#EvolutionThursday: Shawna Romkey

Shawna RomkeySo, shame on me. I haven’t done an Evolution Thursday in a while. Lucky for me, today is Thursday. And Shawna Romkey hasn’t been a guest yet. AND she has a book coming out next week. It’s like the perfect storm of blogginess! If you haven’t met Shawna Romkey yet, here’s a bit about her.

She grew up in around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, two rescue dogs and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.

She has her BA in creative writing from the University of Kansas where one of her plays was chosen by her creative writing professor to be produced locally, and two of her short stories were published in a university creative arts handbook.  She earned her MA in English from Central Missouri State University where she wrote a novel as her thesis.

She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same.  She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.

You may stalk her at the following locations: Website | Facebook | Twitter

WSR: What gave you the idea for your novel?

SR: Three of my friends were killed in a car accident in high school. I think trying to come to terms with that and come up with a reason for such a tragedy had a lot to do with it. I was also supposed to be in the car with them when it happened, but had to work, so like Lily in Speak of the Devil, I had survivor’s guilt to deal with on top of the grief and mourning.

WSR: Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

SR: I write from start to finish but the first scene I wrote didn’t make the cut. I wrote the beginning of the book as if Lily got a phone call that her friends were killed. It was too passive and not a strong enough beginning, so I decided to kill her off in the first chapter and that seems to have been a good choice for a more dramatic opening to the book.

WSR: Were there any scenes that you loved but ended up cutting?

SR: No. If I loved it, they stayed. If they were cut, they needed to be.

WSR: I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

SR: I had several and they would :p. I can tell you that one thing that was used at the end of the book, a mirror, became a huge symbol and plot device for the next book in the series.

WSR: Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

SR: I was surprised by several things that happened. I had an outline of where it started and where I wanted it to go, but the characters threw me several curve balls as I was writing, taking the story places I hadn’t imagined when I started out.

WSR: What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

SR: I’m polishing the second book in the series and preparing to send it out.  There’s another one after that. Then I have an idea I got when I was in Greece last summer that deals with the Oracle of Delphi.  But she has to wait until I’m done with angels and demons. 🙂

WSR: Thanks for visiting me today, Shawna.

SR: Thanks for having me, Wendy!

SpeakOfTheDevilSpeak of the Devil
Releases March 15, 2013
Print Copy is available NOW on Amazon

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a book on my iPad that needs reading. Shawna Romkey’s tour takes off on the 11th. Bookmark her site, for there will soon be details of tour stops and Easter Eggs.


Evolution Sunday: S.M. Boyce

Hello, lovely readers! It’s been a while since I posted an Evolution Thursday, and today’s is extra special. And not just because it’s Sunday. I’ve tossed out the standard questions. Today’s interview is completely unique and tailored specifically to SM Boyce and her epic fantasy series, The Grimoire Trilogy. 

Treason is the second book of The Grimoire series. When we leave Kara and Braeden in Lichgates, they have found a deserted village. It gives them some time and space away from the rest of Ourea to catch their breath. Treason picks up about a week later, and Braeden and Kara are due at a gala event.

WR: Ms. Boyce. The gala is talked about during the last third of Lichgates, so clearly you knew where you were going with the second book well before finishing Lichgates, but the plot of Treason takes off like a rocket.

What gave you the idea for The Grimoire? Did you have many of the ideas in Treason before you finished the Lichgates? Or did you take the gala piece and build off of it?

SM: I’ve been building The Grimoire Trilogy since 2006…it was one of those ideas that sparked with a single thought and then snowballed into something epic. I’ve been designing the world, which is pretty complex, all this time. In fact, I really only sat down to write Lichgates in January 2011. So that was a long time spent on designing the outlines, character sketches, and world building.

I had all three novels outlined before I sat down to write Lichgates. Now, an outline has to be flexible, and rewrites in Lichgates forced changes in the subsequent books. But I knew the general outline of Treason before I ever released Lichgates. Likewise, even though Treason released October 27, I had the full Heritage outline written long before I finished Treason.

WR: So, we can check “plotter vs pantser” off the list. What was the single thought that became The Grimoire?

SM: The Grimoire Trilogy actually started when I was a kid playing with some clay in my aunt’s basement. I started making these “spellcasters” (tripped-out wands, really). While I made them, I started fabricating these different cultures, each with their own caster. Eventually, I created special coins that gave the casters more power, and that led to other tools that gave the casters even more power. All in the course of an afternoon, mind you.

This got me thinking. What sort of people used these casters? What were they like? Where did they live? Did they have crazy pets?

Those people became the yakona in my Grimoire Trilogy. The casters disappeared as the story evolved, and I’m honestly glad I didn’t keep them. The story is stronger for it. But I still have those casters in my closet after all these years. It’s fun to go look at them now and again and see how the story evolved from some easy-bake clay and a wild imagination.

WR: I want to talk to you a little about your leads. Let’s start with Braeden. Boy, the dude can take a hit. And a kick and an insult too. And that’s just being thick-skinned. He’s a complex guy to start, but in Treason you make him face more of his demons. By the end, he’s either going to be a smear on the wall or a candidate for sainthood. Braeden thinks the former is likely, but still, he fights the good fight. Why? What’s in it for him?

SM: Yeah, Braeden is one tough man. For the longest time, even he doesn’t know why he fights. He’s spent his life running, lying, and trying to redeem himself for it. Yet when we get to Treason, he has to face what he is for the first time and truly fight against the dark nature that has ruled him since he was born. I mean, his instinct is to kill people. He enjoys murder, but hates himself for liking it. It’s a terrible curse, and he fights because he just wants to be a good person.

For ages, Braeden thought being a good person meant breaking his ties to the throne and to the family that gives him this natural propensity for murder—but when he realizes that’s not possible, he almost gives up. I think if he hadn’t met Kara, he probably would have given up. But she brings laughter and fun into his otherwise dark life, and he’s never had that before. He can trust her with anything, and he’s never had that leisure before, either. As the story progresses, he starts to discover more reasons to fight.

In his journey through Treason, Braeden learns what it will take to rule and starts to believe he has what it takes to lead the subjects he’d originally condemned as evil. For the first time in his life, he has real hope that he can overcome and truly be a good man.

WR: I think it helps that Kara’s American college student background helps. Generation Y has been taught to accept other people as they are. Most of them even seem to get it, and Kara certainly does.

Kara literally stumbled into her role as the vagabond and to her credit, she’s embraced it. And being the vagabond has bad sides, namely the ghost of the old vagabond in her head becoming vocal at inopportune moments. My question about Kara actually has to do with Deirdre (a soul-stealer) as well. In Lichgates, Kara’s dad was about to tell her something important before he met a gruesome fate. Kara seems to have forgotten. When will we come back around to the family’s secret and how will it impact the story?

SM: As you all remember from early on in Lichgates, Kara’s father told her to find a small wooden chest that he’d hidden in a photo cabinet near the stairs. She did find it, if you recall, but Deidre interrupted her chance to open it.

I know the chest from Kara’s father is something that seemed left unresolved in Lichgates, but I promise it was entirely intentional. Kara certainly didn’t forget the chest, but she never had an opportunity to go back and get it because Carden’s men kept a close watch on her old rental home. In Treason, though, we finally see what’s in the chest…and discover what it means.

WR: Before we go, I want to talk a little about the Blood heirs. You’ve mentioned Braeden’s growth. He used to hate what he was, but he’s coming to understand that there’s more to him and to the role he plays. Other Blood heirs are changing in ways that would surprise other people. Gavin, the young Blood of Hillside, in particular, but also Aurora, the Kirelm heir, who I feel has been criminally underestimated by everyone. Is this indicating a change in Ourea’s power structure, or is this just what happens when these kids come into their own?

SM: This is an incredibly insightful question, and you’re spot on. War changes lives, especially those who lead during tumultuous times. On top of that, each generation brings with it its own distinct set of beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses. The youth of a nation will bring with them new ideologies and methodologies when they take over. So with all of these factors combined, we see the power shifts that shape Ourea’s future and emerging leaders.

It’s clear that the power structure that has existed to this point hasn’t worked. Not really. Ourea has been at war for thousands of years but it’s always been behind the scenes. This is really the final war. It’s the first all-or-nothing fight that’s included every major player in the kingdoms, and that pressure is changing the way the Bloods think.

WR: I typically ask a list of questions during Evolution Thursday, but today I have just one. After Treason, there will be Heritage, the conclusion of The Grimoire Series. But what’s next? What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

SM: Oh man, and he is waving his hand like mad.

I actually have a crazy little plan: I’m going to write Heritage and the first in my new series—an urban fantasy/fairytale blend called Wispvine—at the same time. They’ll both release in Fall 2013. After that, I’ll release 2 books a year: one novella from the Grimoire Trilogy, and one more novel in the Wispvine series. It’s a tall order, but I think I can do it!

I only have about three novellas planned for the Grimoire Trilogy bonus journals, but about five prepared for Wispvine. That means once I finish the Grimoire books, I’ll probably switch to a third series I have brewing in the back of my mind: a paranormal horror with ghosts, ghouls, and demons that will keep you up at night. H’oh boy, I can’t wait for that one!

Me: Neither can I. It’s been lovely having you here today. Lovely readers, keep your eyes out for Treason. It’s an awesome ride.

Evolution Thursday: Kinley Baker

Kinley BakerKinley Baker is the author of the fantasy romance series, Shadowed Love. She read her first romance at the age of thirteen and immediately fell in love with the hero and the genre. She lives with her husband, Benjamin, and her dog, Joker, in the Pacific Northwest. Ruined and Denied are available now. Look for Freed in July 2012. As a firm supporter of all supernatural lifestyles, she writes fantasy romance, paranormal romance, and futuristic romance.
You can find Kinley at: WebsiteTwitterFacebook

What gave you the idea for Denied?

When I wrote Ruined, the first book in the Shadowed Love Series, in 2009, I knew I wanted to write Caleb’s story. He ended up being the hero in the second novel, now called Denied. Caleb is the leader of a people who lost their women, children, and home realm in a ruthless invasion, and there was so much depth and pain inside him, I wanted to give him his happy ending. Denied went through three rewrites, but it turned out better than I could have hoped, and Tabitha is the perfect heroine for him. She challenges him in all the right ways. They challenge each other, and I hope everyone enjoys reading about it.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

The first scene I wrote is a scene that is no longer in the book. This story went through so many transformations. But there is one scene that stands out. It’s been there through all the versions. It has to do with Tabitha learning how to shoot an arrow, since she’s only an expert with a sword. It doesn’t go well.

loved that scene. Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

Cutting scenes is never easy for me, even when I recognize it’s not important to driving the story forward. There were a lot of scenes I loved that I ended up cutting on the last rewrite. I realized just because I like the events that happen in a scene doesn’t mean it’s right for the story. Luckily, one scene I really loved works in another series, so I’m not losing it completely. It’s just a little different in a different world with different characters.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

My a-ha moment was when I finally figured out the structure of the story. It’s not something I can put into words, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the story, and it will be worth it.

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if you ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

Yes, I was surprised where the story took me considering where I started with the first draft. But I think it’s all for the better. Caleb and Tabitha are two characters who are innocent in a lot of ways, but broken and tested, as well. They discover their strengths and weaknesses in each other, and learn to become a team. I couldn’t ask for anything better than where they end up.

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

I probably have four series right now with at least one book done. They’re all raising their hands saying “Pick me!”. Right now, I’m reading craft books and focusing on regrouping. It’s hard to be patient with so many stories clamoring to be told, but I want to make sure I do them justice. Also, I’m working on Arianna’s story, which is book three in the Shadowed Love Series. It’s very tough to write because it’s emotional but I think the end result will be totally worth it.

Thank you so much for allowing me to visit today!

Thank you so much for coming, Kinley.

And, my dear lovely readers, please check out Denied, which is currently available from Amazon. You won’t be disappointed.

Evolution Thursday: Raven Bower

Raven and Lain Bower are a wife and husband team of writers. They are avid role-players and love to design mythical and diabolical creatures, characters and fantastic worlds together. They are co-creators of Farath, a new epic fantasy world in the works.

Raven and Lain are the authors of the Vengeance urban fantasy series which includes Primal (summer 2012), Smoke (2013) and Dead Moon (2013/14).

Raven is the author of the supernatural suspense series, Apparitions, which includes ApparitionsWendigo and Rags Beneath (spring 2012).

The film rights for the Apparitions series have been purchased by Dead Mouse Productions. Directed by Michael Bryant and Produced by Margee Nickola. Screenplay by Raven & Lain Bower.

Lain and Raven also wrote the screenplay for ‘The Nano Effect, a dark futureistic suspense movie that is currently under production at Mad Lab Films.  With Michigans very own comedian Justin Sullivan!

They currently live in Northern Michigan with their four kids and hell hounds.

Raven, what gave you the idea for Primal?

I kept seeing this werewolf male with wild black hair and gleaming silver eyes. He stalked me for weeks! Not that I minded, he’s very drool-worthy and beautifully Alpha. Thus began what might be considered a quite unhealthy relationship with him stalking me and my obsession with figuring out who he was and what story he held in his claws. Thus, the world of Primal was born.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

Yes! It’s still in the book too – Arvon in the woods under the light of the full moon, desperately attempting to escape the angry Alpha Female of his clan.

Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

We cut a lot of scenes that were fun and shed light on different aspects of the story but just didn’t quite have the oomph they needed. One was a scene with the heroine Wrey helping a mare deliver a breech foal. It was a lovely scene, heartwarming and showed Wrey’s veterinary experience. Unfortunately, it didn’t add much to the story as a whole and so we nixed it.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

Yes, even though we plot our novels from first scene to last before the writing begins – these moments always creep up and they’re a delight. All I can say about this one, is that it added a diabolical dimension to one of the seemingly background characters who will come into greater play in Smoke (Book two of the Vengeance series).

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

We usually know exactly how the story will end because I tend to do a lot of what I call ‘Daydreaming’ which is really a sort of mental movie directing in my head. I run the cast through various plot ideas, scenes and twists to find the most dramatic course for the story. When I ‘direct’ myself into a corner, which happens, it’s a simple matter of rewinding from the point the plot went afoul and playing it forward again with different scenarios. That said, there’s always little details that the characters and world reveal during the actual writing process, but we’ve never (to date) had one that changed the course of the novel to the point where the ending or a major scene changed.

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

The one we’re working on right now is a romantic fantasy adventure that simply refuses to go away. It started with the ‘Daydreaming’ process for a novella we were contracted to write and uhm, yeah, expanded into the outline for a novel. Love the characters! The book, which is book one of a trilogy, has the very first dwarven character I’ve ever created (I’m usually a solid elf person). He makes a wonderful sidekick to my hero, who is, shall we say, an unconventional romance lead.

It all sounds wonderfully cool! Thank you, Raven, for stopping by today. And of course, my lovely readers, too.

Evolution Thursday: Michelle Clay

Even as a child, Michelle wasn’t afraid of the things that went bump in the night. In fact, the thought of a world where werewolves roamed and Dracula reigned king may seem like an eldritch dream to most, but was exciting to Michelle. Instead of turning on a light for comfort, she reveled in the dark, imagining the lives of what was out there roaming the night and frightening those who didn’t truly appreciate how interesting the supernatural really were.

Nowadays, her visions continuously take shape as she brings life to the worlds she has imagined since childhood. The wild imaginings that often got Michelle out of, or more often into, trouble as a young girl have informed and enriched her storytelling as an adult, bringing a fresh new voice to the paranormal romance genre.

What gave you the idea for Of A Darker Nature?

My love of everything paranormal. I’m always dreaming up new ideas and they always seem to come at the most inconvenient times like while driving, showering, etc.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

Yes, in the first chapter where Marcus rises off the autopsy table and comes to Emily’s rescue with the thermometer still stuck in his side… lol.

Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

Though I did cut some scenes, there wasn’t one that I couldn’t live without. I did, however, cut an entire character from the story. I was a little sad to see her go because she was fashioned after someone I knew. In the end, she was just an extra body that wasn’t needed.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something
really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me
what it was?

I did! About halfway through the novel I had a big A-HA moment, but it would spoil the surprise if I tell you. 🙂

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned,
were you surprised how you got there?

Honestly, I’m always a little bit surprised. Although I usually have a loose plot planned out in my head, I usually just fly by the seat of my pants.

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

I’ve already got a WIP involving reapers, ghosts and Death himself. But at the back of the room, there’s two ideas waving their arms like crazy and begging me to call on them next. Sequels to Of A Darker Nature and Marked Souls are next on the agenda.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Wendy!

Thank you so much for being here. And lovely readers, please check out the excerpt of Michelle’s recent release Of a Darker Nature below.

Of a Darker Nature Excerpt:

Marcus turned his gaze up to her, eyes dark pools of midnight. The points of his fangs dimpled the tender flesh and blood welled just below the surface. Panic took over and she shoved him backward. She scooted off the counter, pulling the shirt back over her shoulders. “Things are moving way too fast. I shouldn’t have let you go that far.”

He watched her with scary, dark eyes.

“Why don’t I run to town and get you some more blood?”

He grinned, fangs in full view. “I’m more interested in yours.”

She shrieked then darted past him. A piece of glass crunched beneath her heel and sent her stumbling.

Marcus gripped her shoulders, drew her against him and pinned her against the refrigerator. He didn’t seem to notice or care that she pushed against his chest in an effort to escape.

His mouth lingered just inches from her neck. The tips of his teeth grazed her throat and his breath tickled across her skin. Fangs pinched the delicate area, forcing a low moan from her.

“Please, Marcus.” She struggled to be heard over the roaring fear in her head. “Don’t do this.”

“Why must you torment me?” His lips tickled her skin.

Emily swallowed hard, afraid to move. Marcus’s desire still pressed against her and her own swirled low in her belly. His fingers deftly unbuttoned her shorts. She was tempted to throw caution to the wind and let him ravage her. But she had no assurances that he wouldn’t bleed her dry.

His hands were at her hips, pushing the denim lower. Next, his fingers hooked her panties. She shuddered against his cool skin and held her breath. He hadn’t backed away and his mouth was still at her throat.

“Marcus?” She was afraid to move or do more than whisper. This was unfamiliar territory and she didn’t know what might set him off. Sex she could handle, but the fangs at her throat were terrifying.

He surprised her by drawing back. Doubt surfaced behind his darkened eyes, but he didn’t take his gaze from her. In a roughened voice he said, “Walk away, don’t run.”

Evolution Thursday: Hildie McQueen

Hildie McQueen writes Paranormal Romance, with a touch of Historical here and there. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Georgia Romance Writers and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapters of RWA.

Visit her blog for a peek at her zany thoughts and you’ll also get a chance to meet some great author friends that post on Favorite Five Wednesdays!

For fun, she spends a lot of time with her girlfriends. Her wonderful hubby is her partner in crime for traveling. They love to jump in the car or sometimes his motorcycle and head to the mountains, the city or the beach.

Life is great!

What gave you the idea for the title “Desperate Betrayal?”

I am not quite sure, it mostly came from the fact that in each story Emma is in a ‘desperate’ position with little recourse other than to betray Cyn.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

Yes! It was the scene where Emma is watching Cyn fight against the demons, it’s such a vivid scene in my mind, I can actually see him battling.

Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

There is a scene where Roderick is being held captive by the demons. He defends himself quite well even though he’s tied up. It’s a great scene. But it did not propel the story forward so the editor cut it.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

No it will not spoil it…it’s when Julian tells Cyn who Emma is to him. I wasn’t quite sure until I wrote that scene how I was going to bring them together.

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I’m a total pantster, can’t wait to write to see what happens next, so every scene is a surprise to me most times!

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

I had to quit writing Fallon’s story (Desperate Possession) and penned a short story for Sebastian, the Incubus in all of the Protector books. It’s not finished but I couldn’t move on until he shut up!

Oh, I really like Sebastian. I want to read that! Thanks for dropping by today, Hildie.

Thank you so much for having me here taking over your blog this week! It’s been so much fun.

Okay, lovely readers, don’t go yet. In celebration of the unannounced, completely accidental “Hildie McQueen Week” on my blog, sweet Hildie is giving away a $10 Starbucks giftcard AND three free copies of Desperate Choices for  commenters on this post! So, leave a comment, and then go check out the reviews for her work posted this week. I’ll even provide links:

Desperate Choices
Desperate Betrayal
Desperate Surrender 

Evolution Wednesday: Aaron Michael Ritchey

YA Paranormal author Aaron Michael Ritchey has penned a dozen manuscripts in his 20 years as a writer. When he isn’t slapping around his muse, Aaron cycles to look fabulous, works in medical technologies, and keeps his family in silks and furs. His first novel, The Never Prayer, dropped March of 2012 from Crescent Moon Press.

Aaron, what gave you the idea for The Never Prayer?

I was challenged to write an angel book. And I’m a sucker for a challenge. I try not to play truth or dare anymore because I don’t have a good handle on my limits. So, yeah, don’t dare me. I won’t respond well. I wasn’t excited about writing an angel book, nope, angels, demons, blah, blah, blah. It’s all been done before. So I decided I was going to do something completely different. And I did. My angel starts off as an atheist.

I personally think that if there are such things as angels, they’d have be a cynic or have a great sense of humor to get through their day. Think about it…they have the creator of the universe as a boss. The hours are horrible. Most of the clients are needy and/or never happy with the way things are going. Atheism seems like a way to go, all things considered.

Yeah, being an angel would suck unless you were totally co-dependent. I was going to write a story about an Alanon meeting for angels. Some people just get addicted to helping others. That wouldn’t be me.

What was the first scene you wrote?

I’m linear type of writer. I’m also a reformed seat-of-your-pants writer. With this book, the first scene and the climax were indelibly stamped on my brain, and as a good little plotter, I mapped it all out so I knew where I was headed. Then wrote the first scene first. And I loved it. Of course, my first draft was overwritten, overly dramatic, over-the-top, over. So I chopped and pruned and thanks to my lovely critique group, I had a solid first scene that I hope hooks people. You can read it on the Crescent Moon Press website.

Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

Um, actually, kind of embarrassing, but I was short. No guy likes to admit such a thing, but the first draft was small, just around 55,000 words. When I was full-blown seat-of-my-pants writer, I struggled to keep my novels under 100,000 words. Now that I map things out, my plots are tighter than the brassier on a Solid Gold dancer. So actually, for this book…

Uh-uh, dude. Stop right there. You said Solid Gold, and I just totally flashed back to my days of bored futzing with the door-knocker handles on my parent’s console TV. That obligates me to interrupt you and ask what about that show made such an impression that you’d use it in a metaphor 30 years later?

Oh man, I was a total Solid Gold junky. I can still remember the thrill of Kim Carnes’ Betty Davis Eyes winning. I had a sad childhood and watched WAAAYYYY too much T.V. I figure with google, you can pretty much allude to anything and people can always look it up if they’re curious.

Praise Google! So you were saying, about this book being tight…

I had to add scenes! Funny, but the scenes I added so fleshed things out, the book is far better with them in. I talked with one reader whose favorite scene is one of the scenes I added!

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

I knew the book was going to be short, and I wanted another layer of conflict, and I had to come up something apocalyptic. When I get stuck in a book, I go for a long walk. So I was walking in the forest, when it hit me. The a-ha moment. I have a character, Dane Bramage, or Bramage for short, and he kept shrieking about the apocalypse. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was something big. On the walk, it hit me. It involves dynamite and cell phones. And it is the apocalypse. Now.

I can relate to exactly that. So, are you surprised where the story took you? Or if it ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I always thought if I left my “pantser” ways, I would no longer be surprised by my characters or my story. That is so not the case. The first draft, other than Bramage’s madness, went how I thought it would. It was in the re-write where I got surprised. My hero, I can’t give his name, decided to tag along with my heroine, Magdalena Marquez, to go and talk with the uppity queen of the high school. My hero and the bitch-queen are like oil and industrial strength lemon Pledge. I remember being as shocked as my heroine, Lena. Really? You want to go talk with Deirdre Dodson? What are you thinking??? The scene turned out great because there was so much conflict.

I think the characters taking over is a good indication you’re going in the right direction.

Those kooky characters, always acting up. Like herding cats. That’s what’s fun though about the creative process as long as the characters don’t try and change the plot, that’s when I get out my whips.

Oh, and I had to add a love scene. I got to the end, and my characters never hooked up! Well, I had to fix that. But in a tasteful YA way. I mimicked how Maggie Steifvater handled her love scene in Shiver. Thanks Maggie!

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

Oh, her. It’s not a him. My story is definitely a girl…


…in a modest, long-sleeved dress, dirty from a cattle drive through a post-apocalyptic wilderness. That’s Cavatica Weller, and she has sisters, and there’s a boy, and of course, when three sisters like the same boy, drama happens. It’s your typical YA Steampunk Biopunk Sci-Fi Western Family Drama Epic! Rough draft is 140,000 words. Yeah, I kind of relapsed into pantsing with this one. Working title is Dandelions, Guns, and Little Lost Souls. It’s The Hunger Games with more cattle. Or Lonesome Dove meets Firefly meets The Waltons. If I don’t get to work on that book soon, I just might die.

Do get to that, Mr. Ritchey. The  YA shelf at the library is short on Steam/Biopunk Sci-fi Western Family Drama epics. 

Oh, Wendy, let us hope so. Thanks again!

For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com. And of course, I’m on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayer. And I tweet – @aaronmritchey. If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

Thank you, Aaron, for filling in my odd Evolution Wednesday slot. And lovely readers, please come back tomorrow for the Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop. I’ll have links for more than a dozen character vs. character interviews!

Evolution Thursday: Cindi Madsen

Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

DEMONS OF THE SUN will be released Fall 2012. To learn more about Cindi Madsen, visit her website, or follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Cindi, thanks so much for coming today. What gave you the idea for Demons of the Sun?

I had an idea about a girl who had demon blood in her veins so that she could protect an ancient artifact, but the very thing that made her able to protect it, also made it hard to do the right thing. I wanted her to be struggling internally, always fighting that side of her. If she loses control then Hades Dagger, a blade Hades formed in the Underworld to turn Demons into daywalkers would be turned over to Hades and the world would be the way it was back during the Black Death, when the dagger had first been formed and demons weren’t restricted to night.

You had me at “Hades.” This is a really cool premise!

I’ve always loved Greek Mythology and wanted to write a book with those elements, but put them in modern day. I got the idea for The Order of Zeus, an order that used to be strong but has faded out over the years, as less and less people believe in the gods. I mixed in some demons and a cocky warrior, who has appointed himself Persephone’s protector, much to her dismay. Even though she’s clearly over her head, she doesn’t trust anyone and doesn’t think she needs anyone to protect her. When I was trying to figure out where it took place, my husband suggested New Orleans, and because of that, I mixed in a little voodoo, too.

So basically I had all those ideas going through my head and then I sat down got busy writing.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

The first scene I wrote is the first scene in my book. I pictured Persephone—the last Sentry in the Order of Zeus—whose sole job it is to protect the dagger, sensing and seeing signs that there was someone in her house. She’s always known demons will come for the dagger, and in theory she’s prepared, but now that it’s happening, she’s trying not to panic. Then she hears a creak behind her and dives for her sword. I wanted to have a fight scene at the very beginning, and it’s still one of my favorite fight scenes.

How about a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

I had a scene with Persephone and Jax (the cocky Warrior who’s barged into her life) and Persephone’s friends playing Rock Band. She and Jax are just warming up to each other and he’s playing video games, something he’s never done before. She’s looking at him, feeling herself starting to warm up to him. I thought the scene was full of romantic tension, but in the end, it didn’t move the plot forward enough. It was just sort of a happy scene with friends and while I tried to work it in and add to it so that it would add to the plot, I ended up cutting it to keep the pacing faster.

They talk about “killing your darlings.” That’s a sweet one. You should post it on your site as a bonus scene!

I could probably fill a book full of longing looks & inner turmoil & kissing. Seriously, why can’t all scenes be kissing scenes? *grin* I might have to post it on my website–that is, if I can find it. I used to keep the scenes I cut and put them all in a document called (warning, it’s cheesy) Scenes I Loved & Lost. But I might have lost them forever when I transferred computers, because I can’t find the file. Of course, I could probably revive my darling with a voodoo spell and a quick re-write.

Start chanting and hope for generous spirits!

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

Before I started writing, I dug into Greek Mythology stories, looking through monsters. I found one I really wanted to use. I just needed to figure out where. When I came up with the scene and what would happen, I was a little sad because of what it meant I had to do to some of the characters (I know, I’m being kind of vague here.)

Quite alright. Vague is just fine on this question. 

What I can say, without spoiling anything, is that it ended up being a cool scene and led me to add another element I hadn’t thought of using before. Basically Persephone has to make a hard choice for Jax that she worries might change who he is. But if she doesn’t do it, the outcome might be even worse.

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I’m not a plotter. Usually I have an idea and start writing and I don’t know where the story will end up. This was one of the only books I’ve ever written where I had the end battle in my head before I even started writing. There were several unexpected twists and turns on the way, but I always had that end scene in my mind, and that kept me excited enough to write more and more every day.

Finally, what story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

I have a class full of unruly ideas and it seems they’re all waving their hands, shoving each other out of the way. I’ve got to decide which one to go with and not let the others distract me. I wrote a book about a supernatural private investigator that was a blast to write. She’s snarky and funny but tough, and her relationship with her chauvinistic poltergeist partner cracks me up. I plan on turning it into a series and the second book is starting to form in my mind, so I’d say that’ll be the one I probably work on next.

Chauvinistic polter…do you have a beta reader? I totally want my hands on that book like five minutes ago!

Aww, thanks! I’m hoping to get a publisher for it soon. The supernatural PI world is a fun one to live in and I’d love for Verity and her often-invisible partner, Milt, to be investigating cases together for a long time.

Thank you so much for being here today, Cindi. And to you, lovely readers, I hope you’ve been enticed to pick up Demons of the Sun when it releases. I know I will be!

Be sure to come back around next Thursday. Aaron Michael Ritchey will be here talking about his recent release, The Never Prayer.

Evolution Thursday: Jordan K. Rose

Jordan K. RoseAfter trying her hand at many, many things- from crafting and art classes to cooking and sewing classes to running her own handbag business, Jordan finally figured out how to channel her creativity. With an active imagination and a little encouragement from her husband she sat down and began to write, each night clicking away at the keys with her black Labrador, Dino curled up under the desk.

A few short years later she’s entered the publishing arena with no plans to ever turn back.

Jordan’s a member of Rhode Island Romance Writers, as well as RWA National, and the New England (NEC), Connecticut, and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FFnP) Chapters.

You can find Jordan online:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Hi Wendy. Thanks so much for having me on today. I’m happy to be here and looking forward to meeting some of your readers.

We’re happy to have you, Jordan! What gave you the idea for Perpetual Light?

After reading several paranormal romances and urban fantasies the idea came to me. Well, only part of it came to me. The idea of Lucia being reincarnated to find her husband who happened to be a vampire was the first concept to form. The bigger part—The Pharo of Redemption portion—did not come to me until several months later.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

I think it was the Christmas party scene. Though, it may have actually been the mall scene, which ended up in the deleted scenes file. I can’t be 100% sure at this point!

Was there a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

I had also written a scene that occurred at a shopping mall garage where Lucia encounters Samuel. I really liked the scene because it showed Lucia’s lack of understanding about herself and the villain, and it gave Vittorio an opportunity to save her. But as the story developed that portion of Lucia’s life became much less important to the story so that scene and many others were scrapped.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

My ah-ha moment was not over an insignificant detail but a big, big one. It was the moment I realized Lucia was a vampire slayer destined to kill Vittorio. It was like someone turned on a spotlight. Literally an “I could have had a V8” moment. I breathed such a sigh of relief over the realization and then began typing like a maniac. It’s amazing the keyboard didn’t ignite.

I love those moments.

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I am surprised by some of the twists and turns in the story. In fact, when I was editing the book there were a few times when I’d forgotten about something and was excited to see it in the chapter. I’m not as surprised by the overall ending as Perpetual Light is the first book in Lucia and Vittorio’s story so I knew everything could not resolve in this book.

Finally, what story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

I’m working on a more traditional romance series where each book has a different hero and heroine. It’s set in a small town in Rhode Island and of course, there are vampires (and werewolves) involved. I’m just starting the first story so it’s very exciting to see how it’s coming together.

I’m giddy at thought thought of more Jordan K. Rose vampires. Thank you for coming today!

Perpetual Light CoverFate is cruel. Especially when the one you’ve sworn to love for all eternity, the very soul who changed your destiny is the last person you should trust.

After more than three hundred years of running, Lucia Dicomano must make a choice.

Forced to take her place as a Pharo of Redemption, the divine slayer needs to master her forgotten powers. Lucia turns to Vittorio, the one vampire she’s failed to deliver from eternal damnation. But overcoming smoldering remnants of love, lust and anger aren’t their only obstacles.

Samuel, who may know Lucia better than she knows herself, hunts her with a fervor stoked by a thousand years of vengeful hatred. His plan—capture and enslave the weakened Pharo then take control of her elusive power.

Can Lucia trust Vittorio long enough to reclaim her powers? Or will she have no choice but to kill him and battle Samuel alone?

Perpetual Light is available at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | kobo | All Romance eBooks

Evolution Thursdays: Kate Evangelista

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn’t going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master’s courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Kate can be found at the following places online: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Lovely readers, meet Kate! Kate, lovely readers.

First of all, I would like to thank Wendy for inviting me over on her blog today. It’s a pleasure. *waves at everyone*

Thank you for coming, Kate! What gave you the idea for Taste?

The main idea for Taste came from the practice at the school I used to teach at. In the afternoons they would ring this bell that signals to the students that they should all move to the guardhouse to wait for their parents to pick them up. Of course, there was a practical reason for this, but my brain started thinking of something else. Like: what happens at night in this school? So, the Night Students were born.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

The first scene I wrote was Phoenix waking up in the library to the tolling of the school bell. I knew from the very beginning that it was how the story would start.

And that scene is killer! How about a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

Definitely. It was a scene that involved Phoenix and Luka. Very romantic. Sadly, I couldn’t keep it. Sigh.

Oh…I have a soft spot in my heart for Luka. And I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

Yes, I had several of them while writing Taste. I can’t share them here because it would spoil too much of the book. Safe to say, when I write, I usually don’t know what happens next until I start a new chapter, which is why most of my aha moments are spoilery. *laughs*

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

That’s the thing about Taste. I already knew how it would end from the time I started writing it, so it was just a matter of connecting point A with point Z.

I understand that. Finally, what story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

So many. The situation brings me back to my teaching days when everyone wanted to answer the question. But I’m thinking of trying a contemporary YA romance. I’ve never written one of those yet.

Thank you for joining us for Evolution Thursday, Kate! Everyone, I admonish you to go directly to Amazon and buy this book. It’s seriously in my top five favorite books ever.

Come back next week for Evolution Thursday. Shannon Eckrich is going to tell us all about “The Other Side of Forever.”