Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jolyn Palliata: Twists of Fate

Did you ever get a song stuck in your head? Or part of one? How did you get it out? Did you avoid the song at all costs in the blind hope it would stop hammering you into submission? Or did you listen to the song over, and over, and over, until you were so obsessed that all you could think about was that delicious, devilish little laugh….er, what was I saying? (Right. Song stuck in my head. Ahh...I mean, your head.) Now, I know this has happened to every person reading this post, so I’m hoping you’ll relate to my little story here.

Let me give you some background. In October, I released Connected (Twists of Fate #1), and here’s a brief description of the story: A rock group’s rhythm guitarist, Rhys Alexander, dies and finds himself bound inside the body of a woman he’s never met. Can she help him move on to the other side, or will he end up finding the love of his life…after his has already ended?

For a time, I had this for free on Wattpad (where I posted as I wrote it). And several readers asked me how in the world I came up with the concept. The short answer was ‘By taking the longest route possible.’ The more involved answer is this…

It all started with a song—Imagine that, huh?—which began with a synthesized-sounding guitar and a sinful, maniacal laugh that made my gut quiver. (Yes, I do realize this may be an issue I need to fully address later.) It was Disturbed’s Inside The Fire. Add a little Framing Hanley (with that oh-so-sexy voice), and Tavion, lead singer of the band Persevere, was born. And what kind of woman would knock a strapping rock star to his knees? Why, a best-selling author, of course.

So here I had two people who worked in the entertainment industry, but were worlds apart. What could possibly bring them together? The answer seemed so simple, really: Fate. Then my next thought was “What if Fate was a living, sometimes-breathing, entity? What an interesting point-of-view that would be!” And it spiraled from there. I dug deep into the protag, Devan (the name of the girl in Disturbed’s song), and put pieces of me and my personality into the mix. Naturally, then I had to mock myself and my works along the way. (i.e., Suddenly Impending Reprisals became Devan’s masterpiece, and guess what…it made it all the way to the NYT Bestsellers list! Way to go, Devan!!)

Now, the question was ‘What inspired me to write Connected,’ and so far, I’m telling you how I started writing Twisted (Book 2). Yeah, well, I’m getting there. (Remember how I said it was the longest route possible?)

So there I was, writing Twisted and having a hell of a time. And then the unthinkable happened (insert suspenseful music here)…I got writer’s block. I’m talking a stint of writer’s block that could only have originated from the deepest, most vile and sulfuric, bowels of Hell. And, man, was it stubborn! Over a year went by before I picked it up again, and even then it wasn’t because I came up with a grand master plan, or that my head was swimming with ideas. No. It was simply because I missed my characters. So I started to reread/revise/edit the 30K words I had written, hoping it would shake something loose. Enter: two new inspirations.

The first was the Demonica series by Larissa Ione. In the series, paired up mates can sense each other’s emotions and I got to wondering “What would that be like?”

The next piece of inspiration came from Avenged Sevenfold (A7X). I was studying up on rock bands for Twisted (and can A7X ever ROCK!!), and checking out the band members (*drool*) and it inspired a new character—Rhys.

From Ione and A7X blossomed Connected (finally!) where Rhys’ spirit was stuck inside Addison (my protag), and they could sense each other’s emotions.

But I had one problem. I absolutely refused to walk away from Twisted again. Soooo…how could I use this? Well, first of all, Rhys couldn’t be a lead singer since that’s what Tavion is. And secondly, I wanted this to be a fast-hitting novella used to compliment Twisted’s story. What I needed was a supporting member of the band... Hello, Rhys, my luscious rhythm guitarist!

But then I had another problem. (Because I needed more, right?) I couldn’t picture Rhys in Tavion’s band, Persevere, which is a more mature, established group. No, he belonged with some just-making-it-big band that wasn’t afraid to play with the formula, to take chances, and was just enjoying the ride and what life had to offer. He belonged with the guys of Black Codex.

Then problem #3: How did Black Codex and Persevere tie in to each other? I mean, if Connected leads into Twisted, they have to know each other somehow, right? Well, as luck would have it, they’re all friends. (Who knew?!) Eh, okay, so actually two members from Black Codex are brothers and they grew up with a guy from Persevere, so, by association, they became friends. (It’s all in the details, right?) ;)

All right. Now what? I didn’t want to introduce Fate (my sassy, capricious entity) in Connected even though he’s definitely hard at work behind the scenes. It would’ve been too distracting from the plot, and I had plenty to maneuver already! (Hello…dead rock star stuck in some chicks head!!) So what I did was plot Connected so it all occurs during the same timeframe as the first half of Twisted. Perfect! Then when people read Twisted, they’ll get all the behind-the-scenes-extras that were going on in Connected that either: 1) I didn’t have time for, or 2) I couldn’t smoothly transition in.

At the end of my long-ass journey, not only did I have Connected, but I shook myself loose on Twisted…aaand came up with storylines for the other eight band members. (I’ll spare you the details on those. LOL) Thusly, the Twists of Fate series was born.

So, let me ask you again: Did you ever get a song stuck in your head…?

You can find more juicy tidbits on the Twists of Fate series at my website or the Twists of Fate Facebook page.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Reading in 2012!

Happy Holidays!

Did you get that ereader you wanted?  Have you figured out how to use it yet?  I was surprised how easy it was to get in the swing of things.

Mr R gave me a Kindle last spring.  I thought I wouldn't like it but after about fifteen minutes, I was a dyed-in-the-wool ebook fan.  The convenience, the adjustable font, the space savings, the easy reading--yes, I'm a convert for sure!  And I loved it so much, I gave my daughter one for her birthday, and now my grandson for his birthday--with a gift certificate for Christmas. :)

There are tons of great buys right now, so if you have a new ereader, you're in for a treat.  My books are on special, too!  So of course I'd love for you to try one.  These books are available in print, too.

Much Ado About Marshals

Like romance? Love stories about the old west? Want a dreamy cowboy to cuddle up and read about? Then this is the book for you.  ~~My Eclectic Bookshelf, 5 dragonflies

amazon logo Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogersbarnes and noble logo Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogerssmashwords logo Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogerskobo logo1 Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogersibooks logo Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogerssony reader logo Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogers
Daisy Gardner wants to be a detective just like dime novel heroine Honey Beaulieu.  To her delight, her sister shot a bank robber and he got away, so now she even has a crime to solve. But her parents insist she marry a man whose farm is miles from town.  She can't solve crimes stuck out there. What better solution than to marry the new marshal!

Rancher Cole Richards saves his friend from robbing a bank, but is shot for his efforts, and now is a wanted man.  His friend takes him to Oreana to see the doc, where Cole's mistaken for the new marshal.  Now he faces a dilemma few men have to face--tell the truth and hang, or live a lie and end up married. Either way could cost him his freedom.

Faery Merry Christmas

Romance has gone awry in Faeryshire.Who would've thought Mr. and Mrs. Claus's daughter would be "on the shelf"? Yep, Cheshya's all a'flutter because her 2,000th birthday, the last day she's eligible to take a mate, is on Christmas, only four days away, but Liam of the Red Clan, the only man she has ever wanted is otherwise occupied . . .

Terra Humanus in 1956: carhops on roller skates, the submarine races, a pink Nash Metropolitan, Lucky Strikes, Little Richard, and the Shoreline Sharks Baseball Club starring ace pitcher Liam Stone.

For the past five years, Liam of the Red Clan has lived in Terra Humanus, pitching for the Shoreline Sharks and obsessed with signing as a major league pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds. The faery queen sends Cheshya to help him achieve his goal, but in signing with the Reds, will he lose out on his true heart's desire?

What will it take to make a Faery Merry Christmas?

"What faery fun! A winsome sprite's barely still-ticking time clock. Mayhem in the land of Claus. And the man who could wave just the right magic wand obsessed with baseball. A Christmas story to cuddle up with--and keep you really warm." Stella Cameron, NYT Best-selling Author

You can find my other award-winning books at my website:

Happy Reading in 2012!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Festivities in the Old West

by Jacquie Rogers
Yule Brings Celebration For All

The snow blows nearly sideways as it blankets the range. Ranch hands hunker down in their saddles, scarves over their ears and their Stetsons protecting them from the fierce wind. They dream of a warm fire and hot buttered rum. But they have livestock to save from freezing and starvation, so they ride on.

It's Christmas on the open range. Miserable for man and beast. But it isn't just another day at the office, so to speak. They whittle gifts for one another, sing a few carols as they sit around the campfire warming their hands and feet. Cook gives them a hot meal--the finest beans with maybe some meat thrown in. And with a little luck, Cook would bake an apple pie. Life couldn't be better and they thank their lucky stars for a sound horse and solid tack.

(Yes, I know these cattle are a modern breed and very fat, but it's the only picture I could find.)

Ahavath Beth Israel Congregation

Chanukkah in the mines

It's the 1860's in Silver City, Idaho. The Festival of Lights has been celebrated in the West since the beginning of frontier settlement, but not like their counterparts back East who have a warm and dry place to worship with their families. A menorah can be lit anywhere, and the Jewish silver miners do just that. They pray, play a little dreidel, and think a lot of home.

The picture to the left is the oldest continuously used synagogue west of the Mississippi. It's located in Boise, Idaho, and was built in 1896 by the Beth Israel congregation, now called the Ahavath Beth Israel congregation. Very beautiful.

Christmas on the farm

Everyone has chores to do every day. Cows needs milked, livestock needs watered and fed, eggs need gathered, and the barnyard needs to be tidied (to use a gentile term). So after the chores are done, the family can gather together and celebrate Christmas with what meager resources they have. If they don't have evergreen trees to spare, they might decorate a sagebrush with popcorn and berries. They make ornaments with precious bits of paper and scraps of cloth. Peach tins make nice ornaments, too, and they shine in the firelight.

1876 Christmas, Harper's Weekly

Their celebration might be more humble than those in the eastern cities, but they have a grand time, nevertheless. The women cook for days. They're resourceful and whatever they have available will do for a fine pie or stew. The Christmas feast could consist of chicken, venison, or maybe a ham, along with homemade rolls, freshly churned butter, potatoes and gravy, and pies--maybe one made with dried apples and a vinegar pie. Each family member has made modest gifts for the others and even the smallest child has labored over precious gifts--maybe a drawing or a doll made of sticks. They sing carols, maybe read the Bible, and if they're close enough to town, maybe even go to church.

For most Christian families, Christmas is a day for family togetherness and to show their love and appreciation for one another, as well as celebrating the religious aspect of the holy day.

Christmas for Outlaws, Gunslingers, and Cyprians

The saloon owner brings small gifts for the working ladies, the bartender, the resident gambler, and a few of the regulars. A few cowpunchers bring gifts for their favorite girl. They might have a nice meal together before they open for business, and even then, the customers are few. It's one night they can relax.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

My gift to you: send a message to jacquierogers @ gmail.com (no spaces) and let me know which book you'd like, Faery Merry Christmas or Much Ado About Marshals and I'll send you a Smashwords coupon for a free book.  Offer ends 10pm Pacific Time, December 19th.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quantum Physics and the Art of Overcoming Despair

by Craig Lancaster
Copyright © 2011 Craig Lancaster

After I finished my second novel, The Summer Son, and delivered it to the publisher, I did what I usually do at the conclusion of a big writing project: I took a deep breath, and I kept writing.

The difference, this time, is that I didn’t embark on one of the myriad ideas I had for another novel. I found myself drawn to short stories, something I’d pursued only haltingly before. I wrote stories about lost and lonely men and women, people pushed to the margins of society and their own lives: among them a traveling salesman consigned to a late-night bus ride; a teenage girl running from abuse in her hometown and falling into the indifference of a larger city; a newspaperman in a crisis of career and confidence; a basketball coach who, to borrow the words of the great Neil Finn, lost his regard for the good things that he had.

For nearly a year, the stories poured out. They weren’t consciously linked in time or in theme, but they were bound by one thing that I found impossible to escape: my own state of mind. My marriage was unraveling. I had learned, after a lifetime of veering between troughs of depression and soaring heights of manic energy, that I have a form of bipolar disorder. (I’ve also learned about the liberation that comes with finding a way to raise the floor and lower the ceiling, emotionally speaking.) My means of coping with the turmoil in my life was to sit at my writing desk and find a path through my own thoughts, exorcising my fears and my insecurities.

Craig Lancaster, author
The result is Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure, a collection of ten short stories with perhaps the most inscrutable title I’ll ever choose. (My promise to you: There are no actual quantum physics involved, and the meaning of the title will become clear enough when you read the book.) Some of the stories appeared elsewhere first: “Cruelty to Animals,” a tale of badly mismatched lovers, was in the Spring 2011 issue of Montana Quarterly. Three of them—“This Is Butte. You Have Ten Minutes,” “Alyssa Alights,” and “Star of the North”—were originally bundled into e-book form. And the last and most hopeful story, “Comfort and Joy,” was written last December and sold for a dollar, the net proceeds of which I donated to Feed America.

While all of this was happening, I was also getting my publishing company, Missouri Breaks Press, off the ground. The first book I did, Carol Buchanan’s Gold Under Ice, was a Spur Award finalist. In July 2011, I collaborated with my colleague Ed Kemmick to bring out The Big Sky, By and By, a collection of Ed’s essays and stories about Montana people and places. The success of those books helped give me the confidence to bring out Quantum Physics under my own banner—not so much because I’m an ardent self-publisher but because my autodidactic tendencies compel me to explore this business from every possible angle. A collection of short stories, which most publishers shy away from on marketing grounds, seemed like the right project to take on. I hired the best editor I know, Jim Thomsen, and he helped me deliver a book that I’m intensely proud of.

I hope you’ll give it a look. It’s available in trade paperback ($14) and e-book versions for a damned sporting price ($1.99). Links: Kindle, Nook.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grandma's Guaranteed-to-put-you-in-a-sugar-coma Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

Faery Merry Christmas
Oven: 350 degrees

3½ cups flour
3 cups sugar
1½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

4 eggs
2½ cups pumpkin
1 cup cooking oil
2/3 cup water

1 cup pecans

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (I prefer parchment paper)

Sift dry ingredients and mix
Stir in liquid ingredients
Stir in nuts
Pour into loaf pans
Let sit 30 minutes

Bake for 60 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan (or it will fall apart)

Eat and enjoy! But be ready to dial 911 when your head buzzes off from the sugar rush. :)

Happy Holidays!