good friend and fellow author, Susan Horsnell in a short story collection, Colonial and Cowboys.

Donning my erotic romance persona, as KC Vixen, I collaborated with two other erotic romance writers, Lacey Roberts and Victoria Hanson. We each supplied a novella for this boxed collection, A Feast of Erotica, so it can be seen that I have collaborated a few times.

 Thankfully, I have never been put in the position of having to co-operate with an enemy of my country.

 Now, forgetting the strict dictionary version, there are variations on collaboration in my opinion.

I have found that many of the characters in my novels collaborate with others, sometimes for good, sometimes for evil.

Two female workers may collaborate to try and have something done about a fellow worker who may have sexually harassed them. We all know the type, the guy who accidentally brushes our breast, stands too close to us in the elevator and is always making smutty jokes when no-one else is around.

Then there are the criminals who plan a bank robbery together, working for weeks on the layout of the bank, the personnel required, which bank to hit, getaway cars, somewhere to stash the cash until the heat is off etc. This planning might take weeks before the deed is done. Surely that is collaboration.

In my latest novel, Falsely Accused, the hero, Jake Smith, is convicted of a crime he did not commit. His aristocratic father wants to get rid of him, so with the help of paid criminals, the father has Jake framed for a murder he did not commit. In my mind, the father collaborated with these men by planning his son’s demise with their help.

So, in my humble opinion, there are many shades of Collaboration.

On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.
On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?


 Margaret Tanner writes historical romance.

Under the name of KC Vixen she writes erotic romance novellas.