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Do witches have a bad name?

tarot-cards-magic-fortune-telling-gypsy-esotericDo witches have a bad name in romance?

I’m just wondering because while we had a vampire craze and a werewolf craze, which merged into a shifter craze, we haven’t really had a witch craze.

If you think about how paranormal romance became so big in pop culture, it was through Harry Potter, a witch, so it’s odd that we haven’t had a huge craze of romances featuring witches. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some fantastic romances about witches, we absolutely have. But none have inspired other writers to jump on the bandwagon and write more witch stories.

Is it because the category is so broad? Witches are, after all, simply people with the ability to wield magic. That could be mean anything.

They could be hocus-pocus witches who need a magic tool (like a wand) to create the magic. They could simmering witches who need magical ingredients (snail’s toenails and eye of newt) to create potions that do magical things. They could be innately magical where they just need to think or will something to have and *poof* it happens. Or they could be elemental magic, which is quite popular—although it too has not seen a craze like the vampires and shifters—but it’s a really fun area to explore, tapping into the Earth’s natural energies to control magic.

So, is that the problem? There’s just too much choice? Too many variants?

Personally, I love witches. I find the possibilities a wonderful opportunity to create something new and different. And, as you might have guessed, I really love bringing in an elemental aspect. The Earth itself is so powerful and full of wonder that it’s not a huge leap to think about harnessing that power into something magical.

As I’m working right now on the fourth book of my magical series, I wish that I had more books to read that featured witches. Naturally, with too few books in the sub-genre that I like, I feel compelled to write them myself. But if you know of any good books that feature witches, I’d appreciate it if you could share them below.

 

Expertise

I’m in the process of reviewing my editors comments on a new short story/novella. It’s the bonus story in my Merry Men Box Set #2 (which will be available December 15th).

box-set-2In Box Set #1, I included the story of how the parents of the hero in one of the books in the box set met, so I thought it would be fun to do that again. The problem is that to write this story I had to learn all about the treaty negotiations between France and Spain at the beginning of the Napoleonic War. That would have been fine. I love history. But I didn’t just have to learn what happened, I had to figure out how a negotiator would have actually conducted his negotiations. I had to figure out all of the nuances in this delicate task and the underlying political consequences of each move.

I had to learn all about the politics at the time and how treaties are actually negotiated! Ugh! I am not a politician. I don’t like politics all that much. It’s really slippery stuff. But in order to write a convincing, authentic story I had to have an idea of how these things worked and how people who engage in politics (and treaty negotiations) think. Once I did that, I had to make sure that the story wasn’t actually about the politics (because, lets face it, you don’t want to be reading a dry recounting of a pretty minor treaty negotiation, you want to be reading a romance novel!), but about the people. studying

It made me start thinking… as writers, we actually have to know a lot about things work. If we’re going to have someone murdered in a book, we have to know exactly how it happens, how the blood spurts, how it feels to hold a gun, or sword, or whatever the murder weapon is in your hand and how to wield it. Just how hard is it to slice off someone’s head? Well… actually, it’s really hard. There’s a lot of bone and tissue and tendon in there that you have to slice through. Why do I know this? Because I’ve written about it, so I had to learn about it.

I’m beginning to think that if people knew how much research goes into every novel, they’d have a lot more respect for writers. We become experts in whatever it is we’re writing about. We need to be in order to write convincing stories.

How is it then that writers are dismissed and thought of in the lowest possible terms? We know how to kill you. Er… I mean, we know a lot of stuff! 🙂 History, medicine, politics, law, you name it, if a novel has been written about it, that author had to know that subject pretty darn well. No wonder the authors I know are so intelligent–intelligent enough not to get upset when our work is dismissed as frivolous.

So, what is your specialty? What could you write about? Or what have you learned by reading a great book?

Will you Nano?

nanowrimoNational Novel Writing Month starts in just a few days. For many writers, their normal writing life stops so that they can participate in this annual ritual of trying to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. For others, they see this as an opportunity to finally get to work on that book they’ve been wanting to write for years.

Since I write full time anyway, I rarely participate in NaNoWritMo (as it’s called). But this year, although I’ve gotten a head start, I’m in the process of trying to get a book done within the month.

My impetus isn’t just for the fun of it, or to see if I can do it, but rather because I was asked to write a book for a particular series and given a deadline of December 1. Luckily, I was also give two extra weeks and a word count of 25,000 instead of 50.

That being said, I will actually need to have the book done before the end of the month so that it can be edited and ready to be published by December 1–most people who participate in NaNoWriMo just try to finish a first draft, not have a book ready to be sent out into the world by the end.

So far, I’m managing to write 1500-2000 words a day, so I’m hopeful that my book will, in fact, get done on time.

So what exactly is this this quickly-written new book? Something completely new to me–a time-travel, paranormal, gay pirate romance! Yes, I was asked to write an LGBT pirate romance.

As I said, I’ve got a good start on it! Check back next month and I’ll tell you how I did, and hopefully by then I’ll even have a book description for you!

So, are you going to participate in NanoWriMo? If so, are you ready?

Something different

Do you like predictability in the books you read? Do you want to know exactly how it’s going to work out? How the characters are going to get from the beginning of the book to the end?

I would hazard a guess that the answer is a resounding “no!”.bored

We like surprises. We like something a little different; out of the ordinary.

If you’re a romance reader, you already know that two people in the book are going to end up in a committed relationship and usually by the second or third chapter you know who those two people are.

If you read mystery, you know that if there’s a dead body at the beginning of the book, by the end you’ll know who killed that person. If you read sci-fi or fantasy you’ve got a good idea of what you’re going to find when you crack open the pages of the book—a different world that the author has created and that you’re going to have fun exploring and learning about as you read the book. There may be magic or some complicated science that we could only dream of coming true.

You know this going into the book, but you don’t know what that world is going to be like or how the characters will have to navigate it. You don’t know who “did it” in your mystery. You don’t know what the hero and heroine of your romance are going to have to go through or give up in order to be together.

That’s the fun of reading a book.

So, if I told you that I wrote a Regency romance and you were a reader of Regency, you would expect ball rooms, lords and ladies, maybe some clever dialogue and all of it written in the third person (“He did this” and “She did that”).

If I told you that I’d written a Gothic romance you’d expect a haunted castle, a damsel in distress, a family curse, perhaps. It would be written in a dark, brooding manner, right?

Well, I just hate those stereotypes! I like to mix things up. So I’ve written a rather light (okay, there’s some spookiness, but nothing that will give you nightmares) Gothic Regency romance in the first person (“I did this” and “I saw that”).

What?!

MLG_400.jpgYes, you read that right. It’s a Gothic romance – there’s a ghost haunting a house with a deep, dark, troubled past. There’s a heroine who is in danger—although she’s not exactly a fainting ninny. She’s smart, and clever, and faces her obstacles head-on. It’s set in the Regency, although there’s not a ball room in sight. Okay, there are lords and ladies and maybe some clever dialogue (if I may say so, myself). But this is definitely not one of your Georgette Heyer-type romances.

It’s weird, and it’s different, and it’s fun, and there’s a slight mystery to it as well.

So, who’s up for something different? It’s called My Lord Ghost and you can check it out here.

Fiery Magic by Caryn Moya Block

If you Pre-ordered Fiery Magic by Caryn Moya Block, you should have received it at midnight last night. If you were waiting until it went live, now is the time to click through to your favorite eBook retailer. I’m sure you’re going to love Candace and Haytham’s story of magic, dragons, and most importantly — love.

Fiery Magic

 

fiery-magic GIFFiery Magic

Book Three in the Witch Guardian Romance Series

Haytham Luften is an Air Witch Guardian supporting his team members while fighting Blood Cult members and the Marwolaeth possessed. He never expected to be gifted with a Destined One, or to hear his uncle, head of the Air House, threaten to renounce him if he dared claim the one woman who could share his magic.

Candace Kindle grew up on stories of “destined love” and sharing her magic with one special person. But with the Marwolaeth attacking, true love will have to wait for another day. Following her brother’s advice she walks through a dimensional portal to take shelter with her mother and finds herself a slave in a land ruled by Dragons. There’s only one person who can save her, the Destined One she walked away from.

Apple     Amazon    Amazon UK    Barnes&Noble     Kobo     Smashwords

SPARK: Dragons in a New Book

iStock_83015149_XLARGE_edited-2I love dragons, and I have written several paranormal stories where the main characters are these mythical creatures. Shape-shifting dragons make the most sense since my stories are filled with romance. Dragons can be romantic…and they can be stubborn, heroic, difficult, dangerous, ‘human’, or evil.

What makes my characters and my stories different is that most take place in Scotland (Southern Fried Dragon was an aberration. I set it in Charleston, South Carolina on the eve of the Civil War. My heroine was a female shape-shifting Scottish dragon hiding out in America.) Besides the mythical Loch Ness monster, reported to dwell in the long, deep lake near Inverness, dragons are part of the tales passed down through Scottish clans.

Fictional locations are fine, but I set my new series, Clan of Dragons, on the Island of Skye. When I discovered their unusual mountains, known as the Black Cuillin Hills, I immediately knew I’d found a home for my dragons.

Here is one of many YouTube videos I discovered while researching the location. These awesome mountains have a volcanic history and are black, treeless, craggy, and desolate. Perfect!

Please help me celebrate

SPARK, Book #1 , Clan of Dragons

now available for pre-order

Amazon         Amazon Can

Amazon UK    Amazon Aus

 

Do you believe in dragons?

Nancy Lee Badger

 

 

 

Where do you work?

BrusselsWhen the sound of bird song has just about drowned out the sound of traffic and my nose is beginning to run, I know I’m in the right place. This is where I want to work.

I’ve found a bench to sit on because, once again, I’ve forgotten a towel to place on the wet grass. I find the one mostly clean spot on the one bench along this path because it looks like someone had a dance party on the rest of it the last time it rained.

Few people walk by here. Every so often someone comes by Bench.JPGwalking their dog, which just means that I need to be careful about where I walk because people don’t always pick up afterward, especially not here in the woods. And there goes the occasional runner while the whine of a saw provides background music.

Yes, it’s here that I can work. And if the sun decides to make more of a show of it today, I can move to a more open spot where I can catch some rays.

This is summer to me. Walking to the woods. Working outside. Enjoying the warmth of the days. Even here in perpetually raining Brussels, I’m taking advantage of the time I have to be outside.

BoireMy mind works better outside. It works better for having the walk to get here. My imagination can expand in the open and yet not too much that it wanders away from where I need it to go. The woods, the trees, they keep me centered and allow me to focus.

This is working in the summer.

Where do you work in the summer? Do you take a break from your usual work space or continue on as usual?

Traveling for Research

Accuracy in a short story or novel is so important. Readers who know that you’ve got something wrong will almost always call you out on it. And even if it’s only for your own peace of mind, most authors prefer to get the facts in their stories right. It’s why so many authors spend so much time doing research.

But there are some things that go into a story that just can’t be learned from another book or a web site. There’s the feel of a place. The architecture found on the streets. The little details that don’t always show up on the pretty pictures people post to the internet.

We can learn the history of a place or a person (or type of person), but we can’t actually know it until we’ve been there or spoken to them.

Most authors don’t have the opportunity to actually speak to a person or type of person we’re writing about—personally, I’ve never met a British Peer and I haven’t yet found a time-machine to take me back to Regency England. So I’ll read biographies and autobiographies. Histories and other novels about the people I’m writing about and that’s about all I can do beyond using my imagination.

For places, though, nothing beats actually going to where your story is set. I had the pleasure of doing that this past weekend. My husband and I spent a lovely weekend in Basel, Switzerland, the setting of the short story I’m writing for my next Merry Men box set.

Now you might think that traveling to Switzerland for a short story is a little much, and indeed, I toyed with the idea of making the story longer—a novella or even a full novel. But I like the short, sweet little story I’ve dreamed up so much that I decided not to change it. I am, however, adding a good deal more description to it—more than I usually put into a short story. Hell, more than I normally put into a novel, but that is the beauty of having actually been there! I can do that. I’ve got all the images and experiences fresh in my mind as I’m sitting down to write.

Basel, for those interested, is a beautiful little town. The part that we saw was, naturally, the older section since my story is set in the late 18th century, but a good deal of the city is actually much, much older than that. We wandered the winding little streets, looked at the old houses and stepped into many a church. Most dated back to the 14th and 15th centuries, which seems to be when a good bit of the city was built. And the fantastic thing about it all was that while they have certainly updated and modernized the inside of their buildings, they’ve left the outside structures just as they were when they were originally built. So, we were able to wander streets filled with lovely half-timber houses and homes which truly gave us the feeling that we could have been in the 15th, or 18th century, like the characters in my story.

I was also very lucky in that the home of a local ribbon merchant, which was built just a little before when my story is set, has been turned into a museum. I had the opportunity to wander the rooms of this grand home to see exactly how people lived at the time. It wasn’t exactly as it had been then, the curators actually took rooms from other houses of the time and put them into this one house, but still, I got a good idea and a feel for how my characters would have lived. So, here are some pictures of for you to enjoy of the city and the house (or haus, as they say in German-speaking Switzerland) at Kirschgarten.

blog bedroom

The mistress’ bedroom.

blog private drawing room

The informal drawing room.

Blog Street

Blog Basilisk

These basilisk fountains are all over the city.

blog inside rathaus

Inside the Rathaus or town hall–it’s filled with beautiful paintings!

blog gate door

My husband leaning against the city gate door, just to give you an idea of the size of it!

blog spalentor

This is the last remaining city gate.

Blog St. George

St. George is forever killing the dragon on the wall outside the Basel Munster (Cathedral).

Blog store window

Even the shops near the cathedral are as they were hundreds of years ago.

Be Proud

My apologies to readers of my personal blog. This is an adaptation of my most recent post there.

Screenshot (80)Do you ever feel guilty for reading? Well, don’t! Reading is an important way for us to relax and learn. And yes, I’m talking about reading novels.

After the horrific acts of terror this past week, I wanted to stop and think about what it is that we’re doing here.  Acts of terrorism are terrible and must be stopped, but as with all horrible things that happen to us, they do make us pause and look at our lives and what we do.

We read stories. Stories that take us away from the awful things in life and give us a break from the real world.

Yes, the stories we read do contain terrible things happening to good people–if they didn’t they would be boring and unreadable, but reading about terrible things prepares us for when we have to live through such things in reality. It teaches us how to react, what to do and not do. As Lisa Cron explains in Wired For Story, it is stories that have kept mankind alive. It is stories that help us to understand life and all the messy aspects of it.

I live in Brussels. I just moved here with my husband for his work and am growing to love this city very much. Because of my work, I usually don’t leave my apartment until I force myself out in the afternoon to get some fresh air and exercise, but my husband travels and he could have easily been at the airport when those bombs exploded (in fact, one of the people who works for him was in a plane that took off from Brussels Airport just minutes before the explosions. His office was in a panic until his flight landed and he was able to check in to say that he was all right).

Screenshot (79)But yesterday, when my husband’s assistant called to make sure that I was okay (even though their office is just a few blocks from the metro station that was bombed), he told me that he wasn’t watching the news. He had turned off all communication with the outside world. It upset him too much. He couldn’t deal with it. I very nearly told him that he needed to pick up a novel and take a break–I didn’t because he was at work. 🙂

So all this is to say, that you should never feel bad for reading. Reading makes life bearable giving us an opportunity to escape.

In between reading about the horrific things that were happening in the city around me, I edited my new book Falling, rewriting and fixing scenes. I escaped into a time and place where the worst thing was that the hero was falling in love with a woman who was off-limits to him and she didn’t know who he really was.

This was my escape. This is what let me read about the real world and not break down in tears. – well, that and the wonderful outpouring of messages from my friends and family who contacted me to make sure I wasn’t anywhere near the bombings.

So don’t berate yourself, or let anyone else do so, for sitting down and reading a novel, any novel, any time.

Falling, by the way, is now available for pre-order and will be released on April 6th.

MeredithBond_Falling 300In another time…

Boundless blue skies. Oblivion. The pull of the sky through the wall of windows in Erin Freyn’s new apartment is as enticing as it is disturbing. It seems to call her to step out, to let go, to surrender herself into its terrifying embrace. But when she turns to a hypnotist for help, she never dreams it will uncover long-hidden secrets – of ageless magic and forbidden romance.

In another place…

David Elder is trying to live up to the memory of his brother, who died while working with inner-city kids.   He couldn’t save his brother, but perhaps with his magic he can save another. When he hypnotizes Erin to seek a cure for her fears, they discover instead an ancient connection. In a past life, he was a medieval knight and her illicit lover… before things went very wrong.

Today…

Fate has given them a second chance. Will they take it and finally find happiness, or will they be doomed to replay history yet again?

Available at Amazon

Kobo

Apple iBooks

Editing Madness

My neighbors must think I’m crazy. For the past two days I’ve been wandering my living reading out loud.

Crumpled PaperWhat am I doing? Why, editing, of course!

My last round of editing (there are three, sometimes four that I go through) always consists of me reading my work out loud. In this way I know whether the story flows. Whether the dialogue sounds natural. Whether I’m missing any words that I hadn’t noticed before or made a silly typing mistake such as writing “an” instead of “and”.

But reading a full book out loud takes time! And not only that, but I have to stop every so often to make notes of things which need to be fixed or changed.

Hopefully, I’m done with all of the real writing, unless I come across something that just doesn’t work.

After this last round of editing, my book will go on to my professional editor and my beta readers. Anything that doesn’t make sense to any of them will get rewritten. I ask them all to check to make sure they understand my characters and their motivations as well as the overall story.

Reading out loud, beta readers and a professional editor are all required to put together a book and make it ready for publication. Without each one I wouldn’t—couldn’t—publish my books.

So while my neighbors might think I’m nuts (and I kind of am, but not necessarily for this reason), I’m doing this in order to create a book good enough to be published, worthy of my reader’s time.

Now, my question to you is are you willing to be a part of this editing process. I’m always looking for new beta readers. People who would be willing to overlook a few grammatical mistake (since I send my book to my beta readers at the same time that I send it to my editor) in order to tell me whether my story is good enough. Does it catch your interest? If not, why not? Do you hate the characters or love them? Do you understand them? These are all the questions I ask of my beta readers.

I’ve had some who’ve just read the book and said that they loved it. That’s wonderful, but not really helpful. I’m looking for constructive feedback. Are you someone who would be willing to help me make my book as good as it can be?

Comment below if you’d like to do so! Thanks!