Monday, October 22, 2012

A Visit with Melia Alexander

Please welcome 
writer and all-around fun gal.  

I met her at a Rose City Romance Writers workshop and I'm telling you, she's a force!  So I was happy she agreed to be on my blog today. :)

JR: First of all, introduce yourself.  What specific subgenres do you love to read the most?  Who do you want to be when you grow up?  

MA: Hello Jacquie!  Thanks for having me on your blog.  I write contemporary romance novels - sassy, sexy, FUN contemporary romance novels.  Life's too intense as it is, so I love to be entertained by a fun read.  Given my day-job schedule (where I get to work with intelligent, hunky, construction guys -- complete with matching egos), short contemps are what I prefer.  

Oh, and I'm not growing up.  I'll be the eighty-year-old at a dance club wearing a leopard print skirt and sparkly top.  Orthopedic shoes?  Pfft.  Not me.  (Be warned family!)

JR: Melia, you have an interesting background.  Guam!  I love Guam.  Tell us how you ended up living in the Pacific Northwest, and how you survived your mother.

MA: Ah, Guam.  I got voted off the island.  :-)  Seriously, I come from a family that values education so strongly, I got shipped off to the Mainland to finish high school and then college.  What Mom hadn't counted on: I wasn't going back.  I think she might have forgiven me by now.

All in all, my mom is amazing!  Not that I'd thought so when I was growing up, of course.  She was a cigar-smoking, mahjong-playing, mother of five who never baked a cake but led us on hikes through the jungle -- wielding a machete, no less.  (Yeah, the combo exists.)  Thankfully, she's toned down a bit -- no more tromps through the jungle.

"Surviving" Mom meant reading.  A lot.  With books I lived a lot of adventures - far more than the land mass of a South Pacific island afforded me.  Come to think of it, Daddy loved to read, too  Hmmm. . ..

JR:  We’d love to know about your current manuscript in progress.  Tell us all about it, please!

MA:  My current manuscript is the second book in a series.  When a guy thinks he's in love with his female BFF, but she marries someone else, how does he bounce back?  A successful businessman, the hero thinks he can move on by dating as many women as possible.  After all, they're practically lined up outside his door.  Until he meets the heroine.

She's not playing his game.  A confirmed bachelorette, she recognizes trouble when she sees him - she's not going on one date with him, let alone breaking her own no-more-than-two-dates rule.  At least, that's her plan.  (Ha!)

This manuscript has been an eye opener for me.  As a plotter, I want the story to flow a certain way.  Turns out this heroine isn't paying any attention, and she flat out doesn't care about the hours I'd spent carefully crafting her future.  (Inconsiderate of her, I know!)  I'm learning to trust my muse.  Sort of.

JR: You’re going to the Emerald City Writers’ Conference (so am I!) .  Are you a planner?  If so, which workshops intrigue you the most, and what sort of topics do you avoid (for right now)?  And when will you be at the bar?

MA: Am I ever a planner!  I spend at least four weeks plotting out the story.  That's about as much time as I take writing the first draft.  Edits take much longer.

I'm so excited about the Emerald City Writers' Conference!  The speakers are always excellent.  I don't avoid topics, but I do tend to gravitate toward craft workshops. . .. as well as the informal ones at the bar.  :-)  There's so much to be learned, and this conference is one that I've attended almost every year since I've started writing (I've only missed one).  The energy of agents, editors and other writers is AMAZING.  I always leave the conference feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a manuscript. 

JR: The landscape of publishing has changed drastically in the last two years.  In light of that, how do you plan to negotiate the waters to publication?

MA: The best road to publication, I think, is to write a good story, AND to submit, submit, submit!  Traditional print, e-pub, small press, self-pub -- do it all.  I think this is the best advice I've heard (at a workshop you and Ann Charles gave).  These days, a writer shouldn't limit herself to any one method of publishing.  Makes sense to me.  

JR: Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Anything you’d like to add? 

MA:  This has been a lot of fun, Jacquie.  Thanks for the invitation!  

$10 Amazon Gift Card

To celebrate fall ('cause, why not?), I'd like to offer a contest drawing.  Between now and October 31st, stop by my blog and leave a comment.  Each one will be entered in a random drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.  See you there!  

Thanks so much to Melia for stopping by today.  Be sure to leave a comment on her blog so you'll be eligible to win her prize!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tender Touch by Charlene Raddon #historicalromance

Tender Touch
by Charlene Raddon

Congratulations to Charlene Raddon, whose latest is Tender Touch, released Oct 11 2012, by Tirgearr Publishing.  It was originally published by Kensington in 1994 in paperback.

Here's what it's about:

They had lost everything that mattered...

Three nightmarish years of marriage had shattered Brianna Wight's sheltered world. Faking her own murder, she fled St. Louis... harboring terrible secrets that could mean her death.

The tragic loss of his Indian wife left Columbus Nigh a wanderer; necessity made him a wilderness guide. But now he found himself drawn to the enigmatic woman who'd hired him to lead her westward. Her gentle strength stirred his lonely heart... her tender beauty aroused his deepest passions.

Would they find love again on a western journey?

But the perils of the Oregon Trail paled beside the murderous wrath of the man who tracked them across the harsh frontier. Brianna knew the only way to save herself and Columbus was to risk their tender love. Only then could she free herself from the horrors of the past--and embrace a rapturous future...

Charlene Raddon is author of Taming Jenna, Tender Touch, Forever Mine, To Have and to Hold, and writing as Rachel Summers, Scent of Roses.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Antiheroes: The Bad Boys of Fiction by @mattpizzolato

Matthew Pizzolato,
The Bad Boys of Fiction
by Matthew Pizzolato

Perhaps the biggest draw that both reading and writing fiction has for me is the escapism that it provides. There are a lot of reasons to tell stories, but for the most part, people want characters with whom they can identify.

White Hats
The traditional hero and the villain portray the extremes of storytelling of good versus evil, and there are a lot of stories told using those character types that provide clear examples of how we should or shouldn't live.

Everyone needs heroes for the examples they provide because as human beings we should all strive toward bettering ourselves. However, not all of us can identify with heroes because while they may have flaws, they generally overcome them over the course of a story.

Gray Hats
Yet, there is a character that is somewhere in the middle, the antihero. This character type can portray elements of both heroes and villains, yet it is firmly entrenched in the heroic elements because no matter how bad an antihero is, there is always a line this character will not cross.

An example of this can be seen in the popular television series, Hell on Wheels. The main character, Cullen Bohanon is a classic example of the antihero. In one recent episode, Bohanon joined a gang and resorted to robbing trains. He had no problem with this until one of his cohorts threatened a child during the robbery. Bohanon defended the child and was knocked unconscious by another gang member. That is the line and Bohanon did not cross it.

Wesley Quaid
Wesley Quaid is the antihero that is the protagonist of my most recent release, Outlaw, and he is featured in several of my short stories. He's a lot of fun to write because he doesn't adhere to any particular moral code. He has his own sense of honor and lives by his own rules.

Because Wesley is an antihero, he allows me to explore the gray area of morality in my writing as opposed to the moral absolutes of black and white that I would normally be limited to if I stuck to heroes and villains. He has opened entirely new realms of storytelling for me as a writer, and I hope that he is as much fun to read about as he is for me to write.

Excerpt from Outlaw by Matthew Pizzolato

"I said, I'm faster than you are, Mister."

I took a deep breath, wiped the spilt whiskey from the back of my hand on the front of my shirt and turned to face the snot-nosed kid who'd bumped my elbow.

His hand hung over the butt of his gun and he waggled his fingers. As if that would make his draw faster, or maybe it was suppose to scare me.

"You just gonna stand there with piss running down your leg?" the Kid asked.

The last thing I needed right now was trouble, especially gun trouble. It would blow my cover and put me on the outs with Boyd Carlyle. "All right, Kid."

"All right, what?" His eyes widened and I noticed that he barely breathed.

"You said you're faster than me. Fine. You're faster than me." I started to turn away.


"Go home and shoot up some cans."

Several of the men standing nearby laughed out loud. Blood rushed to the Kid's pale face when I closed the distance between us. He took a step back.

When he wrapped his fingers around the butt of his Colt, I stepped closer, jammed his half-drawn gun back into leather and slugged him square on the chin.

His gun belched flame from the bottom of his holster, and the Kid dropped as if he'd been pole-axed.

I bellied up to the bar. "Bartender, another whiskey."

The place erupted into cheers and laughter. Several men clapped me on the back. I heard scraping sounds and turned to see two men dragging the Kid toward the batwings.

"You should have just killed him. He'll make another try," a heavily whiskered man to my right said.

I shrugged. "Maybe he will." Recalling that tomorrow morning I would be sworn in as Deputy Marshal, I smiled. "Then again, maybe he won't."

The scent of lilac perfume assailed my nostrils as a body tucked in close to mine next to the bar.

"Howdy, Sugah." The voice oozed of Southern refinement.

I glanced at her and stared for a moment at her cleavage. "Well, hello there."

"Buy a lady a drink?"

Her low-cut dark green dress left little to the imagination, and the color enhanced the green of her eyes. Long golden hair hung to her waist.

"I figure it's you who should buy me one."

She raised an eyebrow. "Is that a fact?"

"Yes ma'am." I tossed back a drink and grinned at her. "I could have shot the place up a few minutes ago, gotten blood all over your floor, and made quite a mess."

Her eyes crinkled at the corners while she waved for the bartender. "How'd you know I owned the place?"

"The name of the front is The Southern Magnolia; and then there's that Yankee accent you have."

A saucy smile lit her features. "You're different than most men."

"So I've been told."

"Most men would have killed that boy."

On any other occasion, I would have too. Instead of elaborating, I shrugged. "There was no need to."

She eyed me for a moment and seemed on the verge of speaking again when the bartender arrived with a special bottle and a couple of glasses.

"Sam. This man's drinks are on the house."

"Yes ma'am." Another customer called for him and he scurried away.

She filled both glasses and handed me one.

"Here's how," I said and banged our glasses together.

She tossed back her whiskey like she'd done it a few times.

I downed my shot and replaced the glass on the bar.

She looked me over for a moment. "You know, I kind of like you and-"

"I don't blame you."

Her lips twitched upward slightly. "And I don't even know your name."

"Wesley Quaid. What's yours?"

"Folks call me Dixie."

I laughed. "I should have known."

"Yes. You should have." Crowfeet appeared at the corner of her eyes as she refilled our glasses. "There's a room at the top of the stairs."


She handed me the glass and ran her finger down my chest and over my stomach. "Yep. Something up there I want to show you."

"Is that a fact?"

"Yes sir. Lead the way."

I stepped back and offered her my arm. "Ladies first."

"But of course." She placed her hand in the crook of my elbow and led me toward the stairs.  More than a few envious glares were cast in my direction, but who was I to argue with a beautiful woman?

My thanks to Matthew Pizzolato for stopping by my blog.  I hope his new release, Outlaw is a huge success!  Also, check out his collection of Wesley Quaid short stories: The Wanted Man.

Want to learn more about Matthew or contact him?  Sure you do!