Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I thought I'd take a look at paranormal romance today. Paranormal romance is a very popular subgenre of romantic fiction. It finds its roots in gothic fiction. (Victoria Holt, anyone?) (Side note: I think I'll do a Victoria Holt day coming up. That sounds like fun. But I digress)
Elements of gothic fiction include spooky castles or mansions, secrets, and events that, while appear supernatural, have very natural causes. (that's the gothic twist!) In a paranormal romance, however, events occur that are outside the range of natural explanations, thus allowing for the supernatural.
Common the paranormal genre are those entities of a "fantastic" or "otherworldly" nature – vampires, witches, shape shifters, and werewolves. Stories that feature characters with psychic abilities such as telekinesis or telepathy are also included in the paranormal.
Time travel romance also falls under paranormal since it is still beyond scientific explanation. What makes a time travel successful is their ability to have the characters react logically to their experiences.
Paranormal stories also tend to organically blend elements of the suspense and mystery genres due to their fantastic plots allowing for a wide variety within the genre itself.
What are some of your favorite paranormal stories?
Friday, March 25, 2011
I'd like to welcome author Linda Swift. She's a fellow author with me at Desert Breeze. She has upcoming release with Desert Breeze in April, "Summer Love." Today, she talks about visiting the Bronte estate. Enjoy! You can find Linda on the web at: http://www.lindaswift.net.
On Easter Sunday as a special gift to me, my husband gave up his much-needed day of R&R so that we could visit the Bronte home in Haworth. Although it was mid April, as we drove from East to West Yorkshire the landscape became more bleak. And the narrow roads grew steep and winding long before we reached the village of the famous literary family.
We left our Ford hatch-back in the car park at the bottom of the hill and joined the people on the cobbled street that led to the dark grayish-brown brick two story building at the top. The sky was a dull gray, hinting at impending rain, and we took our brolly although the chill wind would likely have turned it inside out had we used it.
My first impression was that the parsonage was much more grand than I had expected, even from the photographs I'd seen. An additional wing had been added by a later vicar and I closed my vision to that and imagined it when the Brontes lived there and found it still impressive. We paid the small admission fee and entered the house where we wandered from room to room. We were shown the beds where the Bronte family slept, the kitchen were they ate, the table where the Bronte sisters wrote. We saw the sofa where Emily reportedly died and clothes that Charlotte wore. (For photos inside the parsonage go to: http://www.haworth-village.org.uk/brontes/parsonage/parsonage.asp)
Patrick Bronte's study occupied one of the front rooms and we were told that he spent most of his time here, ignoring his six children who ran wild on the wild moors that surrounded them. Perhaps the world would not have benefitted as much from the Bronte genius had the vicar had better parenting skills and supervised his brood more closely! Patrick was a poor Irishman who became a man of letters, changing his name from Brunty in the process. It is difficult to imagine an Emily Brunty.
Following the early death of Patrick's wife Maria, her sister came to live at the parsonage and the four older girls were sent to a Clergy Daughter's boarding school to be educated. After a year of harsh conditions and meager diet, young Maria and Elizabeth, aged ten and eleven, died of tuberculosis. One of these girls was reported to have exhibited, even at such a young age, greater talent than her famous sisters. Had they lived, we might now have more Bronte literary treasures.
Emily and Charlotte were brought home to be taught by their father, along with their younger sister Anne and only brother Bramwell.I had read of the little books the Bronte children wrote of imaginary kingdoms and how they acted out these stories in their play. Several of these were displayed but I was unprepared for how small the books actually were. Each measured about two inches wide by three or four inches long, with ink lettering so fine one needed a magnifying glass to read it. It is said they wrote in these miniature books to avoid them being read by adults. Bramwell was a talented artist and many of his oil paintings hang in the home and museum. His work is typical of the period and evokes the same melancholy themes as his sisters' books. The deaths of Bramwell 30, Emily 31, and Anne 29, in such a short period of each other, and even Charlotte at 38, further deprived the world of their giftedness. Only Patrick survived to the ripe old age of 84.
Although the exterior of the parsonage had many windows, the interior seemed dark and somewhat depressing throughout. A large well-stocked bookstore adjoined the house and all of the Bronte books were available at a very reasonable cost. We didn't spend a lot of time here as there was so much to explore in one afternoon. Visible from the museum was a garden where a stone statue of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne faced the floor to ceiling windows. Although many people milled about, there was an air of reverence as if we walked in a sacred place where the spirits of departed Brontes still lingered and so it seemed to me.
From the front of the parsonage, to the right across the lawn, was the family graveyard. We have visited many cemeteries across England but had never seen tombstones that resembled thick concrete doors laid horizontally on low supports. These were about four by six feet and had inscriptions engraved on them that were quite lengthy.We walked among them and read quite a few and I wished later that I had copied some of them.
(For enlarged photo of graveyard, go to: http://www.bronteparsonage.blogspost.com)
The illustrious Bronte family, except for Anne, were entombed in vaults inside the adjacent church. The church was just beyond the graveyard and we visited it briefly as it was not the original building where Patrick Bronte had served as vicar. We walked to the rear of the parsonage, along a fenced corral that must have contained animals in earlier days. And although spring flowers bloomed along the path, they did little to dispel the overall feeling of gloom. From here we could look out across the rugged moors, now green, and see the placid sheep grazing on the hillsides. But I could imagine how it must have looked in winter covered in snow with gales howling across the moors. It was easy to visualize Catherine and Heathcliff meeting in the mist. It seems inevitable that Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were created from this environment by daughters of this tragic family. I could not imagine a Pollyanna story emerging here!
Looking back now, walking on that Easter Sunday afternoon where Emily and Charlotte had walked was akin to a religious experience. And I treasure it among my favorite memories of the time I was fortunate to live in Yorkshire County. But on that dismal day, as we wandered down from the hilltop, I welcomed my husband's suggestion that we take tea to warm our insides against the chill before we headed home to Hull. And all thought of Brontes was replaced with visions of shortbread to accompany it.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Hi all, just wanted to share my latest cover - this one is "The Wolf's Torment" which will be out 1 MAY 2011 with Desert Breeze. The cover artist is Jenifer Ranieri and I love it. I really captures the gothic overtones of the story. I thought today I'd share a blurb and an excerpt from the novel. (Disclaimer: We're in the final stages of editing, but the excerpt might change a little between now and publication. Enjoy!)
Leave a comment and I'll pick one lucky winner to receive a PDF copy of Heart of Moldavia, a prequel short story.
It's 1865 in Moldavia, a country nestled against the shores of the Black Sea, and Crown Prince Mihai Sigmaringen returns after receiving an education in England. His best friend, Viktor Bacau joins him. Mihai is intent on modernizing his nation, but he's also a witch, and it's time he embraces his heritage. The tasks in front of him are many including getting married.
Lady Theresa von Kracken arrives in Constanta as Mihai's intended. Mihai has vowed not to fall in love again, but Theresa manages to break the battlements around his heart.
In an unfortunate twist of fate, Viktor is bitten by a werewolf. Viktor's transformation threatens everyone around him including his wife's safety and Mihai's happiness with Theresa. Viktor's bite is the wolf's torment.
THE SET UP:
Mihai has taken Theresa to his tower in Delfin Castle and they are getting to know each other better:
"We'll go as soon as it warms up. Do you have any idea where you would like to go for your honeymoon?" Mihai asked.
She smiled as heat seeped into her cheeks. "I have too many places I'd like to visit. What do you suggest?"
"We could take the yacht to Constantinople."
He wrinkled his brow. "That was almost too easy."
"I am very agreeable, but you'll find I do have my opinions."
"I look forward to taking you on several adventures -- and hearing your opinions."
She smiled, glad that he was opening up with her.
"Can I ask you a question? You must promise to keep it between us," he said.
"Did you dream of me during Christmas?"
Her stomach tightened, a little anxious. "Yes, I dreamed of you."
"Were you being chased by a wolf?"
His face lit up. "So it's true -- we've been sharing dreams since we were little."
She nodded her head, surprised he was so accepting of it. It had been unnerving at first, but she had learned to enjoy it.
"Do you know why that is?" he asked.
"No, I don't understand it, but I know what I feel."
"What do you feel?"
"Every experience in my dreams was real and true."
He nodded, agreeing with her. "I know why."
"Why?" She rubbed her chin with a finger.
"Again, I must have your confidence."
"My mother was a witch. I have inherited her gifts."
"I know nothing about witches."
Relief crossed his face. "I don't know much myself. My mother died when I was ten and I wasn't trained."
She accepted him at his word, his tone of voice full of conviction.
"Is Sonia a witch?"
"Most likely. We've never really wanted to explore that side of us."
He scrubbed the back of his head, a little uncomfortable, but remembered Sonia's words. Be honest. "Well, I think we've both been afraid. We didn't want other people to think we were different."
"I wouldn't say you were different, just unique."
"This doesn't bother you?" he asked.
"I may know nothing of witches or witchcraft, but it makes sense how we were able to share dreams, and quite honestly, I liked the dreams we've shared."
"So have I," he replied.
He placed his hand over hers. A spark of warmth trailed up her arm. "I'm starting to learn more about witchcraft, so I hope you won't be afraid. I want to understand my gift."
She studied his expression. This was a deep-seated fear of his. He didn't want to possess these talents, but he was willing to learn more so he understood it and he wanted her to accept this about him. She sensed something deeper from his expression -- he couldn't bear her rejection.
"I will never leave you," she said, softly. And she meant it.
A small smile graced his lips. Again, it grew quiet, but Theresa believed she had earned a certain degree of trust from him.
The Wolf's Torment will be released 1 MAY as an ebook avail on Kindle, Sony ereader, B&N Nook
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
A look at Inspirational Romance
An inspirational romance is a story that not only has internal/external conflict, but a spiritual conflict as well. The challenge then is to make the spiritual conflict believable.
A Christian Feel
Inspirational Romance should have a mainstream Christian feel. The goal is to have your hero/heroine clearly demonstrate a belief in Jesus Christ by the end of the novel.
Does it matter what religion is used in the story? No, it doesn't. While most stories in the genre appeal to a non-denominational Christian religion, any religion can be used to bring in the spiritual quality you, the author, is looking for.
Themes help frame spiritual conflict. Does the hero feel bitter toward God? Does the heroine feel like she doesn't deserve forgiveness after what she's done?
Happily ever after doesn't usually occur until your couple gets past their spiritual issues. An inspirational romance is about the spiritual journey one takes to get closer to God.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I love the presidential libraries. They really give you a feel for the man and his times during his presidency. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is in Boston, Massachusetts on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood. The library is easy to find and has a gorgeous view overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I had an opportunity to visit it in October 2001. However, getting it built was quite a challenge.
Before he died, JFK expressed a desire to build his presidential library "near scholarly resources." A month before he was assassinated, he chose a plot of land facing the Charles River next to Harvard's Graduate School.
In December 1964, Jackie Kennedy picked architect I.M. Pei to design the library. She liked that he had a variety of ideas and that he didn't seem to have just one way to solve a problem.
Unfortunately, the project stalled. The Mass Bay Transit Authority delayed in selling the land. Then Pei needed to study the soil, which took 6 months. In 1971, the school changed its mind. They saw the library as attracting such unsavorys like tourists, fast food franchises, and souvenir shops.
A new (and current location) was chosen, but it was on the site of a landfill. That took time to clear. Pei designed a simple geometric structure with a large glass pavilion. Construction began in June 1977.
In October 1979, President Jimmy Carter dedicated the library. The library highlights the Cuban Missile Crisis and the US Space program along with Kennedy's presidential campaign. Ernest Hemingway's memorial library is also there.
One of the neatest artifacts the museum has is a coconut shell dating from Kennedy's World War II military service as the Commander of PT 109. Kennedy was also fond of scrimshaw and sailing ship models.
The library gives out the Profile in Courage award. Kennedy's intent with his novel, "Profile in Courage" was to show 8 U.S. Senators who risked their carrier by taking principled stands for unpopular positions. The award itself is presented to those public officials who have demonstrated politically courageous leadership.
Has anyone visited the library? I'd love to hear your thoughts. What was your favorite exhibit?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Point Reyes is actually a very prominent cape on the Pacific Coast in Marin County, California, approx. 30 miles west of San Francisco. I've enclosed a map so you can picture it. If you ask me, you can't get any more west than the Point Reyes Cape on mainland USA.
Spanish explorer, Sebastian Vizcaino, anchored his ship in Drake's Bay on 3 Kings Day, 6 Jan 1603, giving the name Punto de los Reyes (King's Point/Point Reyes) to the peninsula. In Fact, the region is known as a peninsula due to Tomales Bay on the northeast and the Bolinas Lagoon on the southeast.
Interesting Side Note: Drake's Bay was named after the famous English explorer, Sir Francis Drake in 1579.
Picture a ridge running down the peninsula's nw/se spine with forested peaks. That's the topography. The lighthouse is found on a cliff and to reach it, one has to walk down 300 steps.
Point Reyes is known for its heavy fog. Because of this, the light from the lighthouse is the only light visible to ships. Nowadays, its fully automated. What's really cool about the lighthouse is that it still houses the first order Frenzel lens built for it. It produces a flash every five seconds.
NOTE: A Frenzel lens is an unique type of lens which is found in lighthouses.
The lighthouse is anchored to the cliff by large bolts. Two terraces were built into the cliff when construction finally began. One at 100 feet for the fog building (weather station) and one 150 feet higher for the light tower. 300 steps were carved into the cliff form the top of the bluff to reach the light tower.
Of course what gives a lighthouse its personality is the history and the Point Reyes lighthouse can tell a few tales.
In 1595, a Spanish galleon, San Augustin, sought to avoid a storm. Thinking Point Reyes was an island, the ship's captain miscalculated and ran the ship aground. It was the first recorded shipwreck on the West Coast.
In 1855, a lighthouse was authorized for Point Reyes, but it took 15 years before it was actually built. The Lighthouse Board spent the time haggling over what it was to offer the landowners for their land. During this time, 14 shipwrecks occurred.
The environment is hard on the lighthouse. High winds around 40 mphs are the norm and the fog is heavy.
Perhaps the most suspenseful story occurred in 1927. Lighthouse keeper, Fred Kreth, discovered three fisherman stranded at the bottom of the cliff. Due to the surf being too high, the Coast Guard couldn't manage a rescue. Kreth rappelled 200 feet down the cliff, braced himself on a thin ledge, untied the rope around his waist and threw it 50 yards down, pulling each man to safety.
Interesting note: electricity finally came to the lighthouse in 1938. The station was automated in 1975.
Visit Point Reyes between JAN – APR and you might see a couple of grey whales as they journey on their annual Alaska-Mexico migration.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
We've all heard of the blarney stone. Those who kiss it are said to be endowned with the gift of gab (and eloquence.) Mind you, it's not an easy stone to kiss, but many try each year.
"Blarney" means clever, witty, coaxing talk.
The stone itself was built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, in Blarney Ireland approx. 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Cork, Ireland. The stone was set into the tower of the castle in 1446.
So what's the attraction? What's the myth that compells many to visit?
One myth involves the goddess Clíodhna. (Queen of the Banshees) Cormac Laidir MacCarthy built the Castle, but he was involved in a lawsuit. He appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told MacCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and he did so, with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart "the ability to deceive without offending." MacCarthy then incorporated it into the parapet of the castle.
Queen Elizabeth I commanded the Earl of Leicester to take possession of the castle. Whenever he tried to talk to McCarthy, he always had a suggestion (or an excuse) to delay the negotiations. Whenever the Queen asked the Earl for a report, the Earl had to report the castle wasn't his. The queen was said to be so irritated that she remarked that the earl's reports were all 'Blarney'.
To kiss the Blarney Stone, people lay on their back and stick their head in a hole. It's not an easy thing to do. Anyone ever get the chance to kiss the blarney stone?
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I thought I'd share some more styles of poetry with you today.
A Kyrielle is a French form of rythming poetry. It is written in quatrains (a quatrain is a stanza with 4 lines).
Each quatrain contains a repeating line or phrase known as a "refrain."
Each line is 8 syllables.
There are no limits to the quatrains, but the minium is 3.
Rythme pattern is up to the poet.
I Saw Death Today
I saw death today, bold yet dark.
His features were black, icy, stark.
He wore an obsidian cloak.
His blade would cut in a swift stroke.
Death slithered around shadowed tree,
He looked sharp gray on bended knee.
The prey was not far from his coat.
His blade would cut in a swift stroke.
Laughing and giggling were they.
Destiny's time was up today.
The sundial struck it's feared note.
His blade would cut in a swift stroke.
There are 10 lines in an etheree. As you go up in lines, you go up in syllables. For example:
Line 1 - 1 syllable
Line 2 - 2 syllable
and so on.
Line 10 will have 10 syllables.
You can also reverse the ethree starting with 10 syllables and going down to 1. A double etheree has 2 verses with an inverted syllable count starting after line 10.
fields and shadows,
creeping, stalking prey.
Obsidian eye cool,
mercurial to the touch.
Fear all around; heart pumping loud.
Prey jumps, bolts toward hoped freedom close.
Dark pounces, hands cold, firm, kill without mercy.
This is a French form of poetry similiar to the Kyrielle.
There are 16 lines, 4 quatrains.
A refrain is in a different line each quatrain. In the 1st quatrian it is in line 1, in the 2nd quatrain, it is in line 2. in the 3rd quatrain, it is in line 3, in the 4th quatrain, it is in line 4.
There are 8 syllables per line.
It does not follow a set rythme scheme.
Shattered by the light of the Moon
Shattered by the light of the moon,
I dropped to the forest ground.
His words were icy and bitter.
Heartbreak's cold arrow would not come out.
I shivered, stung, pricked by ice,
shattered by the light of the moon.
Once done, my nocturnal lover
walked away, no compassion
splayed upon his face, no cold grace.
My brittle bones ached, my skin quaked,
shattered by the light of the moon.
Rejection, so cooly done rent.
Dark hours past, sunrise's twilight peeks
out over an obsidian cloud.
My doomed heart, beating still, was
shattered by the light of the moon.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Over the past couple of years ebooks and ebook readers have exploded making them well, practically mainstream. I, myself, have a Kindle and love it.
So, today I thought I'd explore the Pros of having an ebook reader. If you can think of a "pro" that I haven't mentioned, please chime in.
An ebook reader is generally the size of the book. It's slim, and easily to carry around. When I'm waiting in line at a doctor's office, or Jiffy Lube, I can just whip it out and read.
Ebooks are generally cheaper than print books.
An ebook reader saves shelf space. Mind you, for my absolute favorite stories, I will have a print copy for the shelf (but to be a favorite you've got to be "high" up there, like JK Rowling, for example). Honestly, it's kind of nice to unclutter my shelves.
They are good for the environment. If most of you are a little more aware of the Earth and recycle, ebooks help to save trees in the broad sense.
It's easy to buy a book. With a Kindle, I just activate my 3G and browse the library until I find a book I want. I can have a book at the touch of my fingertips. If I buy from a publisher online, I get a format that will convert easily through my program, Calibre (Mobipocket is another great converter) and upload it. For Kindles, PDF will load, but it's hard to read so I usually buy epub or html for my Kindle if I'm buying from a publisher.
Most ebook readers allow you adjust font, add notes, and highlights. Some ebook readers will play audio books, like my Kindle. My Kindle even has text to speech so I can listen to the book in the car on my way to work. This is one feature of my ebook reader I enjoy very much.
The e-ink technology is easy on the eyes. It's black lettering on a grey background for the most part. Some ereaders come with a backlight or a light to help read in low light.
Mind you, I like a good print book from time to time. There's nothing like holding a print book in your hand, turning the pages, enjoying the fresh clean scent and cozying up in a corner. But again, I usually reserve print copies for books I find very interesting and are my favorites.
Right now I'm reading "Beloved Captive" by Melanie Atkins on my Kindle. What are you reading?
QUICKIE EBOOK FACTS:
E-BOOKS TURN 40! That's right - it's been forty years since Michael S. Hart created the first "e-book".
One of the first genres to become successful in the e-book field was that of the romance story.
A company called E Ink recently introduced a new display technology, e-ink, which mimics the look of paper better than any other display technology.
Read an E-Book Week was first registered with Chase's Calendar of Events in 2004. Chase's is a day by day directory of special days, weeks and months used by event planners or anyone looking for a reason to celebrate.
Many ebook friendly sites have a lot of deals this week to promote read an ebook. Visit http://www.ebookweek.com
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Astrologers have explored the heavens since early Greek and Roman times – as even far back as ancient Babylonia. They gave those constellations that follow the sun’s ecliptic a zodiac name to help identify them. But why those constellations? What inspired them? I thought I’d take a look at the myths and legends that are behind the zodiac we see in the sky today.
Ah, the zodiac! We know it well. There are twelve signs, and surprisingly, their basic descriptions seem to fit the type of personality we exhibit.
The night sky is a dark presence in paranormal writing, often times taking on its own personality. After all, vampires come out at night, men transform into werewolves during a full moon, even zombies and ghosts are known to do their haunting at night.
When blending paranormal and romantic elements, looking to the night sky and the dynamic zodiac, can give you, the writer, the inspiration you need.
In my novel, “The Hungarian,” my hero, Matthias, is a werewolf who uses the constellations in the night sky to keep him company. He learned the myths behind the zodiac in the stars. I thought I’d share a few of them with you today.
Pisces is well known as representing two fish, but did you know those fish were Venus and Cupid who disguised themselves as fish to escape from Typhon?
Aries has always been represented as a ram. In fact, Aries was a golden ram rescued by Phrixos who took him to the land Colchis.
Taurus is a bull. What I love about Taurus is the stuff you can find in the constellation. Aldebaran is a red giant star that acts as the bull’s eye. The Pleiades, a star cluster, can also be found in the bull’s shoulder. In myth, Taurus represents Zeus/Jupiter who turned himself into a bull to carry off Europa, the daughter of the king of Crete.
Gemini represents the twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, who helped to protect ships and sailors.
Cancer represents a crab. Juno sent a crab to kill Hercules, who squashed it with his foot. Poor crab! Juno lost out with that idea.
Leo is usually associated with royalty. I believe it has Babylonian roots.
Virgo is usually represented as a maiden. She’s the goddess of the farm and harvest and she typically holds a shock of wheat. Again, I believe her origins are Babylonian in nature.
The sun usually find the autumnal equinox in Libria. The constellation is comprised of a set of scales, representing balance. Interestingly, the Romans chopped off Scorpio’s claws to make part of Libria.
Juno/Gaia sent the scorpion to kill Orion, who boasted he would kill all the animals on Earth! Poor Juno. She can’t catch a break. Scorpio and Orion are on opposite side of the sky, destined to never find each other, but always in search of the other.
Sagittarius is a centaur, a half-man, half-horse archer named Chiron, who is shooting an arrow and comes from Roman myth.
Capricorn is usually represented as a seagoat. Pan used it as a disguise.
Aquarius is a water carrier. Again, this constellation has Babylonian origins.
When you look at the constellations in this light, you have a lot of paranormal romantic potential. Keep in mind the myths that the night sky possess, and see if you can’t apply them to your romantic paranormal creatures. You’ll add depth to your stories without realizing it.
Friday, March 4, 2011
STEPH: Tell us a little about you. Where do you live? How long have you been writing?
REGINA: Hi Stephanie, thank you for having me today on your fabulous blog! A resident of Providence, RI, now, I grew up in nearby Barrington. The Ocean State has a lot of appeal for me!
My wonderful mother read to me as far back as I can remember and I am sure that’s why I love reading so much. Loving reading, and being a natural talker, I think writing became the next logical step. It came in handy when I didn’t have an audience to tell my stories to, I could just keep going, and write everything down. That began early on, and I just never stopped. The publishing came later.
STEPH: I don't know much about "Light of the Heart." What's it about?
REGINA: “Light of the Heart” deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade Preston, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.
STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?
REGINA: That's an interesting question. I have always written pretty 'safe' Inspirationals, and I searched in my heart to hear a story that might needed to be told. Many years ago, I knew the hero and heroine of this story (in my mind) but Cascade's back story only came to me recently. I was not sure about it when I stopped and thought about the theme, it seemed so edgy...so I didn't stop, I just kept writing what was in my heart. After all, I had waited a long time for Cascade to tell me her story! I'm so glad the story incubated and now has the depth and substance her story really deserves. Sometimes, a writer has to be patient, and wait for the story to get to them. I'm not patient, at all! But I am so glad I waited!
STEPH: How important was the setting to the story?
REGINA: Oh, setting is always critical to my stories. Here, it is an absolute 'must'! Sterling Lakes, with all the problems the town has had in the past, and all the natural gifts they enjoy, typifies the dichotomy of the human experience: it's beautiful and ugly, good and evil all at the same time...just like the human soul.
STEPH: If you could cast the movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
REGINA: OOOH! Okay, Cascade Preston: Amy Adams and Dan McQuay: Let me get back to you, Steph!!
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
REGINA: Well, it's funny, I really ruminate...and I've been 'hatching' this one since way back when lol! The real work for me is thinking, plotting and envisioning the book. Once I sit down, it does not take too long. This was done in a few months, then delivered to a great editor who I must say really seemed to 'get it' quicker than I did, sometimes! Bless her!
STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?
REGINA: Yes, I have a Kindle that I love love love!!
STEPH Do you belong to any writing groups or writing afflilations? How helpful have they been to you?
REGINA: In the past I belonged to RWA and was in the NE chap of RWA, in fact, I was the librarian for a while. I can't tell you how wonderful that was! What a great group! I am still friends with lots of the writers and count their encouragement as one reason I ever had the confidence to send my work out to publishers!
STEPH: Can you tell us a little about the state you live in?
REGINA: Shakespeare asked "What's in a name?" in Romeo and Juliette and Little Rhody is a good example of a really powerful answer to that query! Rhode Island is the smallest state in the country, but nestled into a section of ocean, mountains and forest, it has incomparable natural beauty. On top of that, we are the nucleus of several world-renowned Universities and Colleges, so our intellectual community is vibrant and ever-evolving. An outgrowth of that is the Arts community, with museums, theaters and -yay - restaurants. Plus, we are a real cultural crossroads, with folks of all nations finding their homes here and propelling the life of the entire community into ever-enriched levels of shared experiences.
STEPH: If you could visit one country, what country would be on your bucket list?
REGINA: In a heartbeat, I'd go back to Greece. I had a trip to Egypt booked for May...I will get there some day!
Thank you, Stephanie!
STEPH: Thanks for being here today, Regina! It was great to have you.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Anacapa Island Station
Every lighthouse has a story behind it and the Anacapa Island light is no different. Anacapa is an island off the coast of Santa Barbara. It's actually a chain of small island simply called: west island, middle island, east island. They're linked together by a set of reefs that you can see during low tide.
Anacapa's rise to notoriety begins on 2 DEC 1853. A side-wheel steamer called the Winfield Scott was enroute to Panama from San Francisco.
NOTE: Before the Panama Canal was built, ships would leave a west coast city like San Francisco and travel along the coast to Panama. There, they would travel over land, approx. 30 miles, to the east coast of Panama where they would take a second boat, which would then take them to New York City or any other city on the east coast.
The Winfield Scott carried passengers who had struck it rich from the gold rush. At 11 pm while in dense fog, most of the passengers were sleeping. The steamer struck the middle island. The Winfield Scott was a total loss amid the frenzy to save oneself and their gold.
NOTE: the remains of the Winfield Scott are still submerged just north of the island.
News of the wreck made it to President Franklin Pierce who issued an executive order – Anacapa would be reserved for a lighthouse. It took a while to get there.
In 1874, an unmanned acetylene lens lantern was built on a sketal tower. A whistling buoy was also anchored 5/8 miles off the east end of the island.
Note: In a lens lantern the 2 components are combined into one structure. Lens lanterns have been around for quite a while so there are many different ones which may add to the confusion.
A buoy lamp is a lens-lantern. The glass or transparent plastic part is the lens while the bronze or aluminum or opaque plastic body of the lamp is the lantern. The beautiful 1 and 8 day oil lamps that were hung on poles as minor aids or on pierhead structures, the cut glass and bronze acetylene aids and even the modern plastic lamps are all lens lanterns. Over the years there have been many sizes of lens lanterns.
Like today, tragedy had to happen for action to be instigated. On 28 FEB 1921, the steamer, Liebre, grounded on Anacapa just under the unmanned lighthouse sustaining damages up to $40,000. As before, it was very foggy, but inspectors noted the buoy had overturned and wasn't functioning.
The Anacapa lighthouse station began construction in the spring on 1930. Four houses were built and the light received a 3rd order Fresnel light. A 39 foot tower and a fog signal were constructed near the highest part of the island.
Note: A Fresnel lens design allows the construction of lenses of large aperture and short focal length without the mass and volume of material that would be required by a lens of conventional design. Compared to conventional bulky lenses, the Fresnel lens is much thinner, larger, and flatter, and captures more oblique light from a light source, thus allowing lighthouses to be visible over much greater distances.
In 1962 or poss 1968, (the information is in conflict) the coast guard converted the lighthouse to an unattended station again. The reason? Because missiles were test fired off Point Mugu. The island residents had to spend several hours each week in a shelter.
Today, you can still visit Anacapa and see the lighthouse as well as some of the original building from the 1930's. The lighthouse still aids in navigation.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
A look at Romantic Suspense
Romantic suspense is a very popular sub-genre of romance. It is also used to transition from romance to more mainstream genres. In order to have a good, solid, romantic suspense, the story must blend suspense and romance in equal proportions and do two things in equal proportions – 1) solve the mystery/suspense 2) have the hero/heroine fall in love.
The Nature of Suspense
What does suspense bring to the table, you ask? It gives the story instant attention. Something dire has happened. Solving the dilemma is a must for our hero/heroine. Keep in mind with suspense that the hero/heroine finds out early on in the story who the villain is. Just how much damage will the villain do before he/she is stopped is the heart of the suspense. Suspense is different from mystery in that in a mystery the hero/heroine take the entire story to find out "whodunit." In suspense, it’s a matter of stopping the villain. Remember to use the setting to help create an element of suspense. Weather, also, can heighten suspense.
The villain isn't just plain nuts anymore. Readers are more savvy these days and can appreciate a complex villain. Don't be afraid to show the villain's motivation, which can include: ambition, blackmail, thrill, fear, jealousy and even self-defense. A good villain heightens the suspense.
The Nature of Romance
The nature of romantic suspense really necessitates a short time line. You don't have weeks or months to allow feelings to grow – you have days if that, so the chemistry between the hero/heroine needs to be immediate. Don't forget your internal conflict and those niggly little issues in the back of the hero/heroine's mind that makes them hesitant to jump into romance. Just remember you won't have a lot of time for long narratives or character introspection. Phobias work well, too. Think of what scares your hero/heroine and put them in that situation.
Your end has to accomplish two things –the villain is brought to justice and the hero/heroine commit to working things out. Remember a "high" commitment of marriage might seem out of place since the story takes place in a short period of time, but knowing the couple is on the right track will work for the reader.