Friday, September 30, 2011

Hunting on Wild Horse Beach #100Words for #FridayFictioneers

Good morning! Today's #FlashFiction snipped for the #FridayFictioneers is below. I hope you'll stop by and read the interview with Cara Michaels, as well. If you become a follower of the blog and comment on it, you will be entered to win a copy of her upcoming release!

So with no other ado, 100 words with this morning's prompt of the following photo:

I followed the trail of feathers like breadcrumbs. Hitting the cobblestoned beach, I momentarily lost the path, but one bedraggled feather caught between the wet rocks gave my quarry away.

Not this time. You’re mine.

I’d been tracking the Pegasus herd for two days straight and was a little punchy, but I knew this beach was a box canyon and this Pegasus was molting.

I found her, legs braced with her back to the rocky cliff, her head up, ears back, and challenge in her eyes.

I hefted my rope, grinning at her defiant snort. “Let’s dance, you and me!”

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by. Be sure to tune in on Sunday for my Six Sentence Sunday snippet and Cara's interview below. Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Interview with Cara Michaels and a Giveaway!

Welcome to my humble corner of the weird, wild, and wicked world. Today I have the great good fortune to speak with my good friend Cara Michaels, author of the upcoming short story Gaea’s Chosen: The Mayday Directive. I met Cara on Facebook when another friend recommended her page to me. I checked out her website and her writing, and “liked” her page. This started a conversation between us that led us to the understanding that we’re actually twins separated at birth. And I came out three years earlier. From a different mother. And father. But we were born on the same coast! Close enough. :D

Welcome, Cara. I’m so glad to have you here today! 
That's good. I'd hate to get served with a blog-stalking restraining order. *Grins*
Or maybe a blog-loitering cease & desist.
Seriously though... I'm both nervous and totally geeked out to be here.
      Squeee! Okay, fangirl moment over. :D We should probably start with the questions (mostly so I can make you more nervous and geeked out). What got you started in writing?
      Not entirely sure, but I've made stories as long as I can remember. When I outgrew the bedtime story, I started making my own tales in my mind. That still helps me relax and fall asleep now.
      Playtime with friends was very imaginative, too. We were always on adventures. I think my writing just evolved as the next, slightly more grown up form of imaginary friends and backyard castles and invasions.
      I'm the same way. I had more fun telling myself my own stories. What kinds of stories would you tell yourself? Which genre?
Big adventure stuff. I have a hero complex or something. I wanted to save the day, a trait my MCs tend to share. I think Fantasy was my first love. I had some casual entanglements with Sci-Fi, Horror, Paranormal, Superheroes, but Fantasy. While my peer group was digging Sweet Valley High, I was curling up with Dragonlance, Valdemar - epic high fantasy stuff. As I got older, I discovered Romance. I’m a closet softie for boy-meets-girl and happy endings.
      Woo-hoo! Valdemar! Love the Heralds and their Companions. How old were you when you wrote your first story down and what was it about?
Again, no clue. Is that a bad thing? I remember a story for English vocabulary. You know how we made sentences using our vocab words? Well, mine involved action, adventure, and dwarves. There may have been an axe, too.
Yeah, I spent a lot of time in the guidance counselor’s office.
      *Chuckling* Worried you were a serial killer in the making, no doubt. What did your family think of you writing back then? Or now?
From most of my family, I get the vacant “oh that’s nice dear” sort of response. The nod and smile. Then the flash of “please, please, PLEASE don’t let her ask me to read because what if she SUCKS?” that hits the eyes.
These days, my mom digs what I do. She’s one of my biggest fans now that I give her the occasional finished piece to read instead of just taunting her with partial manuscripts.
It's good you have your mom behind you. Mine was always urging me to publish even when I knew it was juvenile drivel. Thank God I kept editing!
Was writing what you studied after high school?
Not even close.
I started college because everyone said I should, and I got tired of saying, “No, really. I’m not ready.” I had visions of acting and directing theater productions and film, but quickly realized I had way too many control issues to put my creative expression in someone else’s hands. I was starting to think about writing the plays and movies.
And yet… that first semester nearly ruined writing for me. I had grad adjunct professor for Comp I, and if you didn’t write like you were trying for a spot in the SAT reading section, she panned you. She was the first academic I’d encountered who didn’t think I could write, and that was oddly crushing. I didn’t write anything for a long while after that.
Bad teacher! No apple! :(
How did you regroup after that and start writing again?
Well aside from a teacher who wasn't a university tool, I toyed with it here and there. Really started to write again when I got some wildly positive response to some fetish erotica I wrote.
Fetish erotica? *winks* I'd like to read that! *grins, then clears throat* Okay, focus! What kinds of things inspire you to write? Foods or music, photos or movies?
*Laughs out loud* MUSIC. Music is my number one inspiration. I grew up constantly exposed to music. I sang in the choir and madrigals, played trombone in the band. I even flirted with the cymbals for marching band one year. Nothing says musical talent like crashing brass plates together at just the right moment. *Grins*
Anyway, nowadays I have entire Pandora channels geared toward prodding my creativity.  I tend toward loud, crunchy, dark music, a lot of mainstream alt-rock.  It really gets my blood pumping and slaps my muse awake.
Movies & books can be good, but they can be dangerous for me. It’s hard to be inspired by someone else’s story, walk away, and write something relatively free of influence.
Given the fetish erotica, clashing cymbals doesn't even surprise me. *Wide grin* Since you have to be careful of movies influencing your stories, do you watch any TV shows, and if so, what are your favorites?
Actually, my TV exposure is pretty limited. I gave up cable years ago, so most of what I watch I pick up on great DVD sales or online. 
·       Supernatural – Sometimes I have to hide my eyes, but I love this show. My favorite aspect is actually the smartass, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, especially the interplay between the brothers. 
·        The Vampire Diaries – Picked season one up on a super sale, figuring why not? What a guilty pleasure that show turned out to be. 
·        Firefly, Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Have Joss Whedon, Will Watch. The man just does not make bad shows. 
·        Castle – A mystery writer (Bonus! He’s from Firefly!!) who shadows an NYPD detective for inspiration and actually winds up being helpful? This show is so much fun. 
·        Farscape – One of the best science fiction epics ever. I still crush on John Crichton.
Looking at my list, I see a decided penchant for snappy, witty dialogue mixed with supernatural, fantasy, and sci-fi elements. That’s so oddly familiar somehow. *Laughs wryly*
Yeah, I noticed that too. Do you tend to write science fiction or are there other genres that come out in your stories?
I write mainly contemporary paranormal fantasy. My writing tends to always have some fantastic element to it, whether that’s magic, psychic abilities, mythic creatures. Space and aliens are a nice complement to that.
I’m so excited about your new release coming out on October 4th called Gaea’s Chosen: The Mayday Directive. Tell us the story . . . oh, yes, tell us! :D
Gaea’s Chosen is a group of ten men and ten women who signed on for the craziest of space missions. They agreed to be human popsicles for tens of thousands of years and slowly make their way to a potentially habitable planet about 20 light years from Earth. As with all good adventures though, things don’t go quite as planned. This story covers the events as the crew wakes up and finds out what’s happened to them, primarily focusing on the mission’s commander, Gemma Bryant.You can read the first chapter on my site to tempt you. *winks*
Eep! That gives a whole new meaning to the word "retired"! What inspired you to write this story?
I was bored at work (don’t tell my boss). GC started as a daydream. I’d originally imagined far more of a horror angle to the story, but it morphed once I started writing.
Stories and characters do tend to take on a life of their own. I know this is the beginning of a series, because like potato chips, you can't have just one! How many more stories will there be?
Weeeellll… I have titles for three more. I’m willing to commit to that much.
Yes! *Fist pump* What other projects are you working on? *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*
I've recently discovered an addiction to flash fiction. I run one weekly challenge, called #MenageMonday, and play in two others.
Then there's a prompted short story for Tracey Hansen’s “We Are God” project.
After that, I’ve outlined the 2nd GC story that will pick up shortly after this one ends, and I have some ideas stewing for two more stories with that cast.
And just to prove that evenings of brainstorming via the interwebs can turn into something kickass—I’m working with Siobhan on a duo of contemporary alternate Earth adventures. Mine will feature Gemma’s great aunt (many, MANY generations removed), Circe Bryant.
The ongoing background to all of this is my novel series, The Divine Damned. The first book, My Soul to Break, is in the second draft stage.
*Rubs hands together and cackles* Yes, we’re going to put together an amazing set of stories. I love the connection point of Gaea’s Chosen to the upcoming project! Anything else you'd like to add, Cara?
Drop me a line on Twitter and let me know what you think of the first chapter.
Thanks for having me over today, Siobhan.
My pleasure. Thanks for being here!

So, if you're interested in reading more than just the first chapter of Gaea's Chosen: The Mayday Directive, you have the opportunity to win the whole thing. All you have to do is comment on this interview, leave a valid email address or Twitter handle in your comment, and become a follower of The Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. That's it.

Thanks again to Cara Michaels for dropping by and be sure to join both of us for Six Sentence Sunday when we post six sentences of our latest Works in Progress. You won't want to miss that! Good luck in the giveaway and happy reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#MenageMonday Update

I won honorable mention for my #MenageMonday snippet! "Honorable Mention for the "Dean Koontz wanted that plot" Award." Yay me! :D @MAKozlowski won Champ, @kbunskoek won Judge's Pet, and @kvictoriasmith got "Honorable Mention for the "Did you really need to make me feel old??" Award." Congratulations to all the winners! :) Thanks to Jeff Davis for judging. Tune in next week for more!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Upcoming Events

I just wanted to let you all know that the #MenageMonday Challenge is going strong and there's still time to enter. Or you could just stop by and read the entries. I'm a participant this week, rather than a judge, and I had a great time with the three prompts!

Cara Michaels is the host of the #MenageMonday Challenge and she will be here on Wednesday for an interview about her writing and her upcoming release of Gaea's Chosen: The Mayday Directive. You won't want to miss that. Plus, if you comment on the interview and become a follower of The Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked, you'll have a chance to win a free copy of Gaea's Chosen. Fun stuff!

In the meantime, please check out the #FlashFiction tab on my website to see all the Flash Fiction I've written and visit Cara Michaels' #MenageMonday Challenge to check out her Flash Fiction snippets. Happy reading! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin - Jonarrion's Dilemma

Welcome back, Sixers! Thank you for returning to read more of my WIP, Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin. It really makes my day when you comment, so thanks for that, too! If you have a chance, check out the other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday. Three of my favorites, and upcoming interviewees, Cara Michaels, Kallypso Masters, and Morgan Kearns, are posting today, too.

In honor of my anniversary (Mr. SM and I are celebrating 7 years today) I'm offering this snippet. Jonarrion has granted Isabelle's favor and realized during the afterglow that she's the only female he'll ever want. She's his True Mate, but he hasn't told her his true nature. Isabelle, however, thinks he just wants to do his duty to her for taking her virginity.

"I dinna ask ye to take me innocence to make ye marry me. I thought I made that clear.”
“I’m not asking you to be my wife just because I took your maidenhead!” Jonarrion retorted, his own anger and frustration at her rejection kindling. “It’s you I want; you I need in my life when the nights turn dark and cold and lonely.”
“And how do ye ken that, Master Swift?” Isabelle asked archly.
           What could he tell her? That he was a dragon and the Goddess had granted dragons the knowledge of their True Mates by their need to bite their partners during mating?

Uh-oh. This is why honesty is so important in intimate relationships. ;) Jonarrion has his work cut out for him. I hope you've enjoyed Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin. Next month, I'll introduce you to the Queen Bitch of the Callowwood werewolf Pack. Happy reading and I'll see you next week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just a Tree #100Words for the #FridayFictioneers

Good morning! Welcome to my little efforts on #FlashFriday for the #Friday Fictioneers. Today's prompt was the following photo. Here's my take on it.

It looked like a tree.

Long snaking limbs climbed in a profusion of tangles toward the sky, fanning out around a great central shaft covered in bark-like skin. The leaves on the branches rustled in the wind. Except, no wind stirred against Jericho’s cheeks and hair.

The damn thing was rustling on its own!

The "oak" whipped out a tendril, snatching a hapless sparrow with a surprised squawk, and yanked it out of the sky into the maw of a large "knot hole". Subtle crunching sounds echoed beneath the rustling and Jericho shuddered.

Yeah, it looked like a tree!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great weekend. See you for Six Sentence Sunday! Happy reading! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How #FlashFiction Makes You a Better Writer

I love writing. I love it's myriad forms, it's subtle clues and hints, its vibrant colors firing the imagination. I love stories of betrayal and woe, ending with happiness and luck.

I'm a pretty good writer - I'm an even better oral storyteller, but writing reaches far more people (and I don't have to shout) ;) However, there's one form of writing I've only stumbled across recently that showed me I have lots of room for improvement.

This form of writing is called #FlashFiction. Ignore the hashtag symbol, it's just to help the search engines. FlashFiction is a form of writing that makes the writer really, really think about what they're writing. They only have 100-200 words in which to get a whole story down. It takes thought, effort, finesse. It ain't easy.

What can you say in 100 words, especially when part of the challenge is a photo, or a set of words, or even just a phrase? Wow, a lot, as it turns out, but you have to be creative and really focus to get the best out of it. It makes you think and use the best words you can to evoke images and emotions.

I've tried three such FlashFiction challenges: #MenageMonday from Cara Michaels, #HumpDayChallenge from Tracey Hansen (today at DRyanLeask's blog), and Madison Woods has the Friday Fictioneers. All have been a great way to improve my writing, but they've also been hilarious. Some of the entries have me ROFLMAO! ;)

This is a fun way to improve your writing and it helps take the stress of being stuck on your WIP. Give yourself a chance to have fun and see if you can write something you like in 100 words! Happy reading! :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Judging a new #MenageMonday #FlashFiction Challenge

I have exciting news!

My writing twin sister is posting a #FlashFiction challenge each Monday called MenageMonday where you get 200 words to write about a photo, a phrase and a judge's addition (could be a word or genre or POV, etc.).

And this week, I get to judge the entries. Want to get in on the action?

Head on over to Defiantly Literate, Cara Michaels' blog, and enter your efforts. You could win a very cool badge like the one I have on my page and blog.

The contest rules are at Cara's blog and I'm looking forward to your entry! Good luck! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin - Just a Little Favor

Welcome back, Sixers! And thank you to everyone who does come back. It really makes my day when you comment! I hope you're enjoying Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin and when you're done here, please visit the other blogs where authors have posted their six sentence snippets!

In this snippet, Isabelle has gotten up the courage, after talking to her friend Marie, to approach and ask Jonarrion for exactly what she wants. This is from Jon's perspective.

“Och! ’Tis nothing,” she scoffed with a wave of her hand. “Besides, I wished to ask if I might beg a favor from ye.”
“A favor?” A mixture of wariness and elation cascaded through him. “What kind of favor, love?”
“Weel . . .” Her voice trailed off as she blushed a very becoming rose color from her auburn hairline down to the tops of her perfect breasts. She seemed to struggle for a few moments, but eventually looked up boldly into his eyes and said, “I want ye to take me virginity.”

Woo-hoo! Every guy's dream come true, eh? Thanks again for joining me and happy reading! :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

FlashFiction, 100 Words to Live or Die and the Sunrise

Today's FlashFiction writing challenge can be found here! Below is my submission. :)

The glow over the eastern horizon heralded something more than just sunrise.

"It's live or die time," Chiera muttered, straining to hear the sounds of their approach.

Oh, she knew the phrase was "do or die time", but the outcome would be the same, either way.

She'd never tried to catch a gryphon before, but Cecelia's taunts had been too much and now she was out here at the edge of the Rended Forest, with nothing more than her wits, a leather rope, and some catnip.

The soft hiss of feathers through the air was her only warning.

They'd arrived.

Hope you enjoyed. Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Good things come to those who wait." It's usually said by parents trying to get a little more time to finish whatever it is they're doing before the kids drive them insane with demands.

In the writing world, this was something I was often told, maybe not in those words, exactly, but something to the same effect. "You gotta wait for the agent/editor/publisher to get to your stuff before you can publish." Very true, particularly if you're waiting for one of the Big New York publishers to get back to you.

However, that doesn't mean you have to stop what you're doing or even stop honing your craft. Yes, you've finished your manuscript; yes, you've submitted it to one or several publishers; yes, they've given you a 16 week response time, but you don't have to stop writing. You don't have to wait by the phone/computer/iphone with baited breath.

Now is a good time to write the next book/novella/series of short stories. Don't wait on the editors. They're busy looking at your manuscript. Now is the time to practice some more. WRITE WRITE WRITE. This is the time to get the new story out there because if they turn down your first story, maybe they'll pick up the next one because it's just a little better, just a little more refined, just as little better planned and sketched out.

In each story I write, I improve my story-writing abilities. I've always been good at "telling" the story to folks, but writing takes a little more discipline and refinement. Talking it out, a story is full of colloquialisms and the words "that", "which", and "because"; telling words. In writing, it's a clunky way of reading and it pulls the reader out of the story. Refining the writing to leave out those words but still get across what I want to; wow, that takes practice!

So be proactive in your writing efforts. Submit to the publishers, query the agents, and then get back to work on the next story, because as Christina Dodd once put up on Facebook: "Professional writers are only amateurs who never gave up." Truer words were never written. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Giveaway Winner Announced and the EAA Conference

The moment you've all been waiting for . . . well, at least some of you! The winner of the book giveaway from Nara Malone's interview is:

Michelle Bauer!

Congratulations, Michelle! Here's your opportunity to get to know Master Bond and his sinfully sweet Toasted Peach Ice Cream from The Dungeon Gourmet. :)

In other news, I spent the weekend on the Las Vegas Strip with the Erotic Authors Association at their conference Sex in Sin City. It was an international crowd, some folks coming all the way from England and Libya! There were several of us from the Las Vegas area: Shannan Albright, CR Moss, JJ Ranger, Laura Hunsaker, and Katie Salidas.

I also met several epublishers and some very cool authors: Charlie Richards, Kate Richards, Maureen O Betita, and Cecilia Tan. I listened to some great readings from Sharazade and Emerald, laughed and chatted with KD Grace, Andrea Dale, Dee Brice, Starla Kaye, Laura Antoniou and Courtney Breazile, and spent time with editors from Decadent Publishing, Extasy Books, Torquere Books and Forbidden Fiction.

Courtney Breazile, Siobhan Muir, and Charlie Richards
The classes and panels were great and I had a wonderful time, but the best part of the conference was meeting and connecting with these authors and publishers. Conferences are about networking and I networked my butt off. Well, on the Strip, I only added to my butt, but I had a terrific time doing it! :D

Emerald has agreed to do an interview around November and I'll be getting together with Katie Salidas soon to discuss an interview as well. It was a great time and if you're an aspiring writer, I highly recommend these kinds of conferences. They are a great way to get noticed, find publishers, and other authors who can steer you through the unusual and ever-changing world of publishing right now.

The next conference I'll be attending is the Arizona Dreamin' Reader Event in June of 2012. It may seem like a long time from now, but it creeps up on you. There are several others happening at the end of this year and the beginning of next. You can visit the RWA site for a list of some of the major ones: Romantic Times, RWA Nationals, Desert Dreams, Authors After Dark. Check them out.

In the meantime, have a great week and I'll see you for Six Sentence Sunday! Happy reading! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin "Hero Worship"

Welcome back to Six Sentence Sunday, the fun and exciting trips into my world of the paranormal. Thank you so much to everyone who returns each week and comments! It means a lot to me and I really enjoy sharing with all of you. I hope your week has gone well and you will take a moment to visit the other authors who participate in Six Sentence Sunday!

Today, I'm introducing Jonarrion Swiftwind and what he thinks of Isabelle after she has promised to draw him a bath. He doesn't know she's decided to gift him with her virginity in order to save herself from the Virgin Sacrifice, but he's very happy knowing she will return to his room to tell him when the bath is ready. 

          Jonarrion tried to think of walking along a muddy spring road or mucking out stalls of draft horses to get his cockstand to drop, but his mind refused to cooperate. Instead, he kept getting flashes of Isabelle’s lips stretched around the girth of his cock or what it’d be like to have her ride him while her full tits bounced on her chest above him; his body responded by getting harder than ever. Damn, his kilt was tenting!
         He groaned and decided he’d have to do push-ups or maybe even stab himself with his dirk to get his body back into line. It’d been a long time since a female Human had tempted him so, but something about Mistress Isabelle Andersen made him stand up and take notice. She had generous curves that enticed his hands to fondle and auburn hair that would tickle his thighs when she suckled him.

Isabelle has done good with her choice, eh? Have a great week and happy reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing Wednesday Stress

So I was all set to write something interesting and writing-related here today, but I called my mom to ask about my grandparents (who are nonagenarians and Grampa isn't doing all that well) and I find out that my dad had shortness of breath issues back home and is visiting the hospital to do a bunch of tests to make sure he's okay.

Fortunately my brother is there and is keeping an eye on him while my mom helps my grandparents. We're not too worried, just making sure everything is kosher. There's a lot going on.

However, on the fun side of things, I'm getting closer to my finished product of Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin (finished meaning the rough draft). The Las Vegas Romance Writers group has a Writer's Challenge this year of Write a Novel in a Year, and this one is mine. And I'm this close! So that's what I'm working on this week. Here's Jonarrion's photo if you want to stare at him (he's the hero).

Last weekend was my birthday and I had a wonderful time hanging with my writing sisters and well as my family to celebrate. I received many wonderful gifts, the best of which was all the company and the knowledge that my new computer is on its way (it should be here tomorrow morning! Squeeeee!).

The most exciting thing I did to celebrate, however, was get myself a tattoo that I've always wanted. I drew it from a piece of art I'd seen on a paranormal romance novel (crazy, right?) and the artist at The Skin Factory here in Las Vegas modified it and inked it onto my skin. I love it and my husband spends a lot more time staring at my ass these days! He says it's exquisite. I'm taking it to mean both the ass and the tattoo! :D

This upcoming weekend I will be at the Erotic Authors Association's Conference Sex in Sin City going on at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino September 9th - 10th if you'd like to meet me (and no, I'm not going to show you the tattoo). It's going to be a fun time and a great place to meet several authors who write erotic romance and erotica. I hope you can join us.

That's all for now. If you get a chance, I'm still doing a giveaway for a copy of The Dungeon Gourmet by Nara Malone, so comment for your chance to win it! :D Good luck and have a great week. Happy reading!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Not a Dragon's Standard Virgin "The Problem"

Welcome back, Sixers! I hope you're having a good holiday weekend. While you're snooping around the new snippet of story, please read the previous post on Nara Malone's interview. There's an opportunity to win a free ebook and a NookColor, as well as other prizes. Take a look.

This month I'm offering six sentences from Not A Dragon's Standard Virgin, a story about a young woman who lives in a village plagued by a "dragon". They've set up the whole Virgin Sacrifice tradition, but it hasn't been working all that well, so the village Elders are looking for the next virgin. Isabelle Anderson appears to be the next girl on the list because she just won't bow to anyone else's will or hand. She also isn't willing to wait for fate to get her.

            So, if she didn’t want to die at the hands of the village Elders in the Virgin Sacrifice, she’d have to make certain she was no longer a virgin. Of course, that presented a whole new set of problems. Instead of just being a strange and intractable virgin daughter of the tavern keeper, she’d be a strange, intractable hussy.
            Isabelle snorted. From one curse to the next; there was no winning. Either she was Dragon-bait or she was a whore.

I hope that intrigues you. Don't forget to check out the other authors who participate in Six Sentence Sunday and the interview below. Thank you so much to all who comment and return each week! Happy reading! :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with Nara Malone, Nara's Nook Mystery, and a Giveaway

Hello all, welcome back to my blog where we get a chance to interact with the Weird, the Wild, and the Wicked!

Today is my birthday and I’d scheduled an interview of a very special guest, Ellora’s Cave author Nara Malone, a cool lady who writes about Shifters, BDSM and virtual worlds. She has a new release coming out October 12th from Ellora’s Cave entitled Snatch Me and she was all set to talk to me about it, but she has disappeared and we can’t find her anywhere.

So to make up for her unusual absence, her good friend Master Bond has graciously agreed to answer questions on Nara, her upcoming release, and the virtual world in which Snatch Me takes place (and if we’re really lucky he might be willing to share a recipe. Here’s hoping!)

SM: Welcome, Master Bond. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on such short notice.

Bond: It is my pleasure, Ms. Siobhan.

SM: (Grins) Yes, well, let's talk about Ms. Malone. When and where did you meet her?

Bond: We met the usual way, yes? One day a character wanders into an author’s imagination and if the fit is right, we stay. Me, I stay longer than most, but I don’t think I wear out my welcome.

Ah, that day we met! You would not believe, mes amis.  Thanksgiving Day. Nara is not the best cook, so she agrees to let her nieces cook. Mon Dieu! They wore the smoke detectors out. The turkey pan (cheap foil thing) sprung a leak-- grease fire. Homemade apple pie spilled over the rim of the pie plate – sugar fire. And this thing you have…what is the name…sweet potato casserole? Charcoal bricks! I see all this and know this woman needs me.

SM: If she couldn't cook, what convinced you she was the right one to tell your tale?

Bond: Nara, she is a good listener. And she say this to me when the story is done, there is something about my voice that she could not pry herself from. I don’t know. I am not a writer, but she tells it to me this way-- she hears voices. Characters start talking and it is the sound of their voices in her head that compels her to write.

Lately she has been complaining, there is no muse to whisper in her ear. No voices in her head. She says it is like going deaf. I think that is what got her into trouble. I think she took a risk she shouldn’t have to get her voices back.

SM: How many stories has she written?

Bond: Let me think. Hmm. The first was The Tiger’s Tale, a shapeshifter ménage. Next was mine, The Dungeon Gourmet, a BDSM romance. She just finished Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch, a G-rated paranormal video game with romantic elements. That project was with Orchid Games and targeted for what Nara says is an underserved a female audience.

SM: Do they all have BDSM aspects?

Bond: I would say while not all is traditional BDSM, there is a flavor, the spice of that BDSM edge in every novel she writes.  Her characters have that craving for love with teeth in it. Their love games have rough edges.

SM: I've heard she has a new release at Ellora's Cave coming out on October 12th, called Snatch Me. Has she shared the story with you? Can you tell us a little about it?

Bond: Snatch Me is Jolie’s story. I think you met Jolie. She’s trying to help me through all the technical details in the hunt for Nara. This is the blurb for Snatch Me:

From the moment Jolie discovers the Quarterz, a virtual post-apocalyptic world for capture role-players, she can’t resist the challenge. She’s chosen a hard game, where sexual submission to a captor is expected, demanded, no quarter given. She uses the challenge to escape real life and feels a sense of kinship to a world like the Quarterz, a society too broken to fix.

Mack created the Quarterz and took a gamble when he secretly lured Jolie there. He suspects he and Jolie share sexual interests that neither can admit in person. Now he has to hope that time in the Quarterz can help Jolie cope as she struggles to rebuild her life. He has to stand back and allow her to find her way in a game where he is not always the captor. But when the game is over, he’s determined to be the one who wins Jolie for real.

Jolie’s story possessed Nara. For a month Nara would wake up, grab a notebook before she got out of the bed, and start writing. She wrote until 8 each night, sometimes longer. She was so driven. There was something about Jolie that Nara connected to. I think because Jolie told Nara she felt a kinship to the Quarterz—a world too broken to fix. Well there is something about Nara that has to fix anything broken she comes across.

SM: How does their meeting in a virtual world affect the interaction between Jolie and Mack?

Bond: Nara was worried about how the two worlds would affect interaction. Nara had to do a little writer magic to help readers make the leap from one world to the next. She uses a shifting viewpoint. First person in the virtual world and third person, deep POV in the real world-- all told through Jolie’s eyes. Because readers might not be familiar with virtual worlds, Nara used the  first person viewpoint to make those portions of the story feel more intimate, accessible.

Nara, she may not be so great in the kitchen, but she’s like a chef when she mixes up a story, always experimenting with new ways to give her tales a new texture or spice.

SM: What prompted Ms. Malone to write about this kind of virtual game world?

Bond: It is difficult to convey how quickly a person identifies with and becomes their avatar. There is interesting scientific research using avatars to help people overcome trauma. Virtual reality is used to help soldiers cope with PTSD.  It can be used to help individuals overcome phobias, such as fear of heights or flying. Infinite Reality by Blascovich and Bailenson is an excellent book on virtual reality and its uses. So her fascination with avatars and the increasingly virtual aspect of our lives planted seeds in her mind.

Nara believes interactivity is the future of the book, the means a writer can use to make readers co-protagonists in a story. Author Tibby Armstrong encouraged Nara to try virtuality, because –as she said in a recent tweet, “Virtual worlds are the interactive e-books of the future.”

Perhaps this is so. Today we're here to recruit help to find Nara in a hunt that will take readers across six virtual world to find her. An interactive story? Readers as co-protagonists? Nara would love this.

SM: Have you ever participated in a virtual game world, Master Bond?

Bond: I don’t go out into the virtual game worlds and interact with unsuspecting avatars. I make friends with Nara’s friends who know who I am. You can find me as LeMarquis Luv in Second Life. Nara likes to do her world building there and walk her characters through the scenes as she works them out. When I’m doing my Cook Naked blog for (that’s a cooking philosophy not a fashion statement) I work in a virtual kitchen at Nara’s cottage in Second Life.

SM: I understand Ms. Malone had a contest/giveaway planned before she went missing. Do you know what she had in mind?

Bond: She set up a little interactive mystery/scavenger hunt to introduce people to virtual worlds. Not just her readers, but anyone who is curious, but intimidated by the big sites like Second Life. The learning curve at those places is an obstacle for so many. So Nara made little worlds and a little game to make exploring them interesting. The worlds are designed around the worlds in her stories. Pantheria from the Tiger’s Tale. A swamp, Quarterz city, and the Wasteland from the Snatch Me. I believe having readers visit me at my kitchen was also on the agenda.

SM: Do you have any idea where she's gone or who took her?

Bond: I only know it has something to do with Shakespeare’s quill pen. One of the bunnies left it on her desk, told her it would get her past this writer’s block she’s been battling. I told her don’t mess with that. Magic always has a price. She listened to me at first. She didn’t for three days. But then I looked in on her yesterday morning--Nara and the pen are gone. There’s a rabbit track on a page that fell from her journal. She has the kind with loose pages that tie up the cover with a leather string. Pages are always falling out.

SM: If the pages are always falling out, they could be used as a clue. Especially now when the readers need to find Nara, right?

Bond: Sadly, yes. When I get my hands on those plot bunnies it will be rabbit stew time! Forgive me, I am a vegetarian, but I know a few carnivores who will love plot bunny stew.

SM: I suspect the readers can help Jolie decipher the clues to find the plot bunnies and Ms. Malone. How do they start?

Bond: To start, go to her blog and leave a comment under her post about the rules. Even though Nara is not here, we will carry on with the contest and award prizes just as she intended. We don’t know what Nara hid, so we’re changing the focus. Think of the prize drawings as a reward for bringing more readers to the search and for finding clues.

SM: What sorts of clues will they need to look for?

Bond: We don’t know exactly. I imagine anything important will be guarded by a bunny. If it were me, I’d look for bunnies and wring their secrets out of them. Hopefully, we’ll find some of those loose journal pages. I think her journal will be the key to unraveling this twisted Plot Bunny’s Tale.

SM: How do you earn points in the game?

Bond: This explanation is from Nara’s Rulz Page:

Earning Points
Now how do you earn points? Some points are very easy to earn. If you look at the bottom of my blog you'll see a BigDoor toolbar. That will be the easiest way to earn points. You log in there with your Facebook account (this is one of the reasons you need a Facebook account to play). The more times you log in there during a day, the more points you get. Interacting with my author page on Facebook gets you points, sharing through Twitter or Facebook earns points. If you share a link to my blog on Facebook or Twitter and someone clicks it to visit, you get influence points.

It may be possible to get to the next level with the toolbar alone, but you'll get big points if you log into the virtual world and find clues. Forty points for each clue and another fifty when you unlock a chapter. It's more challenging to acquire points in the virtual worlds, but more rewarding, so hopefully you'll give that a try. You need a Facebook ID to log into the world too.

SM: How do you know you've made it to the next level in the game?

Bond: Every two hundred points takes you to the next level. Do not worry, points add up fast.

SM: How long was the scavenger hunt for her journal supposed to go while Ms. Malone was still here?

Bond: If we find her before the six weeks is up, then of course we will finish the hunt in the way she planned.

SM: Will you be joining the hunt, Master Bond, or coordinating HQ?

Bond: Facebook does not allow the unreal to have an account. Jolie and I can’t get into the world to look for Nara. This is why we’re asking readers to help us.

SM: Thank you, Master Bond, for talking to me and good luck in finding Ms. Malone and her journal.

Bond: Again, it is my pleasure, Ms. Siobhan.

SM: Mr. SM and I really enjoyed your Toasted Peach Ice Cream in The Dungeon Gourmet and I'm so honored to have you here on my birthday! Do you have a moment to share one of your succulent recipes with the readers today?

Bond: I am always happy, mes amis, to share such things with you. Joyeux Anniversaire, Ms. Siobhan.

SM: (Blushling) Thank you! (Huge Grin) If you would like to read more about Master Bond, you can read his story in The Dungeon Gourmet by Nara Malone from Ellora's Cave Publishing.

Now for the giveaway, Nara is offering a copy of The Dungeon Gourmet to one lucky reader from my blog who joins the Nara's Nook Contest. The grand prize in the contest is a NookColor and there will be weekly drawings to award gift cards. So there are lots of ways to win. All you have to do is:
  1. Become a follower of this blog.
  2. Leave a comment and a valid email address in the comment text (if you don't want to show your email address to the public,  email me HERE)
  3. Skip on over the Nara's blog and join the scavenger hunt - the rules for Nara's Nook Contest are there, too.
  4. Be sure to "like" Nara's Facebook Page and follow her on Twitter. Bond and Jolie will be tweeting hunt status updates as well as taking turns manning Nara's Twitter account: @LeMarquisDeBond and @snatch_me_jolie
  5. Keep checking back at Nara's blog to maximize your points and check your status.
  6. Have fun visiting this brave new world and good luck! :)
The book giveaway will be open until Friday, September 9th so you have all week to comment! The winner will be announced on Monday, September 12th. Nara's Nook Contest runs the whole month of September and winners will be announced on Nara's blog each Thursday. Grand Prize winner will be announced on October 13th. You can read an excerpt of Snatch Me HERE. Good luck and happy reading! :)

And now, the recipe. Enjoy! 

Le Bête Noire

       Who doesn’t love that racing heart, wobbly-knee feeling you get tiptoeing into a dark basement, at the mouth of a mysterious cave, or just inside the dungeon door? The dark calls to us and frightens us at the same time. Thanks to a recipe Kelly Jamieson sent to me, we take a journey to the dark side this week, stir the dark beast. This dish, she drips sin. 

       Now, Nara likes to break writing rules. In her honor, we break some rules today. A cake with no flour, this must break some culinary rule. And like love on the dark side, this dish relies on a bittersweet balance. We don’t want syrupy sweet, but sweet with a bite — romance with an edge. This tempts the tongue and the imagination.

       We begin with preheating the oven to 350. It is always good to let the heat build slowly, like the anticipation of a lover’s touch. Now the ingredient list. As always, you can’t take measurements as gospel. Use your senses to guide you as you prepare.

       The list is short and simple. Buy organic and buy quality. If you are going to sin, sin extravagantly.
  • 3 eggs plus one yolk
  • 9 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocao)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt.
       So we start by making a sweet syrup, pour half cup water in the sauce pan, add sugar, salt, vanilla, add a couple more tablespoons of water there as it heats to a boil. We want nice clear syrup, the sugar dissolving like a lover’s will under the heat of desire.

       Now that your lover has greased and sugared the pan, we put him/ her to work breaking the chocolate to pieces in a big mixing bowl. 

       While she is busy we simmer the syrup. This is how flavor finds its shape. You take her to the boiling point and then you back off, let her hover, bubbling at the edge without going over. The timing is crucial. You have to learn when is too long and when is not long enough. You hear it in the tone, the soft hiss and murmur the liquids make.

       Now, I tip the syrup, drizzle it over the chocolate bits and use the wire whisk too– What is the word we want? Beating? No, no..whipping, I think. Whipping the batter.

       You whip up a thick black sauce — liquid sin. The sight, the scent so rich it makes your tongue twirl, tie itself in a knot.

       Then we have to add the butter, in small pieces, about the size of a pat. *wicked grin* I like patting.

       Now, while we have been cooking the eggs were sitting out, coming to temperature. We don’t want chilly eggs, they won’t be pliant enough to blend smoothly into the warm syrup.

       Whip briskly. Whipping action is all in the wrist, use fluid, supple strokes.You know she is whipped enough when everything has a nice uniform color, no stripes. For the dark beast, we want thick, glistening black batter. When you inhale you should be able to taste sin pooling on your tongue. We can’t taste this with raw egg in the batter, but you breathe in the taste of this one. Like a lover it will tell you when it’s time.

       You pour the batter in the pan and use the spatula to scoop and smooth. My technique with the spatula is much like the tennis motion, a quick swipe with the forehand and a slow return stroke. Hmm…I can think of other places that technique works well.

       Bake this around 45 minutes to an hour until it has a uniform jiggle, no one part jiggles more than the other. Hmm. You have to appreciate a cake with jiggle. And when you take her from the oven you have perfection. You can tell she is ready by the soft ripe texture, the fragrance has a decadent zest. She is a moist, dark jewel ready to be tasted. You look at her and you want to press your lips to her glistening skin and savor her warmth.

       Now the dictionary definition of bête noire says it is repellent, the thing you least want. I ask you, when you sink your fork into this, let her dissolve on your tongue, are you repelled?