WHAT COMES FIRST, PLOT OR CHARACTER?

October 12, 2009 at 4:00 am (Rebecca York) (, , , , , , )

MM cover.indd

WHAT COMES FIRST, PLOT OR CHARACTER.
What comes first?  Plot or character?  For me, they’ve got to develop together.  My characters must serve my plot, and my plot must work with my characters.  I could think of a great story about a guy who’s living alone in a mountain cabin and is visited by space aliens, but what’s he doing in that cabin?  Why is he alone?  How is he going to deal with lizard-like creatures knocking on his door?  And the larger question–is the reader going to believe his reactions?
One lesson I learned about my stories.  They’re not reality.  It’s a world I create.  But I’ve got to make it look, sound, feel, taste and smell real to the reader.  The way to do that is by paying attention to every detail from characters and plot to setting and  dialogue.  Yet some details are more important than others.  I’m sure you’ve had the experience of picking up a book and starting to read–then giving up after a few pages or a few chapters.  Why?  Probably because you didn’t like the plot or you couldn’t connect with the characters.
I absorbed a lot about writing techniques through my love of reading.  In my teens, one of my favorite authors was Sinclair Lewis.  He was brilliant at character sketches.  In just a sentence or two, he could get inside the personality of a small town mayor or the head of a major corporation.  But he was much less adept  with plot.  His stories moved slowly, and eventually I stopped reading him.
Contrast that with the action-packed movies being produced today.  They serve up chases, explosions and world-crushing meteors, bombarding the screen one after the other.  But mostly they don’t interest me unless they focus on compelling characters as well. And they justify the action with logic.
I’ve learned my craft from reading authors I admire, by studying movie techniques, and by figuring out what works or falls flat.  Then I go back to my own stories.   Every book I write begins with what I’d call a “cool idea.”
Take my October Berkley release, DRAGON MOON.  What if a frightening dragon-shifter monster from my parallel universe planned to invade our world?  What if he sent a spy here–and she had to figure out how to free herself from his hold on her?
I always plan to start with a gripping first scene that will plunge the reader into the action.  In DRAGON MOON, Vandar, my dragon-shifter monster, flies over his domain, lands and gathers his slaves so he can execute one of them by drinking his blood.  Then he thinks about his current project–invading our world and how he’s going to accomplish it.
He focuses on Kenna, a woman with telekinetic powers.  She’s a slave–but  I don’t want her to be too cowed.  So I decided she’s only been in captivity for the past few months.
Since I’m writing romantic suspense, Kenna will develop a relationship with a man she comes to love.  And because I’m writing a werewolf series, it’s going to be another one of my Marshall men.  Talon Marshall.   I want him in an isolated location, so I have him leading wilderness expeditions–and living at a former hunting lodge in the woods.
Kenna stumbles into our world and immediately gets into trouble when a fallen tree traps her during a thunderstorm.  Talon rescues her, and they’re quickly attracted to each other.  She wants to tell him why she’s in our world, but Vandar has made it impossible to speak of her mission.  When she tries, terrible pains in her head incapacitate her.  So I’ve trapped my characters in what looks like an impossible situation.
I always try to outline my story in advance, because I want to understand where it’s going.  If you don’t know what goal you’re working toward, how can you know how each scene will advance the plot?  But there are always details to discover along the way.  How exactly are Talon and Kenna going to defeat Vandar?  They can’t do it on their own.
They’re going to need the other Marshall werewolves and their mates.  But even with the Marshalls working together, they’re not strong enough to go up against Vandar.  They need someone with powers that equal the dragon- shifters–and he’s the surprise character I throw into the mix.
Because I write romantic suspense, the romance relationship develops as Talon and Kenna are struggling with the danger hanging over them.  Talon’s afraid he’s bonding with a woman he can’t trust.  He knows she’s hiding a secret, and he’s upset that she doesn’t trust him enough reveal it to him.
To give my stories extra punch, I often try to weave more than one threat through the plot.  In this case, as the book starts, Talon has discovered a buried trunk full of stolen money and turned it in to the police.  The bank robber, Mitch Sutton, who stole the money, knows Talon turned it in and wants to get even.  And while Talon is off leading a wilderness expedition, Sutton almost kills Kenna.
The two threats come together when Sutton follows the Marshalls into my parallel universe as they get ready to battle Vandar and his forces.
As the book progresses, plot and character continue to work together.  Kenna and Talon face an escalating series of high-stakes perils, but in every case their reactions to each other and to these threats are the most important factor in every scene.
I try to create the perfect people for my plot, but the characters don’t come fully alive for me until I start writing the book.  It takes me about three chapters to get into their heads deeply enough to know how they will react in each situation they face.  As I write, I may go back and fill in more about their character so the reader can understand them better.  Still, I try never to overload any one part of the story with too much background.  To my way of thinking, “character development” can never be the only reason for a scene.  Each scene has to move the plot forward toward an ending that will satisfy me and the reader.
How do you feel about plot and character?  Do they function together for you?  Or is one more important than the other?

What comes first?  Plot or character?  For me, they’ve got to develop together.  My characters must serve my plot, and my plot must work with my characters.  I could think of a great story about a guy who’s living alone in a mountain cabin and is visited by space aliens, but what’s he doing in that cabin?  Why is he alone?  How is he going to deal with lizard-like creatures knocking on his door?  And the larger question–is the reader going to believe his reactions?

One lesson I learned about my stories.  They’re not reality.  It’s a world I create.  But I’ve got to make it look, sound, feel, taste and smell real to the reader.  The way to do that is by paying attention to every detail from characters and plot to setting and  dialogue.  Yet some details are more important than others.  I’m sure you’ve had the experience of picking up a book and starting to read–then giving up after a few pages or a few chapters.  Why?  Probably because you didn’t like the plot or you couldn’t connect with the characters.

I absorbed a lot about writing techniques through my love of reading.  In my teens, one of my favorite authors was Sinclair Lewis.  He was brilliant at character sketches.  In just a sentence or two, he could get inside the personality of a small town mayor or the head of a major corporation.  But he was much less adept  with plot.  His stories moved slowly, and eventually I stopped reading him.

Contrast that with the action-packed movies being produced today.  They serve up chases, explosions and world-crushing meteors, bombarding the screen one after the other.  But mostly they don’t interest me unless they focus on compelling characters as well. And they justify the action with logic.

I’ve learned my craft from reading authors I admire, by studying movie techniques, and by figuring out what works or falls flat.  Then I go back to my own stories.   Every book I write begins with what I’d call a “cool idea.”

Take my October Berkley release, DRAGON MOON.  What if a frightening dragon-shifter monster from my parallel universe planned to invade our world?  What if he sent a spy here–and she had to figure out how to free herself from his hold on her?

I always plan to start with a gripping first scene that will plunge the reader into the action.  In DRAGON MOON, Vandar, my dragon-shifter monster, flies over his domain, lands and gathers his slaves so he can execute one of them by drinking his blood.  Then he thinks about his current project–invading our world and how he’s going to accomplish it.

He focuses on Kenna, a woman with telekinetic powers.  She’s a slave–but  I don’t want her to be too cowed.  So I decided she’s only been in captivity for the past few months.

Since I’m writing romantic suspense, Kenna will develop a relationship with a man she comes to love.  And because I’m writing a werewolf series, it’s going to be another one of my Marshall men.  Talon Marshall.   I want him in an isolated location, so I have him leading wilderness expeditions–and living at a former hunting lodge in the woods.

Kenna stumbles into our world and immediately gets into trouble when a fallen tree traps her during a thunderstorm.  Talon rescues her, and they’re quickly attracted to each other.  She wants to tell him why she’s in our world, but Vandar has made it impossible to speak of her mission.  When she tries, terrible pains in her head incapacitate her.  So I’ve trapped my characters in what looks like an impossible situation.

I always try to outline my story in advance, because I want to understand where it’s going.  If you don’t know what goal you’re working toward, how can you know how each scene will advance the plot?  But there are always details to discover along the way.  How exactly are Talon and Kenna going to defeat Vandar?  They can’t do it on their own.

They’re going to need the other Marshall werewolves and their mates.  But even with the Marshalls working together, they’re not strong enough to go up against Vandar.  They need someone with powers that equal the dragon- shifters–and he’s the surprise character I throw into the mix.

Because I write romantic suspense, the romance relationship develops as Talon and Kenna are struggling with the danger hanging over them.  Talon’s afraid he’s bonding with a woman he can’t trust.  He knows she’s hiding a secret, and he’s upset that she doesn’t trust him enough reveal it to him.

To give my stories extra punch, I often try to weave more than one threat through the plot.  In this case, as the book starts, Talon has discovered a buried trunk full of stolen money and turned it in to the police.  The bank robber, Mitch Sutton, who stole the money, knows Talon turned it in and wants to get even.  And while Talon is off leading a wilderness expedition, Sutton almost kills Kenna.

The two threats come together when Sutton follows the Marshalls into my parallel universe as they get ready to battle Vandar and his forces.

As the book progresses, plot and character continue to work together.  Kenna and Talon face an escalating series of high-stakes perils, but in every case their reactions to each other and to these threats are the most important factor in every scene.

I try to create the perfect people for my plot, but the characters don’t come fully alive for me until I start writing the book.  It takes me about three chapters to get into their heads deeply enough to know how they will react in each situation they face.  As I write, I may go back and fill in more about their character so the reader can understand them better.  Still, I try never to overload any one part of the story with too much background.  To my way of thinking, “character development” can never be the only reason for a scene.  Each scene has to move the plot forward toward an ending that will satisfy me and the reader.

How do you feel about plot and character?  Do they function together for you?  Or is one more important than the other?

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September Update from Deborah Cooke

September 15, 2009 at 6:04 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , , , , )

There’s something about September. Maybe it’s the habit of getting ready to go back to school – even long after we’ve finished doing that! – or maybe it’s the fall snap in the air. Either way, there’s a new energy afoot in September. I find myself with lots to do each year, and lots of initiative to get things done. Septembers in publishing then start to perpetuate their energy, as most print books spend a year in the production cycle. This year, you’ll see the fruits of what I wrote last year – and what I write this year will be out next fall.

So, what’s coming up? First of all, I have a novella in the anthology THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE II – this is the one with the steampunk vampire chick on the cover. It’s my first vampire piece and I had fun with it – my contribution is called “Coven of Mercy.” The antho goes on sale September 22 but it looks as if Amazon has it in stock now.

Next up will be book #2 in my future-set fantasy romance series, featuring fallen angel heroes in a post-nuclear, pre-Apocalyptic world. GUARDIAN goes on sale September 30, and is the sequel to FALLEN. Tanzey at FreshFiction wrote a wonderful review which you can read HERE. You can read the cover copy and an excerpt – and check out the gorgeous cover! – right HERE.

Next up will be book #4 in my Dragonfire series from NAL Eclipse. WINTER KISS is Delaney’s story, and tells of his quest to eliminate the Dragon’s Blood Elixir. Of course, he isn’t planning on having his firestorm right in the middle of his mission, much less on the force of nature that is Ginger Sinclair. Tanzey was quick with reviews this summer – you can read the Fresh Fiction review of this book HERE. You can read the cover copy and an excerpt – and check out another gorgeous cover! – right HERE. WINTER KISS goes on sale November 3.

I will be the opening keynote speaker at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference in early October, plus I’ll be teaching a workshop. There’s a booksigning associated with the conference, as well, one that I believe is open to the public. I will be doing a couple of booksignings in Toronto at the beginning of November with both new titles – you can always check out my schedule on THIS PAGE of my blog.

And finally, I will be the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library in October and November of this year. There are several public events associated with the residency – these are free events, but you need to register with the library that you plan to attend. One will be an intro to me and the residency, and for the other, we’ll have a panel discussion with an editor and agent about the other side of the business. If you’re too far away to attend, there is also a blog associated with the residency, which will launch on October 5. We’ll talk about the romance genre, about writing and publishing, and will have some guest bloggers, too. This is the first time that the TPL has offered a residency focussed on the romance genre, so I’m honoured to have gotten the post – and I think it will be a lot of fun! More information about the residency is posted HERE.

Phew! I think that’s enough to keep me out of mischief, don’t you?

Deborah Cooke
blogging most weekdays at Alive & Knitting

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Moving Targets

June 25, 2009 at 6:52 am (General) (, , , , , , )

(cross-posted at Alive & Knitting)

I was thinking this week about moving targets, of the book market variety. Popular fiction, like romance, is a reflection of popular culture – as those of you who read my blog have heard me say seven zillion times or so – so it’s constantly changing. As consumers (and that means readers) we’re always looking for the next new sensation. We are incessantly trying something new, then becoming bored with it. As producers (and that means writers) we need to somehow stay ahead of that curve.

Since RWA’s National Convention will be held next month in Washington, D.C., I thought it might be useful to have a peek at this, in action. Meet our Aspiring Writer (A.W.) who has her very first pitch session at this conference. She’s meeting an editor with a big New York publishing house, the very editor and the very house that A.W. has carefully researched and targeted as the best fit for her book. She’s prepped and practiced, she’s gone to the bathroom a couple of extra times (she’s a little bit excited) and now her name has been called for her editor appointment. This is it! She’s sure she’s going to get a request to submit.

Editor (stands to shake hands): Good morning, A.W. How nice to meet you.

A.W. (tries to be cool): Good morning. I’m very pleased to meet you. I know you edit Ms. NYT-Bestseller and I’m a huge fan of her books

E: As am I. (They both sit down) Well, then, tell me about your book.

A.W.: Well! It’s a vampire romance. The hero is a vampire and the heroine is a witch… (Brief synopsis ensues.)

E: What’s the obstacle between them?

A.W.: Well, she’s a witch, like I said, so she’s sworn to the reid. You know, “do whatsoever you will but harm none”.

E: So, she rejects him on principle, because he drinks blood?

A.W.: Right. But he’s just so sexy that he’s irresistible. And, you know, he’s not entirely happy with the need to drink blood either – he thinks he’s a monster himself and has to fight to accept the demon within. Being in love helps him control the hunger so he’s kind of addicted to her.

E: Um hmm. Any other plot elements?

A.W. (thinking desperately): Well, there’s a demon who is her familiar.

E: Tell me about him.

A.W.: Oh, he’s kind of mischievous and tries to force them apart. He’s a minor character but I could give him more lines.

E: What else?

A.W.: Um, it’s set in Iowa, and uh, it’s really really sexy. It’s a vampire novel, a sexy one, and I know those sell really well right now. Like Ms. NYT-Bestseller. My book is similar in a way, but the vampire is a bit darker…

E: We’re a bit over-inventoried in vampires right now. What else are you working on?

Ooops. A.W. expected to have the editor ask for the manuscript by now, but that’s clearly not happening. Why not?

I’ll guess.

The paranormal romance market has been on the move over the past decade. In 1994, I wrote an historical featuring a shapeshifter hero. A MAGICIAN’S QUEST was published in August 1995 and other than its exotic setting (medieval Morocco) the main conflict was the hero coming to terms with the beastly side of his nature. In 1998, my medieval ENCHANTED was published, which featured a hero condemned to become a wolf half of the time – that book was about breaking the curse so he’d be a normal man all the time. These two shapeshifter novels could be sold in that time because shapeshifters were new and novel – exploring the notion of what it meant to be a shapeshifter was “fresh” enough for the work to sell.

Shapeshifter romances were never as “in” as vampire romances – or at least they haven’t been yet! – but even so, that internal conflict, in and of itself, is no longer enough. The battle against the beast within is old news. The fight to assimiliate into society and have a normal life has been done. You’ll find the same thinking in vampire romance, or time travel romance, or any of the various paranormal romance subgenres. We need something new in order for the work to catch our interest.

At various points in time, we as readers have been enamored of vampires, or historicals set in Scotland, or sexy Regency romances, or erotic romance. There will be other infatuations. The point is that for brief moments, an aspiring author can get an invitation to submit work on the basis of that one qualifying detail alone. Publishing houses see something that works and want more of it.

But it doesn’t last. It really is a fleeting moment – you might get lucky or you might miss out. As we read more and more of the books in each targeted subgenre, we become a bit jaded. We want more than the basic hook. At least five years ago, just another vampire romance wasn’t good enough. We wanted something more, something special, something fresh.

And to be fair to A.W., this kind of sea change happens sooner within the publishing house than in the writing community. That’s because they’re putting together packages and cover copy and sales tips for each book in the list, and as the umpteenth romance in a particular subgenre comes across each individual’s desk, they need to know why this one is special. Editors read the most – including what doesn’t get bought – so they start looking for the change first.

Remember also that editors at print houses are at least a year ahead of readers. If you buy a book on July 7 which is the first title by a new author who is being promoted heavily by the house, and which just went on sale that day, that book manuscript was purchased at least a year ago. For a new author, it might have been bought closer to two years ago. There’s been a whole lot of work cross that editor’s desk during that interval. Unfortunately, you can’t know what that work was, or what the editor bought – you can only pick up that July 7 title and hope it tells you something about the editor’s taste.

Two years ago.

You can, however, assume that such subgenre elements will move in one predictable direction. As these hot-ticket elements become more popular and more mainstream, they all evolve in the same direction – they all require a deeper romance and better character development. In a sense, the hook or the element becomes part of the market at large and the story itself (the characterizations, the dialogue, the action, the romance) becomes the discerning factor. So, it can’t just be a vampire romance or an erotic romance – it also has to be a really good romance.

The other thing that happens – although this is harder to predict before it does happen – is that genres infect each other. When I sold Dragonfire to my editor, she told me that one thing she liked about it was the mythology of the Pyr and the worldbuilding. She told me that she saw that as key to the success of paranormal romance series, and that it was particularly what she looked for in a new series.

The intensity of the worldbuilding probably originates from the fantasy market, but the fantasy market has been around for a long time without this cross-over – I suspect the more immediate impetus is television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This series and other similarly popular paranormal series posit an entire hidden universe right beneath our human noses, one populated by otherworldly creatures with their own agenda. The protagonist – or protagonists – stands on the cusp, with one foot in each world, often as a gatekeeper. This notion slid into the romance section and the paranormal romance subgenre, colouring the expectations of readers. One vampire alone isn’t that compelling anymore. We want him to be part of an entire vampire world, one with lots of other vampires and lots of issues.

So, I think that A.W. would have had a better chance of getting a submission request if her vampire romance had been part of a series, one that peeled back the veil on a whole ‘nuther parallel universe. She argued that her book was similar to those of Ms. NYT-Bestseller, who this editor bought and published with great success, but the point is that Ms. NYT built her audience when the market was in a different place than it is currently. Ms. NYT was the fresh voice then, not the one mimicking another established writer. What A.W. needs to do is be the fresh voice for the future, to write something that builds upon the notion of a vampire romance in a new and innovative way.

How is she going to do that? By keeping her eyes open and being aware of popular culture. By not being so quick to toss out her “odd” or “outrageous” ideas – no matter what her critique partner thinks of them. By going to the Spotlight sessions at RWA National and not just listening to the publishers’ presentations but looking for patterns. What are people buying and why? No one will tell her what to do. She has to figure it out for herself, and then make it happen.

Nobody said this was an easy business, but as writers, we are the source of new trends and ideas. Don’t take the easy path. Make your book, even if it is the umpteen gazillionth vampire romance, stand out from the pack.

Make it fresh!

Deborah Cooke
Alive & Knitting blog

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Deborah Cooke’s June Newsletter

June 16, 2009 at 6:53 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , )

The big news around here this past month is how I’m falling behind on pretty much everything – dishes, laundry, blogging, miscellaneous other jobs. You’ll be glad to know that this is because I’m writing! Dragonfire #5, which will be Niall’s book, has been pushed up in the schedule so I’ve been writing as quickly as I can.

First up, though, will be WINTER KISS, which is Dragonfire #4 and Delaney’s book. I liked this book a lot – Delaney has some baggage, which I like in a hero, while Ginger is one of those heroines who isn’t afraid of anything. They had a fun chemistry. We also get to see the other Pyr in cameo appearances, and those babies are growing up. I’m having a lot of fun with the way this series is developing and hope that you are, too. WINTER KISS goes on sale the first Tuesday in November – you can read an excerpt HERE. (Because I see that creating a page for it here is another thing I haven’t gotten to doing just yet! Yikes. I’ll add that to the list.)

I had Advanced Reading Copies for GUARDIAN a few weeks back, as well – aren’t they pretty? – which were mailed out to reviewers and bookstores. GUARDIAN is the second book in my fallen angel series from Tor, the one set in the post-nuclear future. It comes out in October of this year. You can read an excerpt for it HERE.

I’m feeling pretty lucky about covers this year. What do you think of them?

There has also been some happy contest news lately. KISS OF FIRE – Dragonfire #1 – won the Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence for Best Paranormal, Time Travel, Futuristic or Fantasy Romance of 2008. It’s also a finalist in the same category of the Orange County RWA’s Book Buyers’ Best Award – winners will be announced in August. FALLEN – the first book in my angels series – is a finalist in the FF&P PRISM in the Best Futuristic Romance of 2008 category, and took third place in the Wisconsin RWA’s Write Touch Awards in the Best Paranormal Romance of 2008 category.

Phew! It’s been hectic but fun – sorry to not have posted as often as I’d like, but I’ve got a book to finish. Niall and Rox still need their H.E.A. and the end of the month is drawing near.

Here’s hoping you have lots of great books to read, and that all is well – if busy – in your household!

Deborah Cooke
blogging at Alive & Knitting

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Favourite Shape Shifter Nomination

May 12, 2009 at 6:52 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , , )

Erik from KISS OF FATE has been nominated as favourite shape shifter for this week’s contest on Bitten By Books. You can pop by their site this week HERE to vote.

Pretty serious list of nominees there – it’s nice to be in such company!

Deborah Cooke
Alive & Knitting blog

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We Have A Winner!

May 4, 2009 at 6:53 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , )

I received some very exciting news last night – the contest coordinator for the Colorado RWA phoned to tell me that KISS OF FIRE won their Award of Excellence for Best Paranormal Romance of 2008!

How exciting is that?! Go, Quinn, go!

Deborah Cooke
Alive & Knitting Blog

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Deborah Cooke’s April Newsletter

April 15, 2009 at 7:06 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , , )

I’m a bit late with this today, but maybe I’m still ahead of some of you!

My big news this month is that I’ve got a new job. The Toronto Public Library is having a writer in residence this fall for the romance genre, and it’s going to be me. This is the first time they’ve done a residency for romance, so I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

The residency runs through October and November of this year. The major part of the job is critiquing unpublished romance manuscripts from library patrons and meeting with some of them to discuss their work. But there’s also a blog that is being set up for the residency and I’ll be blogging there three times a week for those eight weeks. I’ve booked in some interesting guests already, and am hoping that lots of other readers and writers check in there. There’s also going to be an online chat one night and several public events – an opening reception and a closing reception with a panel discussion. I’ll post a calendar with links closer to the date, and hope that some of you will be able to participate.

Phew! There’s a lot of work to be done right now in the set-up, so I’m running a bit behind this week.

In other news, FALLEN is a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA’s Write Touch contest for best paranorml romance of 2008 – yippee! – and I posted some covers recently. Here’s the link for the excerpt etc. for WINTER KISS, the next Dragonfire book, and here’s the one for the anthology I’ve contributed to, which is coming out this fall.

Now, I need to get another coffee and get to work!

Deborah Cooke

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Happy News!

March 20, 2009 at 5:45 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , )

I learned this week that KISS OF FIRE, the first book in my Dragonfire series, is a finalist for the Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence.

How cool is that?!

They’ll announce the winners at their conference, May 1 – 2.

Deborah Cooke

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Deborah Cooke’s March Newsletter

March 16, 2009 at 5:08 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , )

Lori had a fantastic idea, that we could each do a monthly newsletter post to the blog, to keep people updated on what’s going on in our respective corners of the world. I already post a newsletter through my Yahoo group (it’s called Chestwick) but that one goes out on the first of the month. Sometimes there’s news later in the month, that I don’t want to wait to share!

So, I’m all over this idea. Look for my SSR newsletter post mid-month, each month, from here on out.

For March, there’s definitely some exciting news. First of all, I have covers. Yum! I’ve put the cover and excerpt up for my next Tor book – these are future-set romances with fallen angel heroes. My editor calls them “post-nuclear pre-Apocalyptic” which isn’t easy to say three times quickly. – book #2 in that trilogy is called GUARDIAN, and the excerpt is up on my site now. Karen Chance recently gave a quote to my editor about the first book in the series, FALLEN, saying it was “beautifully written,
exciting and inventive.”
Nice! If you really want to see the GUARDIAN cover super-sized (and who wouldn’t?) take a peek on my blog, HERE.

I also have the cover for WINTER KISS, Dragonfire #4, but I don’t think I’ll be able to share it with you until the first of April. Everything is ready to be uploaded when I get the a-ok, so stay tuned. It’s a yummy yummy cover, too. Trust me. 🙂

And I’ve been invited to give the keynote speech at the Emerald City conference, hosted by the Greater Seattle RWA October 9 – 11. I’ll also be teaching two workshops – topics TBD – and participating in the booksigning. The booksigning, which will be held on Saturday afternoon, is open to the public, so if you’re out that way, please stop in and say hello. We will have GUARDIAN, but it’ll be a bit too early for WINTER KISS to be available for sale.

I also have a short story in the upcoming MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE 2 – which will be called LOVE BITES in the UK – and will likely have more info on that by the beginning of April. I’m guessing that it will be a fall 2009 release (that’s what Amazon thinks, anyway).

Very exciting news from the garden too – my snowdrops are coming up! We might get spring after all.

Phew! Busy month!

Deborah Cooke
Alive & Knitting blog

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Review: Kiss of Fate by Deborah Cooke

February 9, 2009 at 5:00 am (General, Larissa Ione, New Releases, Reviews, Teresa D'Amario) (, , , , , , , , )

Haunted by dreams of a lover who takes the form of a mythical dragon, Eileen Grosvenor searches for the truth. She never expects to find a real dragon shape shifter, let alone one who who awakens her passion and ignites memories of her own forgotten past.

Erik Sorensson is focused on leading the Pyr to triumph against the Slayers at all costs, even the sacrifice of his own life. When an ancient relic that can turn the tide of the battle reveals itself again, Erik knows he has to retrieve it from Eileen’s possession. But he’s shocked by an incredible firestorm when he tries to claim the relic — a firestorm that forces him to confront the truth about Eileen’s identity. Her presence touches him in unexpected ways, reminding him of mistakes he’s determined to not make again, and Erik is forced to make a choice…duty or love.

Only by unlocking the secrets of the past can Erik and Eileen fulfill the final prophecy of the Pyr – but can they face their deepest fears and claim their destined love in time to defeat the Slayers?

I read Deborah’s first book with a little skepticism. Dragons? How on earth can dragons be sexy? Prior to this I’d not read any real dragon shifters before. Books with dragons, yes, but not where they shifted to human form. Yet within the pages of Deborah’s books, the impossible becomes real. You can smell the sulphur, feel the beat of their wings, and burn with the sensuality of their love.

So Friday I got my copy of Kiss of Fate, the newest installment of the Dragonfire Series. What an awesome book this was. Original and exciting, this book drags you across the ocean and back again, from one continent to another. The richness of the prose in London is so clear you can almost smell the city streets, visualize the buildings and feel the wood beneath your feet on the historic bridges above the rushing water. The same can be said once you reach back across the waters into America, the contrasts in the two cultures noticeable to one who has seen both.


But more than scenery, is the intensity and danger within these pages. For me, I love a good romance that makes your heart beat in fear, terrified something horrible will go wrong. And when it does, feeling the pain, the fear, and even crying a tear. But also cheering when something goes right, when history doesn’t repeat itself, when our Hero and Heroine manage to do the impossible.

Deborah has done that and more. I found myself turning page after page, determined to make it to the end in time to bring you this review today, rather than waiting till I come back from today’s scheduled trip (I’m off to never never land, errrr, New Mexico). Erik and Eileen prove that love has no bounds, through time, space and distance. Wrongs can be righted and pain can be soothed.

glitter-graphics.com

If you love a good romance, filled with good hot sexual tension that literally sparks of the page, mixed in with danger and intrigue, this is the book for you. Two thumbs up!!! Great job as usual, Deborah!

Now, I have a contest for you. One which is just a little different than most of ours. And, the contest has a story of sorts.

Deborah Cooke and Larissa Ione both have books with one thing in common. They both use MY name in their books. I would like to say I was the reason they used the name, but after reading about my namesakes, that idea gives me shivers. The Scary king. But, just for grins, we’ll say it’s my namesake in each of these books, and I inspired each to such greatness (just kidding!)

So the contest is this:

Send an email with your name to desertpetiri@aol.com,. When you send me your entry, tell me what happens to Teresa (my namesake) in both Kiss of Fate by Deborah Cooke, and Larrissa Ione’s Pleasure Unbound.

We have to do this in email because I certainly don’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the books in question.

One lucky winner will receive a print copy of Tigress by the Tail. (No sense in me giving you their books, because to win, you have to have already read them!)

And due to the nature of the contest (Having to read two books) I’m going to give you TWO FULL WEEKS to send me your answer! So on Monday, February 23rd I will chose one lucky winner to receive Tigress by the Tail.

Happy reading, if you haven’t read them already!

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