Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell

As proof that I'm just not cut out for this club---I'm still about 85 pages pages away from finishing the book I want to feature. And I JUST got a message from the library prompting me to renew. Again. Urg. Nevertheless, I shall push forth...

This month's read is Redcoat, an historical fiction by Bernard Cornwell set during the British occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. Historical fiction is how I prefer to get my history, and Cornwell does a great job of working in the minute details of the time and place to make that piece of history come alive for me.

Did you know that it was considered a luxury to have dentures that were crafted from teeth yanked from the heads of soldiers who died on the battlefield? Cornwell's detailing gets delightfully nasty like that without going overboard, just enough to make me cringe and put me in the rawness of the period.  He also tosses in sublte touches of humor and romace without getting the least bit gushy about it.

This paticular story has lots of main players, and their stories are nicely woven together. There's one in particular that has me intrigued---he's bad, but he's also got potential for greatness. I don't think it's going to happen, but I'm so hoping he reaches a glorious moment of redemption before the story is done. That kind of depth of character is what keeps me turning the pages of any book.

One thing that chuffs me about Cornwell's stories---I've noted it in other books I've read by him as well---is that the female love interests can't just be plain or regular pretty, they're all bestowed with astounding physical beauty that nears perfection, as if they couldn't possibly be worth capturing a man's heart or notice without that all-important quality.

I also noted something odd on the copyright page---the copyright isn't held by Bernard Cornwell but by something called Rifleman Productions, Ltd. I Googled it, but my search only led me to an Australian dance company. What do you suppose the reasons are for the copyright not going to Cornwell? Does this mean it's actually written by a team of ghost writers or could there be other business reasons?

To see what the rest of the Coffeehouse gang is reading, click around below. Thanks much to The Armchair Squid for hosting.


WRiTE Club Submissions Due This Week #WRiTEclub2014

DL Hammon is at it again, and this is the last week to submit your 500-word piece to WRiTE Club 2014. Get the full low-down on what the contest is all about by clicking here.

Here's the quick 'n dirty: a group of readers will rate all anonymous submissions, and the top 32 will face off in head-to-head bouts. Winners move on to face off against other winners, and so on and so on until there is one winner standing with arms raised at the center of the ring. The final round will be decided by an impressive panel of celebrity judges from the publishing world. Entries are due by May 31. You can submit absolutlely any genre of writing---the only rule is that it can't have been previously published anywhere else for public consumption.

Not only is WRiTE Club wicked fun, it's a great way to get invaluable feedback on your writing in a totally anonymous way. As another perk, I've found that readying my pieces for submissions in past contests has given me great tools for polishing future works. The venture has even caught the attention of the DFW Writer's Conference!

Also, my upcoming sexy chick lit from Swoon Romance was put up on Goodreads over the weekend! It's not expected to release until spring of 2015, but if you think you might want to give VIBRIZZIO a whirl, please do add it to your to-read list.


What I Do and Why I Do It

The marvelously talented and huge-hearted Suze from Subliminal Coffee (she's the beauty in the pic to the left) has tagged me to answer the following four writerly questions. Suze is celebrating some majorly fantastic news right now (she just signed with a hot agent!), and you can learn more about it in her answers to these same four questions at her place.

And now please allow me to interview myself:

What am I working on?

It appears I have talked myself into an option on a series with my new publisher, so while I await edits on my upcoming chick lit/office romance, I'm busy noodling on a sequel. The trouble with me is, I like to vacillate between light & happy and something a shade darker & heavier, so this new plot has been wanting to deal with issues too hefty for a naughty chick-litty series. But have no fear, for it doesn't take much to lighten my mood and I've come up with ways to turn events in more giggle-worthy directions.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I love this comment from a reviewer of Divine Temptation: "This book did a beautiful job at depicting something in romance novels that is often missing: the actual romance." ~Book Bliss

I'm a romantic fool, but I'm also a realist, so for me a love story can only be compelling if I actually believe it could happen. This doesn't mean the characters have to all be human or living on earth, mind you, but for me it means that the relationship has to develop over time and the affection needs to be grounded in something more substantial than instant attraction. So one thing that makes my stories different from many others in their genre is that the romance takes a bit longer to develop---but the wait is worth it, I hope.

Why do I write what I do? 

See the "romantic fool" comment above.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with me envisioning a particular scene. If the scene's powerful enough to keep me thinking about it, my mind will develop a story around it. After the mental plotting is pretty well fleshed out, I'll create a rough outline---just a sequence of the things that need to happen and the order in which they occur. Then I tell the family to LMTFA for designated chunks of time and I pound out the first draft. Any necessary research is done along the way.

It's during the first draft that I get to know my characters on a more intimate level, so there's a lot of re-positioning and enriching during the second draft. After the second draft, I like to get feedback from a trusted reader/writer. Third draft is all about doing something with that feedback, and fourth draft is all about polish.

And now I get to tag four writers to answer these same questions and give us insight into what they do and why they do it. I'm choosing four great writers whom I've had the pleasure of getting to hang out with in person!  

Rumer Haven at Rumer has it... lives in London and is on the verge of her debut release, SEVEN FOR A SECRET, a ghost story romance that straddles contemporary times and the 1920s. She's a classy lassie with a wonderful wit and a beautiful way with words.

Michael Di Gesu at In Time... currently resides in Chicago (though he escapes to more tolerable climates whenever he can) and is the author of AMBER AND THE WHISPERING WILLOWS, a middle grade fantasy, and PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE MILITARY BRAT, a YA that will one day soon take the world by storm. He's a gifted writer with a generous spirit.

Jennifer Lane lives in Columbus, Ohio and is the author of the romantic suspense novels of THE CONduct SERIES, and STREAMLINE, a New Adult romance/drama. Her other life as a psychoanalyst makes her a wonderfully insightful writer and reader---and the best crit partner a girl could hope for.

Cherie Colyer lives in the western Chicago 'burbs and is the author of super natural YA novels in the EMBRACE SERIES and CHALLENGING DESTINY. Even though she's already a great story teller, she's a tireless learner of the industry and definitely inspires me to keep moving forward.


Nostalgia Warrior

The greatest films stand the test of time, speaking to us in different ways at various life stages.  Is there a movie that was a part of your life when you were younger that you see differently now? Like fine wine, has it improved with age or did it die in the bottle? Has maturity brought you new insights you missed in your youth? We want to know all about it!

Join us for "Then and Now," a bloghop hosted by Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson & Nancy Mock.  Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger and have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse.  Please sign up below, then post on Friday, June 13th.


And now for a cover reveal. Jay Noel's Dragonfly Warrior cover was a big hit here a few months ago, so I'm excited to have him back to wow us again with the cover for Shadow Warrior, the second book in his steampunk series, The Mechanica Wars.

The agony of a failed quest haunts Kanze Zenjiro, but the betrayal by those he once trusted has turned his world upside down. With a heart full of hatred and defeat, Zen is desperate to return home and demand the truth from his father.

Meanwhile, the Iberian Empire sends their soaring airships and steam-powered giants into the Orient. They threaten to upset the balance of power, hoping to exploit the faraway land in their greed for the resources needed to power their machines. Zen and his companions must fight to keep the world from plunging into total destruction.

And at the center of it all is a nine year old boy with the power of a god.

Shadow Warrior's release date is scheduled for August 4, 2014.


Bad Boys, Acquisitions Angst & Good Vibrations

Before we get to my post proper, a bit of bonus fun. As the title would imply, there are 3 Daves in my first novel, Three Daves. but usually it's just one Dave who gets the spotlight in my promos. So it seemed only fair to finally let my bad boy, Dave #2, out to playay in a short character interview over at Dawn's Reading Nook. If you have a few minutes, I'd love it if you'd stop by.

And now on to my contribution to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group, brainchild of the one and clonely Alex J. Cavannaugh. Raise your hand if you've ever queried an agent or publisher. Hmm, quite a lot of you. Okay, raise your hand if you intend to query an agent or publisher at any point in the future. Goodness, that's nearly everyone. All right, last one -- raise your hand if you think querying an agent or a publisher is the least scary thing you've ever done in your life.

Anyone? Anyone?

I'm sure there's no need for me to list off the many reasons why sending our lovingly crafted stories out into the world to be judged is a frightening prospect. We all understand that this is a highly subjective biz, but rejection friggin' hurts no matter how gently it's worded.

Like I said a few months ago, sometimes it's the fear of the unknown that most feeds our insecurity. What do acquisitions editors love to see? What turns them off of a query? What makes them want to read more? I'm sure the answers vary from editor to editor, but to help scrape off just little bit of the acquisitions unknown, I've asked CK Wagner, an acquisitions editor at Omnific Publishing, if she'll take questions from my peanut gallery (that's you guys)---and she said yes! 

So she's all yours, kiddies. In the comments below, fire away with anything you've ever wanted to ask an acquisitions editor, and I'll have CK back later this month to answer your questions. (I'll take questions through Sunday & then will pass them on to her.)

Before you go, would you like to hear an acquisitions angst story with a happy ending? Yes? Well, at the beginning of this year I faced my fears head on and sent out a few query letters for my funny/naughty office romance, tentatively titled Vibrizzio. After a couple of agents passed on my query, I revised the letter and sent directly to a couple of small publishers along with a few more agents...small publishers seem to be my comfort zone and are a nice fit for my low patience threshold...both publishers requested fulls and Swoon Romance followed up quickly with an offer!

Swoon Romance is young, fresh and innovative and has a great catalog of books. So I was giddy when owner Georgia McBride told me she'd read my manuscript in one sitting, laughed out loud many times, and loved it. I signed an author agreement with them in the midst of AtoZ. So...yay.

You can bet I'll be sharing more about the story here, but for now you can check out a short summary at the Pinterest board I created for the WIP: The Movie blogfest. Urm, you're going to need to read that in order to understand the joke below that was made on annoucement day by my funny new Swoon sister, A.J. Matthews

Alrighty, what've you got for CK? 


26 Letters and 25 Roses - Reflections on #AtoZchallenge

Two years ago when I participated in the A to Z challenge, I thought of myself as a failure because although I posted each day of the challenge, I didn't visit many other blogs beyond repaying the visits of those who'd commented on my posts. My schedule just wouldn't allow for more than that. This year ended up being pretty much the same, but you know what? I'm counting it as a success.

My choice was to either do what I could do or not participate at all, and although I certainly wasn't a power AtoZer, I had a great time reading the posts I did get to and was still able to form connections with new bloggers. Like Stephanie Faris, for example. She did a highly enjoyable A to Z theme on indulgences, and every time I stopped by, my eyes wandered over to her sidebar to the adorable cover for her novel 30 Days of No Gossip. So when she asked who wanted in on the reveal for her upcoming book, 25 Roses, I was all meeeee!

Thank you A to Z organizers & helpers for facilitating this fun event. You all did a great job, and the blogging community is stronger for it. And now, get ready for that cover reveal...

So cute & fun, right? Feel free to stop by Stephanie's place to tell her how fabulous it is. Here's the story blurb:

Valentine's Day means one thing at Stanton Middle School: students will send each other chocolate roses. Each year, Mia Hartley watches while the same group of students gets roses and everyone else is left out. This year, she decides things will be different. As the student assigned to write names on the cards, Mia purchases 25 roses and writes her own cards, designating them to 25 people she's personally chosen. But she soon learns that playing matchmaker is much more complicated than she thought it would be.