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Sunday, February 18, 2018

WRITING IS LIKE…, by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer

Google the phrase, “Writing is like…” and you get pages of insights from all across the board.

Writing is like building a bridge while you’re on it. Writing is like giving yourself homework. Writing is like a sport… prostitution… sex.

But what is writing really like to real writers, the ones who have been successful enough for us to know their names?

Today I am passing on the wisdom of others, fellows actually on the writing path.

 “If you are not a reader, don’t even think about writing.”  
~Jean Auel

“There is a certain degree of faith required in writing fiction… You have to take a deep breath, let go of your usual control, and then begin walking in the dark.”   
~Elizabeth Berg

 “Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today- explode- fly apart- disintegrate. The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, reading your story, will catch fire too?”   
~Ray Bradbury

 “Writing is like being in love. You never get better at it or learn more about it. The day you think you do is the day you lose it.”   
~James Lee Burke

“Two questions form the foundation of all novels: ‘What if?’ and ‘What next?’”   
~Tom Clancy

 “I never started a book that I expected to finish.”   
~Steven King

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”   
~Jack London

And a special favorite of mine:

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”   
~Kurt Vonnegut

Do you have any favorite quotes about the writing path?

Check out more blogs by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer at:

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Release -- The Gypsy's Kiss by Jill McDonald @prairierosepubs #firestarpress #newrelease

City girl Sofia Marchant has just inherited something she does not need—a country estate! A quick trip to settle up with her solicitors and get the once-grand Mere Hall up for sale turns into more than she’s bargained for, and she ends up staying longer than she intended—in spite of the cluttered mess, the damnable country quiet, and the ghost of Great-great Aunt Eleanor!

To top it all off, her handsome, well-built neighbour, Jake Hartley, seems determined to interfere—and so much more! Gypsy Jake, as she comes to think of him, has an irresistible way about him—but he also has his own secrets. Though Sofia prides herself on her fierce independence, she has to admit that she’s awfully glad when Jake comes to her rescue on more than one occasion.

When Sofia’s greedy ex-boyfriend, Edward, and Gypsy Jake meet up, it makes for an explosive situation—one that forces Sofia into making a decision that will affect the rest of her life.

The secrets of Mere Hall are slowly revealed, and Sofia finds herself growing strangely fond of the old place, the beautiful yellow roses, and of Great-great’s ghost. But everything is not as it appears, and Sofia must make a choice… Will she give up the familiar city and start a new life here in the country? Can she risk it all on THE GYPSY’S KISS?


With visions of her precious car disintegrating beneath pointed hooves, sharp horns and rough tongues, Sofia panicked and pressed the horn hard once more, at the same time shouting at the top of her voice.
“Leave it alone, you stupid creature! Get away! Will you!”
That was a mistake.
The sudden noise startled the animals and they lurched clumsily away from the source of the scare, jumping, kicking out, tossing their big heads and moaning loudly. The little car began vibrating and shuddering as tons of beef buffeted it in their haste to escape the noise.
Sofia squealed, screwed up her eyes and covered her head with her arms, ducking as far down behind the wheel as was possible in such a small car, convinced it was going to be up-turned and trampled to a pulp beneath the bull’s sharp, heavy feet. She would die horribly in the middle of the stinking country and no one would know about it.
The banging and moaning seemed to end abruptly, to be replaced by a harsh, masculine voice. Still Sofia didn’t dare look up.
“Get on you lot. Dot, come bye! No! Oh, what the… Don’t be stupid all your lives, take a day off occasionally. Move your fat backsides. Get on! Away there, Dot! Dot! Awaaay!”
He sounded rough, he was most definitely angry, and to make matters worse, he was talking complete gibberish. Typical of these inbred country bumpkins. If she kept her head far enough down, maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t see her. Yeah, right. Fat chance. Was there such a thing as a prayer to the gods of camouflage?
“You okay in there, miss?”


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Changing Face of Romance... in Video Games

I confess, I'm sort of "phoning in" this month's post. The crud laid me out for a few days and writing wasn't really possible - well, not writing coherently any way. So, I'm borrowing a post from my personal blog.

In addition to being both an avid reader and an author, I am also a gamer. I have a soft spot for romance in all of its forms and, hands down, some of the best romantic story lines I have encountered have been in video games. My favorite games are role-playing games, or RPGs. An RPG is like an interactive story in which you get to talk to the other characters, develop relationships with them, and yes, even romance them. My favorite games are made by Bioware. Per their website, Bioware’s mission is to “create, deliver and evolve the most emotionally engaging games in the world.” In this gamer’s opinion, they deliver in spades. This post looks at how Bioware has evolved the world of virtual romance over the course of their Dragon Age franchise.

In the first installment, Dragon Age Origins, there were four characters who could be romanced: Morrigan (female human) and Alistair (male human) would only participate in heterosexual relationships; Zevran (male elf) and Leliana (female human) were bisexual and able to be romanced by players of either gender. (I adore Zevran; find out where he ranks in my hierarchy of virtual men in body armor here.) While the romances definitely added a certain something to the games, the one area where Bioware fell short was in their depiction of the sex act itself. Let’s just say that there are some things that shouldn’t be virtualized and Bioware’s attempt, while well intended, was awkward at best. Don’t believe me? Check it out here. You have been warned. :-)

The second game in the series named, appropriately enough, Dragon Age II, was rushed to market. The designers took a lot of shortcuts to meet a shortened production schedule and Bioware justifiably caught flak from fans. That said, there are five possible romantic companions, all but one are bisexual. However, Bioware learned from the first entry and did not attempt to actually show virtual sex. Instead, they opted for a fade-to-black cut scene, leaving the details to the imagination of the viewer. (Fan fiction writers such as myself are more than happy to fill in the blanks.) The key cut scene of the romance with Anders, a male human mage, can be seen here. In my opinion, it is a huge improvement.

Dragon Age Inquisition, the final installment in the series released in November 2014. I have to say, this time Bioware got it right. Rather than just make all of the characters bisexual, they actually included LGBT characters. (Dorian, a human male, is gay while Cera, a female elf, is a lesbian. The one transgender character is not a romance option.) In addition to sexuality, some romance options are limited by race. For example, Solas, a male elf mage, will only romance a female elf. I researched the romance options extensively before the release of the game so I knew what to expect. Or so I thought. In spite of my research, there was one more twist that I was completely unaware of until I stumbled across it. I chose to romance Iron Bull, a one-eyed male qunari. There was the requisite cut scene, but the next time I talked to him there was an option that basically said “we need to talk about what happened between us.” This peaked my curiosity. What exactly did happen? Naturally, I chose that option in order to find out. My female qunari’s name is Mahari and the conversation went something like this:

Mahari: We need to talk about what happened between us.

Iron Bull: Oh, that. Sure. What’s on your mind?

Mahari: Nobody has ever done that to me before. I… enjoyed it.

Iron Bull: Of course you did. Ben-Hassrath training, remember? Grew up learning to manipulate people.

(Note: I still didn’t get it. I know, I can be dense sometimes. But, the conversation continued.)

Iron Bull: When it’s a hostile target, you give them what they want. But, when it’s someone you care about, you give them what they need.

Mahari: Oh, I have a need.

Iron Bull: And I can meet that need. But first, ground rules, just so everyone’s clear. I will never hurt you without your permission. You will always be safe. If you’re ever uncomfortable, if you ever want me to stop, you say “Katoh,” and it’s over. No questions asked.

There are a few variations depending on the dialogue options picked but, yeah. I finally got it. O.M.G! He gave her a safe word. Iron Bull is a Dom. As in BDSM. I totally did not see that coming. At that point, I dissolved into helpless giggles and clicked the “continue romance” option.

As for the romance cut scenes, Bioware finally got that right too. Sex isn’t always serious and they have come up with the greatest scene EVER. It gets funnier every time I watch. (Note: This clip is not of a graphic nature but does contain one f-bomb.)

Usually, when I finish a new game, I turn right around and play it again as a slightly different character. However, I doubt that will happen this time. Why? Because I have already invested 91 hours in Dragon Age Inquisition and I’m not finished yet. It’s a shame, because based on what I see online, I’m apparently missing a lot by not romancing Solas. (Update: Since my original post, I have played Inquisition three times. And, I will never romance Solas. I'm not going to set myself up for a broken heart.)

As a storyteller myself, I have the utmost respect for Bioware; they always put the story first, learn from their mistakes and continue to grow and stretch. Ultimately, isn’t that what we all should do?

How do you like your romances? Sweet or spicy? Or somewhere in between?

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Release - SAVED BY THE PINK FLAMINGO by Linda LaRoque - #FireStarPress #RomanticSuspense @prairierosepub

Can one dinner with an obsessive client tear a marriage apart?

Laurel Thorne has been happily married to her husband, Boyd, for twenty years, but when he forgets their anniversary, she’s more than hurt—she’s angry. Though he’s tied up having dinner with an important client, Meredith Baxter, the picture that someone anonymously sends Laurel says that maybe the dinner wasn’t “all” business.

Laurel packs her art supplies, her clothes, and her dog, then hits the road—alone—in the old retro family travel trailer, known as The Pink Flamingo. After years of devoting her attention to her husband, her college-age twins, and her home, it’s time to see if she can still follow her own dreams of becoming the artist she’s always hoped to be.

But her alone time turns deadly when Boyd’s deranged client decides that he’s the man for her—not for Laurel—and there’s only one way to fix that. Laurel must die.  Though the travel trailer has been a haven for her to regain her perspective, can that sanctuary provide what she needs to salvage her marriage—and stay alive? Laurel must keep her wits about her as the crazed Meredith Baxter attempts an all-out assault. Now that she knows what’s truly important, will Laurel be SAVED BY THE PINK FLAMINGO?


Laurel remained still as Boyd climbed into bed. His clean male scent, combined with the after-shave he wore, teased her senses. He slipped one arm under her, the other around her to spoon her next to his body. He placed a kiss on the back of her neck. "Honey, I'm so sorry." His voice hoarse, he added, "Please, forgive me. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
Gasping for air, to keep from crying, she managed to whisper, "I'll always forgive you, but forgetting is much harder. I'm not sure right now if I can do that. Forget trying to make it up. I don't want you to."
He released a sigh of disappointment...she guessed.

Sure, she could say, "It's all right. Don't worry about it." But why? It would be a lie. It hurt to think this day wasn't as special to him as it was for her; that he wasn't as romantic as he'd been even two years ago. Had she let herself go? Yes, she'd put on five pounds in the last couple of years, and she'd not had her hair styled in a while. Silver threads were scattered throughout the dark strands, but she liked the look. Maybe he didn't.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Across a Sea of Stars by Michael E. Gonzales – February, 2018 #blogabookscene #Spaceopera #PrairieRosePub @PrairieRosePub #FireStarPress

Across a Sea of Stars by Michael E. Gonzales – February, 2018 #blogabookscene #Spaceopera #PrairieRosePub @PrairieRosePub #FireStarPress

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

My third novel, Across a Sea of Stars, is now available, and I can’t tell you how excited I am. I hope everyone who reads my story enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Almost all the main characters are based on actual people I have known, some I served with. I miss the time I spent on Nazer, and hopefully, you will too.

February’s theme is All you need is love.  The excerpt below is from my Science-Fiction novel, Across a Sea of Stars.


"Wow." Cris said.
"Is that an oath?" Tattie asked.
"No—it's just—wow. The moonlight off your face is really bewitching,"
"You think me a Sorgina?"
"No, Tattie, I—"
"You think I've cast a spell on you?"
"I didn't say—"
"Then I'll have to break that spell, won't I?"
Her arms slowly encircled his neck and she kissed him, pulling her body into his. His arms, slowly at first, engulfed her. In their embrace, they slowly sank below the water. Cris hardly noticed. The warmth she brought now exploded inside him. He felt a joy he'd never known, he felt stirrings deep inside his soul that he had never felt or even imagined possible. His desire for her was bound to another feeling he did not recognize; their combined heat melted the two emotions, and together they combined into one. The seething heat of his passion fired a furnace within him that powered a new engine whose pistons hammered in his chest and in his mind.
The water around them seemed to boil and a light formed where their breasts met. The light grew in intensity until the entire pool was aglow.
Tattie and Cris were both blinded by the light's brilliance. Their eyes closed tight, but their lips never parted and the water seemed to evaporate around them. Then the rocks, the forest, and the planet itself all dissolved until they floated free in a swirl of stars. A yellow light ripped the firmament apart and Cris's eyes opened. It was dawn and he and Tattie lay naked upon the water's edge, where they had slept.

Across a Sea of Stars is available on Amazon.

Images by Mike Gonzales, one by NASA.

Next month’s theme, “Beware the Ides of March."

Until then,


Michael E. Gonzales

Order Across a Sea of Stars here:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Release -- ACROSS A SEA OF STARS (The Unborn Galaxy Book 3) by Michael E. Gonzales -- #firestarpress

Astronaut Cris Salazar is assigned to the Moon colony, JILL, for the study of an enigmatic singularity on the lunar surface. During an experiment within the crater Hohmann, Cris is captured in a peculiar gravitational field and is transported halfway across the universe.

His craft is wrecked in a strange world, and though he survives, he learns that his rough landing has accidently killed the son of the tyrannical ruler—and now, Cris must pay…or escape. But how can he leave innocents to face the chaos he’s inadvertently caused?

The inhabitants of this alien civilization come to Cris’s aid, and a wizard sets him on a quest that seems impossible to accomplish alone. But as he sets out on this dangerous mission, Cris is joined by a mystical and beautiful huntress, a near-giant, and a robotic intelligence.

Bloody battle and gut-wrenching loss in his own past have left Cris heartsore and reckless, but a journey that begins as a desperate bid for his own survival takes on new meaning as he finds something—and someone—to care about once more.

With billions of lives at stake—including those who have joined him in the deadly fight against advancing evil forces, Cris embraces a destiny he could never have anticipated from light years away ACROSS A SEA OF STARS...


     Cris dismounted his Eagle and had reached the side of the LPC, his internal coms set to the emergency freq. "Charlie, this is Eagle, I'm right outside—can you hear me?" There came no response. "Charlie, can you open the hatch? I'm right outside your hatch!"
     Cris saw the hatch quiver, and then it popped open a few centimeters at the top. This hatch was hinged at the bottom. Undamaged, this door would have come down and become a set of stairs allowing access to the interior, but the hull was now warped, jamming the hatch. Cris grabbed the door along the top and pulled with all his might. Inside, the one uninjured man and the wounded man with the still-intact suit were pushing with all their strength. The door held up well, but at last gave in and came crashing down to a surface now level with the bottom of the LPC.
     Cris looked up to see one of the men collapse and the other bend down to aid him. Cris rushed in and grabbed the standing man. He looked up into Cris's face, fear written in his expression. "Can you hear me?" Cris asked, mouthing the words as he spoke aloud. The other man shook his head.
     Cris rushed in beyond these two in order to locate the man with the damaged suit. There he was, unconscious on the floor, an emergency suit repair applied to his right leg. There was also a good amount of blood frozen to the deck. Cris again grabbed the uninjured man, pointed at the unconscious man and the floor, held up one finger, and mouthed, "First." 
     The other man nodded. They both grabbed the injured man and headed for the Eagle. Once there, Cris opened the airlock, and together they got the unconscious fellow inside. He indicated to the other man to get into the airlock with the injured man in order to operate the mechanism. As the man started climbing aboard, Cris went back to gather the man on the floor who showed no obvious wound, but was nonetheless dazed. He put his arm around him and aided him back toward the Eagle.
     As the Eagle's airlock door was opening, a familiar and aggravated voice came over his coms. "Hatchling Three, this is Mother Bird, what's your status? Over." 
     "Mother Bird, I am engaged in a rescue operation, I have three survivors, two are wounded, one severely, please notify medical, I will be inbound to Hotel Sierra in five mikes with an ETA of forty mikes. Over."
     The tone of the voice changed dramatically. "Roger, Hatchling Three, wilco. Keep us advised. Out."

Sunday, January 21, 2018

KEEPING THE STORY STRAIGHT, by Mollie Hunt, cat writer

Writing fiction should be simple, right? After all, we’re just making it up as we go along.

Not really. As much as our story drives us, a writer needs to keep it within the realm of the believable, and nothing messes with believability as much as a mistake in continuity. Where we can be forgiven for taking our hero off to Mars in a pink, telepathic spaceship, we will be called out for switching out the breed of her cat.

It gets even more complex when writing a series. Yes, we really do have to remember Aunt Mae’s birthday is in September, that Joan’s favorite color is orange, and that the hero’s nemesis’ brother’s son (who only appeared briefly in book one) has a dog named Joe. These things are important, crucial even, because our readers remember details, sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. Unless we want to risk pulling them out of the story (and losing them forever), we need to keep it straight.

There are probably as many ways to keep track of story specifics as there are authors. Besides the many organizational computer programs, there are paper and file folders, index cards, cork boards, white boards, and anything else that can form a list.  Here is what I do for my Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series:

·       Vintage tray with notes I make on scraps of paper.
·       Plastic tray and file folders of things I’ll probably never look at again.
·       Cork board for same, only pretty.

Digital, general:
·       Excel and Word files on Desktop, in Documents, and hidden other places where I will never find them, should I remember to look.

Digital, working:
Some files I keep open all the time, referring and updating them constantly. When I finish the book, these get condensed or retired, but saved… forever.
·       Outline: This is not an outline in the usual sense but one I create as I write. In it, I note each chapter, page, characters, and a brief plot description. This is useful for finding things later. Plus it lets me tell people I really do work from an outline.
·       Cast of current characters: I have a master list of all characters wo have ever appeared in a story, but this one lists only the characters in the current book. It is broken down into 2 sections: New characters and recurring characters. This is also where I note features of important places such as Lynley’s house. When I finish the book, this info will be incorporated into the master list.
·       Notes: In this document, I make note of anything that comes to mind, from overused words to details I need to check in the previous books. Sometimes I get inspired, and the color-coding begins.
·       Lynley’s injuries and catastrophic incidents: Because the hero of my series is always hurting herself, I keep a list. I mean, how many times can a sixty-year-old cat shelter volunteer break her left arm and still have it come off convincingly?
·       Extra: It kills me to eliminate any text I’ve worked so hard to write, but it’s required. Some sentences are superfluous; some paragraphs misleading. I may need to switch things around. The extra file is where I paste everything I cut so I can get it back if I change my mind. I never do, but it makes me feel better to know nothing is lost. This file gets deleted once I finish the book and have forgotten what was so damned important about those snippets in the first place.

So though fiction may seem like it should write itself, the work and organization that goes into it makes the difference between creating chaos and a real, believable world. How important is detail? Just ask a Trekkie.

How do you keep your story straight?

*The lovely cover model is my foster cat Jenny, who is not such a great help when it comes to organization.

Check out more blogs by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer at:
Happy reading!