Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

How Many Misfortunate Cookies Can There Be?

Happy Friday! Casey here!

IMG_2294So, it’s been a busy week in my household. Last Friday, my youngest son graduated from high school (my baby!!) and earlier this week he also obtained his driver’s license. Long time readers may remember that he started driving last summer.

Oh my, how time flies.

Just last year, I wrote this over at my blog:

Finally, I’m ready to share the scoop on my latest book. But first, a bit of back story. Radiance was the very book I ever attempted to write way back in 1997. Being a brand spanking new writer, I had no idea what I was doing. I spent years and years writing scenes with no rhyme or reason.

Eventually, I set it aside out of sheer frustration and moved onto other stories. Because Radiance was the first one, it’s always bothered me that I never finished the story.

I know, I know. There’s a reason those first books stay in a box under the bed. But I couldn’t let her go.

Last year I began the process of re-imagining the book. I chucked out virtually the entire plot and went back to my heroine and what I loved best about her. I titled the new version, Devil’s Advocate and got to work plotting. And promptly became snarled in a tangled mess.

My first thought was - I will never get this story right. I took a break and started plotting Zephyr’s book and dealing with Galen’s mess.

Then in 2012, after a mental head slap, I realized that the story was too big. I needed to step back and break it down. So Devil’s Advocate became book 2 in a three book series.

Mind freed, I spent April plotting book 1. In May, I began writing. It was slow going at first, then my friend Susannah Hardy issued one of her famous writing challenges, this time in the form of writing sprints. By June, I was on fire banging out 2,000 – 3,000 words a day. I finished the last week in June and the first draft has been cleaned up, ready to send to my valued first readers.

So, I present to you Misfortune Cookie!

When Radiance Ashworth inherits the family fortune and a nasty supernatural curse, life as she knows it is over forever. Instead of luxurious pampering, she’s stuck chasing wayward spirits and sending them back to the Hereafter. Her new normal consists of ectoplasmic goo, bruises, and ruined clothes.

Fortunately, she doesn’t have to navigate the supernatural world alone. Luca, sexy, confident, and so damn tempting, is happy to guide her – if she’d only accept his help. She quickly learns how much she needs his assistance just to stay alive, when a Jiang Shi – a vengeful Chinese spirit – starts systematically murdering the city’s elite business leaders. While the Jiang Shi proves to be a formidable opponent, Radiance finds the growing attraction between her and Luca to be even scarier.

At the time, I thought I had a pretty cool name for my book but, to be sure, I went to Amazon and searched for similar titles.

Not a misfortune cookie in sight.

Well, guess what? Now, there a couple of adult novels with the same name: a contemporary romance, a murder mystery and, later this year, another urban fantasy.

So much for my clever name. But, you know, I don’t care. My publisher likes the name and I like it.

So – coming early 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing - MISFORTUNE COOKIE by Casey Wyatt!!

Finally, after all these years, my original character will see the light of day. Yay!

The Scribes have addressed duplicate titles before (here, here and here). What do you think? Does it hurt or help to share the same title with more than one book?

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Laughter: The Third Greatest Gift

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Some of us enjoy our humor dry and witty. While others prefer slapstick, raunchy or down-right rude. Or maybe your mood dictates what you think is funny.

I think part of the reason I fell in love with urban fantasy is the genre embraces snark in a serious way. While some level of “funny” isn’t required in the books I enjoy, I always love it when an author gets me.

You know, that moment, when the laugh comes out of the blue. I don’t how other authors do it, but when I’m writing, humor sneaks up on me and comes from the characters (not me!!). And often times, I don’t realize I’ve written something “funny” until someone else points it out to me.

And what you find funny, someone else may not. Like wine, there are different vintages of funny. Personally, I fall into the witty, sarcastic camp. The snarkier the better. I enjoy authors like Bill Bryson (Tales of the Thunderbolt Kid: one boy, one sleeping uncle, a magnifying glass and mysterious burn spots). The book is a non-fiction memoir of his childhood and it’s hilarious.

My favorite urban fantasy authors are: Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Simon Green (Eddie Drood or Nightside books) and you can never go wrong with Christopher Moore (A Dirty Job - love those sewer harpies!), Terry Pratchett (The Hogfather- the wackiest Christmas story ever) or A Lee Martinez (Gil’s All Fright Diner - who doesn’t love a roadside diner that’s constantly attacked by the undead?).

If UF isn’t your thing, check out Kristan Higgins (the shovel scene in Too Good To Be True still gives me the giggles), Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Books or our soon to be published Scribe - Jamie Pope (aka Sugar Jamison).

How do these writers do it? Well, I can’t tell you how to be funny and I don’t know the magical spring where their talent comes from, but I can suggest some logical places to sprinkle humor into a story.

Narration -this kind of humor is often found in first person books, think Bridget Jones’ Diary or see the aforementioned urban fantasy authors or Ms. Kristan Higgins! Just having a window into the character’s thoughts can be funny. What they think about other characters - the annoying neighbor, the crazy aunt with lipstick on her teeth or how the character views herself -  are all areas to slip in the funny.

Situational – humor can be injected by using the circumstances in which characters find themselves. Think Stephanie Plum and all her captures gone wrong. Another popular choice is The Date From Hell, The Family Event from Hell (wedding, funeral, graduation) or the plan that goes horribly awry.

Banter - This is my personal favorite. Here, the heroine/hero engage in witty exhanges with other characters.I jones on characters verbally sparring in humorous ways. For example – The Princess Bride by William Goldman or A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.

Note: these can be mixed and matched as needed.

One thing to keep in mind – forced humor is not funny. Readers can smell phony attempts from a mile it away. Don’t be lame! And, remember, the normal rules of storytelling apply – don’t add humor for the sake of it. If it doesn’t advance the plot or grow your character – axe it!

In case you’re wondering about the title of this blog post – check out The Muppets (2011 version) and enlightenment will find you!

What kind of humor do you enjoy? Favorite funny writer? Have a technique or advice to share?

Terry Spear – Research in Writing—How Do You Make Werewolves Real?

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

Today we have a special guest blogger  – Terry Spear.Terry is an award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense. Her novel, Heart of the Wolf, was named in Publishers Weekly’s BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, NOR Reader Choice for BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

And she’s also a USA Today bestselling author courtesy of A SEAL IN WOLF’S CLOTHING. Congratulations, Terry!

Let’s hear what Terry has to say:

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How Do You Make Werewolves Real?  

Or anything real, fantastical, imaginary, or real life real for that matter?

You must create the world that feels real. Then it needs to be populated with people, or other creatures, and they must seem real. So how can we do that with research?

Even if we’re writing about a real place, how will anyone “know” it unless we do research? The climate, the demographics, the buildings, the plant life.

When I wrote Ghostly Liaisons, a YA paranormal tale set in Florida, I lived in the house the heroine lives in as a teen. I explored the rattle snake-infested and alligator-filled swamp and jungle-like forest across the street. I swam in the water moccasin-infested canal until I knew better. I climbed the sand dunes out back of the canal. But even though I “knew” the place, I did research. I’d lived there as a teen and didn’t remember all the kinds of plants that existed in the jungle. I researched about ghost sightings in the vicinity, and about pirates and their pirating path in the area. Research then made the story more real, even though both teens have psychic abilities.

The same with when I wrote Seduced by the Wolf. I had lived in Oregon, but when I wrote the story, I hadn’t remembered how cold the lakes still were late into the year. Frozen in some areas! So I had to revise my idea based on that. One of the places my hero and heroine in Heart of the Wolf end up is at Wolf Mountain in Oregon. I actually printed out topographic maps to study the elevation of the terrain, where water was located, the vegetation, and the chances of sighting a bear in the area. I also used Google Earth to determine the layout of the wolf’s pen at the zoo in Seduced by the Wolf. I used the same zoo in Heart of the Wolf, but it had been renovated significantly since then.

I also researched how frequently wolves are spotted in Oregon. When I wrote Destiny of the Wolf, I learned that deer were destroying the forests, and wolves were needed to keep the impact down. That the new growth was beginning to make a slow come back. I love doing research because it can add realism and details to the stories to make them richer.

When I wrote Dreaming of the Wolf, I had the problem of the heroine turning wolf at a motel. Would a guest be allowed to have a wolf in a room, even if the hotel allowed dogs? What are the laws concerning wolf ownership? Also, I researched the qualifications of bounty hunters and read up on what bounty hunters have done while doing their jobs.

In Wolf Fever, I researched whether a wolf’s saliva would be different than a dog’s. I’ve researched werewolf lore also, and real werewolf trials and talked about them in some of my books. I also researched about passing viruses from one species to another, from humans to pets.

So wolves and werewolves are now real. What about places? They can be, or they can be made up. Silver Town, Colorado is run by a wolf pack. It’s not a real place. It’s based on Telluride, and some other old Colorado silver mining towns, and just a werewolfish kind of place.

In To Tempt the Wolf and A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing, I researched different areas along the Oregon coast, where I visited a number of times when I lived in Tigard, Oregon and made up the cabin resort that Meara and Hunter Greymere inherited. But Finn’s home was a real house offered for sale on the coast, and I used the description of the forest, beach, patio, barbecue, vegetation, security system, and the interior of the home, only I changed the color scheme to make more of an impact and to have a deeper meaning for the hero.

In Seduced by the Wolf, I did the same thing, found a home, country ranch in Oregon, that was offered for sale, and it became my pack’s digs. There were several out buildings including a couple of extra homes for pack members, a bigger building like a barracks for bachelor males, and timber, cattle, a river, everything a pack could want. It even talked about other animals that often grazed in the area, great for hunting! The place was real, and it was fun turning it into a home for fantastical creatures!

Looking at pictures of people can help to give ideas for the story characters also. In the popular YA fae series, The Winged Fae came into being because of the whimsical picture of a winged fae drawing graffiti on a wall. She seemed perfect for the role of a mischievous fae.  I’m just starting to work on Dragon Fae—my daughter found her picture. She’s Goth looking, eyeing something in a treasure box, dragons love to hoard treasure, so it’s the start of a new character and book.

Of course, research is necessary for historical pieces also. In A Ghost of a Chance at Love, I emailed the Stagecoach Inn staff in Salado to learn if the hotel had a bathroom back in 1870. But they didn’t! Everyone had to use an outhouse. Ewww…

I visited Scotland and have used some of the research I’ve learned in my stories also in Winning the Highlander’s Heart and my other Highland stories.

If I get stuck on my story, I often will do some research. And often will come up with a new angle I had never thought of before!

Let research make your stories real!

Terry Spear

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality.”

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Spear has written a dozen paranormal romance novels and two medieval Highland historical romances. An award-winning author, Terry’s Heart of the Wolf  was named a Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year in 2008. A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry Spear is a librarian by day and spends every spare moment writing paranormal romance as well as historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on new paranormal romances! For more information, please visit http://www.terryspear.com/.

 www.facebook.com/terry.spear

www.terryspear.com

www.myspace.com/terryspear

http://terry-spear.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/#!/TerrySpear

Thank you so much Terry!

Well, Scribes fans. Your turn – how do you use research to make your stories come alive. Or if you have a question about Terry’s books – ask away!

Interview with Jennifer Ashley Part Two

Hey Scribers! Jennifer Ashley is back. In part two of her interview she talks about how she interviews heroines for her heroes. If you missed part one click HERE.  Enjoy!

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

I don’t. When I write, I shut out the real world. The only thing that exists is the world of my characters and stories. If I put real-life experience into the books, it’s in terms of emotional experience.  For example, when I lost someone very close to me, it gave me the ability to understand what a character who’d lost someone close went through. I was better able to write those emotions after going through the pain myself. Or, I took a fencing class to learn what it feels like to hold a rapier and fight with one (good for historicals and fantasies), and I want to learn to shoot for the same reason.

When I read the title for The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie I knew I had to own that book. When I read the first chapter I knew I had to read everything you’ve ever written. Did you set out to write a series or did it come about organically? And how did you come up with a hero that was so atypical and still very lovable?

LOL. Thank you! I came up with the entire series in one go. I was sitting on my couch, staring out the window at my pretty back yard, and the Mackenzie family walked into my head. I saw a family of four brothers, all rich, decadent, scandalous, bad boys. Real bad boys–not guys down on their luck or only perceived of as rakehells.

They get into the newspapers, and get talked about, and deservedly so! I wanted them to have more depth than being just party animals. Each brother’s sad (and happy) history started coming out–Mac with his drinking; Cameron with his bad marriage; Hart with his control-freak nature, and Ian with Asperger’s.

Ian simply announced he was Ian. I started writing scenes for him right away, most of which I didn’t use. I struggled to find him a heroine–Beth was, I think, heroine number five who applied. For some reason, when she met Ian, they clicked. So Beth got the job.

I’m not sure how Ian turned out how he did. I wrote him thinking no one but me would like him, because he’s not yer typical romance hero. I thought I might be tanking my career, but said “what the heck?”

I was very lucky to have an editor who let me experiment with the Mackenzies. I have the feeling that if I’d pitched it as my first novel, it would have gotten turned down like crazy. It was a risky book. But I’ve never liked walking the straight and narrow. :-)

What’s next for you? Upcoming projects? Life events? Anything you would like to share or brag about?

Tons of things coming up. (Taking a deep breath…)

Shifters Unbound series: WILDCAT(book 3) is out in January.

I’m also writing a series of tie-in short novels (which will be in print and e-), between releases. I think the books are scheduled way too far apart (nothing I could do about that), and I want to fill in the time between with more stories. BODYGUARD came out in November (and did very well!), and there will be 2-3 novellas this year. I have many Shifter characters to work with: Ronan, Spike, Ellison, Shane & Brody, and many others.

Mackenzies: Hart’s book, THE DUKE’S PERFECT WIFE is up in April. After that will come books about characters who have been introduced in the series, such as Elliot (brother of Ainsley from Cameron’s book) in THE SEDUCTION OF ELLIOT MCBRIDE, and Cameron’s son Daniel in his own book. Plus others, but that’s what’s scheduled so far. I would like to do a series of short novels for this series too.

Stormwalker: I will soon be continuing the Stormwalker series I write as Allyson James. Look for NIGHTWALKER soon! (Feb or March)

Historical Mysteries: I’m having a blast re-releasing my historical mystery series (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, by Ashley Gardner), and have just put out Book 7 in the series, A DEATH IN NORFOLK. Book 8, A Disappearance in Drury Lane, will be out this spring. I’m so thrilled by the response to this revived series!

Also another Shareem book as Allyson James. JUSTIN at the end of January if all goes well.

What was your biggest mis-step in your writing career so far?

Signing contracts I didn’t understand. Giving up rights to books when I didn’t understand I was doing it. That has come back to bite me more than once.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

Rueful. Don’t know why that makes me nuts. Or when someone says “This needs fixed.” Or “This needs typed.”  Aaaahhhh!  It’s “This need TO BE fixed” or, in a pinch “This needs FIXING.” It’s a future action. And please don’t give me a rueful smile if you admit to saying this.

What is your junk food of choice?

Chocolate.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Written The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a ‘G’ rated blog! :) }

British TV murder mysteries. I have a collection and watch them over and over again; and love it when new ones come out. Why do I rewatch them when I know who did it already? I don’t know! But I love the writing, the characters, the actors, especially if they have great voices, like Michael Kitchen in Foyle’s War. Big bowl of popcorn, Brit mystery, happy me.

Thanks for joining us Jennifer!

Scribe fans, show your love. Leave a question or comment.

Getting to Know Jennifer Ashley…

Hello, Scribes fans. Today I have the great pleasure of bringing you one of my favorite authors.( Be prepared for unprofessional gushing.) I know her as Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of steamy historical romances. Some of you might know her as  Allyson James writer of action packed urban fantasy and parnormal romance. And some of you may know her as Ashley Gardner author of Regency era mysterious. And if you don’t know her at all… What’s the matter of you?!  This lady can write. She is the author of over thirty books and you can check them out HERE.  In part one of her interview Jennifer talks about , pleasing publishers, writing in different genres and venturing into indie publishing. Now enough from me. Enjoy!

How do you battle the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

Oh, that doubt monster. I am lucky now that I have many published books under my belt, and I realize that no matter how much the doubt monster pounded at me while I was writing, I finished the book, turned it in, and readers liked it.

Doubt is always going to be there, but I think it’s is a good thing. The complacent writer, who thinks her prose is gold and her storytelling impeccable, is going to be sloppy and lazy and start losing readers. Doubt makes me go back through the ms. as many times as possible to make it as good as I possibly can.

I never have enough time to go through the book as many times as I’d like, but I’ve learned to do my best with what I have.

You write in many genres, under many pen names. Do you have a favorite genre? If so what makes it your favorite?

I go back and forth. I love writing mysteries, because they seem to flow out of my fingers. Possibly because I read so many–it’s my favorite pleasure reading genre. Romance I struggle with a little more, because I want to tell a good relationship story and I want there to be a lot to it. Nothing is more dissatisfying to me than a romance where you find nothing when you scratch the surface. I want to know all about these people, and I like complicated relationships. So much more satisfying when they come together at last!

I also love writing urban fantasy, because there’s plenty of action, mystery, and romance rolled into one.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I have many stories I want to tell! However, the publishing industry is such that authors don’t simply get to write anything they want and the publisher will publish it.

Publishers have a vision of what they want to publish–and even more, of what “sells”. If your story doesn’t fit into that vision, they don’t want it, which, imho, is the number one reason books are rejected. So, if I pitch a series to my editor that’s off the wall from what has been successful for me and them, they’ll be inclined to say no, or have me change it so much it becomes something completely different (and then I no longer want to do it).

I’m thrilled with the advent of “indie” publishing, because now there’s a way I can write things that bricks and mortar publishers might not want. There might be a smaller audience for what I want to do, or no audience at all–who knows? But I don’t care. I’m not trying to be a superstar; I’m trying to write good books that might not fit the print market. I’ve already made inroads into indie publishing, and the response has been fantastic. I’m going to keep doing it!

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Making the New York Times bestseller list, winning aRITA(RWA’s award for best romance novels), winning an RT award for best historical mystery. And being nominated for three more RITAs! All those came out of the blue.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

Be a musician or a professional dollhouse miniaturist (not sure I’d try to be an artisan myself or sell other artisan’s work; some very, very talented people in that field.)

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I completed or partially completed about 10 books before I was published. One finalled in the Golden Heart (RWA’s competition for unpubbed manuscripts), but I never submitted it.

Why? Well, all the books had problems, be it with structure, plotting, characterization, dialog, or just plain bad prose. They were my learning books. The Golden Heart one wasn’t so bad, but I doubt it would have been published as it was. Even then, I had a lot to learn before I was ready.

I have cannibalized plot points and ideas from those learning books for current books. There are two books, each with a courtesan heroine, that I would like to rewrite and get published. The heroes and heroines in those were particularly dear to me, and I’d like to see if I could do something with them.

But if most of those books never see the light of day, it might be a good thing! They weren’t good. :-)

That’s it for part one, but please leave Jennifer a question, comment or just say hi! Be sure to join us this Wednesday for part two.

What do I know?

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

I’ve heard that writers are a terrible judge of their own work. That we lack the perspectiveto know what’s good and what isn’t. And I believe it!

Here’s why:

Some of you may recall waaaaay back in July, Suze challenged us to a double dog dare – a summer NaNanoWrimo style “write-off”. I remember commenting that I wasn’t “officially” entering but I’d try and follow along.

I had a novel outlined and ready to go so I figured – what the heck – I’ll start writing it.  The plot was a totally crazy idea – a vampire stripper forced to flee to Mars.  Who’d want to read that?

I didn’t care. The story had been in my mind since the summer of 2010 and it was high time to get it on paper. And I did. I tracked my progress on my Casey Wyatt blog site thoughout the month of July. At one point, I even typed 5,000 words in one day (I had vacation that week!).

By month’s end – I had completed the first draft at 79,000 words. I finished the book, polished it up and then decided – no one would want to buy the book. And I couldn’t asnwer that all important question – What genre did it belong in?

Urban Fantasy? The story is in first person and the heroine is a vampire.

Paranormal Romance?  There is a love story and hot, steamy love scenes.

Sci- Fi? The book takes place mostly on Mars.

Genre confusion aside – I sent the book to my fabulous beta readers and critique partners. The overall feedback was positive. So full steam ahead, right?

No. Not exactly. I stalled on making changes, hestitated to edit, and dragged my feet. The same thought drummed through my head – no one will buy this story. It’s too weird.  

So I let it sit. Occasionally, I’d make half-hearted attempts to edit and clean the book up. Until November, when I saw a call for submissions on Twitter. I went to the publisher’s Facebook page and took the plunge.

Within an hour I had a request for a partial. Yikes! Now I had to clean up the book. After a panicked e-mail to the ever patient Suze (my wonderful critique partner), I was on my way!

Two weeks later, I had a request for the full manuscript. Two days later – an offer!

The Undead Space Initiative has been sold to Pink Petal Books. (See, I promised to share good news sooner).

The moral to this story – write the book, no matter how weird or strange the story is!! Because, you never know who will want to read it. Just write what you love or enjoy and good things will follow.

Tell me – how do you feel about your finished works? And for the readers out there – have you ever mis-judged a story, either good or bad?

Go Graphic (Novel, that is)

Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here. Also, please check out my exciting news at my blog (after you finish reading this one!).So who’s noticed the growing trend among paranormal and urban fantasy authors to go graphic? No, I don’t mean sex. That’s a different topic for another day.

I’m referring to graphic novels. You know, those “comic books”. The ones often snickered at as not being “real” books because they have pictures.

Seems like everyone is doing it – Sherilynn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden are just a few.

I was listening to Anton Strout’s Once and Future podcast and even Charlaine Harris is getting into the act. Yay, bring on Eric!

For those who don’t believe graphic novels and comics are a legitimate form of art, I would direct them to the movies. There have been dozens of films (The Green Mile, 300, Sin City, Watchmen, The Crow,  A History Violence - all graphic novels).

And do I have to list the comic book movie adaptations? I think we all know what those are. But wait. I mentioned TV. AMC’s Walking Dead anyone?

I admit it. I’m a comic book geek. I grew up reading comic books and I still own my childhood collection (and, ahem, the comics I’ve purchased as an adult). They are lovingly tucked away in protective sheets in an acid free box. Thanks to my teenage boys, I discovered manga (Japenese graphic novels). The stories are engaging and as well written as novels. The perfect fusion of art and drama.

Needless to say, for romance authors, being asked to put your work into graphic novel form is a huge honor (at least to me). Thankfully, comic books, graphic novels, and manga are finally earning some respect.

Yes, us geeks are finally inheriting the Earth. It’s about time!

Who out there enjoys graphic novels? And if you haven’t read any, what’s holding you back? And would you read your favorite author’s books in graphic novel form?