GUESTS

03-30 - Diana McCollum, Covering the Cover

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why Action Adventure? by Paty Jager

That is the question I’ve been asked several times since releasing the first Isabella Mumphrey Adventure. Before discovering Isabella, I wrote historical and contemporary westerns. Some may think it’s a long jump from there to Action Adventure, but every one of my historical westerns has a bit of action and adventure in them. Fast pacing through action is how a writer can keep the reader turning pages.

Making Isabella an Anthropologist specializing in Native American people, I could give nod to my other Native American stories. It also allowed me to keep my branding of western and Native American stories. 
The real push into the genre was complaining about a book dubbed an Action Adventure that fell short for me. It came down to I complained to one person too many and they dared me to come up with an Action Adventure.

I knew I wanted the story to be in another country, specifically one with drug trafficking problems. After all, how else was I to have my naïve, genius anthropologist come across a sexy Latin DEA agent if I didn’t have drug trafficking to bring them together? ;)

When I was forced to set my mind to thinking about an Action Adventure, I became more and more excited as the characters came to me. I did research and came up with Guatemala as the country to set the first story in. Again, I wanted the danger to not just be the drug traffickers but the environment and, in the case of Isabella, her own people.

Anyone who has seen an Indiana Jones’ movie knows the action is almost continuous and the bad guys come from all directions. That was what I tried to do with my story. The difference between my story and Indiana Jones, is he only fools around with a woman once during a movie, my two main characters have a magnetic attraction to one another. They should be polar opposites, and do try to use that excuse to keep apart, but their bodies have other ideas.

I enjoyed learning more about Guatemala and Mexico City for the two books, even though my husband wouldn’t allow me to travel there. I used books, maps, people who traveled there, the internet, YouTube, and local people I contacted to get authentic information.  Merging all the sources helped me feel like I was in the hot humid jungle or the exhaust filled air of Mexico City. Researching the Maya and Aztec was also fun. I didn’t go in depth because that wasn’t necessary for the books, but I did learn a lot more than I put in the books.

The best part of writing the books was finding a bit of the history of the Maya and the Aztec and using those as the catalyst for the villains’ actions.  It is very satisfying when research can be used as a subplot.
The third book will be on American soil, but I assure you there will be plenty of action with human trafficking, contraband, and burial grounds.

Both books in the series were fun to write and I’m looking forward to writing the third book.  I would have to say, I wrote Action Adventure for the adventure of it!

You can purchase Secrets of a Mayan Moon this month in a box set of nine books with nine other authors for $.99 at Kindle.

Or you can purchase it or Secrets of an Aztec Temple at all ebook venues.

Blurb for Secrets of a Mayan Moon:
What happens when a brilliant anthropologist is lured to the jungle to be used as a human sacrifice?

Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.

Windtree Press,    Kindle,     Nook     Kobo

Blurb for Secrets of an Aztec Temple:
Revenge is not always sweet…

Isabella Mumphrey can’t leave a puzzle alone. This time she attempts to use her anthropology knowledge to uncover who is stealing priceless artifacts from an Aztec Temple in Mexico City. She believes the discovery will prove her worth to the World Intelligence Agency.  

Tino Constantine is also in Mexico City. He has infiltrated a drug lord’s organization to find enough evidence to not only prove the man’s illegal activities, but to bring him down for numerous deaths. Namely those of Tino’s family.

But when the love of his life, Isabella, strolls into his enemy’s home, Tino is challenged with the choice of saving her or fulfilling his revenge.



Windtree Press         Nook             Amazon                  Kobo

Paty Jager


Photos: Purchased from Dreamstime.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Roscoe, the Crow


The most interesting and unusual pet I’ve ever had was Roscoe the crow.  (I use “had” instead of “owns”, because no one really owns a crow).

A long time ago, I lived in Pinconning, MI, about one mile from Lake Huron.  My Uncle stopped by and asked if I would like a baby crow to foster.  He had discovered a nest that had been abandoned by the parent, and told me how really easy it was to raise a baby crow.  Of course, I said yes. 

I was young and newly married.  I had grown up in California and Guam.  I was a city girl, now living in the country on ten acres.  Weren’t crows those little black birds that hop around the parking lots at malls searching for scrapes?  I could raise one of those, no problem.

Uncle left a box about the size of two shoe boxes stacked on top of each other on top of the wash machine that sat in the screened in back porch.  There was a note attached, “Enjoy!”  I lifted the lid to see my new baby bird, only there was a hairless monster inside with its beak open and it stretched about three inches wide.  The thing’s body was the size of an orange!  What had I gotten myself into?

I slammed the lid shut.  What had Uncle given me?  After calling my Uncle and learning this thing was indeed the baby crow I said I would care for, I set about with a plan.  To nurture it to adulthood and set it free, only Roscoe stayed.

Roscoe thrived through that late spring when snow still covered the ground.  I fed him raw hamburger, bread dipped in milk, and various other food items.  As it turns out, crows are scavengers and will eat just about anything.

After Roscoe grew into a full feathered adult crow, he showed his awesome personality.  He loved to sit on the clothes line while I pinned clothes on to the line or took the dried ones off.  He never messed on the clothes but always worked at least one clothes pin loose.  He would fly to the picnic table and play with his treasure, tossing it in the air and catching the pin, until he got bored.

Whenever we sat at the picnic table to eat, Roscoe would claim the spot at the end of the table.  We would toss him crumbs and his favorite?  Kentucky fried chicken!

We had two geese in a little fenced yard.  My husband had put two foot high flashing around the bottom so varmints couldn’t get in at night and kill the geese.  Well, the geese loved to make little noises talking to their reflections in the flashing.  And Roscoe, using his vocal talents would copy the geese.  The geese would try and chase him down, but he always flew out before they caught him.

Whenever we drove to town, Roscoe would follow alongside the car for about half a mile and then fly back home to wait for us. 

Like all crows, Roscoe loved to collect shiny things.  My husband cleaned out the gutters and found Roscoe’s stash.  There were aluminum candy wrappers, silver flashers for fishing, bobby pins, ribbon and micro tools, screw drivers, wrenches etc., to name just a few of the many things he found.

Unfortunately, Roscoe dove at one of our neighbor’s granddaughters and scared her.  Roscoe liked to perch on shoulders and heads, and quite possibly that was all he was going to do.  But the little girl had shiny hair barrettes and he might have been after those.


So we found our faithful, funny and loveable crow a new home.  A widowed farmer, who lived a few counties away, took Roscoe home with him.  The farmer left the top of his barn open so Roscoe could fly in and out all he wanted.  The farmer loved our jokester and Roscoe loved him.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September Means Homeschooling

When most people think about September one of the most common thoughts is back to school. Unless you're a homeschooler. Then it's usually more of a thought that fall is just around the corner which means all sorts of outdoor exploration and rainy days spent reading and writing.

After several years and yearning to join this group, this year has finally been that year. We are homeschooling our youngest full time. I do admit now that we're doing it, I've had my oh my gosh moments, but the exceitment when he gets to do something fun while learning has my heart flying out of my chest.

Last week we discovered a fear of the white page. As any author will tell you this can be just as scary for them as for a 10 year old. Out came the index cards taped to the sliding glass door. Bam! There came the ideas and the need to write out his story. This week we discovered that the pond behind the house is actually a bit on our property and voilia nature study.

Homeschooling has taught me a valuable lesson as well. It's made me realize that learning is all around us and as a writer I need to use that to my advantage. Learning how a pond ecosystem works is just research I can use for one of my novels while teaching someone else to write makes me think outside of my standard brainstorming techniques.

We're eagerly looking forward to the year ahead. If you want to follow our journey through this amazing feat please visit, www.blackcathomeschool.weebly.com.


What is something that has surprised you about life? What benefit was left behind by that experience?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dominatrix

I acquired this dog in December.  It's a long story, and I hate backstory, so I'm going to skip over the part about my inability to say "No" to my relatives.

Althought my problems with saying no and enforcing control is probably a large part of what went wrong.

Forty-five pounds of DOM
I named her Dakarai which means "bringer of joy" after one of the characters in the book I am writing, Minority of One.

Dakari was born to be a dominatrix.

Seriously. Her control issues were apparent from the start of our relationship.

Don't get me wrong. I grabbed the top spot on the pyramid right away. She accepts that, but with reservations. Every now and then she issues a challenge, just to see how I will react. She can be very vocal about her desires. And while she refuses to retrieve a ball or a stick, she loves to play you-can't-catch-me if I release her leash. It's not a fun game.

She also accepts that other humans belong right below me in the hierarchy. Unless they are jogging of riding bikes, then she seems to call their humanity into question. She feels free to lunge or give chase. Bad dog. I had to splurge on a training collar to teach her to control that urge. I have learned to anticipate, and rein her in before she issues a serious challenge.

Dakarai puts herself in the spot on the ladder right below humanity. No ifs, ands or buts.  She is the queen. Other dogs, ALL other dogs, come below her.  Other animals, cats, rabbits, squirrels, etc are vermin and belong underfoot. She issues challenges to every dog that comes within barking distance.  Big, small, indifferent or bad and burly. Even dogs in cars, or inside their master's houses get challenged. Again, I've learned to anticipate. Her body language prior to a challenge is distinct. Pricked ears, stiff myscles -- I know she looks lazy in the picture, but trust me, she can go from lazy to full alert in seconds.  So I keep watch for the signals.

Last week, her dominatrix nature took over, and there was no warning.

It was a good day. Beautiful weather. I decided to give Dakarai an extra long afternoon walk. Partly from guilt over spending so much time away from her on my current WIP. Partly because I didn't want to have to get back to work. Under normal circumstances we would have been safely inside the house, walk over. But, like I said, extra long walk, supposedly a reward for us both.

We walked for blocks without seeing any other person or dog. It was like we were alone in the world. She was enjoying herself, sniffing the ground experiencing things only she could know. There was not even a squirrel to grab her attention.

First sign of trouble came from my peripheral vision. A man walking past us. Ordinary looking, a little thin, thirties, maybe early forties.  He said "Hello," as he passed. Before I could respond in kind, I looked down.

Ten pounds (maybe) of submissive
The man was walking a dog. a cute bundle of fur. Tiny, innocent. But still a dog. And for Dakarai, size, and cuteness, do not matter. A rival in her space is still a rival.

The dog was only inches away from an unsuspecting Dakarai when I noticed it.  I only had one second before Dakarai noticed too.

Not nearly enough time.

Dakarai didn't bark or stiffen.  Her ears didn't prick up. She just lunged.  Just like that, the offending pooch was halfway down her throat.

I know what the owner thought, because that's what I thought, too.  I've seen too many stories about vicious dogs. Still, the brave man rushed to the rescue, literally throwing himself on Dakarai.

Remember the hierarchy? Human trumps dog dominatric. Dakarai immediatly froze.

Little dog had done the same thing. He (or she) recognized it was in the grip of a dominant.  She understood that her role was to play submissive, to give in. No damage was done, except maybe to his/her nerves.  We should have realized, when she didn't scream and no blood marred her white fur that it had not really been a fight.  But at the time...well, there really wasn't time to think. I remember being shocked at the sight of the little thing pretty much disappearing inside my dog's mouth.  And feeling ready to assist the man when he screamed and wished for a gun to blow Dakarai's head off.

And then his dog got up and walked away. Unbloodied, no bite marks, not even even a limp. I offered to pay vet bills, but that wasn't necessary.  The owner calmed down and accepted that Dakarai wasn't a vicious, blood-thirsty killer. He may even have accepted that her reation came more because she was startled than out of cruelty. In fact, I was the only one bloodied inthe action. While trying to pull my dog away I got a cut on one finger from her overlong claws.

It has already healed.

But I am changing my relationship with the dog. I was top of the pyramid before, I am now the Über Führer.  She may never equate the changes to that day, but there is now a firmer hand, and immediate consequences when she tries barking at other dogs.  She knows when I am angry and has learned to immediatly crouch to the ground and wait for me to forgive her for whatever she did before she moves. 

Sorry, Dakarai, but your days of even pretend Dom are history.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's a Matter of Life or Death!

by Madelle Morgan

Source: trueclassics.net

Yeah, action-adventure stories are big on drama. I write romantic suspense, which is action-adventure fiction with a romance subplot. 

Besides the oh-so-important romance between the hero and heroine, in my opinion a good action story has to include the following:


An Important Goal
At least, the goal has to be important to the characters. If they don’t attain their goal, something REALLY BAD will happen.

Time Pressure
You’ll recognize these time pressure plot devices:
  • Race against time to stop something before disaster happens.
  • Catch the killer before he strikes again.
  • Outwit the bad guys to be first to get the MacGuffin*.

*From Wikipedia, “a MacGuffin is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues”. Alfred Hitchcock popularized the term. George Lucas described a MacGuffin as “the object of everybody’s search.” Well known MacGuffins include the golden ring in Lord of the Rings, the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and in Star Wars, R2D2 – the robot with the secret plans. 

In my novel Diamond Lust, the MacGuffin – what the desperate smugglers are after, and will kill to obtain – is, you guessed it, diamonds. 

Non-stop Action
The story must be packed with page-turning, adrenaline-pumping events that get the hero and heroine into worse and worse trouble. Typical action sequences could include one or more of: an Abduction; a Chase; a Theft; an Escape; a Rescue; an Explosion; a Fight; etc.

Mountie Dudley Do-Right Saves his love Nell from Snidely Whiplash

The More Danger, the Better
The more complications the author adds and the more in doubt a happy ending, the more exciting the story will be. When writing the pivotal Black Moment scene in Diamond Lust, I used an abduction, fight, explosion and attempted rescue to ramp up nail-biting tension.


Diamond Lust excerpt set up: Heroine Petra is bound and tossed into a fuel dispenser building at the diamond mine along with her old buddy Carter.

“These smugglers covered all the angles. They will never let us live. We are so screwed,” Petra moaned.

“Didn’t you notice the AN/FO over there?”

She followed the direction of his nod to a fifty-five-pound sack wedged between two fuel pumps, the label indicating the trade name of an ammonium nitrate blasting agent. A wave of dizziness had her chin dipping to her chest. The smugglers planned one mother of an explosion. Ignited, the dispenser building and its fuel storage tanks outside would erupt into a cataclysmic fireball.

A white ignition cord dangled from a hole poked into the side of the packaging. When the white flashes behind her eyeballs faded, she knee-walked over to the sack, and with her teeth yanked out the cord and metal blasting cap on its buried tip with the intention of gently depositing it on the floor in a far corner.

“A lot of good that’ll do. They don’t have to enter this room to start a fire. They’ll open an exterior valve to flood the ground with fuel, or drop a match into a tank, or—”

“Enough, Carter! I need to think.” Why plan a massive explosion? If eliminating her and Carter was the objective, why wait? A small fire lit at the time they were dumped in the building would have killed them quickly. 

“They intend to create a major diversion,” she said slowly, “to give them time to escape in the confusion.”

Will Mountie Seth Cooper fly to the rescue of his love Petra before the diamond smugglers blow her to smithereens? Find out by reading Diamond Lust!

Diamond Lust is available in print and e-formats. The digital version is a steal at $1.49 or less at retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Ellora’s Cave, etc. See www.madellemorgan.com for more info. 

Tweet the sweet deal!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flirting with Fiction at Fifty



By Shobhan Bantwal

When I made the impulsive decision to start writing fiction at the ripe age of fifty, I knew it would be a serious challenge. I had never written anything more creative than school essays and the thesis for my master's degree. Nonetheless I had to start somewhere, so I began by writing articles and short stories about Indian-American immigrant experiences.

Much to my amazement, between 2002 and 2005, I successfully wrote over thirty articles for various Indian-American publications, and three of my short stories won awards/honors in fiction competitions.

But when it came to full-length novels, I had grave doubts. Would the mainstream American establishment be willing to accept stories that hinged on arranged marriage, dowry abuse, virgin brides and grooms, and male dominance? Would they even consider characters like compliant wives and mothers who, despite college degrees and flourishing careers of their own, catered happily to the men in their lives?

In spite of my trepidation I took a calculated risk by writing romantic fiction, a sub-genre that I branded "Bollywood-in-a-Book." I introduced serious social issues in contemporary India to American readers by weaving them into fun, romantic, entertaining tales.

After two frustrating years of agent-hunting I finally landed a great agent, Elaine Koster (now deceased), a publisher-turned-agent
who had published literary giants like Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Erica Jong, and Khaled Hosseini. Fortunately she loved my "outside the box" fiction, and sold my debut book, The Dowry Bride, to Kensington Publishing in 2006.  More contracts by Kensington followed in quick succession, making it a total of six novels in six years.

I would love to hear about your own unique publishing stories.

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ShobhanBantwal.author