Friday, December 31, 2010

What is Your Celtic Name?

Surfing the blogverse I came across a quiz link on Celtic Queens that asked "What's Your Celtic Name?" I stopped and wondered just what would be my Celtic name if I lived in those ancient days of gods and goddesses, magick and mystery. I proceeded to delve deeper into this curiosity. For research. Cough, cough.

In truth, I was procrastinating. Delaying jumping into the first draft of my new WIP, which is the second installment of a werewolf series and has nothing to do with Celtic culture, names or traditions. Still, one never knows what tidbits may be useful in the future.

The link at Celtic Queens directed me to appropriate page at Quizilla where I proceeded to answer the questions posed to me by the oracle spiritualkatana.

Lo and behold, according to the wisdom of the ancients, my Celtic name is Niamh [ˈniːəv]. When translated means brilliant or radiant. Hmmm, I think I rather like this name. <grin>

Somewhere in the recesses of my seriously over-loaded and sadly disorganized brain, I remembered the name Niamh. Not from a past life, but something I read. More procrastination ensued while I dug through volumes of books to find the few I'm looking for. My library, columns of books towering and teetering, stacked willy-nilly around my home office, is as orderly as the information in my noggin. After several minutes of searching, I lay my fingers upon the appropriate tomes.

Niamh-- Some legends claim she is the daughter of the King of Tir Na Og. Others call her the daughter of a Celtic sea god from the Isle of Man--Manannán. Whoa! Procrastination just turned into something useful. Manannán features prominently into the Faery Guardian Tales series I'm cultivating. Definitely need to bookmark these passages for future reference.

Niamh of the Golden Hair fell in love with Oisin, an Irish warrior, and brought him to her home in the land of faeries. The Land of Eternal Youth. There, they were happy but after a time Oisin missed his Fenian friends and wanted to return to Ireland to visit them. Niamh placed a geis upon him and warned that he would be safe on his journey and could return to her only if his feet did not touch the earthen ground. 

When Oisin reached Ireland he found all had changed. Man had become diminshed, somehow and the friends he'd known had long since passed. He watched in dismay as several men struggled to move a marble slab. Driven to assist them, he reached down from his horse to give a helping hand. Sadly, his saddle straps broke and he tumbled to the ground. When he stood, his young countenance transformed into a withered, blind old man. Never again did he find his way back to Niamh. 

Ironic that a romance writer be "given" the name of a woman who's own love story came to such a tragic end. Of course, in my imagination, I'm going to write them a happy ending. One day. After I stop procrastinating and get on with my current WIP.

So, what's your Celtic name? Visit the oracle at "What is Your Celtic Name?" and post the results in the comments.  I'm curious to know.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jeepers Creepers It's Cold

Native (South) Floridian and cold weather don't mesh. Seriously. I wear a sweater when the temperature drops below 72*.  Imagine my utter shock when I woke up yesterday morning to this:

Ok, so it's just a little frost. But, this was at 8:30am. It should've warmed up by then. Since it hadn't, I knew it was going to be a parka day. I don't even own a parka. Sigh!

Poor Monster Puppy. He didn't want his paws cold and wet.
And Brave Little Basset headed for greener pastures.
They were happy to play inside the rest of the day. Well, nap that is.

I dare not complain, though. In comparison to some, we're quite lucky. 
At least we didn't wake up to this:
Reuters/Lucas Jackson: Yahoo News

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday's Treasure: Master of Smoke by Angela Knight

I'm so excited! My review of Master of Smoke by Angela Knight was featured on The Season blog. Click on the hyperlink for a chance to win a free copy of this new release.

MASTER OF SMOKE by Angela Knight.
Berkley/Penguin Group
Release Date: January 4, 2011

Gold Coin Rating: 4.1
Heat Level: Bonfire
{Click here for Tuesday's Treasures rating system guide}

Master of Smoke is smokin’ hot with fast moving, action-packed sequences and sizzling love scenes.

Eva Roman is a comic book geek coping with surviving a werewolf attack when she stumbles upon a shapeshifter in the throes of a similar assault. Upon rescuing him, she discovers that he’s lost his memory, except that he knows he’s been dreaming of her for weeks.

Eva decides to call him David, unaware that he’s a Sidhe warrior that shares his body and mind with two other entities, Cat and Smoke. David’s attacker, Warlock, is the leader of a fanatical werewolf aristocracy. He seeks Smoke’s magick and memories in order to destroy the Mageverse and rule the human Earth.

Eva risks her life to help David reunite with his spirit brothers and then must discover if she can love David for who he is in his entirety, rather than the fractured man she first met. For David, Eva is his heart and soul and he will fight the battle of his life to keep her safe and win her love.

Eva’s internal dialogue with her “Fluffy” werewolf self is hilarious and provides some needed comic relief during intense scenes.

David/Smoke’s struggle for Eva’s acceptance tugs at the heart. Before he’s reunited with his other selves, he ponders:
“Here he was, one fragment of some other man, waiting for the rest of his of his mind to return. Would he even exist once they came back?
Would he still love Eva?
David winced. And there it was: the trouble. What kind of idiot let himself become obsessed with a woman in a situation like this? All he was doing was setting himself up for more pain.”

After he’s made whole again, doubts still linger.
“But I’m still your David.” There was a trace of a question in the words. “Aren’t I?”
Eva stopped in her tracks to stare up at him.
That’s when it hit her just how much she’d been hurting him. Her refusal to accept Cat, her unconscious tendency to call him “David” even after his three personalities recombined—all of it had communicated a very ugly message.
“What have I done to you?” She asked the question in a low, shaking voice.”
Master of Smoke is the 10th book in the Mageverse series. I’ve not read the entire collection but I have read Master of Wolves, which is book 5. Based on what I learned in that story, I noted what seemed like a minor inconsistency in Master of Smoke regarding the relationship and interaction between the Direkind and the knights of the Mageverse. Since I’m reading the series out of sequence, it’s possible that this tiny issue exists only because I haven’t read all the books leading up to this particular story.

The weave of the Arthurian tales, werewolves, vampires, and the Sidhe, with our modern world is creative and ingenious. There is so much going on in this story that if you have a difficult time focusing you might get lost in the hustle. Some extended scenes made me a little impatient to get to the next sequence. But, I admire how Angela Knight is able to keep all those plot plates spinning and push the story forward in a credible paranormal fashion.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorite Things

I love Julie Andrews. And during the holiday season, I'm reminded of my favorite song of hers...My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. This year I personalized the lyrics to reflect my favorite things and I'd like to share them with you.

Butterfly waltzes and sweet puppy kisses
Dragonfly aerials on gentle sea breezes
Colorful hummingbirds with whispering wings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Silvery moons and the magick of midnight
Campfires and fireflies and crisp, starry nights
Scary ghost stories that make my heart ping
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cozying up with a really good book
Pizza delivery on nights I don’t cook
Thundering storms and the rains that they bring
These are a few of my favorite things

When my day sucks
When my muse flees
When I feel like crap
I simply remember my favorite things
And if all else fails, I take a nap. 

Seasons blessings to all,
And to all a good day.
 ~kristal lee 

Today's post written for New Kids on the Writers Block blogunity. Click on over for a visit with us new kids.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Got Books?

Stuck for gift ideas this holiday season? For everyone on your Holiday list, there's a book sitting on a bookstore shelf waiting to be read.

Can't afford to give a loved one an all expense paid trip around the world? Present them with a hard copy of Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.

Know an aspiring prima dona? Ballerina Dreams: A True Story by Lauren Thompson may be the stocking stuffer you need.

Married to a hockey fan? Slip a copy of Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge by Bob Probert under the tree.

No matter what subjects interest your family and friends, a book is the perfect present. And, if you're an aspiring author you'll be supporting the industry that will one day support you. So, while you're strategizing your mall run map out a route to your local bookseller. Give the gift of knowledge, adventure and imagination. Everyone will love you for it.

~kristal lee
Reposted from NKotWB

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tueday's Treasure: Twelve Wicked Nights by Nadia Adian

Twelve Wicked Nights ~ Nadia Aidan

Penguin Group - Paperback and eBook

Reviewed for The Season

Rating: 4 Gold Coins
Heat: 5 Wildfire (Erotic)

Isabella and Justin have been friends forever. Closer than friends, actually. More like brother and sister. Only Isabella has harbored a wicked little secret for years and this Christmas she’s going share it with Justin.

Isabella Andreu is coming home for the holidays. Her boyfriend of two years has just broken off their engagement and now there is nothing to prevent her from finally coming to terms with her undying infatuation for Justin, her childhood friend. That is, if she can actually make it home.

Justin Rourke can’t help but to drop everything when it comes to Isabella. He’s been rescuing her from mishaps all of her life. Fetching her from the side of the road in the middle of a blizzard is par for the course. With the streets to her mother’s house closed due to snow, he has no choice but to bring Izzie home with him.

The only problem is that Izzie isn’t the little girl he’s always considered a sister. She’s all grown up and filled out in the all the enticing places, inspiring dirty thoughts that are utterly unbrotherly.

Snowed in and housebound, Izzie decides to shake up things with Justin. A game of strip Scrabble is all it takes to break her out of the sister mold and land her right into Justin’s bed. Then comes the news… Justin’s SEALs unit is being activated in thirteen days. Izzie knows his missions are long and dangerous and she plans to fulfill Justin’s every fantasy before he ships out…if she can convince him to play along.

I knew from the first three paragraphs that this was going to be a fun read.

“Isabella was in mourning—that deep, soulful kind where people fall to the ground wailing as if they are possessed. Her fiancé of two years had just broken up with her over the phone, the same phone that had died right after her sleek silver Aston Martin Vanquish had gone kaput on the side of the road.

Yes, she was in mourning—mostly for her shoes. Where was she ever going to find another pair of white kid-leather knee-high boots that fit her legs perfectly? Her favorite Jimmy Choos would be ruined if they got any wetter, and she’d worn them only twice.

Maybe if she sent up a prayer, God would save her boots right after he saved her from the worst blizzard to hit her small hometown of Jacksonville, Virginia, in more than ten years. She mumbled something that was as close to a prayer as a wicked Catholic girl was ever going to get, and trudged ahead.”

Isabella is a smart, sexy woman with a sense of humor and a great deal of common sense. She might have taken a detour or two in her life, but she’s determined to get back on track. When she decides she wants something, she doesn’t let anything get in her way.

Justin is equally compelling, struggling with his sense of honor, his changing perception of Isabella and his doubt that she could ever love him that way he wants her to.

Both have strong personalities. Their banter in and out of the bedroom is delightful to watch as each tries to best the other.

At Izzie’s insistence, Justin introduces her BDSM. She’s open to trying anything with Justin because she trusts him. But it’s clear that Izzie isn’t a true submissive. The play-struggle for dominance in the bedroom is entertaining and I was happy that Izzie came out on top, at least part of the time.

This type of sexual relationship works for them because of their shared history. They are deeply connected to each other and that connection extends beyond their bedroom escapades. The conflict for them lies in their inability to confess their love for fear of the other’s rejection. Each thinks the other is only in it for the fun. And what fun they have!

Twelve Wicked Nights is definitely Justin and Isabella’s journey; however there is a sub-plot with a brewing relationship between Justin’s best (guy) friend, Caleb, and Isabella’s best (girl) friend, Celeste. I found this secondary story to be a little distracting, especially because it delves into their sexual activity which took me away from Justin and Isabella’s story.

Caleb and Celeste do play a pivotal role in getting Justin and Izzie to open up to each other. And how these best friends conspire to accomplish that is a hoot.

Twelve Wicked Nights is the first book I’ve read by Nadia Adian (love the anagram of the name). I enjoyed the straight-forward writing style, the clever humor, and the depth of the main characters.

If you’re looking to liven up your Christmas, Twelve Wicked Nights, might be just the spice you’re looking for.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

No Rest for the Weary Writer

Whew! November was a blur. After balancing work, six book reviews, NaNoWriMo and Thanksgiving I'm pooped. No rest for the weary writer, though. With the first draft of Howlin' Hearts completed, I'm mentally plotting the next book in the series, Howlin' Good Time while holiday shopping. This weekend, between a mani-pedicure and a holiday party I'll hash out the characters and a potential outline. My goal is to write another 50,000 word novel in December.

Aaack! I'm behind already. Not one word written. There's a lot in my head, but nothing on the page and too many holiday distractions threatening to cut into my writing schedule. What's a writer to do?  Tighten the time management belt, that's what.

During NaNo I learned that working with an Online Timer helps keep me focused and writing non-stop for 60 minute increments. Doing this, I average about 700 words per hour. I hope to increase to 1000, eventually. Knowing my average wph helps me formulate a reasonable writing schedule depending on the week at hand and thereby reducing my stress. A much needed blessing during this hectic time of year.

So between the Fa-la-la-la's and the Ho-Ho-Ho's, my fingers will be twitching across the keyboard as fast as ol' St. Nick's elves racing to finish their toys. Here's hoping a little elven magick will rub off on me.
~kristal lee

Reposted from the bloggunity @ New Kids on the Writers Block

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Traditions

When it comes to traditions, I'm not very traditional. In the past, my family celebrated Thanksgiving by barbecuing ribs, making enchiladas, lasagna, or some other non-traditional fare. It wasn't until I married that we started having turkey on Thanksgiving. Professor X insisted.

So, celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving has become one of our few traditions. We celebrate with family and friends and we remember the ones who are no longer with us. We watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. We eat turkey and stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, green beans, corn on the cob, and dinner rolls. We watch football, take naps on the couch, and round out the afternoon with razzleberry pie and coffee. We reflect on the highs and lows of the past year and look forward to the possibilities of the next one.

Some of the things I'm thankful for this year:

*Good health for me and the family. Something that wasn't always so over the course of the year.

*A day job that pays the bills and affords me time to devote to writing.

*Family and friends who cheer me on when I haven't the strength or faith to keep going.

*Two fur-babies who are always happy to see me

*A WIP that I've finally managed to get to "The End"

I could list more, but the turkey needs to be dressed and the fixins' need fixing. So, whether your celebration is traditional or non-traditional, Happy Thanksgiving, from our house to yours.

~kristal lee
Also posted today at New Kids on the Writer's Block

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday's Treasure: In The Dark of Dreams by Marjorie Liu

In the Dark of Dreams by Marjorie M. Liu
Avon, Mass Market Paperback

Rating: 5 Gold Coins
Heat: 2 (Campfire)

Young love.
One born of land. One of born the sea.
Two hearts when torn asunder, only a Kraken can mend.

Jenny Jameson was twelve when she met Perrin, the mer-boy with silver hair and ice blue eyes. She only knew him a few minutes before his father dragged him back to sea. Yet in those precious moments her heart had fastened onto Perrin and his heart held steadfast to her.

She searched for him daily, in that particular spot of beach. Though, she never saw him there again, she met him every night in her dreams.

Eight years ago, the dreams stopped. Jenny looked for Perrin. But he wasn’t on the beach, or any other place in the world she searched. Still, she keeps looking.

Perrin never expected to find the red-haired girl with whom he’d shared his childhood dreams. He held on to the memories, they gave him hope. Hope he desperately needed after being stripped of his identity and exiled from the sea. He’d resigned himself to a meager existence on land, waiting for his time to die.

Until one day when the dolphins at the aquarium where Perrin works shared with him a vision. A vision of impending doom. And later, another vision of his red-haired girl. In that moment, Perrin knows that he must do everything in his power to find her. To save her. And to save the world.

In the Dark of Dreams can be summed up in one word...Wow!
I absolutely loved this story. There’s lots of action and suspense on the high sea and in what lies beneath it, but it was Perrin and Jenny’s love story that seized my heart.

Natural and supernatural forces conspire against them, but time and again Perrin and Jenny’s love proves unflinching and unfailing. With sharks to the left of them, mercenaries to the right, they’re stuck in the middle desperately trying to find a way to appease a sea monster before he awakens to destroy the world.

In the Dark of Dreams begins with a prologue. Normally I skip these because I feel that anything worth telling should be told within the context story. However, this book’s prologue is a must read. It’s written in a faery tale fashion, almost as if it were a bedtime story to be read to children. It’s mesmerizing in its simplicity and absolute magick.

Marjorie M. Liu uses vivid details to describe life under the sea and above it. Her characters as beautiful as they are terrifying.

I found Perrin’s act of abstinence touching. I felt this deepened his character and showed the genuineness of his convictions. And when he learns that Jenny has had a lover, Perrin isn’t angry or jealous or disappointed. He even grieves with Jenny when he learns of her tragic miscarriage. So deep is his love that whatever touches her, touches him.

Jenny has kept Perrin’s secret from everyone. She has fiercely protected him and loved him even when he was nowhere to be found. She may have lost faith, but she never gave up her last thread of hope and that is what endeared her to me.

I loved the clever way the author blends ancient Greek mythology into the modern world perspective. Whereas Perseus used Medusa’s head to destroy the Kraken, Perrin and Jenny use their wit and their dreams to pacify the rousing sea monster. Instead of violence, they offer peace. It’s a nice alternative to the mob mentality of simply killing the beast.
For me, In the Dark of Dreams was an absolute thrill to read. Excitement, suspense, and stomach clenching drama filled page after page, right to the very end.

This is the tenth book in the Dirk & Steele series and I hope Ms. Liu doesn’t stop there.

Reviewed for the December Edition of The Season

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Monday, November 22, 2010

I Dream of a Golden Heart...or Do I?

photo credit: kristal lee romances
In July I attended my first RWA Golden Heart Award Ceremony, the Emmy's of the romance writers world. I primped for the occasion, donning a cocktail dress and enjoying dinner, wine, and schmoozing with other writers. As each category was announced and the winner revealed, I dreamed that one year my name would be called and I would have my moment gliding across the stage to accept the coveted award.

Next year will not be that year. I'm not sure that any future year will be either. Now, I'm not dissing my work because I don't think it's good. Rather, I'm reassessing my dream. My real dream.

As it turns out, the Golden Heart isn't my dream. Publication is. That means my current and future efforts are focused on that single, simple goal.

I've never entered the Golden Heart contest, so I can't speak to its judging and selection process. I have, however, entered other contests and found the feedback confusing. What two judges raved about, a third judge hated. In my inexperience, I found myself always catering to the critic who tore everything apart because whatever issue they had, I wanted to fix. It took me a long time, and losing my voice, to realize the not all feedback is golden. Some of it is crap and should be flushed down the toilet, pronto!

My experiences with the contest circuit caused me to forget the only writer's rule that should never be broken: my story is my story and I'm the only one who can write it. My story is not in the heart of some nameless judge who may not have expertise in the paranormal genre or who may have less writing experience than I do. My story is in my heart, my soul, my imagination. It is mine and mine alone. I need to own it. From the first click of the keys tapping out, Chapter One, to the last words, The End. I must stay true to my creation as I envisioned it, otherwise it's no longer mine.

My intent here is not to poo-poo contests, or tarnish the Golden Heart. All the finalists and winners are hard workers and deserve their moment in the spotlight. I begrudge them not in the least. And I will clap and whoop and holler with the best of them to show my support. They earned it. They deserved it.

For me, the stress of preparing for a contest and then waiting, waiting, waiting for the results takes away time from my heart's desire to see my work professionally published. Since my writing time is very limited, I must engage in those activities that have more of a potential of getting me closer to my dream. I need to finish my current WIP. I need to start planning the next one. I need to revise and edit the one that's been fermenting for a month or two. I need to query. I need to write that synopsis even though it gives me the willies.

I've gained an understanding that I'm not dedicated to the contest circuit like a bull rider is to the rodeo.The Golden Heart will probably never be my brass ring. But to those who are reaching for it, I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart and when you hear the shouts and cheers go out when you're name is called, know that I'm somewhere in the crowd hooting for you.

~Kristal Lee

Reposted from NKotWB 

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writers Toolbox

Last week, Deb Sanders @ NKotWB wrote about "Rules? Where we're going there are no rules!". And she goes on to explain that to break the rules, one must learn the rules.

Generally, our first exposure to "the rules" is grammar class. We learn vocabulary, noun, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc, into ad nauseum. We learn how to write the proper way. This is good, for without the basics, there is nothing to weave your words into coherent sentences. The proper way can also be bad when it restricts creativity and stifles voice.

But, knowing good grammar is the cornerstone in becoming an excellent writer. Notice I typed "excellent writer." Anyone who has a basic understanding of written language can write. The ability to become an "excellent writer" depends on the writing tools you have in your toolbox.

Rules = Tools. (But they aren't always the sharpest tools. In fact, they can be quite dull.)

Consider adding online writing workshops, enrichment classes, college courses, lectures, books, books, and more books to vary your tools.

[Beeeep~ This is a Writer's Public Service Announcement: Be mindful of the workshops and classes you choose. I took a class in college that was all about diagramming sentences. For me, diagramming sentences = writer's hell. Lesson learned? Know what you're taking before you sign up for it and investigate the instructor's credentials. Some have less experience writing than you do. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post about those workshops and classes and books that are essential to your toolbox.]

In our busy lives, it's unrealistic to attempt to attend workshops and classes that aren't in our generally vicinity. Thank god for the internet. Many RWA chapters host monthly writing workshops via Yahoo and Google loops. Other online classes are independent of RWA affiliations, such as Margie Lawson's workshops. Margie is uber psychologist by day and super uber writing guru by night. At least in my estimations. I've learned so much from her intensive online classes because she gets into the psychology of writing. Her classes include Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors, Empowering Character Emotions, Deep Editing, Writing Body Language, and Digging Deep into the EDITS System. I love her workshops because she not only shows you the tools, she teaches you how to use them.

If online classes don't work for you, and even if they do, I also recommend that you attend your local RWA chapter meetings. Oftentimes they will host guest lecturers on the craft of writing. And, if you can, attend the RWA National Conference. They have beaucoup workshops on writing. If you can't make it to the annual wingding, don't worry. The workshops are recorded on CD's and available for purchase. Check out the RWA website for details. You can also ask your local RWA chapter if they purchased a set for their members to peruse.

On to books, books, and more books. Another key to unlocking the secrets to becoming an excellent writer is to read, read, read. My to be read pile is at least 75 books high and climbing. I aim to read 2-3 books a week. I don't always hit that goal, but I try. Some books I'm reading are for reviews at The Season or here at It's KRISTAL kLEEr. Others are craft books or books I'm reading for personal interests.

Whether I'm reading for enjoyment, enrichment, or education I always have an agenda. I'm studying voice. I'm studying POV switches. I'm studying what holds my attention and what parts having me skimming. I dissect the plot. I take copius notes about what I like and what I don't and why. I meditate upon what I'm reading, not the story but how it's written. I keep my favorites close by. I do the same with the ones I dislike. I am a student of the craft. You should be too. Read the genre you write. Study your competition. Read outside your genre. You may discover a hidden gem.

To become an excellent writer, you must, you must, you must read and study your craft. Here are a few books I believe that every writer should own. My list is by no means exhaustive, but it can be a starting point if you haven't begun stocking your toolbox.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should own a copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. If you don't, your writing skills are greatly disadvantaged. Originally published around 1935, this master tool is a timeless and a priceless resource for all writers.

Number two on my list is GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. She delves into the critical elements of creating a plot by ferreting out what it is that your characters want or need and the obstacles hindering them from obtaining their goal. Plot is essential. Without a plot, all you have is a random series of events that no one cares two hoots to holler about. Again, I say, this book is a must for every fiction writer.

Another treasure for the chest is Donald Maass'  Writing the Breakout Novel. For those who may not have heard of Mr. Maass, he is a highly-sought after literary agent and author in his own right. Writers, pay close attention to him. He not only knows how to write, but how to write what sells.

Also worth mentioning is Brandilyn Collins'  Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors. She demonstrates how to use Method-acting techniques to deepen characters' emotional and behavioral presence on the page.

Though my list goes on and on, I must make mention of the RWR (Romance Writer's Report). This is a free publication available to all RWA members. Inside each issue are numerous articles on the craft of writing. I've read and kept each issue I've received since becoming a member. If you aren't a member of RWA: Romance Writers of America, I seriously encourage that you become one. Their goal is to educate writers on how to become excellent writers.

There's an old adage that "Practice Makes Perfect," but that is misleading. Only perfect practice leads to perfection.  Okay, so we all know that perfection is a myth, but what we can relate to is that excellence in practice leads to excellent performance. Learn from those who've gone before you. Fill your writer's toolbox and practice, practice, practice your writing. Once you master a tool, experiment and create your own method of utilizing that tool outside the norm.

I've given you a glimpse into my writer's toolbox, tell me, what's in yours?

Happy Tales,
~kristal lee

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1st Issue with B&N Nook

In a previous post, I Chose the Nook, I commented on how much I liked the ebook reader that I purchased in June 2010.

Today, the Nook and I have an issue. It stopped working, stuck on the screensaver that wouldn't go off even with the battery out. I don't panic, though. I believe in the power of tech support.

Tonight, that belief was challenged.

The first person I spoke with had no clue what he was saying. Told me to hold the power button down for two minutes and take out the battery so that it could "air out." Hmmm, the battery wasn't wet, I hadn't spilled anything on the device so I asked, "why does the battery need airing out?" The response, "It doesn't. It's a technical thing."

Of course I ask for clarification of this technical thing and got mumble, literally mumble, for an explanation. A few more trying minutes into the conversation I realized that the person on the other end of the phone couldn't tie together coherent sentences if he'd been given string and super glue. I felt that annoyed worry rising in me and it beckoned to my inner snark. Word of warning, my snark is a shark with big teeth and a bigger bite.

I'm educated and have a great deal of common sense. I'm not an expert, but I know the jargon and have a reasonable knowledge of the inner workings of electronic devices and computers. My issue now becomes not only that I have a broken e-reader, but that a poorly trained CSR/tech advisor has insulted my intelligence.

Engaging in a heated discussion on my ability to understand technical things and his inability answer simple questions would've been futile because you can argue with a door post but it accomplishes nothing. So, I simply did as he instructed: Held the power button down for two minutes, took the battery out for 15 minutes. Then, put it back in and pressed the power button. For some oddball reason, he didn't want to stay on the line for the 15 minutes to test his "solution". I, of course, knew from the get go that his fix wasn't going to work.

My assumption wasn't proved wrong. So, I called tech support again and got a pleasant, communicative lady who provided similar instructions, minus the "air out the battery" crap. This time I was to hold the power button down for 45 seconds, remove the battery for four hours and put it back in. Charge for 4 hours and then press the power button. And, as a courtesy, the nice lady will mail a replacement battery first thing in the morning. My snark shark is thinking the courtesy would've be in providing me with a Nook that wasn't going to start having problems within months of  purchase. Tonight, the filter on my brain actually worked. I didn't lend the snark shark my outside voice.

I don't think removing the battery for four hours is the solution. My gut fear is that the problem lies with the Nook, not the battery. The device is barely 5 months old. I paid full price and then it went on sale about six weeks later. Geez, my timing back then sucked but that was okay, because I liked the Nook and it came with a $50 gift card. Tonight, I'm wondering if I got suckered.

When I invest in something, I take care of it and expect it to last. I bought a hardcover to protect my Nook. I don't throw it around or misuse it. I charge it when it tells me the battery is low. The Nook and I had a good rapport until this fizzle.

Time will tell if this problem will be a tiny bump in the road or a major pothole. A tiny bump means that I may consider a Nook upgrade in the future. But, if the technical issue turns out to be a major pothole, then my favor will no longer shine on the Nook and I'll research other e-readers for an upgrade.

If anyone has had technical issues with their Nook I'd be grateful if you'd share your experience and resolution or lack thereof.

~kristal lee

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tribute to the Men and Women of the US Armed Forces

Thank you to the men and women of the US Armed Forces, here and abroad, who diligently protect our freedoms with their hearts, souls, and very lives.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Romancing the Holidays

This Saturday Shout Out goes to the Central Florida Romance Writers and Barnes & Noble: Altamonte Springs Mall for their annual charity drive.

About twenty Florida authors gathered around the fountain inside the Altamonte Springs Mall to meet readers and autograph copies of the their latest books. Barnes & Noble's supplied the books and will donate 20% of the proceeds to Central Florida's non-profit Adult Literacy League. Goody bags stuffed with more books donated by out of the area authors and several publishing companies were handed out to the first 100 customers. Also, drawings were held to give away even more prizes.

What a great way to start off the holiday season!

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Amadeus - King of the Fairies

On this Faery Friday, I hope you enjoy "The King of the Fairies" by Amadeus as much as I did.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Somewhere in the World A Writer is Writing...

Three days of NaNo behind us, twenty seven days to go. I have visions of writers all over the world sitting in their cubby spaces typing like mad. Each one racing a thirty day deadline to achieve a common 50,000 word goal.

This is an exciting time for me. I've always worked better under pressure. And to ensure that I had the best chance possible to "win" this challenge I undertook a few preparations.

First, I finally finished an outline for my WIP. I used a trial of the software program SuperNotecard. It's like virtual index cards. I'm not really a plotter, at least not on paper. So, believe me, typing out an actual outline, chapter by chapter for the entire WIP was quite a feat. I patted myself on the back, because finally I figured out a pivotal plot point that brings the entire story together. Woohoo! So, after I finished my little "I got it, I got it" dance, I printed the virtual cards because I work with a netbook and the smaller screen isn't conducive when I have too many windows opened. The sad thing is that I won't look at them very much. Because really, the whole story is in my head now. I wouldn't have been able to say that, if I hadn't been forced to sit down and figure out the outline.

The second thing I did was read a book. Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine. Now this book is written for kids who are writers. But, I found it relevant because it doesn't matter at what age you start writing. Writing is a craft and every writer needs tools.

The third thing I did was pour over the many drafts I've started of this WIP. I looked at what was the constant thread through each version. Keep in mind these were incomplete drafts because I never could get past a certain point before I'd start over.

Which brings me to the fourth thing I did. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't rewrite anything until I typed "The End." I realized that with constant rewriting while typing the first draft is so much more than merely counterproductive. It's like a stake in a vampire's heart. It kills the story dead, dead, dead. At least for me. I get so obsessed with making every thing perfect that I never finish story.

In Writing Magic Ms. Carson-Levine states "there is no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect story." That simple statement stuck. I could spend a lifetime working to make the first few chapters perfect before moving on and end up never finishing the story. I recognized that I needed to set a more reasonable standard for myself. That doesn't mean I'll slouch to being happy writing crap. It means that I can give myself some breathing room to make mistakes, especially in the first draft.

The first draft is hard. In my head I already see the story as a finished product. The difficulty comes in the translation from the imaginative concept to the written word and the discipline it takes to get there.

In the first three days, I've had a lot of distractions. Three book reviews to write, two dogs who insist that I should give them belly rubs, scratch their ears, play tug, and give them treats because they are jealous of the contraption that sits in mommy's lap so much of the time, and a nap that just couldn't be put off any longer. Still, I've managed to pluck down 7,701 words. That means about 15 % of my WIP is complete. Now that's progress!

So writers of the world, where are you and how much have you written?

~kristal lee
This entry also posted at the blogunity New Kids on the Writer's Block

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dog burping?

photo credits: kristal lee romances
Monster puppy is a 90 lb Heinz-57 kind of dog. He's almost 3 and still as playful as when he was truly a pup. Loving, sweet, MP has the best temperament a canine can have. He's a dog parent's dream. But, he has one itsy-bitsy bad habit. A habit so uncouthly human, it's eerie.
Monster puppy likes to burp.

I thought this kinda weird, but I've discovered it's not as uncommon as I would've guessed.  Dogs burp for the same reasons humans expel unwanted air lodged in the stomach. Out of instinct, dogs tend to scarf down their food which can create air bubbles as they swallow. (This can also explain flatulence at the other end, but we won't gasp that topic today.)

So, Monster Puppy's burping isn't strange after all. But the manner in which he does it makes me wonder. You see, MP doesn't just burp after eating. No. He waits until later, giving you this cute, little, please give me some love look that has you bending over to do just that. And still, he waits. Waits until you're eye to eye, nose to nose, and then he lets loose. What escapes from his esophagus could rival a fog horn and the force is strong enough to blow your hair straight back from your head. You're so startled that you forget to breathe. That's a good thing. Monster Puppy breath could lay you out on the floor.

Burping is one thing. His stage production is quite another. I'm still trying to figure out where he learned to do that. Probably the television. It wouldn't be the first time he's picked up a bad habit from watching TV.

What weird or annoying behaviors have you observed in your pets?

NOTE:  If your dog is prone to burping make sure to check for bloating. Although it's natural for dogs to burp, it can be an indication of gastrointestinal problems that require medical attention. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday's Treasure: Touch of Temptation by Rhyannon Byrd

Touch of Temptation by Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin Books, Mass Market Paperback
Release Date: November 1, 2010
Reviewed for The Seasons
Format: eGalley via NetGalley

Rating: 3.5 Gold Coins
Heat: 4 (Bonfire)

Kellan Scott, “Watchman. Werewolf. And world-class fuckup,” is determined to do one good thing with his wasted life before he dies. That one good thing is to save the witch, Chloe Harcourt, from Gregory DeKreznick—the Casus who awakened her Merrick and will kill her to consume her power.

From the moment Kellan saw Chloe’s photo and learned of her plight, he’s been obsessed with her rescue. Meticulously planning and waiting for the right moment to slip into the Wasteland and bring her home. He’s determined not to screw this up, but right from the start things don’t go as planned.

Imprisoned within a Casus fortress, Chloe wants nothing to do with the hunky werewolf, fearing her family curse is manipulating his actions and toying with his emotions. But, her Merrick sees that Kellan is exactly what she needs to set her free.

Escaping the dungeon with Chloe in tow, Kellan meets up with family and friends have who’ve come to bring him home. Together they fight the Casus to get Chloe out of the Wasteland and back to the Watchmen’s safe house in England. If she falls into the hands of the enemy again, all hell will break loose. Literally.

With time and resources running out, Kellan sneaks away from the group to go after Gregory alone. Only, Chloe isn’t about to let Kellan sacrifice more than he already has and she’ll risk everything to save him.

Touch of Temptation is the sixth book in the Primal Instinct series and the first one I’ve read. Unfamiliar with the cast of characters and the complicated world of preternatural clansmen, I found the introductions, explanations, and references to minor and off-stage species distracting. There is a glossary at the end of the book, which would have been helpful while I was reading if I’d been aware that it was included.

Despite some confusion with the world-building, I found the core plot engaging and well-written. The author’s rich, detailed descriptions helped me see into the characters’ world, even when I didn’t understand it.

Kellan’s struggle to be the better man for once in his life is heart-felt and endearing from page one. He’s heroic, self-deprecating, and oh-so delicious. Chloe can’t help but to fall for him, even though she can’t trust that he’s acting on his own free will.

Rhyannon Bird’s fantastical world is filled with exciting adventure and imaginative characters. Kellan and Chloe, although not human, deal with issues close to the human heart: self-acceptance, trust, and love.

The plot twists and turns were sometimes a bit overwhelming, but overall, I enjoyed the read.

Click to Buy @ B&N

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Monday, November 1, 2010



No, it isn't Mork crank calling from his home world, Ork. It's National Novel Writing Month and it starts November 1st.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with 21 aspiring novelists in the SF Bay area with a mission. Okay, so part of the mission might've included expanding their dating opportunities, but the point is that they stumbled upon something that has struck a cord with writers world-wide: "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing."

So, what is NaNoWriMo exactly?

Well, it's a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

The organizers of this event state that NaNoWriMo values "enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft...[and is] for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

In 2009, NaNoWriMo had 167,150 participants and 32,178 winners.  And, the number of words officially logged was 2,427,190,537. Holy guacamole, Batman! There was a whole lotta of typin' goin' on.
Now, I know that there are skeptics. But the purpose of NaNoWriMo isn't to produce a polished manuscript worthy of the NYT bestsellers list. It's simply to motivate you to get done with your first draft. You can't get published if you can't finish the story.

For me, I need this challenge. The past year has been a frustrating turn of spinning my writing wheels in the mud. I'm looking forward to the pressure of a time crutch and the competition to finish the race. My goal is simply to have a completed manuscript by November 30th. I'm dedicated to putting the words on the electronic paper and hold the editing until "The End." I'll try to abate my OCD with Hemingway's inspirational words. "The first draft of anything is sh**!"

If writing a novel in 30 days sounds like a challenge you're willing to undertake, visit NaNoWriMo to sign up. Then, come back here and click on the icon below to "Buddy Me."

If you're already registered for NaNoWriMo, you can "Buddy Me" too. The more the merrier!

Buddy Me

Happy Tales, yall!
~kristal lee 

*Reposted from the New Kids on the Writer's Block blogunity article dated 10/21/2010.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Samhain and the evolution of Halloween

Samhain, pronounced sow-in, is often credited with the origins of the secular and modern-day Halloween holiday and there have been misconceptions of the Ancient Celt festival as being evil and a time of devil worship.

The term Samhain translates to mean "summer's end" and the Samhain festival was a celebration of the end of the light season and the beginning of the dark season, but that shouldn't imply anything sinister. The Ancient Celts believed a new day began with nightfall. To them, the "dark" was the birth of new beginnings. And so Samhain marked the beginning of a new year.

In early Ireland, people gathered for Samhain at the end of harvest. Fire played a pivot role in the celebration. Hearth-fires were extinguished and a priest, or Druid, would light a central bonfire. Gifts were given to show gratitude for the harvest, prayers were offered and sacraments were cast into the fire. At dawn, each household would take a a torch or a burning ember from the flames and rekindle their home fires.

 Samhain was considered an "in-between time." Not belonging to the old year and not yet a part of the new year. It was viewed as a time outside the natural state of things. A time of reversals. A time of chaos and upheaval. A time when the dead could return to their loved one and celebrate.

In ancient days, Samhain would've been celebrated at the end of the harvest. It wasn't until Christianity spread that firm dates were established for celebrations. In 835, Pope Gregory combined pre-Christian festivals with Christian celebrations to make the acceptance of Church doctrine more appealing to new converts.  Samhain  was blended with other religious festivals, such as All Hallow's Day and All Saints Day.

But some of the ancient traditions survived the Christian invasion. According to Celtic legend, a magickal apple tree grows at the heart of the Otherworld and many a hero set out across the sea to find this mystical place in order to eat its enchanted fruit. Re-enacting this quest, villagers poured water into large wooden tubs, tossed in apples and took turns bobbing, or "dookin'" for them.

Ancient Celts also wore costumes and painted masks as a way to placate the spirits that roamed the villages during Samhain. Today, children and adults alike dress up for a night of trick-or-treating. They attend parties, hold bonfires, and tell ghost stories. Many never realizing how old theses traditions really are or the meaning behind them.

So, what Halloween traditions will you celebrate this year?

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Real Werewolves Among Us?

While internet surfing for Halloween trivia I came across a phenomenon called werewolf syndrome, also known as hypertrichosis. It is a rare congenital condition that causes an abnormal amount of hair to grow on the body and only about 50 cases have been reported worldwide.

The first documented case of werewolf syndrome was around 1566 with the birth of Petrus Gonzalez in the Canary Islands. He was taken from his family and presented to King Henri II who ordered the "furry boy" to be given a formal education. He married and fathered two children who inherited his hairy appearance.

In the early 19th and 20th centuries, individuals with this disorder found acceptance and viable work as circus and freak-show performers because of their strange, animal-like appearances.

Julia Pastrana (1834-1860), the original bearded lady of a freak show, had thick, dark hair distributed symmetrical over her body, including the palms of her hands. She was thought to be a “Digger” Indian from Western Mexico and stood only about 4 feet tall.

Meet the Kung Fu Werewolf~ Tai Djinn, (1849-1928) He was born in China and raised by Shaolin monks after his parents abandoned him because they believed he was afflicted with evil spirits. He became quite adept in the martial arts and mastered the skills of the seven Shaolin temples.

And in more current times, the wolf boys--Danny and Larry Ramos-Gonzalez, are talented circus performers from Mexico and were featured in an ABC News Primetime story in 2007.

There is no cure for hypertrichosis and it is mostly considered to be a "cosmetic" problem. The treatments are the same as for any hair removal, i.e., shaving, waxing, electrolysis, and laser hair removal.

For more information visit:
The Human Marvels

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday's Treasure: Night of the Vampires by Heather Graham

Harlequin [Mass Market Paperback]
Genre: Historical Romance, Paranormal
Length: Novel
Release Date: November 23, 2010

Reviewed by: Kristal Lee

Heat Level: 3 (Campfire)
Rating: 4 gold coins

Masked behind the death and destruction of the Civil War, a more sinister war rages.
One of a supernatural kind.

Cole Granger, a Texas sheriff and his friends—a former union soldier and a Confederate native, have put aside politics to fight the real enemy of humanity. Vampires!

Cole has learned that in this war any hesitation could cost him his life. But, in the midst of a battle to cleanse the “disease” from a Union prison he encounters a woman with lightning reflexes and a sassy wit. Only her tongue isn’t the sharpest tool in her mouth and he’d be dead, if she’d wanted him to be.

Half-blooded vampire, Megan Fox, is in Washington D.C. at the request of General Robert E. Lee. She’s to aid in the extermination of the vampire infestation that’s ravaging both North and South by teaming up with her brother’s three-member hunting party. Except her brother, Cody, doesn’t know he has a sister or that she’s come to help.

When she suddenly appears in the midst of a fight to cleanse the prison of vampires, the three men are immediately suspicious of her motives. None more so than Cole. Although he trusts Cody with his life, Cole is unwilling to simply accept that Megan is his best friend's sister or that she's on a military mission to help them.

That changes when President Lincoln seeks out Megan and asks her to put an end to his wife’s nightmares of a little drummer boy who's out to destroy everything. The President sends Megan and Cole to Harper’s Ferry to find the grave of the vampire child with orders to put his soul to rest before more of his contamination spreads.

But, Cole will have to learn to trust Megan and Megan will have to learn to believe in Cole if they are to survive the Night of the Vampires.

Heather Graham’s paranormal, historical romance is written with such finesse one wonders if she hasn’t stumbled upon a dark, terrifying truth that our government would prefer to keep hidden. But, the story isn’t about conspiracy theories or subterfuge. It’s a story about two very different people forced to overcome prejudices on their quest to make the world a safer place and they happen to fall in love along the way.

The vampire element provides a fresh take on the atrocities our Nation suffered during the dark time of the Civil War. Despite the oppressive nature of that tragic era, this story isn’t bogged down by the retelling of consequential events. Rather it’s presented as if those events are going on around the characters, on the periphery, allowing their story to move forward unencumbered by the tomes of history. Ms. Graham provides enough descriptive detail to give a sense of life in war-torn America circa the 1860’s without a drawn-out expository—something I prefer to avoid when reading fiction. The setting never overpowers the plot and sometimes that is difficult to accomplish when using monumental historic events for authenticity.

In case you're wondering, Night of the Vampires is filled with more suspense than horror. Now, there are some throat ripping, heart-staking, off with their head moments that will delight vampire enthusiasts; but, I believe that readers who are less blood-thirsty will also find this book enjoyable.

Buy from B&N

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Superstitious, Anyone?

Superstitions. What are they and where to do they come from? According to Wikipedia, "superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge." Sometimes superstitions are referred to as folk tales, old wives tales, or urban legends. I'm not sure anyone can pinpoint with accuracy where, when, or why these handed-down warnings originated but some have been around since ancient times and many revolve around Halloween. 

Did you know that the tradition of pumpkin carving on Halloween came from the old belief that placing a burning candle inside a jack-o-lantern kept evil spirits and demons away? Have you ever heard that gazing into a candle on Halloween night will show you the future? And everyone should remember that if you hear footsteps coming up behind you on Halloween night, do not turn around because it could be DEATH following and looking DEATH in the eye hastens your own demise. Oooh, creepy.

So, why is Halloween associated with the dark and sinister more than any other time of year?   Some people believe that it is rooted in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) which celebrated the end of summer--the time of light, and the beginning of winter--the dark time. The Celts believed that the veil to the Otherworld weakened on Samhain. This allowed spirirts, good and bad, to pass into their world. Friendly spirits of departed friends and family were welcomed into their homes, while the unwanted and capricious spirits were kept at bay with costumes and painted masks. Over the centuries, various customs and  religious rituals merged to become the modern concept of Halloween: costume parties, trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, and scary movies. But not many truly believe in the dead walking the streets except, maybe, for the zombie and vampire enthusiasts among us.

And yet despite our modern technologies, scientific advances, and a more "logical" world perspective we still hold on to old superstitions.

I'm an educated woman with a whole of common sense and sass, but I still "knock on wood" whenever I say something and don't want to jinx my luck. I also throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it. Silly little actions, I know, but I can't help myself. Because in the back of my jammed-packed brain there is a sliver of the "what if". What if I don't do that and something horrible happens? Maybe it's something left over from the primordial evolution of cro-magnon man to modern man. Who knows. But I know I'm not the only one who harbors a bit of those old superstitions.

Soooo.....time to play Plinky!  Leave a comment and tell me.....

What are you superstitious about?

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prince of Persia

Click here for Official Website
Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, and Gemma Arterton
Walt Disney Studios

When I first heard that Jake Gyllenhaal was playing the lead in Prince of Persia, I was flabbergasted. I couldn't wrap my brain around him playing such an overtly Alpha male role. I've always seen him more as the Beta male. You know, a gal's best guy friend. That's just how he comes across to me. After watching the movie, all I can say is "puurrrrrrrrr."
Jake's character, Dastan, is the adopted son of a Persian king. When he dies after Dastan presents him with a gift, all suspect that Dastan has murdered him. Dastan flees with the captured Princess Tamina who is guardian of the dagger containing the sands of time. Together they must prove Dastan's innocence, unmask the traitor, and keep the Tamina's dagger from falling into the hands of enemy. Lots of action, lots of acrobatics, and lots of fun to watch.

The heavy subjects of jealous, betrayal and power are balanced with unexpected moments of comic relief. Gotta say, I loved the ostrich races and the characters intertwined with them. The scenes were well paced, the plot intriguing with a red herring here and there to complicate the story line. The location was beautifully filmed and all the actors were committed to their roles. I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent absorbed in this film. Kudos to the writers, directors, producers, actors, camera operators and the entire production staff on their efforts. It isn't an easy task to turn a video game into a well-crafted movie, but they did it fabulously.

Since I was already thinking about alpha and beta males before viewing this film, the matter continued to mull around in my brain. Romance readers (and writers) often gravitate toward those larger than life Alpha males. Their heroes can be reserved and quiet, but when it matters they must step into the ring without hesitation and beat the crap out of anyone who messes with their heroine.

Taking a step back from Alpha males for a moment, I ponder how the heroine roles have changed for today's readers. These women are no longer the helpless females tied to the railroad tracks who are forced to wait for the hero to rescue them. In these modern times, readers expect the heroine to act in her own behalf. Getting help from the hero is okay, but he isn't expected to do all the work. The dynamic between hero and heroine has evolved. The Alpha male now has to deal with an Alpha female. And this is exactly why Prince of Persia worked so well for me.

Dastan and Princess Tamina are equally pig-headed and equally matched. They clash from the get go and I believe this type of delicious conflict builds the massive sexual tension that readers and viewers expect.

What about your thoughts? Who is your favorite Alpha male (character)? Who is your favorite Beta male (character)?

*Photos @  IMDB

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shout Out to Naima Simone and That Man is For Me

This week's shout out goes to romance author Naima Simone for her blog post That Man is for Me at Naughty Author Chicks. I was struck by the serendipity of finding her article on my anniversary.

Naima discusses that "my husband isn't my inspiration [for my heroes] because he's my real life. He's my fiction come true. I realize there are certain moments where he expresses his love in ways that would seem unbelievable if they were written in a romance book. But it's the little things...the things that don't exactly beat the path to the bedroom but they seduce the mind all the same. They say in subtle, low-key ways, I'm paying attention. I'm sacrificing for you."

She goes on to talk about the little things that her hubster does for her and I began pondering the little things Professor X does for me.

He keeps our local pizza pub number in his speed dial because he knows pizza cures whatever ails me.

He rubs my feet, my shoulders, and especially my wrists and hands without any expectation of reciprocation.

He calls me from the grocery store just in case I might remember something that isn't on the list.

He took me to see Clash of the Titans, foregoing Avatar until the DVD came out, just because he knew I was a fan of the original movie.

He DVR's his sports games and waits until after I go to bed to watch them so that the time we're together is spent doing something we both enjoy.

He puts out a clean towel on my vanity stool at night so that when I stumble into the bathroom at 5am I don't have to rummage through the linen closet with the blurry sleep-walker vision.

He kills the sneaky viruses that attach themselves to my computer during my web surfing before they can damage any files.

And, he supports my journey to become a published author, sometimes with more faith than I have myself.

When I think of all the little things Professor X does for me on a consistent basis I know that my fictional heroes' actions pale in comparison. They may have more brawn, but my hubster has more heart. He's the real deal, not a figment of imagination, and that makes all the difference.

Thanks Naima for reminding me of that.

What are some of the little things your hubster (or significant other) does that makes him your real life hero?

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Grimm Brothers....Brewhouse??

Perhaps this would be better suited for Weird Wednesday but it has to do with the Grimms Brothers and Freaky Friday is all about the paranormal.

While sipping a cup of hot tea and perusing STUMBLR, I came across a blurb about GRIMM BROTHERS BREWHOUSE. Apparently, a group of beer enthusiasts came up with this novel marketing idea for their flavorful home-grown brews.

Now, if you live in Loveland, Colorado, or Northern Colorado, you're in luck because GRIMM BROS BREWS can be found in the fine bars & grills there. I was hoping for an internet order form on their website, but no such luck. So, the rest of us need an airline ticket and a rental car to reach for a taste of those special blends. Of course, we could start a campaign to have this ingenious start up company add a shopping cart to their online presence. Whadduya think?

Visit their website at and click on the comment tab to obtain their email information. Shoot an inquiry to them asking them to consider opening an online store, or making their product available to online retailers so that we can get a faery taste of the GRIMMS BROS BREW. You can also friend them on FB or tweet them.

Leave a comment letting me know if GRIMM BROS BREW sounds pleasing to your beer buds.

Thanks to The Dieline for bringing these creative German beer brewers to my attention.

Happy Tales, yall!

~kristal lee

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writerisms and other Sins: A Writer’s Shortcut to Stronger Writing by CJ Cherryh

I found this post while on Stumblr and thought I'd pass it along. ~kristal lee

Copyright © 1995 by C.J. Cherryh

Writerisms: overused and misused language. In more direct words: find ‘em, root ‘em out, and look at your prose without the underbrush.
  1. am, is, are, was, were, being, be, been … combined with “by” or with “by … someone” implied but not stated. Such structures are passives. In general, limit passive verb use to one or two per book. The word “by” followed by a person is an easy flag for passives.
  2. am, is, are, was, were, being, be, been … combined with an adjective. “He was sad as he walked about the apartment.” “He moped about the apartment.” A single colorful verb is stronger than any was + adjective; but don’t slide to the polar opposite and overuse colorful verbs. There are writers that vastly overuse the “be” verb; if you are one, fix it. If you aren’t one—don’t, because overfixing it will commit the next error.
  3. florid verbs. “The car grumbled its way to the curb” is on the verge of being so colorful it’s distracting. {Florid fr. Lat. floreo, to flower.}If a manuscript looks as if it’s sprouted leaves and branches, if every verb is “unusual,” if the vocabulary is more interesting than the story … fix it by going to more ordinary verbs. There are vocabulary-addicts who will praise your prose for this but not many who can simultaneously admire your verbs as verbs and follow your story, especially if it has content. The car is not a main actor and not one you necessarily need to make into a character. If its action should be more ordinary and transparent, don’t use an odd expression. This is prose.This statement also goes for unusual descriptions and odd adjectives, nouns, and adverbs.
  4. odd connectives. Some writers overuse “as” and “then” in an attempt to avoid “and” or “but,” which themselves can become a tic. But “as” is only for truly simultaneous action. The common deck of conjunctions available is:
    • when (temporal)
    • if (conditional)
    • since (ambiguous between temporal and causal)
    • although (concessive)
    • because (causal)
    • and (connective)
    • but (contrasting)
    • as (contemporaneous action or sub for “because”) while (roughly equal to “as”)
    These are the ones I can think of. If you use some too much and others practically never, be more even-handed. Then, BTW, is originally more of an adverb than a proper conjunction, although it seems to be drifting toward use as a conjunction. However is really a peculiar conjunction, demanding in most finicky usage to be placed *after* the subject of the clause.
    Don’t forget the correlatives, either … or, neither … nor, and “not only … but also.”
    And “so that,” “in order that,” and the far shorter and occasionally merciful infinitive: “to … {verb}something.”
  5. Descriptive writerisms. Things that have become “conventions of prose” that personally stop me cold in text.
    • “framed by” followed by hair, tresses, curls, or most anything cute.
    • “swelling bosom”
    • “heart-shaped face”
    • “set off by”: see “framed by”
    • “revealed” or “revealed by”: see “framed by.” Too precious for words when followed by a fashion statement.
    • Mirrors … avoid mirrors, as a basic rule of your life. You get to use them once during your writing career. Save them for more experience. But it doesn’t count if they don’t reflect … by which I mean see the list above. If you haven’t read enough unpublished fiction to have met the infamous mirror scenes in which Our Hero admires his steely blue eyes and manly chin, you can scarcely imagine how bad they can get.
    • limpid pools and farm ponds: I don’t care what it is, if it reflects your hero and occasions a description of his manly dimple, it’s a mirror.As a general rule … your viewpoint characters should have less, rather than more, description than anyone else: a reader of different skin or hair color ought to be able to sink into this persona without being continually jolted by contrary information.Stick to what your observer can observe. One’s own blushes can be felt, but not seen, unless one is facing … .a mirror. See above.
    • “as he turned, then stepped aside from the descending blow … ” First of all, it takes longer to read than to happen: pacing fault. Second, the “then” places action #2 sequentially after #1, which makes the whole evasion sequence a 1-2 which won’t work. This guy is dead or the opponent was telegraphing his moves in a panel-by-panel comic book style which won’t do for regular prose. Clunky. Slow. Fatally slow.
    • “Again” or worse “once again.” Established writers don’t tend to overuse this one: it seems like a neo fault, possibly a mental writerly stammer—lacking a next thing to do, our hero does it “again” or “once again” or “even yet.” Toss “still” and “yet” onto the pile and use them sparingly.
  6. Dead verbs. Colorless verbs.
    • walked
    • turned
    • crossed
    • run, ran
    • go, went, gone
    • leave, left
    • have, had
    • get, got
    You can add your own often used colorless verbs: these are verbs that convey an action but don’t add any other information. A verb you’ve had to modify (change) with an adverb is likely inadequate to the job you assigned it to do.
  7. Colorless verb with inadequate adverb: “He walked slowly across the room.”More informative verb with no adverb: “He trudged across the room,” “He paced across the room,” “He stalked across the room,” each one a different meaning, different situation. But please see problem 3, above, and don’t go overboard.
  8. Themely English With apologies to hard-working English teachers, school English is not fiction English.Understand that the meticulous English style you labored over in school, including the use of complete sentences and the structure of classic theme-sentence paragraphs, was directed toward the production of non-fiction reports, resumes, and other non-fiction applications.The first thing you have to do to write fiction? Suspect all the English style you learned in school and violate rules at need. Many of those rules will turn out to apply; many won’t.{Be ready to defend your choices. If you are lucky, you will be copyedited. Occasionally the copyeditor will be technically right but fictionally wrong and you will have to tell your editor why you want that particular expression left alone.}
  9. Scaffolding and spaghetti. Words the sole function of which is to hold up other words. For application only if you are floundering in too many “which” clauses. Do not carry this or any other advice to extremes.”What it was upon close examination was a mass the center of which was suffused with a glow which appeared rubescent to the observers who were amazed and confounded by this untoward manifestation.” Flowery and overstructured. “What they found was a mass, the center of which glowed faintly red. They’d never seen anything like it.” The second isn’t great lit, but it gets the job done: the first drowns in “which” and “who” clauses.In other words—be suspicious any time you have to support one needed word (rubescent) with a creaking framework of “which” and “what” and “who.” Dump the “which-what-who” and take the single descriptive word. Plant it as an adjective in the main sentence.
  10. A short cut to “who” and “whom.”
    • Nominative: who
    • Possessive: whose
    • Objective: whom
    The rule:
    1. treat the “who-clause” as a mini-sentence.If you could substitute “he” for the who-whom, it’s a “who.” If you could substitute “him” for the who-whom it’s a “whom.”The trick is where ellipsis has occurred … or where parentheticals have been inserted … and the number of people in important and memorable places who get it wrong. “Who … do I see?” Wrong: I see he? No. I see “him.” Whom do I see?
    2. “Who” never changes case to match an antecedent. (word to which it refers)
      • I blame them who made the unjust law. CORRECT.
      • It is she whom they blame. CORRECT: The who-clause is WHOM THEY BLAME.
      • They blame HER=him, =whom.
      • I am the one WHO is at fault. CORRECT.
      • I am the one WHOM they blame. CORRECT.
      • They took him WHOM they blamed. CORRECT—but not because WHOM matches HIM: that doesn’t matter: correct because “they” is the subject of “blamed” and “whom” is the object.
      • I am he WHOM THEY BLAME. CORRECT. Whom is the “object” of “they blame.”
      Back to rule one: “who” clauses are completely independent in case from the rest of the sentence. The case of “who” in its clause changes by the internal logic of the clause and by NO influence outside the clause. Repeat to yourself: there is no connection, there is no connection 3 x and you will never mistake for whom the bell tolls.
    The examples above probably grate over your nerves. That’s why “that” is gaining in popularity in the vernacular and why a lot of copyeditors will correct you incorrectly on this point. I’m beginning to believe that nine tenths of the English-speaking universe can’t handle these little clauses.
  11. -ing.
    “Shouldering his pack and setting forth, he crossed the river … “
    No, he didn’t. Not unless his pack was in the river. Implies simultaneity. The participles are just like any other verbal form. They aren’t a substitute legal everywhere, or a quick fix for a complex sequence of motions. Write them on the fly if you like, but once imbedded in text they’re hard to search out when you want to get rid of their repetitive cadence, because -ing is part of so many fully constructed verbs {am going, etc.}
  12. -ness A substitute for thinking of the right word. “Darkness,” “unhappiness,” and such come of tacking -ness (or occasionally – ion) onto words. There’s often a better answer. Use it as needed.As a general rule, use a major or stand-out vocabulary word only once a paragraph, maybe twice a page, and if truly outre, only once per book. Parallels are clear and proper exceptions to this, and don’t vary your word choice to the point of silliness: see error 3.

Copy and pass “Writerisms and other Sins” around to your heart’s content, but always post my copyright notice at the top, correctly, as both a courtesy and a legal necessity to protect any writer.

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