AuThursday – Helen Henderson

henderson-headshot-portraitTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you, Tina, for letting me stop by. To my readers of fantasy and romance, I’m Helen Henderson. To those of my historical westerns, they know me by the name of my ancestress, Jessie Treon. My Gemini sign matches my heritage and shows in my writing in multiple genres which are perfect for a tour guide to the stars, the Old West, and worlds of imagination.

What are you working on at the minute?

A companion book to the Dragshi Chronicles is readying for flight. First Change consists of a collection of short stories and novellas from history and legend of the dragshi–humans with a twinned dragon soul. Another tale of the Archmage, Lord Dal, and the sea captain, Lady Ellspeth, is drifting just offshore, awaiting the scribe to capture it. Besides working on the novels, I’ve decided to try something new in 2017. I will be participating in my first writing challenge, a post a week on a specified topic in 52 weeks.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Shorter works such as novellas are usually free written. I do like structure for full-length novels, but I don’t hold to the hard rule of outlining the entire work before starting to write. When I write, I storyboard or write the draft of a scene or chapter depending on how much the muse is visiting. A scene in the storyboard might have a line describing the setting, an annotation of whose point of view I expect it to be in, and maybe three to five bullet points. Or, if the muse is visiting that block in the storyboard will be completely fleshed out with dialog, transitional phrases and be a true first draft. As I get deeper and deeper into the story and the characters take over, there are less stubbed scenes and more completed ones. Usually by the time I get to the end of the storyboard I have a complete first draft ready for editing and peer review.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

That really is an unfair question. A number of items impact the time to complete a story. A book written in the early days of my career took longer than the most recent one. Generally, a full-length novel takes a year from initial draft to the publication-formatted manuscript. A novella can be completed in a month if the fates allow. As a caregiver sometimes emergencies and life gets in the way of writing which can impact the time to write. Although I have written while sitting in doctors offices, emergency rooms, and at 2 in the morning.

Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

My response in the past to a question regarding writer’s block was that I usually don’t get it. I have too many projects going on. However, never say never. Two novels, both set in the world of Windmaster, refuse to cooperate. There was too great an age difference between the male and female lead characters. That problem was solved by changing the point-of-view to different characters. However, the storyline had one of the “now-secondary” characters go on a journeyman walk and after a battle stay in a foreign land. To keep the series integrity, the original intent that it would be the tale of the next generation, the girl going walkabout would be no older than seventeen. Again the age felt inappropriate for the storyline. That is being re-evaluated.

henderson-windmasterlegacy-200x300The second novel in the Windmaster series awaiting a scribe faced the problem of expanding a paragraph-long legend to a full-length novel. The first two chapters came easily, then life interfered and a break occurred.

As to how to overcome the writer’s block, for the one book, time will be set aside to re-read the first two novels in the series and re-immerse myself in that world. A visit with the original characters will, hopefully, get the next generation talking to me.

I see you’ve written a series called THE DRAGSHI CHRONICLES.  Can you tell us a bit more about your series, and what draws you to writing it?

The Dragshi Chronicles are action-filled, romance-laden fantasies about a group of men and women who are more than just what you see, but are two beings—one human, the other a dragon. The pair share one body in space and time and are able to change forms with the other at will. But be warned, a dragon form comes with more than just the freedom of the sky.

Each book is a stand-alone tale. The first book is Dragon Destiny. For hundreds of years, Dragshi Lord Branin and his dragon soul twin Llewlyn searched for their intended mates. Lady Broch of Ky’Port, the firebrand leader of a band of raiders, vowed to marry the dragon lord, with or without his willing cooperation. Everything changed the day a wistful thought touched Branin’s.

Hatchlings Curse continues the story of Lord Branin and the trader girl Anastasia. Branin means to break the hatchling’s curse and end the childlessness of the dragshi. To save his kind he has to win the mating flight. And the cost? All he treasures. Throwing the competition is not an option.

The series continues with Hatchling’s Mate. Talann’s dilemma. No dragons sang a welcome at his birth, so how is he to save all dragon shifters. Or, save himself from the mind control wielded by the leader called – the Parant.

Hatchling’s Vengeance completed the series. Lady Glynnes Janaleigh had found her mate, but finding him is only half the battle. Keeping him alive is the other when duty has other demands and Fate holds all the cards. On one card is written: “Vengeance has two paths—death or love. And a long memory.”

As to what drew me to the world of the dragshi? My heritage is the child of a coal miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer. My world was grounded in the rural life and the skies. I grew up on a farm watching hawks soar overhead. The hawks became dragons and my desire to fly became real.

henderson-windmaster-200x300You have so many lovely book covers, can you tell us if you have a favorite and why?

While I love all the covers (even the ones I created), my favorite cover is Windmaster by Michelle Lee. The alluring model and ship hints at fantasy, magic, pirates and romance. Oh, wait a minute. Windmaster is all those things.

 

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

At this point in my career, I am now what is called a hybrid author–someone with one foot in the indie world and the other in the more traditional publishing arena. When I first embarked on publishing my own works, I was fortunate enough to have the contacts to overcome a disadvantage many independent authors encounter–the building of your own stable of technical experts from cover designer to copy editor to proofreader. An even bigger disadvantage is the social isolation. When you’re with a publisher, the authors support each other. You benefit from their social media reach and they yours. Fortunately, if you look for them, groups of independent authors have formed that provide a similar function.

Publishers, especially small press, can be a security blanket, a launching pad, or the perfect place for an author to call home. They have extended reach, resources, and enable authors, who don’t want to run their own company, to learn, grow, and become “published authors.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

WEBSITE: helenhenderson-author.webs.com/

BLOG: helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com

AMAZON: http://amzn.com/e/B001HPM2XK

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/777491.Helen_Henderson

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/HelenHenderson.author

GOOGLE + –http://ow.ly/JEZug

Teaching at Writer Zen Garden

wzgI’m teaching my FEARS workshop this weekend at Writer Zen Garden if anyone is interested. Classes are free to members. Membership is free.

http://writerzengarden.com/forums/

Feel free to share with any writer friends.

Saturday Excerpt – Selkie’s Lure by Rosanna Leo

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Blurb:

Amy Woods, one of TV’s famed Beast Seekers, has come to Orkney, Scotland, to hunt sirens. One of them killed her sister and she has sworn revenge. Most people think she’s crazy for believing in monsters. She knows the truth. But while patrolling one of Orkney’s cold beaches, she runs into a naked selkie man rather than a siren, and he proves to be an alluring distraction.

Edan Kirk is a selkie, one of an ancient race of seal shape shifters. When he hears of Amy’s intention to hunt sirens, tragic memories overwhelm him. He knows he must get rid of the pesky human. As much as he tries to convince her she’s on a fool’s errand, he can’t resist trying to protect her. After all, he has heard the enticing song of the sirens and he knows its deadly power.

As Amy and Edan engage in a battle of wits and wills, other emotions rush to the fore. Their connection is intense, the sort to come along only once in a lifetime. Edan recognizes her as his mate. However, another woman has set her sights on him as well, one whose powers of seduction are legendary. One whose voice has driven men to madness and devastation.

Can Amy accept Edan as her mate, making her home in the world of the supernatural? And can they save each other from a beast that cannot be destroyed?

Excerpt:

After patrolling the shore for the better part of an hour, Edan began to feel the call of his bed. He might possess more stamina than a human man but it had been a long day. Resolved to catch a couple hours of sleep before morning, he swam toward the shore. Relinquishing his pelt, letting it slide from his body, he stood up straight.

A man appeared before him.

No. A woman.

Because she wore fatigues, he was momentarily confused, but there was no mistaking her buxom figure. She was certainly doing her best to look like an army man, right down to her combat boots.

The lass smiled and aimed a camera phone at him. “Hello, sailor. Did you fall off your boat?”

Fuck. What sort of woman walked on the beach at four in the morning? “Something like that.”

Despite the obvious threat posed by her camera, he couldn’t help noticing she was a beauty. Perhaps not in the Hollywood starlet sense, but her imperfections intrigued him. She’d pulled her chestnut hair back into a tight ponytail. There was an asymmetry to her face that gave an edge to delicate features. Her nose was slightly crooked near the tip and one eyebrow arched higher than the other. Her generous mouth was compressed but it looked capable of wide smiles.

And her scent. It hit him hard and made him see stars, like that time his younger brother Calan lobbed a dictionary at his head. She smelled like strawberries, juicy and ripe from the bush. Interesting, considering she was dressed like Rambo.

His gut turned, as if skewered on a rotisserie. As his innards roiled, he couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to wind her ponytail around his fingers, draw her close and…

“Well?” Her eyebrow quirked even higher.

How much had she seen?

He stepped toward her but when she snapped several photos in quick succession, he stopped moving. “It’s not polite to take photos of a man in his birthday suit.”

“Yes, but you’re not quite a man, are you?”

She’d seen everything, then. He’d simply have to persuade her not to trust her senses. He’d talked himself out of worse scrapes. Edan waved his hand in the direction of his crotch. “I’m all man, lass, as you can see.”

She indulged in a quick glance. Her eyes widened in clear wonder, as if she’d never seen anything quite like him before. “Something more, then.” She nodded toward his pelt. “I’ll take that, please.”

“I don’t think so.” He hedged his bets he could convince her to give up whatever mischief she’d planned. How had he missed her on the beach? Too distracted by the thought of Breena, perhaps. “You’ve seen enough to understand I’m a selkie. If you know that, you know I need this pelt. If you’re looking for a lover, you need to be wily and steal the skin. I won’t just hand it over, unless of course you can prove to me you’d be worth a tussle.”

“I’m not looking for a lover and I don’t want to tussle with you.”

“I’d say that was a shame, you know, if you didn’t look as if you were out to blackmail me.”

Two men, also dressed in camouflage, emerged from behind a sand dune. One of them looked as if his sole hobby was frequenting the gym. Although the other man was smaller in stature, he presented more of a threat and it had everything to do with his professional-looking video camera.

“I’d give her the pelt if I were you,” the bigger man said.

“Who the hell are you people?” Edan demanded as he slowly handed the skin over to the woman.

She took it but didn’t lower her phone. “We’re the Beast Seekers. You’re our first selkie. Smile for the cameras.”

 

Buy Link Information:

Selkie’s Lure will be available for purchase firstly at Liquid Silver Publishing: http://liquidsilverpublishing.com/

You can find it now at:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/selkie-s-lure

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/selkies-lure/id1190127990?mt=11

During release week, it will become available at Amazon, B&N and Google Play.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33264951-selkie-s-lure-orkney-selkies-3

 

Author Bio:

 

Rosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Top Picks at Night Owl Romance and The Romance Reviews.

From Toronto, Canada, Rosanna occupies a house in the suburbs with her long-suffering husband, their two hungry sons and a tabby cat named Sweetie. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.

A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Rosanna blogs at http://www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com

 

Author Links:

 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rosanna-Leo/e/B007X5P4I8

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rleoauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5826852.Rosanna_Leo

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rosannaleo/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rleoauthor1

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LeoRosanna

 

AuThursday – Rosanna Leo

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Most of my books have taken several months to complete. However, there are others that have taken longer. I worked on one for several years, but that was an on-again, off-again situation. I tend to write each one and complete it before embarking on another project so I’m focused getting the work done.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?  (aka Are you a plotter or a pantser?)

I always research before writing but not every book requires in-depth research. For my shapeshifter romances, I always study the traits of the animals represented in the books and make copious notes about each. For my contemporary romances, I might do research on particular jobs or lifestyles. And for my mythology-based romances, I always reread the legends I’m referencing. I do try to plot out my novels but there is a healthy dose of pantsing involved as well. 😉

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Believe it or not, I adore writing male characters. In fact, I prefer writing them. I love getting into the heads of my heroes and screwing around with the wiring. They’re fun for me to write because many of them are straightforward guys. That being said, I think the toughest part about writing them is not allowing myself to get caught up in stereotypes. Sure, men can be different but they’re not all the same and they’re not all macho dudes who are always thinking about sex and food. LOL

What is your writing Kryptonite?

A lack of caffeine. It sustains me.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

That’s a tough question. Since I started publishing in 2012, so many fellow romance authors came forward and shared their experiences and expertise with me. That’s what I love about this industry: there is a lot of love and support. It would be difficult for me to single anyone out but I have a special affinity for Anise Eden, Selena Robins, and Jessica Cale. Not only do I admire these ladies, I adore their writing and am proud to be friends with them. I learn something new whenever I read their works.

Have you written any other stories in collaboration with other writers?

I have two freebie anthologies that I have written with a former blogging group but each story was written independently.

I see you’ve written a number of series including; GEMINI ISLAND SHIFTERS, GREEK GOD ROMANCES, HANDYMEN, and ORKNEY SELKIES.  What draws you to writing series, and is it hard to keep it all straight?

I’ll be honest, most of my series began as ideas for one book. The readers were wonderful enough to show interest and demand more books. Now, when I begin a new project, I keep series possibilities in mind. For example, my Handymen series is still being written and book one, A Good Man, has just been picked up by Samhain Publishing. I went into that one knowing I would write three books.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I used to read my reviews on a regular basis. However, one will always find negativity in this arena. When I started, I used to let bad reviews get me down. Now I’ve stopped seeking out my reviews. Unless a reader points me in the direction of her review, I won’t go looking for it. It just keeps me saner this way. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the feedback but I prefer to stay positive. Luckily, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some amazing reviews and I thank everyone who put pen to paper for my work.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rosanna-Leo/e/B007X5P4I8

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rleoauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5826852.Rosanna_Leo

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rosannaleo/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rleoauthor1

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LeoRosanna

Saturday Sexcerpt -Lady Luck by Julie Lence

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Lucas set the coffeepot over the coals then glanced up at the sky. Missy had been gone for a while, dashing to the lake as soon as she’d set up camp. Not that he blamed her. After they finished their meal, he planned on soaking in the water, too.

He searched the trees beyond the horses for any signs of her. She should have been back by now. She wasn’t safe on her own. Any number of hazards could befall her: wild animals, wilder men.

He checked his gun and went in search of her. Following a trail she’d taken, he pushed past a few bushes and tall trees. Stepping into the clearing, the lake stretched before him.

He looked to the right and didn’t see her. Looking in the opposite direction, the breath rushed out of his lungs as his body pitched forward. Missy stood beside a large boulder, her back to him, wet hair tossed over the front of her shoulder and moisture glistening off her bare skin.

A fat tear of water dripped from her hair onto her nape. The droplet slithered down her spine and plopped into the dirt.

His heart hammered in his chest. His gut coiled tight and sweat beaded his brow as he watched another drop follow the same path.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he had no business spying on her. He should leave, but his feet wouldn’t move. Neither would his gaze. And the immoral thoughts swarming around inside his head―tasting the water beading her skin, drying her with his hands, helping her step into her clothes―guaranteed him a place in hell.

Even that wasn’t enough to shake him from his reverie. It wasn’t until he stood behind her, holding his shirt open like a towel, did coherent thought finally poke through his mire. By then it was too late. Instinct and desire shoved aside all proprietary and urged him to drape his shirt around her.

“Oh!” She jumped, twisting her neck to see behind her. “Lucas, you scared me half to death.”

“You don’t have a towel,” he murmured.

“The sun can dry―”

“Not as well as my shirt can.” He hunkered down on his knee and gently rubbed her calf with the worn material.

“Lucas, ah, that feels wonderful.” She closed her eyes as his strong hands glided up and down her legs, soothing the soreness from days spent in the saddle. He dried her lower back, moved his hands around her hips and over her abdomen. His fingers dipped low to massage her, and she froze.

The last time a man had touched her there fat fingers had rubbed so hard they’d left bruises. Jagged fingernails had scratched and cut her flesh. But this hand was gentle, almost loving with its strokes. Instead of a dry, coarse feeling, hot moisture pooled between her thighs and made her throb.

Fear shot down her spine at this new feeling. Another method of torture she was sure. “Lucas.” She trembled and sniffed back the wetness stinging her eyes.

“You are beautiful,” he whispered. “Soft and sweet.”

Words of praise, though nice, offered little comfort. Her knees nearly buckled. Somehow, she held herself upright, but she couldn’t control the pulse – pounding between her ears. Warm air breathing on her neck, large hands covering her breasts; she had trouble separating reality from memories.

He turned her to face him. His hands fastened gently around her neck. Slowly, he pulled her mouth toward him and touched his lips to hers.

“Ah, Missy.” He slid his tongue past her lips to tangle with hers. His hand slipped around her waist and drew her closer to him. His other hand moved to her hair, caressing it with the sure, soft strokes she knew well. Calloused, strong yet gentle, she’d favored that hand at the cabin and many nights on the trail.

Warmth stole down her back. Confidant Lucas held her and not Harley, she kissed him back, savoring the taste of coffee and tobacco on his lips; her fingertips tingling as she traced the vein along his arm.

“I want you, Missy. I’ve got to have you.” His raspy voice filled her ear, and her blood ran cold.

I want you, Lady Luck. I will have you.

Lady Luck is available for purchase here: www.amazon.com/dp/B0063WCXO0

 

Julie’s Bio:

Julie was born and raised in upstate New York. She married her high school sweetheart and accompanied him on his twenty-year career with the United States Air Force. Presently, she resides in the Pikes Peak region, where she’s a stay-at-home mom enjoying a career writing western historical romance.

Throughout her school years, Julie enjoyed reading and writing. A friend introduced her to the romance genre in the late 80’s and she was instantly hooked, crediting Judith McNaught and Johanna Lindsey as her inspirations to pen her own novels. As she puts it, Ms. McNaught’s voice is flawless and Ms. Lindsey’s Malory family is endearing and addictive. Combining her fondness for horses, John Wayne and the television series, Dallas, Julie settled into writing about cowboys, outlaws and the ‘old west’ early in her career.

Julie self-publishes her work at Amazon.com. She also designs her covers. When she’s away from her computer, she enjoys taking care of her family and home, exploring the Rocky Mountains and meeting fans of the romance genre.

AuThursday – Julie Lence

me-mediumI see you write Western Romances. What draws you to this genre?

I grew up watching John Wayne on Sunday television. I loved his cowboy characters and the fact he rode horses (horses are such beautiful creatures). I also liked the long, colorful dresses his female costars wore, the ranch houses and the scenery. Something about that era was simple and fascinating and stayed with me through. When I began writing, I started with a contemporary story but quickly switched to western romance. The heart of a cowboy, the code of the west, the horses and the rugged land were too hard to ignore.

How much research do you do?

It depends on the story and the characters. Two books I did a lot of research for Lady Luck and No Luck At All. Lady Luck is set in 1860 San Francisco and I needed to find out what the city was like at that time. I discovered tall ships permanently dry-docked, the color of a policeman’s uniform, and a street map from that time; all of which were incorporated into the story. For No Luck At All, the hero is a doctor. His heroine is a Boston socialite.  For that to work, I had to find out if Boston had a medical college and what medical discoveries were made in between 1860 & 1874 that I could use in the story.

One book I didn’t do much research for is Debra’s Bandit. Since this is the 3rd story in a series, the facts I needed had been researched with the 1st book. But Debra does work in a mercantile, so I did read up on mercantile (stores) to get an idea of what her day would be like and how important the mercantile was to society in the 1800’s.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

About 1 year. Sometimes less than that. I self-publish, so writing, editing, and cover design fall on my shoulders, which I love.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Making them speak like a man. A man’s dialogue is different from a woman’s. They usually don’t string together a bunch of sentences or speak in complete sentences. Nor do they overly describe something or talk about their feelings. They speak in as few words as possible. Perfecting their short answers, comments and sarcasm is often a challenge.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Girl names are easy. We all have our favorites, or what we think is a pretty name. I have a list of girl names and add to it when I come across another that I like. Boy names are harder. I do have a short list that I refer to, but if nothing catches me attention, I begin running through my mind character names from television shows and movies. From there, I branch out to country music singers and football players. Football players have great unusual names and often I find the last name that makes a great first name for a cowboy or an outlaw. My biggest challenge is the last name. I obsess on last names until I hit on one that ties perfectly with the character’s first name.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Getting my muse to cooperate. Usually, I find on the days I have time to write, the muse is sleeping and takes forever to wake up and get in gear. On the days when I don’t have time to write, I have complete conversations between characters in my head. Or, I’ll hit on a plot point and run for a piece of paper and a pen to jot down notes.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

No. I have critiqued with other authors, contributed to a round-writing blog where each author writes one chapter to the story and contributed to a compilation of authors who each wrote about how they met their husband, but I’ve not co-authored a book with someone else.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Writing is a hard and lonely existence. To succeed, one must write every day and write what you know or love and for yourself. Keep at it, develop a thick skin when it comes to rejection, and don’t worry about what other authors are doing or have accomplished.  Stay true to yourself, dedicated to your craft, disciplined, and have a set of goals to work toward.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: www.julielence.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/julielence

Facebook: https://facebook.com/#!/JulieLence

Twitter: @julielence