Monday, January 30, 2012

The Tuesday Buildup--Introducting Harvest Moon Rising

Woohoo! New stuff! Yes, I'm wired on caffeine, and probably causing tons of damage to my liver with my Diet Coke addiction. YOU try working 5 fifty-plus hour work weeks in a row and see how dependent you become on caffeine. But I digress.

Below is the raw, unedited opening for Harvest Moon Rising. Feedback is more than welcome. Otherwise--enjoy!

I hung up the phone, leaning against the counter when my knees sagged. Before I could tell him not to worry, Mike was through the screen door, picking me up and carrying me into the living room. He eased the pair of us down onto the sofa, cradling me with all the care of a china doll.
“What’s wrong, Cari?” He brushed my hair back, his eyes darting frantically over my face.  “Did something happen?”
“Michelle found a doctor.” The words didn’t seem to come from me, even though I felt my lips moving, my tongue working. “She said he might be able to fix things.”
“Fix things? Cari, there’s nothing wrong with you. What things?” His fingers closed over my wrist, not stroking, just holding steady. Annoyance shot through me at his overly obvious attempt to check my pulse. “Talk to me, Cari.”
“Maybe if you’d stop treating me like glass, I’d be able to.” Wiggling off his lap, I shoved my hands in the pockets of my robe, pacing to the end of the room. “He’s some sort of special doctor, a reproductive specialist. It’s the only kind of work he does, and he’s pretty good at it, at least according to Michele.”
“A reproductive specialist.” Mike scratched the back of his neck, brow furrowing in concentration. “Like the kind of guy who does in vitro fertilization and what not?”
“Yeah, he probably does stuff like that. But he can also work around scar tissue. Like the kind Doc sad I have.” I looked out the window, stared at the treeline. From this distance, the low grave wasn’t visible. But I’d never forget it was there. “There’s a chance to fix things.”
“Cari.” He closed his mouth and shook his head. “You know you can’t do this.”
“I can try.” Turning back around, I studied him. Some sixth sense told me to back down, to listen to him, to follow the voice of reason. But Michele’s voice still rang in my ear, her absolute faith in this man none of us had ever met. A lifetime of believing her didn’t die in a week. “We can try, Mike.”
“You’re not doing this, Cari.” He stood, crossing his arms, his eyes flickering from green to brown and back again. “That’s final.”
I lifted my chin. “Watch me.”

Friday, January 27, 2012

Food Friday!--BBQ Chicken Chili

Woohoo! We've got ourselves a recipe. I actually just made this up yesterday. I happened to be wandering around the grocery store, thinking what I wanted to cook for dinner, and the idea of everything just came into place. I'll be honest, I wasn't even sure how it was going to turn out, but it worked out pretty damn well, if I do say so myself.

1 pound ground chicken (Perdue makes a pretty good package, and they also offer ground chicken breast for the super health conscience)
1 cup diced onion
2-3 tablespoons garlic butter (Land o'Lakes does a nice little package)
3 tablesppon diced garlic
3 small cans Hunt's garlic flarvored tomato sauce
8 oz Bullseye Carolina BBQ sauce (this is a vinegar based sauce, sweet but tangy--you can use any variety you like, but I find the tang brings out the flavor better)
4 tablespoons A1 Sweet Hickory BBQ Steak Sauce
3-4 tablespoons chili powder
1 can of white and yellow corn
1 can light red kidney beans (I usually use Bush's)

Melt the garlic butter in a large boiler. Add the diced onions and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes until the onions are tender. Add the ground chicken and cook until good and crumbly, usually about 10 minutes on medium. Add the BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, steak sauce, and chili powder. Mix throughly, tasting for flavor. Add more BBQ sauce or chli powder according to personal preference. Add corn and kidney beans. Cover and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Serve with sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

That's it guys! Have a great weekend and I'll catch you on the flip side!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Random Thursday!--Wow, I'm Behind

Sorry for the radio silence. Work has been...difficult. Scratch that. LIFE has been difficult.

I had to give my dog back to the shelter. Yes, I cried like a baby. I got him a month ago as a Christmas present to myself, and our then-landlords were cool with him. Flash forward to Monday: I found out the new owners of my complex have instituted a 10 pound and under rule. No problem until my lease comes up for renewal--but then I'd have to find some place new to live. Continued problem: most places won't take more than 2 animals, and since I've had my cats for almost a year, I can't split them up. So, Max had to go back to the shelter. I cried. A lot.

I'm still working my 7 shifts in 6 days. They're training someone, claiming he'll be ready in 2 weeks. Doubtful, just because of the massive amount of information they have to learn. I've been told I'm cranky on Wednesday mornings, probably because it's my fourth straight shift in a row, and I'm usually running on only 4 hours of sleep. I won't share with you my response to that statement, since I try not to use too many of those words on a public website.

On the plus side, less than 40 days until vacation! I'm suffering wardrobe setbacks, but I shall persevere. I've got a good portion of my trip planned out--I'm probably spending Sunday morning eating breakfast and hitting up the Met, maybe Broadway, and then Monday at Ellis Island and in the Bronx. I'm excited, to say the least.

I also got two new tattoos, one on each foot. Yes, it hurt. A lot. The left says: Amazing Grace, 4-30. The right says: Walk with Thee, 9-28. For the curious, it's my grandparents' favorite songs and their birthdays. My grandfather died 15 years ago, my grandmother a little over 2 years ago. Yes, I still tear up thinking about my grandmother. But I'd been wanting something to sort of honor them for a bit, and this is what I got.

Yes, my left ankle is super swollen. I have tendonitis there, and while it doesn't impede me (a lot), you can really notice the swelling when they're next to each other.

Okay, I think that rounds up the random. Breakfast, followed by the kiddies, followed by some work of my own. Catch you on the flip side!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Media Monday!--A Preview of Smash!

It's rare that I actually watch something before it's real live debut, for the simple fact that I don't want to become attached to a show and then have it not work out. This is one of the main reasons I never watched The Playboy Club--well, that and the super crappy reviews. Great concept, poor execution, bad press. But I digress.

So, when I saw that NBC was offering their new show Smash! on OnDemand before the debut, I was skeptical. Okay, I was also skeptical because of the concept--a musical of sorts on prime time television. Let's not talk about Glee, which is not nearly the same thing. When I say musical, I mean actually musical--that's the concept. A team of writers (Debra Messing, Christian Borle) are in the process of writing a Broadway musical about--get this--Marilyn Monroe. One of the lines that gets repeated a lot in the pilot, to great effect, is "We/You can have a baseball number." And what a number it turns out to be. I won't ruin the surprise, but it's cheeky and sexy without being overly smutty.

Vying for the role of Marilyn are two fairly unknowns. The first, Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) is not a novice on Broadway, but she hasn't had her big break yet. She's already halfway to Marilyn, with the figure, the hair, and the bubbly personality. The second, Karen Carpenter (Katherine McPhee), hasn't landed a role yet. She's fresh off the farm, working as a waitress, living the dream of a million people who come to New York. She's Marilyn before Marilyn become Marilyn (follow that sentence, it really does make sense). And it stands to reason that both women can sing. Ivy Lynn has the big, bold Broadway style down pat. Karen Carpenter is more earnest, still a little too shiny and bright around the edges.

But--I've got no shame in saying I'm Team Karen. Maybe it's because I'm partial to Katherine McPhee in general. Or it might be because Ivy Lynn's over the top style just annoys the hell out of me.

There are other characters--the producer, played by Anjelica Huston, who's eager to get a show on Broadway, despite her divorce problems. The director, played by Jack Davenport (yes, the oh so yummy Captain Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean), who has already shown his sleazy side, only one episode in. Debra Messing's Julia is in the middle of adoption proceedings, Christian Borle's Tom despises the director....oh, the possibilities for drama and angst and fabulous songs are almost endless.

All in all, if the pilot is any indication of the rest of the series, I'm sold. I'm sold on the show, I'm sold on Karen Carpenter, and damn it, I'm sold on the Marilyn musical. I can not wait for the second episode in February.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Food Friday!--The Beauty of Bar Food

Even though I didn't go to karoake last night (damn you, exhaustion and sinus infection), we're still going to take a few minutes to talk about the wonderful little sub-category known as bar food.

I'm not talking about what little yuppie places or fancy little wine bistros like to call "bar food". I'm not talking tapas or canapes or other little frou-frou deals. I'm talking good, old-fashioned, might be bad for you but is definitely worth sinning for, makes you drool just thinking about it bar food.

The bar I frequent, Corner Pocket Bar and Grill, has some of the best bar food I've every tasted. And believe me, I've tasted a lot. They have a healthy variety, with everything from your traditional burger to meatloaf to gator tail. Prices are reasonable, with a burger and side running you right around the six, maybe seven dollar mark. Dinner items, such as the meatloaf or even their version of surf and turf, will cost a little more, but still no more than ten, and you'll get soup or salad, and a side or two. I haven't tried their desserts, just because super sweet stuff doesn't seem the best idea when you've been drinking all night, but they sound delicious.

As great as all this sounds, it's really the appetizers that sell the place. Including the aforementioned gator tail, you've also got potato wedges, fried green beans (a personal weakness), mozzerella sticks, southwest egg rolls, and a killer special on wings. I'm not a huge fan of wings myself (I don't like bones in my meat. Yes, I'm weird.), but everytime one of the servers/bar girls passes me with a basket, my mouth waters and I find myself wondering if I can overcome my aversion to the bone. And then I remind myself that I really can't and I sigh a little sigh of disappointment. But they still smell great.

And hoenstly, there's just something about eating food in a bar that makes it taste better. I have no idea why. I couldn't begin to explain it to you. I've eaten food in beautiful restaurants with great service and not been all that impressed. And then I've eaten food in dingy, beat-down bars served by bartenders who've been ridden hard and put up wet for the better part of fifty years and I've had my metaphorical socks knocked off. There's no rhyme or reason and I honestly don't want to know why because I feel like if I did find out, it'd lose some of the allure.

I'm not a foodie. I don't wax poetic about the make up of a good Chicken Cordon Bleu or philsophize about how the importation of slaves into the Southern states laid the groundwork for a food culturee still thriving today (bene seeds--seriously, go look it up if you doubt me). I just know that when I walk into a bar and order a burger, it will be amazing, almost without fail.

Ok, so maybe that was a foodie moment. But at least it was just a little one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Random Thursday!

First things first, congratulations to Anne for winning an advanced copy of Shades of Desire! On a side note, I have to say I love It's awesome! Also, I need Hillary's e-mail address so I can send you your free copy of Taken.

Next--Shades of Desire goes live in the next 24 hours. That's right--the next 24 HOURS. How, you may ask? The formatting demons didn't torture me overly much for the e-book version. The print version might go differently, but I'm hoping my good luck will continue. Anyway, for those of you who didn't win the advanced copy, Shades of Desire will preview at $0.99 for the entire weekend before going full price on Monday. What does this mean? You're saving 66% this weekend. Savings! Are you excited?

Finally, check out the new look on the blog. Pretty awesome, right? It's sort of a Mardi Gras/general New Orleans theme. The picture on the left, the black and white one? It's a L.M. Pruitt original. Because I like the camera. From this side, not the other.

Ok, folks. Tomorrow we're back to Food Friday, and a special post on the beauty of bar food. Why bar food? Because tonight--is Karaoke Night at Corner Pocket! I'm excited.

Off to the writing cave!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Taken--Final Post and Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who has followed the blog tour, whether it's for one stop or for every stop. Hopefully, I've managed to both inform and entertain you along the way. Special thanks to Belinda, aka The Bookish Snob, for once again organizing an amazing tour.

I'll admit, when I sat down to write this post, I had to think long and hard on what to write about, for a variety of reasons. One--I'm dog tired. Working fifty plus hours a week will do that to you. Two--how do I close out this tour in a way that's true to Frankie and Jack?

Frankie and Jack are complex creatures. They have to be, because survival has dictated it. They've been forced to rely on their wits, their charm, and yes, their criminal skills, in order to stay one step ahead of the game. They're jaded, because you can't see the things they've seen, do the things they've done, and lived the lives they do without losing innocence.

But being jaded and complex and cynical doesn't make you hard.

Frankie and Jack still have goodness and decency in them. They made a point to go into careers where they help people, where they manage to do good. Some might say it also helped them keep an eye on the past they're running from, but those people are cynical--and I think I know Frankie and Jack better than that. They go out of their way to find the truth--not just solve a case, which can be easily accomplished--but the heart and soul of a case. And when someone they consider their own is hurt, in any way, shape or form, they go out of their way to put it right.

I've said repeatedly how much fun Frankie and Jack have been to write. Outside of one other character (who is still in the works), they've been my favorite to write. They're sure of who they are, sure of what they want, sure of how to accomplish their goals, because, at the end of the day, they're sure of each other. Moreso than either the Jude Magdalyn series or the Moon Rising series, Taken is a story built around a couple. It may be told in Frankie's voice, but it's not just Frankie's story--it belongs to Jack, too. Or it might be better to say that the story wouldn't exist without the two of them, together.

This isn't the end of their story. They have a long, bumpy row to hoe before they can have something close to a happy ever after. But at least they're in it together.

Again, thanks so much to every blogger who hosted me this tour, Belinda for her awesome organization and tour graphics, and as always, to you guys for reading/following along.

And now, as promised GIVEAWAY time!


The first one is easy, but multiple steps. Simply:
A) Be a follower of the blog
B) "Like" L.M. Pruitt on Facebook
C) Leave a comment below

And you get a copy of Taken. That's right. As long as you do those three steps, you're guaranteed a copy of Frankie and Jack's story. But wait...there's more!

One random person, chosen through (and seriously, how cool is that site? Just sayin'), will get an advanced copy of the next Jude Magdalyn novel, Shades of Desire--four weeks early. That's right--four weeks early. Granted, it'll be rough and tumble, but it will still belong to you.

The contest--and this post--will run from today until Thursday at roughly 9 a.m. EST. Why the strange time? Because that's when I'll be near a computer again. I told you, I'm working a lot.

Ok, guys. May the best random number, i.e. commenter win--and as always, happy reading!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Food Friday--Interrupted

So, this was supposed to run over at Supernatural Bookworm today. I'm not quite sure what happened. Since it didn't show over there, here it is, in all it's glory.

Interview Questions for LM Pruitt

1.      Describe ‘Taken’ in three words.

--Smart, sexy, and dangerous

2.      How many books have you written? If more than once, which is your favorite?

--Right now I have three books out—Shades of Gray, New Moon Rising and Taken, with Shades of Desire coming out next month. Out of those completed four, I’d have to say Taken is my favorite.

3.      When did you realize your first wanted to be a writer?

--I’ve always written, usually fluffy, chick-lit type stuff. It wasn’t until the last couple of years I seriously started writing, and only recently have I thought about being able to write as a genuine career.

4.      Do you have strange habits that help with your writing?

--I wouldn’t say strange, really. I tend to have playlists for songs or types of scenes. If I get stuck, I’ll revert to handwriting/long hand for a bit to clear the muck. Probably my strangest habit is reading my raw chapters—those I’ve sent to my crit partner, Shea MacLeod—on my phone while at the bar. If it can hold my attention even while competing with vodka, I’m on the right track.

5.      What kind of research did you do to ‘Taken’?

--Quite a bit, actually. Some is standard for any book—location details, income and job specifications. For Taken, I also did research on human trafficking, the Russian Mafiya, New York state name changing procedures, handguns, Tasers, the AFCIS system—basically, a ton of stuff. About half I pulled from old school textbooks (I was a criminology major) and family members who are former law enforcement. The rest? I’d like to thank

6.      What is your favourite part/scene from ‘Taken’?
--Wow. This is genuinely tough. Since I only get to pick one, I’d say the chapter where the truth about Frankie and Jack—or the partial truth, anyway—comes to light. It drives home the complexity and need in their relationship even while amping up the mystery about their past. In other words, it appeals to both the mind and the heart—and I don’t get to write too many scenes like that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Random Thursday! We're Full of Random Today!

Yes, I'm super awake and super excited! This is what happens when I actually get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep. I'm deadly awake.

Up first, the Taken blog tour continues over at Reviews by Molly, with another chance to win a copy of Taken and a very nice review (thanks, Molly!) Tomorrow I'll be over at Supernatural Bookworm, spilling my guts--in  a purely metaphorical sense, of course.

For those interested in making sure you have a copy of Taken, without having to worry about any entries into giveaways, head over to Red Hot Readers on Facebook. While you're there, you can check out a ton of other free e-books, including fellow Red Hot Publishing writer C.J. Ellisson and her bestselling Vampire Vacation series. This is an excellent place to stock up your Kindle or other e-reader, and the best part is all the books are free. Yes, FREE.

Today, I'll be working on Harvest Moon Rising, and if any of you want to amble over to my author page on Facebook, I'm asking a question that has a lot to do with the direction the book will go. I'm kind of hesitant to take it that way, but if I do, I have so much more drama and at least two potential new outcomes. Awesomeness!

I'm still at work on the super secret project (Winged), but I'm doing my best to get HMR back into full throttle.

Less than fifty days until I go on vacation! Cross your fingers I make it there.

Now--off to put my nose to the grindstone!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writing Wednesday--Working on a Deadline

This post today is brought to you by exhaustion. That's right, I said it. I'm exhausted. You'll probably hear me whine about that fact until I go on vacation in March, just because I'll be working sixty hour weeks until then. Why, might you ask? The short answer is because there isn't anyone else to pick up the slack. I could go on a rant about how men in restaurants get treated differently than women, but to be honest, I recognized that particular glass ceiling is never going to be broken, and I'm too tired to even think about trying anymore. But I digress. As usual.

In an effort to keep on schedule with the super secret project, I'm pouring as much of myself into getting Jude, Cari, and Frankie at somewhat safe resting spots. This isn't to say I won't be putting out books featuring them in 2013, but my primary focus is going to be on Winged and the sequels. This is one series I honestly have plotted from start to finish (well, mostly finish...I'm still debating the series end, or rather how to end it), and I want to spend the year promoting it. So I'm pushing myself to get to a point where I could, potentially, close out every series in 2013.

What does this mean for you? It means you'll have a lot of books to read over the next 24 months. What does it mean for me? Writing on a pretty strict deadline. Actually, make that super strict. Brutal. Punishing might even be a good word for what I'm attempting to do to myself.

You might be asking why. I'll confess, I don't have a definite answer. Just a sense that this is how the next two years need to proceed. And there's also the benefit that the more I write, the better I get. It's just a plain and simple fact.

The downside to all this? I'm a little stressed and a little cranky. This isn't actually too far from my normal personality, so it might be better to say I'll be super stressed and really cranky. Luckily for you guys, I know how to play nice on the Internet.

But I pity the people I work with.

Today, I'm over at Hesperia Loves Books as the Taken blog tour continues. Swing by and see what's going on!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Buildup--We Have a Cover!

This will be short, sweet, and to the point--in case you missed the special post on Saturday....we have a cover!

Awesome, yes? I totally agree.

Continuing on the Taken blog tour, I'm over at ReaderGirls today with an excerpt and a chance to win a copy of Taken. Swing on by and take a looksee!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Media Monday--I'm Drawing A Blank

This is not a clever title. This is me, after working 115 hours in two weeks, going..."My brain hurts. It hurts a lot. And I can't think of a damn thing to write about."

It's not that I haven't watched anything interesting lately. I watched the first two episodes of Game of Thrones on HBO the other day. I'm intrigued, but not sure how intrigued I actually am. It might have just been boredom in general that had it catching my interest.

I also watched Cowboys and Aliens, which was pretty good. Of course, I also have an intense love for Daniel Craig and I love redemption stories, which is what you can boil Cowboys and Aliens down to. Shark Night? Well, it made me reconsider buying an island for all of like five minutes, but other than that, nothing too long lasting. The Social Network cemented my love for David Fincher. Seriously, if any of my books ever get turned into movies, I want this guy at the helm. He's just that awesome.

While I was going over edits last night, I watched Happily N'Ever After, which is such a throwback to the super early way of new animated features that I felt a little nostalgic. And I admit, I giggled at the redneck dwarves. "Lock and load, Cletus!" Seriously, picture a dwarf saying that with a big, thick, hick accent, and try not to laugh. Try it. Go ahead. I'll wait.

I also watched Piranha 3D, which somehow manages to be campy fun and gross as hell all at the same time. My cats sat in front of the TV and watched the opening sequence where Richard Drefyss (spelling, I know) bites the big one--or rather, is bitten by the multiple big ones--so intently, I swear they were getting ready to review it. Then they realized how big and vicious those fish were and decided they had better things to do.

So, that was my weekend viewing lineup. Continuing on the Taken blog tour, I'm over at Book Savvy Babe today, so be sure to swing by and check it out.

Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Special Saturday!--We Have a Cover!

That's right--we have a cover for Shades of Desire, thanks again to the wonderful Kendra Egert. This woman rocks, and manages to put up with me despite my pickiness. And, personal bonus (for me)--the background is one of my shots of New Orleans! Take a look at it below:

I'm squeeing like crazy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Friday--Old Fashioned Goodness

Friday! The blog tour for Taken continues--today, I'm over at The Bookish Snob with another excerpt. Head on over, take a look. But before you do...

In the great, wide world of what you might call "desserts", I tend to gravitate toward chocolate. Yes, I'm a total walking cliche. Whatever. But every now and then, I just get a taste for something else. Sometimes I don't even know what I want, I just want something different. The other day, I happened to be wandering around the grocery store and I saw something that I'm sure is there all the time, it just happened to be the first time I paid any attention to the box.

Lemon Bars.

Lemon Bars take me back to childhood and church events and cooking in the kitchen with my grandmother. My grandmother was a firm believer in learning how to cook at an early age. One of the earliest memories I have is learning to cook grilled cheese sandwiches. Actually, I went through an insanely long period as an adult where I couldn't stand grilled cheese because I spent so much eating grilled cheese as a child. But I digress. As usual.

My church, like most churches in the South (possibly everywhere, I'm not sure--somthing to investigate at a later date), had a habit of doing dinner on the grounds at various times throughout the year. Every family contributed with various dishes, the more the better, for obvous reasons. When I hit around...I'd say twelve, although I could be wrong, my grandmother told me I needed to make something of my own for church dinner. When I told her I had no clue what to make, she steered me in the direction of Lemon Bars.

My grandmother could be tricky like that. And the best part was she didn't even realize it most of the time.

She helped me the first time, of course. And it was fun, baking for the first time. The smells, the tastes, the inevitable mistakes--I'm pretty sure I made a total wreck of the kitchen not only the first time I cooked, but probably the next two to three times.

And let me tell you, when we went to church, and dinner was served, there was a great feling of pride and joy and just total WOW when my Lemon Bars were not only eaten, but devoured. It's a great feeling knowing people are njoying your food.

So, I'm making Lemon Bars today. I'll think of my grandmother and get a little teary-eyed and when I have one--okay, two--after dinner tonight, I'll be reminded of cooking in the kitchen with her and Sundays outside and the discovery of baking.

Lemon Bars rock. Clearly.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Random Thursday!

Thursday! Time for the weekly roundup of randomness!

First things first--if you've been following the Taken tour, you may have been wondering just where the heck the feature over on Jagged Edge was. I don't know why, and I don't ask questions, but it finally posted around 11 p.m. last night. So, before you head over to We Fancy Books, do a quick stop by JE and check out my time on the grill.

Next: I'm going to be nose to the grindstoning it for the next couple of days. Don't get me wrong, I plan to try and relax as well, considering the fact that I just worked 60 hours in 5 days, but at the same time, working that many hours has put me behind schedule. And since the powers that be get all snippy when i bring my laptop, I can't do any work while I'm working. I can read books and do the crossword but I can't use my laptop. Confused? Me too. But I just work here.

Also on the list: I've got less than sixty days until I go on vacation. Now is the time to get a guide book and a map and start studying like a mofo, because I'm almost guaranteed to get lost, but I should try and lower the odds a little bit.

And now, super big news: New Moon Rising was chosen as a Best Read of 2011 by the Paranormal Romance Guild! Crazy, right? Yes, I'm excited, too. If you want to vote, just click on the link below. Voting starts tomorrow and runs through the 20th.
Now--off to the writing cave!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writing Wednesday: The Writing Playlist

What's up, everybody? It's that time of week again, where joy and glee and happiness occur--wait, that's tonight, when I have my night of drinking. Here on the blog today, we're talking writing playlists, or more specifically, the two I have going for my current WiPs.

Harvest Moon Rising, as one might expect, has a little bit more of a country feel. I've been throwing down to Sara Evans, Chris Young, LeAnn Rimes, Lady Antebellum, and a few others. It's funny, but if I try and write to something a little less country, the words don't quite flow the way they otherwise do. It might be because I associate southern Georgia, just a thirty minute drive from where I live, with country music. I know that I grew up on country, not "discovering" pop and R&B until I was into my teens. Yes, I know--deprived childhood.

On the other hand, Winged is sort of multi-genre-ish. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely a theme going on, but it's sort of spread across genres. I've got some Adele, Sara Evans, Trisha Yearwood, 3 Doors Down, Bruno Mars, Matchbox 20, and Sugarland. The theme song, the huge, overarching song for not just Winged but for the entire series, is hands down Kelly Clarkson's Honestly, off her latest release, Stronger. Go give it a listen, and you'll see why. Or maybe not. I'll admit, I've been tight-lipped on the project, so you may have to use your imagination.

So, that's it for this Writing Wednesday. Be sure to check out Jagged Edge Reviews, where I've been set on the hotplate and thoroughly grilled. I'll admit, it was a smidgen uncomfortable.

Catch you on the flipside!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Buildup--Shades of Desire Excerpt

Sorry, guys--I've in the middle of another 60 hour work week, the second in a row, and so I'm just a little lax on creativity. Hopefully you guys will forgive me and enjoy the excerpt below.

“It’s alright, Jude. I want to help catch the bad man.” Oh, if life were only so easy and simple.
I sighed, as resigned to this as I could be. We’d realized we couldn’t just send Celia into the middle of nowhere without some sort of adult supervision and I’d won by virtue of being the only person who’d ever astral projected before. Joy.
We were in my private parlor, having deemed the room the most secure. Not from demons or vampires or anything evil. Just from the various people roaming through the house. I could have posted a guard outside the door, but all that would do was attract a crowd. Which would have started gossip. Which we didn’t really need.
The only light in the room came from the fire and I was grateful for the small glow. Something about doing this little mission in complete darkness like Rian suggested freaked me out. A lot, not a little. Bad things happen in the dark. The events of a few months ago had firmly ingrained that little pearl of wisdom into my mind.
We’d pushed the furniture back to have enough room to cast a circle in the center of the room. After Elizabeth found Lies and told her the plan, Lies had swallowed her gum. Down the wrong pipe. So this excursion was already off to a kind of bad start.
Everyone looked tense. Theo popped his elbow repeatedly, something he did only when worried. Lies rocked onto her tiptoes and then back down while Rian drummed his fingertips against his thigh. Elizabeth just stood there, eyes boring into Rian’s. If anything went wrong, things were going to break that might not be able to be fixed.
Sighing again, I took Celia’s hands between mine, rubbed them in what I hoped was a soothing manner. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes. “Ready when you are.”
Just that fast, we were gone.
We weren’t in my parlor anymore. We weren’t anywhere. Everything was black. Not dark, but black. No light. No sound. I held Celia’s hand in a death grip, scared of losing her. Something told me if you lost someone in this blackness, you never found them.
I concentrated as hard as possible on Jack. Duprees had grumbled about procedure but he’d let me take the letter out of the evidence bag. I’d ran my fingers over the softness of the paper, the richness of texture I knew meant expensive, unique. Although doing so made my stomach churn, I’d breathed in the scent of Deiadre’s blood from the paper. I’d gritted my teeth and let the strong iron smell soak into my memory.
It was that smell of not quite fresh but not quite old blood which led us to Jack.
The blackness faded away, slowly at first, and then quicker as the room began to emerge, like fainting in reverse, the way light and color started at the edges and made its way toward the center of vision. I blinked, little spots of color obscuring some of my sight as my eyes adjusted. And then I had to press my free hand over my mouth to keep from screaming.
Thank God Celia couldn’t see this. Thank God.
We stood in a wine cellar. Which shouldn’t have been scary. A very rough count put the number of bottles at close to two hundred, maybe a little less. Like every wine cellar I’d ever seen in a movie, it was meticulously organized, even boasted a little corner with a table and a few chairs, I guess for private tasting parties.
The racks were divided into sections. But not by wine type. By person. And they each held a small shelf with a set of pictures. Before and after. Before each woman was drained of blood. And after.
I’d rather face a homicidal maniac with a chain saw than whoever owned this wine cellar.
I bent, scooped Celia up and braced her weight on my hip. Turning my back on the rows of dead women, I started up the stairs, trying to move on the balls of my feet as much as possible. Thankfully, there weren’t any creaky steps and the door at the top stood slightly ajar.
Anytime things started out this well, they tended to go downhill. It was just a given.
The door opened into the kitchen. The only odd thing about the room was it wasn’t. Odd, I mean. After the basement, I’d expected chrome and stainless steel and marble. Instead, we found faded wood and laminate. And cows. There were cows on every available surface, even a cow shaped cookie jar.
Like I said, odd. Because it wasn’t odd.
A faint glow of light came from down the short hallway and Celia and I moved toward it. She hadn’t moved since we’d shot into the black and if it wasn’t for the faint wheeze of her exhales I’d have worried she’d stopped breathing. Elizabeth told me Celia’d been born with asthma, but hadn’t experienced an episode in years. I hoped that little bit of luck held.
The walls were painted a pale taupe color, with motel room art and staged family photos spaced along the length. Again, the sheer normality made everything odd. This was going to be one of those cases where when the neighbors found out the truth, they’d swear he’d never hurt a fly. Or Jack had killed whoever lived here, then refitted the basement to his own exacting specifications.
I wasn’t sure which one would be more horrible.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Media Monday--Review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

First things first: the blog tour for Taken has kicked off! Head over to A Chick Who Reads for an excerpt from my latest release.

I had to think long and hard about which thing I was reviewing today, movie or book. In the end, I went with the movie, simply because it left much more of an impression on me. Don't get me the wrong, the book is good as well, but I think if I hadn't read reviews saying "Give it a hundred pages", I might not have made it through. That's a very long time to read a book that may or may not catch your interest.

The movie, on the other hand, grabs you straight from the get-go. The opening titles definitely set the mood for the entire piece--raw, abusive, violent, and very, very disturbing. And consider some of the movies I watch, for me to label a movie "disturbing" is saying quite a bit.

David Fincher does a good job of skimming through those 100 pages of non-exciting material everyone talks about. I think we went from the judgment against Blomvkeist (guys, ignore my spelling--it's late, I have to work in the morning, and I can't find the damn book to correct myself) to meeting Henrik Vagner in the space of about ten, fifteen minutes tops. Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer, both actors that I adore, are excellent in their roles, especially Plummer. It must be a holdover from his Sound of Music days, playing the leader of a large family.

The flashback sequences, both here and later in the movies, are so at odds with the style of the actual real-time story as to be taken from a different film entirely. Unlike the raw, sharp-edged feel of the majority of the film, the flashbacks are almost lazy, dreamy. The actress playing the young Harriet (and don't I feel like an ass for not knowing her name) does an amazing job of expressing Harriet's emotions, such as they are, with no lines and very limited screen time.

But the story, indeed, I'd say the entire film, rests on Rooney Mara's shoulders. I didn't see the original for a couple of reasons--I don't do subtitles unless I'm in a bar, and I actually only had a interest in the series after I saw the trailer for David Fincher's version. Mara has caught flack for not being as "intense" as Noomi Rapace. If Rapace was more intense than Mara, I'm not sure I want to see the forgein versions. I think I'd get nightmares.

Mara's Lisbeth Salander is rough, anti-social, emotionally stunted, brilliant and possibly amoral--or at least operating under her own moral code. Having seen here previously in Nightmare on Elm Street, the drastic difference in not only her acting but her looks is enough to make you do a double take. On top of which, she was immensely dedicated to the prep and absorbation of the role of Salander. Dude--she went and got her nipple pierced. I'm going to take a moment and let that sink in for you. I cringe at the thought of anyone having their nipples pierced--like cross my arms and flinch kind of deal. And she did it for a movie. This girl has balls the size of a small elephant.

Having read the book, I already knew the ending--which I like. I'm one of those annoying people who more often than not halfway through a movie will Wikipedia or IMDB a film so I know how things are going to end. I think I've seen too many bad movies (I'm totally looking at you, Knowing) to take any chances. Still, I eagerly awaited every twist and turn, if only to see how Fincher was going to handle things. I wasn't disappointed, even with the inevitable shortcuts and minor switches that every novel goes through when it's adapted to screen.

Before I close out, let me address the major issue with not just the book, but the series--the portrayal of women, their place in soceity, and the violence toward them. There were three parts where I turned away from the screen--and they all involved sexual violence. I didn't turn away because it was gratitous--I turned away because it was brutally honest and real in a way seldom seen in movies today. We like to pretend that instances such as the ones described and shown never happen, or we like to whitewash them for public consumption. Larssen and Fincher refuse to do that. And it makes people uncomfortable--which, I'd be willing to guess, is entirely the point.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn't for everyone, even those who read the books. Watching something is always more harrowing than simply reading about it. But if you do watch--you walk away with a appreciation for everyone involved in the film, and a keener understanding of the world we live in.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Special Sunday--Birth of a Character

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that we have those shenanigans out of the way, down to business.

Crime fiction, what most people call detective stories, has a long and somewhat crazy history. In the course of a hundred and seventy years, the genre has embraced everyone from Edgar Allen Poe to the Marquis de Sade to Raymond Chandler to Charlaine Harris and Patricia Cornwell.

Clearly, crime fiction is a little confused on who or what it wants to be. With sub-genres ranging from historical to locked room, whodunit to howcatchem, cozy to hard-boiled, there's a story out there for everyone.


Film noir, that vast, sweeping term for movies of the forties and fifties, suffers from the same multiple personality disorder. From French art films to American classics like The Maltese Falcon, noir encompasses so may plots and chracteristics as to be almost undefinable in any absolute sense. Indeed, the cinematic community as essentially labeled noir as an "elusive phenomenon". (Mark Bould)

Most people are familiar with noir in reference to movies and actors such as Out of the Past, Double Indemity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, To Have and Have Not, Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Humphry Bogart, and Lauren Bacall. These films and their stars are classics for good reason. They provide riveting plots, serious suspence, and sly, witty dialogue (seriously, Bacall asking Bogart if he knows how to whistle? Fantastic). Just like crime fiction, something for everyone.


Where's the wisecracking, hard-nosed, cynical, unapologetically sexy female private detective? The one with the troubled past, the deep, dark secrets? Who has a steady relationship, but isn't afraid to experiment? Who has the ambiguous moral code of the femme fatale, but when she's crossed, the drive and determination of Sam Spade?

Let me introduce you to Frances--Frankie--Post...