I know that Mondays are normally my day but for the rest of September I'm having guest bloggers fill in for me while I'm off taking care of my mum in Florida. So today, please welcome my friend MG BRADEN who's kind enough to step in this first week of my hiatus....

Thanks, Jax, for having me on Hooked on Romance today.

My name is MG Braden, but you can call me Michelle. Or MG. Or Ms. Braden if you're nasty. :-) I am the author of five contemporary romances and one erotic paranormal in varying lengths. But, I'm not here to talk about my writing today, although I will be giving away an ebook of Snowbound to one lucky commenter.

I'm here as a candidate for the 2009/2010 RWA Board of Directors. I am running for Regional Director, Region 4. Even though I am running for Region 4, all voting members vote for all regions, so it is important you get to know every candidate in each region. This is a member organization, make sure you (if you are a member) have a say and an interest in who is representing you on the BOD.

I heard recently that it was considered distasteful for the candidates to campaign for office in the RWA. I'm not sure who started this rumour or even why, because we (and by that I mean myself and several other candidates that have discussed this) have never received any official word that this is not ok. Why would it be in bad form? Why distasteful? If you don't know the people you are voting for, how can you choose? Again, this is your organization, it will only be what you help to make it.

Therefore, so you can get to know me a little, I present you with my official RWA bio (as opposed to the more whimsical one on my website http://www.mgbraden.com):

Michelle (MG) Braden has been writing for over twenty years, but only decided to pursue publication in 2006. A RWA PRO member, Michelle is an epublished author who is presently seeking representation for a single title manuscript. She has volunteered at both the National conference and the Emerald City Writers' Conference. Michelle is the Vice-President of the ESPAN Chapter and also belongs to the GSRWA, Chick Lit and Kiss of Death (where she previously served as the Murder One Coordinator) chapters. A business owner and entrepreneur, she has spent a good number of years in business administration and management.

You can see my list of the official RWA Member Questions and Answers on my blog and you can go to the RWA National website and see how all of the candidates answered these questions.

So here's the thing. I am not any better or worse than my opponents. I just have a different perspective (as we all do). We all bring different things to the table, so what you need to do is review what you know, what you need to know, what you want to know and weigh it when you cast your vote. If you have questions, I urge you to email the candidate and ask.

Bottom line for me: I am not a politician and I am not good at playing games. What I am good at is working hard and persevering. I do not give up easily and I do not think that there is only one solution for any given problem. If elected I can promise you that I will work hard to address the needs of all members, to the very best of my abilities, within the context and constraints of the position.

I am actually out of town and away from the internet (unbelievable as that may sound, but I'm really going to try) as this posts, I am returning on September 7th and look forward to reading any and all responses upon my return. Every eligible comment (which means not spam and more than a Hello or hi or enter me) will be entered for a chance to win a copy of my ebook, Snowbound.

To find out more about MG BRADEN, visit:

www.mgbraden.com or her BLOG
I met Marcia the second time I attended the annual Moonlight & Magnolias conference put on each year by the lovely ladies of GRW. Her writing mirrors her personality...fresh and colorful. She is truly an amazing individual and a talented author. I'm so pleased to introduce her to you all and hope you enjoy getting to know her.

**Please comment for a chance to win a free ebook from Marcia. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on this blog Friday**

Where are you from?
Utica, NY

When and why did you begin writing?
I started in 2000 because I had finished reading everything associated with Laurel K. Hamilton and wanted another fix. Since there wasn't anything else out there I could find, I started writing my own.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I started putting in the hours and noticed that I didn't have much of a life because of it.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I'm a panster, mostly, although I will plot from time to time when I struggle with how a scene will play out.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing
Not really. I'm open to all styles or methods, but when it comes down to it, I always seem to go back to "old reliable" pansting.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I LOVE Kelley Armstrong. She was the first author who made me wonder if werewolves could really exist in our world today.

What was the hardest part of writing UNSTABLE ENVIRONMENT? The sex scenes. I'm usually not one for writing sex because I don't know where to put it in a book. Luckily, several opportunities came up during UE and I took advantage of them all. The last thing I want is two characters going at it while the killer is lurking outside the door.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Always make time to write. Even if that means stealing a few minutes to plot out a scene. It'll keep you focus on your work and there might come a time when you push through the "I hate this book" phase to "I love this book!"

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope I'm doing a good job and if I am, I'd love to hear about it. Don't be afraid because I love conversing with readers.

What can we expect to see next from you?
More on my werecheetahs and more urban fantasy. Hopefully, a paranormal YA in my future, too. ;-)


Pummeling footfalls pounded around them. Sinclair clutched Nahla and hunkered down behind a tree.

Several cheetahs stampeded through the underbrush, heading straight for the cottage. Sinclair’s heart sank as one led the way, followed by two more on its heels.

When the cheetahs passed within a few feet of them, Sinclair leapt out of her hiding place and shouted, “Rio! Runnnnnnn!”

Growls lit up the area in front of them as they crashed through the forest, paws skidding across the gravel driveway.

She couldn’t stay there knowing Rio was in danger, nor could she leave her niece alone in the woods. Who knew what other horrors lurked out there? Hoisting Nahla onto her hip, she forged ahead, prepared to live with the cost of her decision.

Sinclair burst through the woods on the side of the cottage, a few feet from the Pathfinder’s open door. It waited for her like a free offering. Fleeing to the SUV, she shoved Nahla in the passenger seat and got in behind her. Unlike the women in the movies, she had no problem with slamming the key into the ignition and starting the engine.

“Sinclair!” Rio shouted.

She lifted her head. Rio and Kyle left the heavy-metal man curled into the fetal position on the ground and came to the driver’s side. It dawned on her for the first time that the buzz-cut man and the cheetahs had disappeared. Could they have been the ones in the woods?

Sinclair triggered her window. Before she could say a word, Rio reached inside and pulled her in for a kiss.

“Are you two okay?” he asked, glancing at a frightened Nahla in the other seat.

Breathing hard, she replied, “We’re fine. But they’re out there, Rio. There are real monsters out there. I’m talking men turning into cheetahs!”

“I know,” he said, scanning the area and wrinkling his nose with a whiff. “I want you and Nahla to stay inside until I say it’s safe, understand?”

He knows? Sinclair couldn’t answer him. How did he know about the monsters lurking around the house? Did he know they would be paying him a visit? Funny, how he showed up at just the right time too.

Sinclair watched her niece as she sat on her knees and rocked back and forth in the seat. But it was the smile and the way Nahla looked at Rio that bothered her. “What are you smiling at? Aren’t you scared of the monsters?”

She shook her head. “No. Wee-oh like ‘em. But he’s diff-went. He help us. Not hurt us. Uncle Kyle too.”

“What do you mean like them?” She glanced at Rio who pointed toward two cheetahs who began stalking the front of the cottage. Where did they come from?

“Both kitties too. But they friendly kitties. I smell it, Auntie Sin. Can’t you?”


Paranormal author Marcia Colette was born and raised in a single-parent household in upstate New York. She graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a bachelors degree in biomedical engineering and a masters degree in information technology from American Intercontinental University. After a couple of moves from north to south to north, she is now living in the south again in the lovely state of North Carolina.

Unlike many authors, Marcia hadn’t discovered her love for reading until her late twenties. As it turned out, her tastes were very selective and different than most of the stuff her English teachers tried to shove down her throat. She has been a lover of the paranormal from her first horror movie and has never looked back.

Marcia is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Paranormal Mystery Writers, and Romance Writers of America.

The best place to find her is on her blog where she loves connecting with readers and other writers.

Conferences/conventions where sci-fi, fantasy, and horror reign supreme are a good bet, too, along with the occasional romance conference. Her website is www.marciacolette.com

In the last few weeks I've finished round one of my revisions, gotten an awesome cover, and I've been making some time for reading. I know, it's a shocker. It has been for me, too because I got way involved in the business of being a writer and mommy to take time to indulge in reading. I'm working on a better balance--I seem to always be working on a better balance.

Part of that balance is dealing with the business of my upcoming release. As a part of that, I created a book video. It's taken me a long time to come up with something that I'm happy with--I'm extremely picky about book videos--but I've done it. Finally last night I found a piece of music that I thought I loved for it. This evening when I got to my computer I realized that I still felt the same way about it. So, with some tweaks here and there, I have a video for my first book. I hope you enjoy it!

Seems like the recession isn't just affecting the bottom line--it's also affecting our minds and the way we view everything in our lives. Of course, for me, I've been teetering on the edge...well, I've been going through a transition for a while and with this strange lull, I'm realizing my goals have changed. It's been kind of stagnant when it comes to my projects and writing schedule but I am going to change all that. I've decided that I need to become more proactive so I'm going to crack the whip on myself!

Next week I'll be in Florida to take care of my mother who's getting knee replacement surgery. While I'm there for almost the entire month, I've made it a mission to write my butt off. There shouldn't be any distractions while I'm at the hospital. Basically I'll be living there, so I won't have any excuse except to write!

It's time to build and strengthen my career so I'm going to totally unleashing all the weeks of stifled creativity. After all, my book isn't going to write itself! I'm going to have to reach deep down in my soul and produce something spectacular. Time to make things happen and--at least at the end of the day--I'll finally feel like an author again...

**UPDATED: And the winner is...BRENDA! Congratulations on winning Julie's (aka B.H. Dark) eBook. Please email me at jaxcassidy@gmail.com to claim your prize.

Thanks for participating!**

I had met Julie Cohen during RWA conference a while ago and I always thought she was pretty cool but never had the opportunity to spend time with her. This year, I had the pleasure of sitting across from her at the Literacy for Life Signing in Washington, DC. We smiled and waved at each other and she even tossed me some chocolates. With her cool fashion sense, bright red streaks and laid back attitude, we just had to become friends! So, I’m very happy to introduce her to you all. She’s currently residing in the UK but she’s already making a splash in the US.

Julie also writes sexy alien abduction stories for Samhain Publishing under her alter ego B.H. Dark with author Kathy Love. There’s never enough books about sexy, edgy men from outer space, that’s for sure!

**Here's your chance to win her eBook CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. All you need to do is post a comment and we'll pick a name at random. Winner will be announced on Friday.**

Now, let’s officially welcome Julie, my friend from the other side of the pond, to Hooked on Romance!

Thank you, Jax! It was great to catch up with you again in DC and I’m so pleased you invited me here to Hooked on Romance.

You’ve written quite a few books for Harlequin as well as some single titles that have a fun and unique, almost chick-lit style voice. Was it a difficult jump from the structured Harlequin romances to your current projects?

I’ve been making the transition from category romance to chick-lit/women’s fiction for a few years now, and to be honest it’s both exhilarating and scary. I love writing for Harlequin, but there were so many things I wanted to write about that just weren’t going to fit in a category romance novel. So I was lucky to have a single title romance accepted for a new romance imprint in the UK, Little Black Dress, when it was just starting out. And my editor there has been wonderful at encouraging me to spread my wings. My books have been getting longer and longer (and some might say, stranger and stranger) and I’ve been working on structuring more complex stories that have a lot of romance, sure, but also deal with friendship, family, career, and very important things like Star Trek and cardboard Wookies.

The B. H. Dark book, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, on the other hand, is just a pure sex romp. That was enormous fun to write, pleasure from beginning to end. I especially loved using all those dirty words!

I am sure sci-fi fans are going to love your current release, GIRL FROM MARS. Can you tell us a little bit about the book and provide an excerpt for our readers?

Philomena Desdemona Brown (Fil for short) is an artist for the long-running comic book Girl from Mars. She’s a geek, a tomboy, and a misfit with blue hair. She spends the rare times when she’s not drawing with her only friends, three similarly misfittish men, watching Star Trek and X-Files reruns and arguing about who’s the best super hero ever.

One day, though, one of her friends falls in love, and suddenly isn’t around any more. Stung by the rejection, Fil and her remaining two friends take a vow (in Klingon) to forsake all romantic relationships and stick together.

But changes are afoot at Girl from Mars—including a handsome new writer who seems determined to make unwanted changes in the comic, and in Fil’s life.

It’s a fun, funny book about friendship, love and comics and I absolutely loved writing it.

Here’s an excerpt from when Fil meets an attractive stranger, by accidentally switching coffees with him in her favourite cafĂ©:

“I‘m not sick or anything.”

It was an American accent, and it was right next to me again. I opened my eyes and he was standing beside my table.

“Uh,” I said. “What?”

“I thought you might be worried after drinking from my cup, that you might have caught something. So I thought I’d reassure you that I’m not sick.”

“Um. Well. Thank you.”

He stood there as if he were expecting me to say something else. But what would I say? Sorry I was staring at you, it’s just that you’re handsome and I can’t help drawing you, you know, just as an exercise?

So I was quiet. He cleared his throat a bit.

“I’m Dan.” He held out his hand to me. He had a broad palm, but not square or clumsy. A deep-grooved life line, and a broken love line. I looked at it.

“Like I said, I’m not contagious,” he said. “Not at the moment, anyway.”

“Oh.” I shook his hand, which was what he’d meant for me to do all along. I noticed how small and scrubby my hand looked, how untidy the nails, how smudged with pencil.

“What’s your name?” he prompted.

“Philomena.” Should I ask him to sit down, though I couldn’t imagine anything more embarrassing?

“That’s an unusual name.”

I nodded. My parents were both university lecturers in literature. I was lucky I wasn’t named Eustacia Vye.

“Do you live around here?” he asked.

“No, I work nearby.”

He nodded. I nodded back. Was it my turn to say something?

“Well, I’ve got to—” I began at the same time that he said, “Do you mind if I sit down?”

“—Be going,” I finished.

“Oh. All right. Nice meeting you, Philomena.”

“Um. Yeah.”

I pushed aside the rest of my coffee and stood up, even though I didn’t have to be going, even though I could really use that coffee, because Daniel’s smile made me all hot and twitchy, like a feverish hamster.

I should’ve drunk the decaf, because then he’d never have talked to me. He could have ignored me like every other attractive man in the world usually did, which was really for the best because I was such a fool when I felt this way.

“See you around,” he said as I left.

I hope not, I thought.

Where do you get your creative ideas? What inspired GIRL FROM MARS?

I got the idea for GIRL FROM MARS from reading comic books. I love them, but a lot of them seem to be very male-centred. I thought, what would it be like for a female comic book artist in a male world? I love writing about outsiders, so she appealed to me immediately. I pictured her, probably a bit of a tomboy, a lot of a geek. She’d have male friends, and she’d be uncertain of how to act like a “proper” woman. Then I thought of her name—Philomena Desdemona Brown—and suddenly, I had her. Because she feels like an alien herself, I had the title, too, GIRL FROM MARS, which is the title of one of my favourite songs, by Ash. It’s also a play on the title of the self-help book MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS.

The rest of the book then wrote itself...er, I wish.

Your website announces this year is the year of the robots, can you tell us more about this? It sounds intriguing!

Ahh, well it’s because I’ve got two books that are vaguely science-fictiony out this year. GIRL FROM MARS has a Dalek in it, and I was lucky enough to have my photo taken next to a Dalek when I was visiting the BBC. (Note: Daleks are evil robots from the Dr Who television series.) Alas, there are no robots in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, unless you count a big vibrator. Anyway, robots are cool. I think C3PO is hot.

Let’s have a little fun, after all, this blog is about being easily entertained….so, what is the most daring thing you’ve ever done and did you get caught?

I said the word “cunnilingus” on national television once. They edited it out.

Well, I won't edit you out because I should have known what I was getting into by asking that question! LOL

If you were a lipstick color, what would it be called and why?

Um...I know I should should come up with something like “Siren Temptation” or “Red Devil” or “Crimson Sin” but sadly I’m just not that clever or sexy. So how about “Funky Fuchsia” as that appears to be my hair colour at the moment?

What projects should we look out for in your future?

My next book is called NINA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF GLOOM. It’s the story of what happens when a typical shoe-obsessed chick-lit heroine suddenly loses everything and is forced to live in a run-down gothic mansion with spiders and a brooding, nocturnal upstairs neighbour. And no shoes. It should be out in 2010.

Any parting words for new authors? For our readers?

I think the best advice I heard recently was what Janet Evanovich said at the RWA National conference. She said “Don’t save anything for the next book. Put everything you’ve got into this one.”

I hold her personally responsible for the midnight stolen-horseradish-dealing, crop-circle-creating, airplane-flying scene in my latest manuscript.


Growing up in small-town Maine, Julie Cohen dreamed of doing three things: moving to England, writing books, and marrying Paul McCartney. Well, the last one didn’t work out, but she’s accomplished the first two, and has become an international bestseller with her sexy Harlequin romances and her “funny, clever” romantic comedies from Headline (UK). HIS FOR THE TAKING was shortlisted for the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association 2008 Romance Prize, and HONEY TRAP took first place in the 2009 Romance Writers Ink’s More than Magic contest. She lives in England with her rock god husband, their small son, and about a million guitars. Her website is http://www.julie-cohen.com.

Last night I hosted a party at my house for a friend who has started her own home-based business. It was nice to take a break from my edits and sit down with a group of women and just enjoy some good conversation and laughter.

I must have sampled the libations a little too many times because I woke up with a monster headache that won't quit.

Not one to give up easily, I gave myself a stern lecture, put the coffee on and sat down to tackle my work.

I've developed a love/hate relationship with the book I'm working on. Adding word count and additional scenes to a project you once thought was a done deal can prove a daunting task. However, every time I change something I smile, because I like what I've done and I know that I can only benefit in the end. So I'm determined to see it through.

My son starts next week. I can't believe that summer is over already but I have to admit that I'm a little happy. Starting on Monday, I'll have at least seven hours of uninterrupted time to do nothing but write.

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone...


I can't believe how screwed up I am with the days of the weeks. I've been busy booking a flight home in September. You see, my mom is having knee replacement surgery and so, being the only one in the family with no children, I agreed to stay with my mom at the hospital for 2 weeks and then an additional week to help her with the recovery process. I'm not new to staying at hospitals as I had spent most of my life in them as well as during those times when my dad had been hospitalized. Doesn't sound like a good track record for health in my family but I can attest that I am as healthy as can be.

I spent the day running errands and taking care of all my clients before my trip. I'll be lucky if I can get wifi in the hospital but I am at least excited at the prospect of being forced to write for at least 3 weeks. I will most definitely have to plan for guest bloggers while I'm MIA. So, with school starting up real soon, I'm sure many parents are excited about dropping their kidlets off and having a full day to do the things they couldn't all summer. :)

While we're so busy with life, I think it's important for women to indulge. Just do it. Eat chocolates, go to a spa, get a pedicure...whatever the heck pleases you because we spend so much time on others that we often forget we need to focus on ourselves. I hope that everyone will have the opportunity to take an hour or two out of your day to do something special for yourself.

Tell me, if you could do one thing to pamper yourself...what would it be? The sky's the limit....

I think I'd take Mr. Jax to a secluded tropical island called Little Palm Island off the coast of Key West...It is the most amazing place and I've been eying it for a while ever since I was browsing the internet for vacation destinations. It's going to be a big decision between this type of secluded getaway and St. Lucia...I'm definitely going to write this down as a goal!

All sorts of great things are happening recently. The kids are going to visit grandparents for the week, the first round of edits are done and turned into my editor, school starts soon, I'm on the coming-soon page at www.SamhainPublishing.com, and I have an official release date for Sounds to Die By!

So mark your calendars for October 13th! I’m planning an online celebration because this is not only my release day, it’s my 15th wedding anniversary.

Also, be sure to swing by Long and Short Reviews today for the trivia question of hte day that will get you entered in a drawing for a Sony eReader! Here's the link (http://longandshortreviews.com/) and at least one of today's questions will lead you to my website.

Have a great week!

**UPDATED: First off, CONGRATULATIONS, JENNIFER LEELAND! You just won a copy of FLAWED. Please email me to claim your prize :)

EMBER CASE is an awesome writer and equally awesome in person! I’m happy to have her visit our blog today. Besides being a writer of HOT romance, she’s also taking on a proactive role by running for Region 3 representative as Karen Steele at the next RWA elections. I’m interested in what she has to say about taking that leap into romance politics as well as learning more about her current release!

And as a bonus, here's your chance to win an eBook of FLAWED. Just post a question or comment to be entered in a chance to win OR tell us what you'd be willing to give up to make your dreams come true. **A winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on this blog on Friday**

First off, what made you decide to run for Region 3 and why?

I believe very strongly in the principles and goals that RWA was founded with. The organization has a history of members who supported each other, working together to develop their writing and the genre they loved. The 37 original members of RWA came together and really blazed a new trail.

But publishing has gone through some amazing changes over the three decades since RWA was founded. Changes in how books are published have affected every publishing house. Advances, print runs, and marketing have all felt the impact. These changes are still coming, and the ripples they create are impacting every aspect of publication.

It’s going to take strong leadership to continue guiding RWA as the organization faces new challenges and explores developing opportunities. I believe the organization needs board members committed to educating themselves on where Romance Writers of America came from, and looking with sharp eyes at where insightful and balanced leadership can take us. My own enthusiasm for hard work, open mind to new approaches, and belief that RWA can continue to develop and grow have led me to run for office.

You’ve been really active in the online chapters including the Passionate Ink and ESPAN, what drives you and why is volunteering for these efforts so important to you?

I have to credit most of it to what one of my chapter mates and fellow officers calls “helium arm”. Some things I think I have a natural skill for – organization, and technical application especially. But when I see something that needs to be done and no one else is jumping in, I just can’t seem to stop my arm from floating up in the air to say “I’ll do it”. It doesn’t mean that I think I can do something better than anyone else, but that I believe something needs to be done, and I’d rather learn on my feet to make it happen than see it not get done at all.

Especially with Passionate Ink, I came into the chapter at a time when the chapter was just finding its feet, and deciding what type of organization it was going to be. It was really important to me that it be a place where authors found total support. There is absolutely no entitlement given to any author at Passionate Ink based on what she (or he) writes, or which publishers our authors write for. Just complete support, encouragement, and a willingness to share knowledge and industry tips. We have several hundred members who know that even if they can’t tell their own mother what they write, they can tell us! When you write in a market that is frowned on or even vocally scorned by others, the confidence that support gives you can make all the difference.

ESPAN is another amazing chapter that is finding its feet right when it is most needed. It has undergone refocusing in the past year as new, strongly focused board members have come in and refused to let the chapter be thought irrelevant. The current board members, especially President Kristen Painter and VP MG Braden (who is also running for a seat on the board – she’s running for Region 4) are amazing, strong willed women who aren’t afraid to shake things up if that’s what is needed to get the job done. Like with Passionate Ink, ESPAN’s members are all part of different “niches” in romance writing – in ESPAN, they’re all either published electronically or by a small press, or they’re someone who wants to support those writers. Some of the most knowledgeable minds in digital and small romance press are members in ESPAN, and I think the chapter can have a strong voice in educating writers looking for information in these markets.

I’m really excited about your new release, can you give us some details and an excerpt for our readers?

Oh wow, this has been an amazing summer! Flawed released from Samhain a few weeks ago, and I was amazed by the feedback from readers on this one who say they love the genre bending of high fantasy and erotic romance. There are elves and magic and danger and of course that happily ever after at the end. My heroine has been stripped of her birthright – the magic that would let her rule her kingdom. But two very special heroes come into her life just when she needs them most. I love this line from the end of the official blurb – “Nothing is as it seems in the Bright Court, and their one night of exquisite pleasure could trap them all in a web of mortal danger…”

Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene –


The word echoed in Emilia’s ears as she slipped unnoticed from the quiet hall outside the receiving room. Futile tears unexpectedly spilled from her eyes and she fled blindly down the palace halls. But she couldn’t outrun the venomous words she had overheard spilling from her stepmother’s lips.

“With no Stone of Power, she isn’t much use to her father here at court. That sliver of dead mineral on her forehead is every bit as useless as the time she wastes with the mages. King Vayle has agreed to send her away if the stone still has not awoken after her birthmoon has passed.” Satisfaction had been clearly evident in Gisa’s voice. Emilia had lingered in the hallway, unnoticed by the ladies gathered just inside the doorway.

“Where would the king send her?” The question came from one of the handful of women clustered around Gisa like so many vultures around a fresh carcass. Gossip was the currency of the court and word that the princess could soon effectively be banished was high coin indeed.

“Does it truly matter? To the deserts of the south likely. There are many clan lords that will gladly take a princess of the forest in handfast. Several of the clansmen we welcomed tonight have expressed an interest in such a union. Even with one so flawed.”

Her father’s consort had never hidden her distaste for Emilia. In the dozen years since Gisa had seduced her way into Vayle’s bed, she’d driven every wedge possible between the king and his daughter. What had begun as a somewhat-discreet power play had developed into a dislike for Emilia that her stepmother no longer tried to hide. Now her stepmother was openly reveling in the thought that soon, Emilia could be removed from the court for good. Gisa was not from Silverhaven herself, and could not claim the title of Queen to the Bright Elf people. But she hungered for every scrap of power she could claw from her marriage to the king.

Anger, humiliation and pain screamed in her heart for release. Her father was nearing the end of his mortal life. The man who had once carried her on his shoulders and taught her to love the forest he ruled had faded away to a shell of the striking figure he once had been. Even the Stone of Power that had once pulsed between his eyes had begun to dim. If Gisa succeeded in having Emilia removed from court, how long would it be before the king’s consort ruled the council, the palace fortress of Silverhaven, even the great forest of Silvertop, queen in all but name?

The noise of the court’s revelry was fading behind her as she rounded another twisting turn in the maze that formed the palace halls. With fumbling fingers, Emilia pushed open the next door she came to and slipped soundlessly into the shadow-filled room. Closing it behind her, she leaned her overheated face against the wood’s comforting coolness. Her escape may not have been elegant, but with any luck it had gone unnoticed. Taking a deep breath and holding it in, she listened for signs anyone had noticed her departure and followed her.

She heard nothing but the rapid pounding of her heart and the shallow breaths she forced into her burning lungs. The tears she refused to let fall were blinked away, and she swallowed against the bitter taste of defeat that lingered in their wake. Satisfied her escape from the court receiving line had not been seen, Emilia sagged against the door in relief.

Attempting to calm herself from the ugly scene she had fled, she rolled her flushed face against the coolness of the wood. First one side, then the other, before she let the warming surface press against the useless dark rock that rested in her forehead. There was a distant sensation of pressure where the stone met her flesh, an unwanted reminder of her most obvious shortcoming. The stone that should have been a source of great magical power was nothing more than a daily reminder that she was, indeed, as flawed as a princess could be.

A low moan from the room behind her jerked her from her thoughts. Spinning around to find the source, Emilia stared openmouthed in surprise at the scene before her.

Gods alive.

Firelight cast a dim light over a couple near the fireplace. A large male body reclined across the brocade cushions of a finely carved settee, one long leg propped against the back of the small sofa and one braced on the floor. His thighs were spread wide, giving her a clear view of the naked muscled chest that rose from a slender waist. A cream-colored shirt of the finest shadowsilk was unbuttoned across his skin, framing the sculpted muscles and smooth ebony skin in light.

His head was thrown back in abandoned pleasure, allowing shadows to flicker across the planes of his face. A rising flame threw him into light, and then his features were cast again into the shadows. Through the haze of shock she felt a stab of recognition. Rorek Northmark, Lord Magician of Darkknell, the visiting ambassador and blood cousin to King Torek of the Shadow Elf, was sprawled in lusty abandon as she had never seen him before.

On the floor by his side, a male Shadow Elf knelt in sensual service.

So, how tumultuous was your writing journey? Was your family supportive with this career choice?

I really see myself as just barely having taken the beginning steps on the road of this career, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate so far. My first romance was accepted by Samhain Publishing just over a year after I stared writing, and they have been an amazing publisher to work with. Heidi Moore, my editor, and Executive Editor Angela James are both the kind of smart, articulate, and educated women that make you sit up and listen when they tell you something. My family has been hugely supportive too. One of my sisters is my first reader on everything – Flawed was dedicated to her. And my husband is an amazing man. He believes in me, and never lets me down when I need him.

How many books do you write a year and what have you seen the most results in doing promotions?

My writing schedule has grown over the three years since I started writing, so I can’t say there’s been a “standard” year yet. My goal for this year is to finish 3 novellas and two novels. Since January I’ve finished 2 novellas and am well into the first novel, so I’m on track so far.

Promotion for novellas is a funny animal. Since electronic novellas are only sold online, there aren’t any book signings to set up (unless you end up in a print anthology). But interacting with readers is still the key. So I do a lot of online blogging, twittering, and reader loop type discussion. A lot of it I don’t even consider “promotion” while I’m doing it – I’m sure not out there saying “Buy my book!” every day. But I’m making friends, forming bonds with readers, and if that relationship makes someone more interested in my books when they release then it’s a happy bonus. If it doesn’t, I’ve still met some amazing people on the journey.

Do you have a posse you write with? Do you suggest critique partners or beta readers?

A posse! I want a posse. I really want to be the quirky sidekick though, the one standing off to the side making snarky comments and jumping in at the last minute to bail the lead out of trouble. I think I’ll get more writing time that way.

No, my schedule has kept me from finding an in-person writing posse, but that’s one thing I love about the internet. I can find an online group at any time of the day. There’s Romance Divas, which I joined even before I found RWA – the Divas are amazing! My RWA chapters run various writing challenges, which can really help with cranking out some pages. And I’ve got a half dozen close writer friends on my IM lists that live everywhere from Australia to Great Britain; they’re my kick in the ass when I need it.

I don’t like to submit chapters to critique partners as I’m still writing, because I’m enough of a pantser that by the time I write the last chapter I’ve always got huge structural changes that need to be made. I’d feel guilty for wasting someone’s time if I’d had them critique it, then those pages ended up in the trash bin. But once I’m at The End I can’t imagine submitting something without having it critiqued. Tunnel vision on a manuscript can really keep you blind to some big flaws that are obvious to fresh eyes.

Do you ever run out of ideas and are you ever afraid that you will?

I think, of all possible horrible things that could happen to a writer, this one would be way down there as far as how likely it is that it could happen to me. I’ve got a “plots” folder from just the last 3 years with over 30 developed ideas. There’s another folder with even more ideas that haven’t made it to plot status yet. I’ve got the usual writer’s tools of a notebook by the bed, another in the car, one by every seat I frequent in the house – I write down those “What if’s” as soon as they pop in my head. “What if” is the seed to everything for me. I can’t imagine those words never popping into my head again, but even if they stopped I’ve already got more ideas than I can ever write.

What is the most extreme sport you’ve ever done, or adventure you’ve ever taken, and what did you learn about yourself?

I love caving. Spelunking. Rappelling down over a hundred feet of rope into a dark, sometimes muddy crevice in the ground, and entering a world that relatively few human eyes have ever seen. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of caves in Florida. When I lived in Alabama, I was part of a group that went out almost every weekend and explored some amazing places. It’s been much too long since I strapped on a helmet and climbing boots, but I have amazing memories of those adventures and would jump at the chance to do it again. Having to work as a team, but at the same time having to depend on my own strength to get back up that rope at the end of a long day, was a powerful feeling.

Let’s have a little fun. If you were a nail polish, what would it be called and why?

Hidden spice. Because looking at me you would see a typical PTA mom, and you’d never know just how much spice there is under my surface. Dark coral color, like the sweet ripe flesh near the pit of a peach.

What’s can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I’ve got a holiday release titled My Christmas Wish coming from Samhain on December 1st! This is a first for me in a few ways – it’s my first Christmas theme story, first straight contemporary with no paranormal or fantasy elements, and first straight man/woman story. Also my first story set in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and my first Sexy Cajun hero, and my first… ok stop me now, I love this story and could go on from now until December 1st about it.

Any parting words for new authors? For our readers?

Not just authors, but everyone – whatever your dream is, don’t let it go. If you believe in yourself, have something that you want bad enough to sacrifice all the unimportant things (I’ve given up almost all my TV time, and sleeping in on the weekends) then stop sitting around wishing “if only” and go make it happen. Start with that first page, or that first brush stroke, or that first step on the track, whatever the beginning step is to making your dream happen. And then don’t let it go. Don’t look back. Believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who believe in you as well. Hold your head up high and even if you can’t quite see your goal, tell yourself it’s right there over the horizon, and keep moving toward it until you can see it, until it’s really right there in your reach.

Just believe in yourself.


Ember Case was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the second of five children. Life in a large family taught her that everyone is the hero in their own life story – lesson one for the writer.

After attending college in the deep south and doing time working in the IT department at a Fortune 500 corporation, she traded in her business suits and heels for jeans and bare feet. Today in addition to her writing career Ember is a graphic artist lucky enough to work from home, and has been a small business owner for over 15 years. She has spent most of her life in the south, from Kentucky to Alabama, and now lives with her husband and their two children near the sandy beaches in Florida.

Published in short length romance since 2007, Ember has 2 published romances with Samhain Publishing, and is currently under contract with them for more.

To learn more, visit www.embercase.com

I got some pretty bad news this week so I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. In addition to all that, I've got to add about twenty thousand words to a novel I'd already written THE END to.

I've been listening to Journey as I write today, so I thought I'd leave you with this.

All The Best......

I'm working on my edits for Sounds To Die By, and I need some help. It's going to have to be fast help (like today kind of fast). Here's what I'm thinking, if you can toss out some ideas on something bad that can happen to a woman in her college years, I'm not looking for horribly tragic or a mild bad breakup, it would be great. This would need to be something that she can get through with the help of an awesome friend who's there to pick her up and help her along. Something that would forge a really strong bond between two women.

If I use your idea in the story I will mention you in the dedication and you'll get an ARC of the book when it's ready. What do you say? Can you help me?

Post as many ideas as you can come up with by the end of the day and we'll go from there. Thank you in advance for helping me in my time of editing need. :)

First Page Lightning: Adding Power with Rhetorical Devices
By Margie Lawson

A big Thank You to Nikki for inviting me to be her guest today.

Nikki knows I have a serious topic I want to mention, my fundraiser for ALS. My cousin (pictured with me here) has Lou Gehrig’s disease and I am committed to helping him raise $100,000 to support ALS research.

Donate $50 on my cousin’s ALS web page, and you could win a prize valued at $450 each!
1. 75 page Triple Pass Deep Edit
2. Registration for a three day Immersion Master Class

The drawing is AUGUST 9th.

Check out the details on my web site: www.MargieLawson.com

So far, only 14 people have entered the drawing. And I’m drawing two names. We’ll have TWO BIG WINNERS!

The odds are in your favor, big time!

Please join me, support ALS research, and you’ll have TWO CHANCES to WIN BIG. Thank you.

Now – we get to dive into the fun!

First Page Lightning: Adding Power with Rhetorical Devices
By Margie Lawson

You all know the three-second-rule. Right?

When you meet someone new, that’s how long it takes to form an impression. That all important first impression. That hard to reverse first impression. That colors-your-perception-forever first impression.

Three seconds.

Look. Blink. Smile.

Your three seconds are up.

Writers have a similar challenge to make a positive first impression on agents, editors, and readers. They have a first sentence challenge, a first paragraph challenge, a first page challenge . . .

The first few pages of most novels are the most rewritten. Writers scrutinize those pages. They revise, rethink, rework, rewrite, reject-and-start-over.

Having analyzed the first several chapters (and beyond) of over a thousand novels, I know what components add power to openings. Many writers overlook one of those options--the power of rhetorical devices.

My research reveals that some New York Times bestsellers almost always use the more obscure rhetorical devices in their first few pages. Harlan Coben almost always uses ANAPHORA in the first few pages of his books. In some books, he uses anaphora in his opening paragraph and several more times in the first chapter.

Lisa Gardner and Stephen White often use anaphora and epistrophe in their opening chapters too.

In my Deep Editing course, I teach writers how to use THIRTY rhetorical devices. I’ll introduce three of these devices in this blog.

We’ll dive into ANAPHORA first.

ANAPHORA – Using the same word or phrase to START three (or more) consecutive phrases or sentences.

From Harlan Coben’s NO SECOND CHANCE, opening paragraph:
I know that I lost a lot of blood.
I know that a second bullet skimmed the top of my head . . .
I know that my heart stopped.

Two more examples from the first chapter of NO SECOND CHANCE:
I remembered waking up that morning . . .
I remembered looking in on Tara.
I remembered turning the knob . . .

I longed for the numb.
I longed for the comatose state of the hospital.
I longed for that IV bag . . .

Here’s an example of using anaphora to start phrases. It’s from Harlen Coben’s THE WOODS, Chapter 1:

I have never seen my father cry before—not when his own father died, not when my mother ran off and left us, not even when he first heard about my sister, Camille.

Look what Harlan Coben accomplished in that line. He slipped in backstory. But with anaphora, it’s fast and smooth and intriguing. Here are two examples of ANAPHORA, from Allison Brennan, FEAR NO EVIL, Chapter 1. It’s two paragraphs.

Fourteen years ago she wanted the exact same thing as Lucy--to get out from under her parents thumb. But that was before she'd decided to become a cop. Before she realized how truly dangerous the city could be. Before she realized that justice wasn't always swift, that the system didn't always work.

That some murders would never be solved.

Stephen White used anaphora eight times in BLINDED. The example below is from Page 1:

It may sound goofy, but I also believed that on good days I could smell the spark before I smelled the fire and I could taste the poison before it reached my lips. On good days I could stand firm between tenderness and evil. On good days I could make a difference.

OKAY! What makes ANAPHORA powerful?

The rhythm . . .
The auditory echo . . .
The repetition of the message . . .

Anaphora speaks to the reader’s subconscious.

Using anaphora makes the read imperative.

Let’s look at another rhetorical device. EPISTROPHE. This one is even more obscure than anaphora. I’ve found 20 times more examples of anaphora, than epistrophe. Yet, it’s equally powerful.

And it’s as fun to write as anaphora. I used epistrophe to draw you into this blog. It’s in my second paragraph, and in my sixth paragraph.

EPISTROPHE – It’s the opposite of anaphora. Using the same word or phrase to END three (or more) consecutive phrases or sentences.

When you meet someone new, that’s how long it takes to form an impression. That all important first impression. That hard to reverse first impression. That colors-your-perception-forever first impression.

They have a first sentence challenge, a first paragraph challenge, a first page challenge . . .

Here are more examples of EPISTROPHE from bestselling authors:

From Michael Connelly, the opening lines from THE BRASS VERDICT:

Everybody lies.

Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie.

A trial is a contest of lies. And everybody in the courtroom knows this. The judge knows this. Even the jury knows this. They come into the building knowing they will be lied to. They take their seats in the box and agree to be lied to.

The trick if you are sitting at the defense table is to be patient. To wait. Not just for any lie. But for the one you can grab on to and forge like hot iron into a sharpened blade. You then use that blade to rip the case open and spill its guts on the floor.

That’s my job, to forge the blade. To sharpen it. To use it without mercy or conscience. To be the truth in a place where everybody lies.

Here are the first four paragraphs of HIDE by Lisa Gardner.

My father explained it to me the first time when I was seven years old. The world is a system. School is a system. Neighborhoods are a system. Towns, governments, any large group of people. For that matter, the human body is a system, enabled by smaller, biological subsystems.

Criminal justice, definitely a system. The Catholic Church—don’t get him started. Then there’s organized sports, the United Nations, and of course, the Miss America Pageant.

“You don’t have to like the system,” he lectured me. “You don’t have to believe in it or agree with it. But you must understand it. If you can understand the system, you will survive.”

The family is a system.

LISA GARDNER used the word SYSTEM eight times. Plus—one use of SUBSYSTEM.

She nails the reader again and again and again with that regimented word, system. And she brings it home with her last sentence: a spotlighted, stand alone sentence.

The family is a system.

There’s a page break after that line—then the story kicks in with a vengeance. ;-))

I’ll share one more rhetorical device – SYMPLOCE.

SYMPLOCE uses a combination of anaphora and epistrophe – in the same sentences.

The SYMPLOCE example below is from Christa Allan. I met Christa when she attended one of my full day Master Classes. This is the prologue for her recently contracted first book, WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS.

PROLOGUE, by Christa Allan:

If I had known children break on the inside and the cracks don’t surface until years later, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known some parents don’t live to watch grandchildren grow, I would have taken more pictures and been more careful with my words.

If I had known couples can be fragile and want what they are unprepared to give or unwilling to take, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known teaching lasts a lifetime, and students don’t speak of their tragic lives, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known my muscles and organs and bones and skin are not lifetime guarantees that when broken, snagged, unstitched or unseemly, can not be returned for replacement, I would have been kinder to the shell that prevents my soul from leaking out.

If I had known I would live over half my life and have to look at photographs to remember my mother adjusting my birthday party hat so that my father could take the picture that sliced the moment out of time- if I had known, if I had known- I would have been more careful with my life.

KUDOS TO CHRISTA ALLAN! I’m looking forward to reading WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS. It will be released in the spring of 2010.

With anaphora, epistrophe, and symploce—once you’ve established the repetition three consecutive times, you can play with it. You don’t have to stop at three. You can have a sentence or two following the last repetition, that don’t carry the repetition. The last sentence could pick up the repetition and end with a rhetorical punch.

Anaphora, epistrophe, and symploce are three of the thirty rhetorical devices I cover in my Deep Editing course. Deep Editing has three power-loaded tracks: Rhetorical Devices, the EDITS System (deeper than in ECE), and more deep editing goodies like my killer Five Question Scene Check List.

This blog focused on using rhetorical devices to add power to first pages. They can be used to add power anywhere. Writers could use this stylistic power at the opening of any scene, at turning points, before a page break, at the end of a chapter.


If you have an example of an obscure rhetorical device in your work, please post it.

If you’d like to write an example of an obscure rhetorical device, one you may decide to use in your WIP, please post it!

Post a comment – or a ‘Hi Margie!’ - and YOU COULD WIN A LECTURE PACKET!

For every 25 people who post a comment today, I will draw a name for a Lecture Packet giveaway, a $22 value. Winners may choose a Lecture Packet from one of my six on-line courses:
1. Empowering Characters' Emotions
2. Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More
3. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
4. Powering Up Body Language in Real Life:
Projecting a Professional Persona When Pitching and Presenting
5. Digging Deep into the EDITS System
6. Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors

Margie Lawson—psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter—developed innovative editing systems and deep editing techniques for writers.

Her Deep Editing tools are used by all writers, from newbies to NYT Bestsellers. She teaches writers how to edit for psychological power, how to hook the reader viscerally, how to create a page-turner.

Over four thousand writers have learned Margie’s psychologically-based deep editing material. In the last five years, she presented forty-eight full day Master Classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Lectures from each of Margie’s on-line courses are offered as Lecture Packets through Paypal from her web site. For more information on courses, lecture packets, master classes, and 3-day Immersion Master Class, visit: www.MargieLawson.com

I've been trying to make a deadline but I'm having trouble concentrating.

You see I'm dealing with memories of home. Don't get me wrong, I love my life here with my amazing husband and son. However, over the years my visits to Jamaica have been happening less frequently so it breaks my heart to leave.

Instead of making my daily word count, I find myself looking at pictures and wishing I were still with my parents and everyone else I left behind.

That's why it is so important to surround yourself with people that are always there to support and lift you up. My hubby and son have been doing everything to lift my spirits, showering loads of love and affection on me, they truly are my rock. And, yesterday an unexpected phone call from Little Fabulous One had me grinning from ear to ear. That chick is like family to me and I miss her soooooo much!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these various pics. They are from my family's home in Jamaica.

It's officially been approved, which means I can share it! The artist did an awesome job of capturing the mood of the story. I hope you like it. I'm completely digging it.

It takes more than your eyes to see.

As writers, we have the ability to use our eyes in so many different ways. Not only do we have to see what's in front of us, we also have to see with our minds to create a story that readers will visualize. Sounds kind of confusing, doesn't it? Well, when I write a story, I like to see it like a film running in my head. I see the actors, the setting, the action. I see everything that makes sense to me and if the film appears to have something out of whack in it, I slice it out. Like any good film editor, I have to make sure every segment fits. Of course, as writers we tend to horde all the scenes because we believe they are perfect...unfortunately, that's a flaw we should give up. Writers should be able to step back and view the movie in our heads and make decisions that will be best for our story. The way we describe everything with the use of the senses (touch, smell, taste, see), the believability factor is strengthened. I'm one of those writers who like every sentence to flow. Like poetry, like literature doused in scotch where the words run across the paper and the sharp smell permeates your soul.

Often we think we are seeing the big picture but, in fact, we are blind to the obvious. We get stifled easily and we forget that our senses are more alert than the average person because we rely on every detail to make our stories jump off the page. It's when we don't think we are capable of comprehending, or hinder our ability to process what we've seen, we are only making an obstacle for ourselves. Don't let fears control the natural vision because our readers will know it.

I see more than with my eyes. I see things from my memory, a song I've heard, a painting that stares out at me behind glass walls. When you are able to see beyond what is apparent, you're so much closer to understanding where to start. It's always difficult to begin a project but if you allow your eyes to lead you through the scenes, they'll turn out so much richer...

Well, tomorrow I start working on my new paranormal project and this will be one of the most intense challenges of my life. This is where I must trust my eyes to show me all the things that I hope will captivate the audience. It's dark, it's dangerous, and it's darn sexy...

Now, for all you writing out there, open your eyes and really SEE!