Friday, January 30, 2009

Ongoing Free Read

With Malcolm?

I was bound to be dreaming. Did she just say my new job was full-time with Malcolm? All my life I’d waited for this opportunity, and here it was. My Ken was finally mine.

That didn’t make sense, did it? Let me explain.

I was five when I received my first Barbie. I played with her all the time. Took her out on rides in her pink car. Held parties with her and my other rag dolls in her beautiful house. Barbie was kind, because she allowed everyone into her place. A far cry from the people of West Haven. You flocked to your own herd here, and one never strayed.

Well, Barbie was my princess, but after a while, I thought something was lacking. When I told my mother, she laughed, and bought the Ken doll a few days later. Finally, Barbie was fine. She had someone who looked after her, opened her car door. Someone who loved and cherished her.

I would look at Mom and Dad and think they were like Barbie and Ken too. Until the day Dad crossed the threshold and never came back… Mom came to my bedroom and she sat on the floor with me while I played with my dolls. I remember she sighed, and then she said, while looking at Barbie and Ken, “At least this couple won’t break up. Ken will always love Barbie.”

I know it sounds silly now, but for a six-year-old, these words meant a lot. To this day, I cannot help but think that Ken really wouldn’t ever leave Barbie. Theirs was an enduring love, and I wanted my Ken too.

Malcolm was this Ken for me…

“I’m not the devil, you know,” a deep, husky voice said in my ear.

Startled out of my thoughts, I jumped away from the table in front of me and bumped smack into a solid warm wall.

Strong hands came up and clasped my shoulders. “Whoa, careful, girl. No need to be so on edge.”

Oh. My. God.

It was him. I froze, but his firm grip was on me and he made me turn around to face him.

My breath caught when I looked up into his face. Never had I seen him so close. He smelled of expensive after-shave, but the scent was light and elusive, not overpowering as if he’d taken a shower in the fragrance. Like Des.

I gave myself a mental shake. Why was I thinking of Des now?


Oh, the way he said my name. It was like a sinful treat rolling off his tongue. My eyes wanted to close in sheer bliss, but I caught a grip on myself.

“Yes,” I answered softly. Too softly, like a moan.

He watched me, before cocking an eyebrow. “Do I make you afraid?” he asked oh so gently.

“No,” I quickly replied. You’re simply the devil in disguise.

“Prue, I need you for the Vaulmann project,” Des called out from the doorway of the office in an extremely whiny voice.

What was wrong with him?

Both Malcolm and I turned to him, and what I saw for a fleeting second on his face made my blood freeze in my veins.

It was hatred. Pure, unadulterated hate.

“I’m sorry to barge in, but Prudence will be busy today. She can help you another time,” Malcolm said. He still hadn’t released my shoulders, and I’m sure we painted a pretty cozy picture.

“I need her—”

“No more than I do,” Malcolm coldly cut in.

“Marie said Prue has to work with me on the Vaulmann deal.”

I felt Malcolm stiffen.

“Chambers,” he said, “as your direct superior, my needs take precedence. I repeat, Prudence will work with me for the rest of the day.”

Both men eyed each other with distrust in their eyes and aggressive poise tense in their bodies. Des finally turned on his heels and departed, but not before sending a withering glare onto Malcolm.

He let out a breath when Des left. Malcolm still towered above me, and I felt the rush of warm air tickle my face when he exhaled. By God, even his breath smelled nice. Like fresh mint.

He released his hands on my shoulders only to clasp my elbow. As he steered me out of the office towards my desk, he said, “We’re leaving.”

Hold on one second. We were leaving? Didn’t we have work to do? Unless… “You already have the sites located?” I assumed he was taking me on a site tour.

He stopped near my desk. “Actually, we’re going to my place.”


“I work from home usually, and all the papers we need are there.”

“Oh,” I said in a small voice.

Alone, with him, in his house. What was I asking for? Trouble with a big T? I took another look at his near-perfect face and the quiet confidence on it staggered me. I also couldn’t but think of the arrogance in his tone when he had spoken with Des.

Suddenly I had doubts. What was this man really like?

The question plagued me all the way to his home. As expected, he lived in one of the posh neighborhoods. Late Victorian manors stood side by side with enormous Colonial-inspired dwellings.

Malcolm pulled the Mercedes-Benz Coupe into the driveway of one such Victorian abode.
Before I could pull the latch open, I saw he was already outside and pulling the door open for me. A warm flutter picked up in my stomach, but it was quelled on the spot when the chilly wind of January hit me hard on the face when I stepped out.

“Let’s go in,” he said, and I followed him through the massive wood front door and into the quiet of the house.

I was awed by the surroundings. Quiet elegance. I had no other way to describe the setting. A huge crystal chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling of the entrance hallway. Against the far wall, a wide staircase with an intricate wrought-iron banister curled up smoothly towards the upper floors. Delicate plaster moldings finished off the walls and the floor was of Italian marble with Persian rugs scattered here and there.

Malcolm closed the door behind him when he entered. I turned to face him, about to ask him if he lived alone in such a big house.

But I barely had time to open my mouth before a smooth, cultured voice asked,

“Who’s the trollop with you?”

To be continued in a fortnight…

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do what you do best

This post follows upon last week's post, Where is your place?

The previous post went more in depth into branding and positioning. Diana also caught a facet of this issue in her post, Marketing your Identity.

So, what will this week be about? Take another peek at the title.

Do what you do best.

For a writer, this means - write!

Yes, you need to write your tag line. And for this, you'll do what you do best - use words.
Never underestimate the power of words especially where a tag line is concerned. A bunch of words may say the same thing, but do you know which one will serve you best?

I said it - serve you.

Your tag line is basically there to work for you. You as a writer won't be there 24/7 everywhere for your readers and following. Your tag line provides your presence and identity for you.
So, how do you create the best tagline? It should first be said, there is always, always, room for improvement. But in the world of writing, there comes a time when you have to say, Stop!, and go with what you currently have.

The same goes for a tag line. Let's face it, we'll never find perfection, but we can come close.

Words help you do that. And how should they help? By conveying your message as wide and broad as possible.

This leads to a very important aspect of the tag line - an encompassing string of words that has scope!

Just like a net, a tag line should skim as wide an area as possible. It should cover as much as possible, while still remaining in a nutshell.

For this, I'll use two examples:

The promise of fulfilment
Romance on another plane of existence

The first line suggests an HEA. The second implies romance and fantasy.

But, here's the thing - these tags don't simply cover the aspects mentioned above. Why? Because they have scope!

The promise of fulfilment can take place in any country, in any world, in any era, in every genre.

Romance on another plane of existence can include another age, the past, the future, the paranormal, the veil between worlds, a fantasy world, the sky, below the earth, across time.

Do you see the drift?

At the same time, your tag can be more specific, yet still give you scope.

Contemporary women's fiction in color

The above tag line can seem restricting, but it already covers a wide base - women's fiction, multicultural aspects, inter-racial relations, and today's world. A good many stories can fall under this banner, without being constricted to the same thing over and over again.

So, when you sit down to define your tag line, think of your identity. Think next what you want to convey, and put it in words. Go at it with a thesaurus, and pick out the one word that best serves your purpose.

You'll thank yourself in the end, when you'll see your tag working for you.

Until next time, I'd love your comments/questions.

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural romantic fiction, with a twistWith stories set amidst the rainbow nation of Mauritius, a multicultural island in the Southern Indian Ocean, author Aasiyah Qamar brings you tales of today's young women battling life on all fronts and finding love where they least expect it. Indo-Mauritian culture wants to stifle them in traditions, customs and antiquated morals while the world is opening its arms of modernity and globalisation. Where do these women belong? And more importantly, with whom?Find out more about her first release, The Other Side, here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marketing your identity

Bet you didn't know you needed a little know-how about that part of your identity, did you? I didn't. Not for about a year, but I caught on quick.

I've learned branding your name is a key part of your identity.

You know which Nora I mean when I say her name. You know King, Grisham, and Koontz. But what if I said Katie MacAlister, or Galen Foley? You might if you read their particular genres. These are examples of what identity means when it comes to marketing.

Think fast food.  Think of what you see. Think fast period.

  • I'm loving it. (This one is too easy.)
  • Pepper in some fun.
  • 4th Meal
  • Save money. Live Better

Okay so the 4th isn't food. I'm checking to see if you're getting what I'm sharing.

You know these places, what they represent and what you expect.

Your name delivers the same "expectation".

Case in point. Margaret Weis is the creator of one of the best known fantasy series-multiple series-books I've ever run across: Dragonlance. Does she have others? You bet she does. BUT Dragonlance is and will always be the first thing that comes to my mind.

So now that we understand the "expectation" part of our identities, let's look at how we market ourselves.

First off, most authors have websites. These websites can be any combination of a base site, blog, or extraneous pages like Myspace, etc. They are pictorial imitations of their product.  You wouldn't catch bloody horror mock-ups on Galen Foley's pages. You won't find historical castles, ladies and lords on mine.

Marketing your name in the correct way produces the "expectation" to the type of book (product) you write. Marketing creates branding. Branding creates an image, your 'identity'. That identity can grow and morph into its own world (a la Nora). It wouldn't be beneficial for me to market historical information, British humor, or gothic imagery on my website, as my identity because I don't want my name to conjure those.

It's very important to learn what your identity is so you can begin marketing it to your benefit. You may not know it right away, and that's fine. For the first year or so, I didn't have an identity, but I had a name. And that's where I started. Eventually, your name will become your 'identity', fulfilling the expectation aspect of what you market.

  • Christine Feehan = Carpathian Dark Series, The Drake Sister Series
  • Judy Christenberry = Modern contemporary
  • Julie Garwood = Medival and Regency historicals

Any questions, just list them in the comments and I'll reply.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Journey Begins

Once you understand Impact Moments and how they relate to characterization, and have glued your characters to the story – it's time for the journey to begin. In Sci-fi and Fantasy, we take the Hero's Journey to extremes, because whenever you are working with a 'hard' plot, the change isn't just necessary, it's essential to the plot. Hard plots or what is known as Hard Sci-fi and Hard Fantasy, relates to the tales of Heinlein and Asimov, Tolkien and Norton. These are extreme plots with a lot of focus on world building, character building, and yes, the Hero's Journey.

I've received many questions on how the Hero's Journey works. Part of the problem with explaining how this works is because this term is almost always related to screenplay writing or 'hard' plot stories. It in no way should be taken the Hero's Journey can't be used in other genres or with a 'soft' plot.

The big thing is don't over-analyze anything unless you are going 'hard'.

First- and foremost – understand the Impact Moment. How will this moment effect your character? Will it change them minimally or will they be altered in a drastic way? Remember, the Impact Moment isn't always obvious to anybody except the author.

Second – make certain the glue is in place. You've given enough information to clarify who the character is.

Okay – the Impact Moment is the start point. From there the character will travel in a path, normally set down by the author, to its conclusion. This is where you have to determine the path. What is the character's mission.

If the mission is to find true love – the path will be only slightly bumpy. It might have a few twists and turns in it. This journey means, the character won't change drastically, though they may realize they were missing love in their life or something along those lines.

If the mission is to find a killer – the path will be much more complicated. The character's plot might be revenge, it might be that they find true love in the process, but adding the 'hard' plot of a mystery will steer the path all over the place.

The biggest problem authors run into is they never sketch out the path. They write a story by the seat of their pants then say, 'all done'. There is nothing wrong with flying through a first draft, but the fact is, once you have, you have to determine if the path is working for you. Does it make sense? Can you honestly believe your character would act the way they are during a scene or scenes in the story? Did you rush through a spot or try to work your way out of a corner you typed yourself into? If you did, does it now make sense.

Whenever a journey begins, it must have a conclusion. Is this conclusion jiving?

I'm a great proponent of write the story the way you write the story. I will never say there is a right or wrong way to write. What I will say, is if you are tackling the characters' journey, make sure you check the paths four or five times before saying 'all done'.

Do you have a different way of taking your characters on the ride of their lives? I'd love to hear it.

Until next time - cheers, and happy writing,


Monday, January 26, 2009

Royal Blush Authors

Meet more great writers

With Love From Ms. Blush

Hello to you all wonderful, beautiful people!

It's already the final week of January and we'll be bringing you a little bit more about the quest for Identity.

Remember , in the past weeks, each one of us has taken you on a trip to find out more about your identity as a writer and about the identity of your work.

T.J. has explained about the defining aspect of the impact moment for your characters, and then she followed it up with a little expose on how to plant your characters in the story using basis and logic.

Sandra gave us a peek as to who she is in her post about her identity as a writer.

Angela then blogged to show us the multiple facets of her that make the woman and the writer she is, and how these facets mingle and merge to create characters, and how characters can influence the writer too.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) started her topic on how to find your ID calling card in the writing world and she followed with how to further this ID and make it work for you using he branding strategy.

So, what do we have in store for you this week?

T.J. will have another scintillating one for you tomorrow as she delves yet again into the inner workings of a story and its characters.

On Wednesday, we welcome another weekly contributor - Diana Castilleja will make her debut and will tell us about her take on the world of writing, marketing and promotion.

On Thursday, Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) will conclude the final leg of her topic on Branding. Catch her as she tells you a bit more how to 'escape' the pitfalls of branding strategy.

Friday, get ready to meet Prudence Tempest, her hunky colleague Malcolm who features in all her dreams and fantasies, her pain-in-the-arse other colleague, Des (shiver here, will ya?), and the boss from hell, Marie.
Last time we met them, Prudence was being sent on a hands-on job with Malcolm.
What will happen now? Catch us, and you'll know!

Join us as we continue

Searching for an identity...

The best of us for the best of you, that's our promise as we deliver the full flush of romance.

From now till later, enjoy!

With love, from Ms. Blush

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where is your place?

This post follows upon last week's post, Who Are You?

In the previous post, I asked you about who you were and how you would define yourself as a writer. In short, I asked about your writer identity.

I'm sure a lot of you must be wondering why I posted that. The reasons are:

Branding and Positioning.

In the writing world, you need to brand yourself to better position your works and your persona in the cut-throat arena of competition.

Basically, what are branding and positioning?

Branding is a term used mostly in business management and advertising. It implies a brand creates a defining identity for itself so as to emerge from the lot and be in pole position. Positioning then follows logically, in the sense that the branded product tops every other product that is at one single level, and shines as a beacon in the flat landscape.

As daunting and as regretful as it sounds (no, you cannot simply write, publish, and sell. If only it were as simple...), as a writer, you will need to brand yourself to better position your work in the market.
The term 'Branding' sounds barbaric. It isn't. It's simply finding your own identity and playing upon this. Here's the gist of it - ever wondered about the tag line for a story, you know, the one-line zinger that tickles your fancy on the back cover of a book? You need such a tag line for yourself.

Examples of writer tag for btanding:

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural romantic fiction, with a twist
T.J. Killian - Romance on another plane of existence
Nolwynn Ardennes - The promise of fulfilment
Angela Guillaume - The poetry of romance with a sensual flair
Chiron O'Keefe: Journeys of self-discovery in both romance and psychic suspense
Diana Castilleja/Diana DeRicci ... Romance that thrives in the dark...Sizzle that satisfies
Sandra K. Marshall - Romantic mystery with a twist

Simply from the one-liners, you know what these writers write, and what sort of story/fiction you can expect from them.

Branding thus helps a writer position himself/herself in the writing, publishing, and marketing world. Branding helps determine what you are about, how your stories are unique, and in a nutshell, what you deliver.

Thus, a writer with a powerful, defining brand positions his/her work better. Look at the following example:

Cultural romantic fiction, with a twist

A different take on romance

Basically, these two lines tell the same thing. Something is different. But the first line attracts the attention and stimulates curiosity better.
What's the twist? What is this cultural romantic fiction about? Lovers of cultural elements know they will surely find what they love here.

At the same time, the branding tag line helps to position the writer in the area he/she writes in. In the above example, it is already implied that this is a niche/specific area - romance. Next, cultural elements.

There are a lot of culture-based writers out there, yet in this line, it says that there is a twist, which means something out of the ordinary or even something unique is present in this writer's work.

The tag line already helps the writer position herself above the lot of 'general' culture-based fiction writers.

So, how do you brand yourself?

Identify what is unique about your work. Do you write historicals set in the Viking era? Do your contemporaries all have funny, quirky heroines? Is your writing voice funny? What sort of issues do you tackle in your works? Is there a recurring theme in all your works?

All these help to distinguish you from the lot. Use this uniqueness to create a specific, attractive and intriguing tag line for your work.

Until next time, I'd love your comments/questions.

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural romantic fiction, with a twist
With stories set amidst the rainbow nation of Mauritius, a multicultural island in the Southern Indian Ocean, author Aasiyah Qamar brings you tales of today's young women battling life on all fronts and finding love where they least expect it. Indo-Mauritian culture wants to stifle them in traditions, customs and antiquated morals while the world is opening its arms of modernity and globalisation. Where do these women belong? And more importantly, with whom?
Find out more about her first release, The Other Side, here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Searching for Me

I am many personas, many faces, a hodge podge of moods, emotions and one body. I am this way both as a person and as an author. Add to that, the fact that I've grown (at least I hope :-)) and evolved over the years to become the character I am today. Every little experience I have lived, every smile, every tear, every bit of amazement or disillusionment is reflected in me, the individual and the writer.

How am I this many people? Well, it's nothing to be amazed over, really. We all are a huge mixture of things - perhaps we often take it for granted. Over the course of life - and in a big way during our teen years - we spend a lot of time searching for our "identity". Everyone wants to have one. Everyone needs one. It is what makes us unique. Eventually, we realize that it's okay to be more than one thing, and it is those different ingredients that give us our individuality. What an author does that perhaps others don't do is take note of all these nuances and quirks and exploit them in the written word - that is, in the characters of a book. See if you can relate to this...

I am a NURTURER - as a child I took care of my dolls and stuffed bears and pandas. In my case, I also mothered a life size robot with missiles by the name of Goldrake (from the Japanese cartoon of the same name) - my absolute favorite toy, I told anyone who asked. When I grew up, I became a wife and now, I'm experiencing the joys of a soon-to-be mother. It comes naturally to be a nurturer, does it? It is an inalienable part of us.

I am a SULTRY SIREN - not much of that feeling lately, me being with the "bump" and all, but there are times when I love to put on my "sultry siren" hat, that is to say, embrace my femininity. It feels good to be feminine and most of all, to FEEL feminine. When my husband appreciates it, it is all the reward I need.

I am an ADVENTURESS - sometimes I love to try new things and see new places. I love the feeling of novelty when I do something I've never done before. It could even be something as small as trying a strange type of fruit or visiting an unfamiliar part of the city. It is the thrill of the unexpected that gets me going, no matter how slight that thrill is.

I am a HELLCAT - have you ever wanted to scratch someone's eyes out? I have. Perhaps a significant other's or a friend's. When this happens, you'll know. You love these people to bits but sometimes you feel as though they bring out the worst in you. Your blood starts to boil and you fantasize about sharpening your nails on a tough strip of leather, as one would do with a shaving blade. When someone ruffles your feathers, no telling what may come out of you. I've been through this many times.

I am ALL HEART - As women we feel things so much differently than men. Rather, men think and we feel. We see a wounded cat or dog and our heart breaks. We see a sick baby, or elderly person, and we cry for them. We try to see the good in everyone, yet, we realize the world is a treacherous place to navigate. There are times when I want to embrace and comfort everyone. Although I know that is not always possible and life often gets in the way, I like to think that with so much people feeling this way and better still, acting on it, the world cannot be such a bad place after all.

I am a SHAMELESS GOSSIP - Yeah, yeah you know what I mean, right? Have you never gossiped shamelessly with your friends over wine or coffee? What about that new guy at the office? Or that old friend from high school who sold all her earthly possessions and moved to a beach hut on Turks and Caycos? The college slut who got divorced 15 times? Come on now, you know you're not immune! Everyone's done this at some time or other in their lives. I admit, I am not much of a gossip now, but I do catch myself in the deed every now and then. All I can do is acknowledge it and move on to a different line of conversation.

I could go on and on with this, but it would take me forever. I think of shows like Sex and the City and how so many women related a little to each of the characters in that show. Why? Because we all have a bit of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte in us - no denying that. We are many people rolled into one. That's what makes us interesting.

Now, as an author, here is where the fun starts. My characters are a product of my fantasy but in these characters I instill values and traits that I am familiar with. In them I inject a little of me, a little of my friends or relatives, a little of someone I've observed or fantasized about. My Cole for example, from my short Mile High to Heaven (coming shortly at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid) has a bit of my husband in him, combined with other attributes that make me weak at the knees :-D. He is alpha with a soul, a veritable hurricane. The heroine, Olivia, is a little like me, and a little like one of my best friends. Yet, she is also her own person, a product of my imagination. I put a bunch of ingredients in my mental cauldron and mix them to my heart's content.

Man is not purely one thing. If that were the case, wouldn't life be infinitely boring? Man is everything that life has to offer, thank goodness. So I hope that for as long as I keep writing, I'm able to bring the brilliant colors of life into the soul of my characters. This is what makes them whole and unique, the same thing that makes us whole and unique. Not necessarily our traits, but the way those traits mix and mingle inside us. With our characters too, it is their identity - which is a living, breathing, ever evolving thing.

Angela Guillaume
Mr. & Mrs. Foster - Redemption has never felt so sweet! Available now at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Got Glue?

Planting your characters and sticking them to the story.

Whenever an author needs to 'plant' a character, it means they have to give them purpose in the story and a personality. Normally, through actions, dialog or introspection the character is given a basis. Basis is the bargain basement basic of planting a character.

This 'basis' sketches the character. It tells or shows the reader how the character will act. Are they responsible or reckless? A free spirit or mired down by life? This isn't an all inclusive list, but you get the idea.

A writer should approach this basis as the beginning of their character arc. Their hero/heroine/sidekick/ensemble character is this way—but when they end the story they will be this way. Some characters will not change as much as others. In most of my stories, it is the heroine who does the most changing, but not always. Even with characters who aren't going to shift enormously, they still have basis.

It's through this basis that the characters become glued to the story.

Going back to Star Wars, I'll show you some examples.

Qi Gon – From the moment the story opens, there is no doubt he is an educated warrior. This is based on any religion where education as much as fighting ability leads to enlightenment.

He is also a mentor. Mentor characters rarely change a great deal in a story. There are other issues with them that I won't go into here, but for the sake of this post, I will say, a mentor figure is the character who stands heads and shoulders above all the rest. There is almost always a line of dialog where he reminds his protégé that he saved him. The protégé may not agree with this line, but it establishes that the mentor is a hero.

Qi Gon is the voice of reason for The Phantom Menace. He is also the basis for the Jedi. This is why mentor figures in Star Wars are important and prevalent – as the characters change so does the force (ties characters to the unseen force). {Gandulf is another great example of a mentor figure}.

Obi Wan – The sidekick or protégé. He is also an educated warrior. He is sketched at the beginning as the loyal follower. The premise is a good follower will eventually make a good leader if he is educated by an honorable man.

Though, he hasn't reached his full potential, or the title Jedi, he is close when The Phantom Menace opens. Some would say, he doesn't reach his full potential until Star Wars Movie I, but it remains, he does change in The Phantom Menace.

He becomes the mentor figure upon Qi Gon's death. Once the Attack of the Clones begins (a time progression of about eight years), he has taken on the role Qi Gon played in The Phantom Menace.

Because these are movies – the changes are seen literally if you look very hard. A trick that can help writer's who struggle with planting characters is to pull up the chapter or scene menu for a movie. Watch the first chapter to three chapters. If you are watching a television series – use only the first chapter. You may want to note how the characters are sketched the moment they are introduced to the scene.

So, now, I ask you – how do you plant your characters? Do you believe finding their basis is important or not?

Until next time – cheers and happy writing.


Monday, January 19, 2009

With love from Ms. Blush

Hello to you all wonderful, beautiful people!

Here we are in another weeks at the Royal Blush Authors' blog. I hope you have enjoyed the content we have provided for you in the past days. We gave you a little glimpse of who and what we are.

T.J introduced us to the impact moment in backstory.

Sandra told us about her identity as a writer.

Aasiyah/Nolwynn started her topic about who you are and how to represent your unique identity in the writing world.

Friday saw the first instalment of our ongoing free read. You met Prudence Tempest and were introduced to her crazy, wacky world and the hunk who peoples all her fantasies. Not to mention her strange boss and her sticky-like-glue male colleague. What do we have in store for Prue? That'll be coming very soon.

So, this week, one of us, cheeky git that she is (Chiron, yes, that's you!!), tagged us in the ongoing Tag, You're It game running about blogs in the blogosphere. We need to tell you 6 things that makes us happy, and then we need to tag 6 more people (who will we tag???)

So, here goes - 6 things that make us happy.
  1. Strong plots that tread off the beaten track.

  2. A story we can lose ourselves in.

  3. A delicious Alpha hero.

  4. Getting the call.

  5. Completing mss.

  6. Johnny Wilkinson (in case you need a reason why he makes us happy, look a few lines down. There, you get it?)

6 people we're tagging:

JMorgan, Buffi Becraft-Woodall, Bonnie Clarke, Sandra Marshall, Diana Castilleja, Kristin Lawrence

So, what do we have in store for you this week?

T.J will take you tomorrow on a small trip to find out more about the basics of writing, the ones you need to consider before even putting pen to paper.

Angela Guillaume makes her debut post for us on Wednesday. She'll be telling us more about how a writer's identity influences her characters, and how a writer's identity changes with everything she writes.

Aasiyah/Nolwynn will be back on Thursday to expand upon her first post, introducing you to the inner workings of branding in the publishing/writing world.

Join us as we continue

Searching for an identity...

The best of us for the best of you, that's our promise as we deliver the full flush of romance.

From now till later, enjoy!

With love, from Ms. Blush

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ongoing Free Read

What's in a name, they ask? Well, if you ask me, a whole hell of a lot of trouble. If you had a moniker like mine, you'd understand what I mean.

I am called Prudence. Nothing strange there, except that it's a really old, old name. Well, forget about that for now. I could get used to it. Now, imagine your family name being Tempest.

I am Miss Tempest. Miss Prudence Tempest, actually.

Oh yes, laugh all you want. Imagine carrying this load around. It could have been worse. My parents are of the hippy generation, so I could have been tagged with a name like FlowerChild, or SweetBreeze. That one would've been the pits. Beats Prudence hands down any day.

But, with Prudence I am saddled, and make the most of it, that's what I do. Being pretty much an oxymoron in itself, my calling title however comes in handy in trying to make myself a name out there in the world. You see, I am a writer. I write stories and have them published. Okay, I try to have them published. It's such a big, bad shark-infested pond out there in publishing. Prudence Tempest allows me to already cause a stir without needing to do anything. If only this could work in my favour...

In the meantime, trying to publish books doesn't pay the bills, and like almost every struggling writer, I have a day job. What do i do? I'm a real estate agent. It isn't the ho-hum thingie, no, mind you. Let me shed some light on this.

Do you know of the one rich, powerful family that exists in every soap opera? Take this family, and then place it right in the middle of a town where every house boasts such a setup. Welcome to West Haven, home of the utterly, disgustingly rich. Kids here receive gifts for their twenty-one-and-a-half birthday, or whatever other birthday and a half. And not just any gift. An Arabian stallion for the equestrian inclined. A Harry Winston priceless set for the bling-dazzled. A penthouse or a detached dwelling for the ones who want to span their wings and fly, all within reach of Daddy's credit card, of course.

I cannot complain, if you look at it this way. Being a 'trendy' twenty-something myself, is it any wonder that I handle almost all of the brats' gift requests at the agency? Mind you though, West Haven may be paradise on Earth for the filthy rich, but it is also a town of rags and riches. The rags would be considered middle-class in any other location, but here, you're rags. No need to tell you to which category I belong. Being surrounded by so much money often infuses you with an unhealthy desire to earn even more of the moolah yourself. Climb the ladder. Flash off. Keep up with the Joneses, who here happen to be called Walchester or whatever other posh-sounding name.

The only way I can climb up the ladder here is to either become a phenomenally renowned and rich author of the likes of J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, penning down the next book to become a Hollywood blockbuster. Or, I can move to other, higher pools of in the real estate world.

"Daydreaming again, Prue?"

The jolly voice pulls me out of my thoughts, and I look up from my highly polished walnut desk into the face of Des Chambers, my colleague, and unfortunately, also the bane of my existence. You see, Des is insufferable. Why? Because he is so goddamn jolly all the time. Handling the portfolio of family homes, Des has a track record that is outstanding. One simply has to look into his barely-legal-good-boy face, complete with curly brown hair and sparkling coffee-toned eyes, to be won over by his angelic charm.

I wasn't won over though, far from it. Des could be so... positive, it grated on my nerves. He also seemed to have this huge crush on me. It gave me the shivers. Being with Des would be like being with a choir boy. Totally inappropriate. He also wasn't my type.

"I think Marie is gonna pair us together for the Vaulmann deal. Big family that one, and their twin daughters are looking for a chic apartment near the campus," Des said.

"You're sure?" I was certain I had paled. Marie was the woman who ran the agency. A cinnamon-coloured woman coming straight up from South Africa, she spoke with a quirky, thick accent. Everything about Marie was strange, from the hypnosis-like hold she seemed to have on her husband, the original owner of the agency, to the way she pronounced her name - Ma-ree-ay. She was the employees' collective nightmare with her hand of steel in a glove of steel approach. If she told me to work with Des, there was no way I could worm out of it.

I shook my head to ward off the dismal fog that had enclosed me upon Des's disclosure. "What makes you think she'll split the acquisitions? It'll be a single account. You could handle it all."

Des smiled, and opened his mouth to reply. I braced myself for what reason he would invent for us to work together - knowing him, he could very well have asked Marie to put us both on this deal. But he had no time to say anything as the door opened and Marie walked into the office. I lost my breath when I realised she wasn't alone, and right across from me, Des swore softly.

Why did we react this way? With Marie was a man. His name was Malcolm Gainsborough, and he was pure sex on legs.

No woman could be immune to Malcolm. Tall, with a broad, toned physique - from playing tennis every weekend, golfing twice a week, and swimming every single day - he was the epitome of masculine perfection. His black hair was worn short, but not so short that a woman couldn't run her fingers through the locks in the throes of passion. His eyes were like gleaming emeralds, the colour I used to obtain when I dipped my paintbrush of Viridian Green in a pot of water. A clear, vibrant and captivating hue. And his face. Chiselled and always freshly shaved, he carried his square jaw, strong chin and broad forehead with the poise and quiet, discreet allure of movie stars of the fifties.

The best thing about Malcolm however was that he wasn't a pig, far from it. A man with all he had - looks, name, money - could've easily become an ass. Malcolm was respectful, courteous, and newly single. What more could a girl ask for?

Maybe for the man of her dreams to notice her. Malcolm didn't even know me. I wonder if he even saw me when he came by the office. As the biggest agent for the agency, his deals were conducted anywhere but in the drab confines of the walls around us.

Unattainable. That's what he was. But a girl could wish, right? A soft sigh escaped my lips, and this made Des snort.

"God just graced us with his presence," he said in a tone dripping with sarcasm. The men in the agency couldn't really stomach Malcolm's success like real men. And they had the guts to say women were biatches. Malcolm was the onl person I knew who could bring Des out of his jolly bubble. What he showed when he came out wasn't that pleasant either. Another reason why I couldn't fancy Des.

On the threshold of her office, Marie stopped and turned around to face us, the dozen agents who made up the work force of the agency. She clapped her hands while saying, "Meeting. Now," then entered her lair with Malcolm right behind her.

The weekly assignment of accounts. We all moved to the boss's office and stood against the wall like a lineup of usual suspects while Marie pinned her bulging dark eyes on us. She started rattling off, like a military drill sergeant, the new accounts everyone was now responsible for.

"Prudie," she finally said. Marie is the only one who calls me by that stupid name, and if it was anyone but her, she wouldn't have escaped alive. I called myself Prue. Period.

"So, Prudie, you'll be helping on the Vaulmann deal with Des. Twin girls, eighteen, need a big place where they can entertain. I'll leave that up to you, since this is your arena, and not Des's forte, as he's mentioned already."

I wanted to slither to floor and disappear through the carpet. Or go up in a poof of smoke. Anything but feeling this churning nausea creeping up my throat while watching the smug smile on Des's face.

"Now," Marie continued, "I guess you all know Malcolm was to meet with the directors of Waltner Informatics. The company planned on making the northern outskirts of West Haven the new Silicon Valley." She paused. "I am pleased to announce that, thanks to Malcolm's perseverance and hard work, we have landed the contract to find all the locations needed for this venture." There was a round of applause, and Marie put her hands up to make everyone quiet down. "This will mean offices, conferences rooms, leisure resorts, houses, apartments. Everyone will have to knuckle down on their own area of expertise and make sure we deliver on this deal.

"Everyone, except you, Prudie. There won't be many young adults of the likes you cater for in this group, so you will be reassigned to another area."

I waited with baited breath for her to tell me I was going to have to work with Des on the search for family homes.

"Your job will be to coordinate everything and make sure the requirements of Waltner are met to the dot. For this, you'll be working full-time with Malcolm."

To be continued in a fortnight...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who are you?

Who are you?

No, I'm not singing the opening song to CSI: Las Vegas. I am really asking you the question.

You're a writer. Okay, I got that. But who are you really, especially as a writer?

Just as when you go somewhere new and meet new people, you introduce yourself. You usually say you are this person, who comes from here and who hails originally from there.

Step into the writing world, and afterwards one step further, into the publishing world. How would you introduce yourself then?

The world is full of strangers. The people in publishing and writing circles don't know who you are, so you need to tell them more about you.

What do you say in this case? Just like you as a person introduce yourself, with a certain manner and in a certain way (pertinent details, vital info, etc), the same goes for the writing world. Let's break this further down:

Everyday world - you are either male or female.

Publishing world - you are from the writing pool, or from the editorial/publishing pool. Despite the fact that here, you can belong to both, in every situation, you will be one or the other.
Everyday world - you are White, Black, Indian, Asian, etc.
Publishing world - you write contemporary, historical, mainstream, paranormal, fantasy.

You see, for every way you introduce yourself, there is something for you to say.

Now, exactly as in the real world, you can be an Indo-Briton or an African-American, with a persona that carries both sides of the culture and where you fit in right in the middle...

Same goes in the writing world. You can be a historical writer who also combines in aspect of mystery, paranormal, fantasy. You integrate 'cultures/genres' and create something new.

This something new is your answer for me. That's who you are.

Until next time, when we may go more in depth into creating a unique identity for you, I'd love to receive your comments.

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural romantic fiction, with a twist

With stories set amidst the rainbow nation of Mauritius, a multicultural island in the Southern Indian Ocean, author Aasiyah Qamar brings you tales of today's young women battling life on all fronts and finding love where they least expect it. Indo-Mauritian culture wants to stifle them in traditions, customs and antiquated morals while the world is opening its arms of modernity and globalisation. Where do these women belong? And more importantly, with whom?

Find out more about her first release, The Other Side, here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Identity as a Writer

Over the years I’ve had many identities, but today I want to share my self as a writer. The life of a writer sounds glamorous, but in fact is lonely and difficult. Even those of us who are social do not have time to socialize unless it’s through e-mail, which is not the same as face to face.

I started writing at the age of forty-three while I still worked for a major airline. After thirty-six years in the airline industry I retired to write full time. Once, I started down this path to publication there was no turning back. The art of learning to write stories grips you around the neck and will not let you escape its’ clutches. Unformed ideas swarm into your mind like bees, and they keep coming until you choose one and focus on it.

I write mystery romance with a women’s fiction bent because I like to read stories that deal with real issues, but mine also have mystery and romance in them. These are the types of stories I like to read, and so I write them. I grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries and others of that age group graduated to Victoria Holt, and then on to Sidney Sheldon and numerous others. It was only natural to want to combine romance with mystery.

There is so much to learn as a writer of fiction. You have to learn the rules before you can break them are a saying among authors and publishers. One of the things I had difficulty with was point of view. We’re supposed to stay in one view during a scene, never matter that someone like Nora Roberts can get away with going into the viewpoint of a cat if she wants to. For new authors that is not an option if you want to get published.

Other things beginning authors need to learn is how to weave the romance and the mystery together, or in other cases, sci-fi, romance and mystery, or paranormal and mystery, or whatever you are writing. You have to add description of characters, clothing and setting, then there is the introspection by your characters; these are just some of the things that have to be woven together.

Before you become a published author you need a website to build a name for yourself and to start promoting the image you want. After you finish the book (after many revisions) and have it published the job doesn’t end there. Next you have to promote your book, which is very time consuming and you wonder if you’ll ever have time to write again. Of course, you do because you can’t stop writing, or you become very moody. Grin. Would I have become an author if I knew what I know now? The answer is a simple “no.” Too late, I’m hooked.

In October 2008, my first book, The Catalyst, was released from Forbidden Publications an e-publisher. The Catalyst is the first book in a trilogy set in the Mid-West along the Missouri River amongst the riverboat community. It’s about the Madison dynasty, owners of riverboat casinos, and their trials within their family and their business.

In December 2008, the second book in the trilogy, Addiction was released. This story is about one of the daughter’s in the Madison/Dubois dynasty, and her fight against addictions and for her very survival when she learns someone is stalking her.

The third book is not finished yet, but I’m working on it, a short story, and revising a book that is finished, which never sold in spite of all the interest in it. This book is very important to me, and I will see it get published. We writers have trouble letting go of our babies whether they sell or not. As a writer my work is never perfect. I tend to revise and revise up until the day it is released by the publisher, and I find fault with my stories even after they’re in print.

This is my life as a writer. I am author, Sandra K. Marshall. My books, The Catalyst and Addiction can be bought as a download at and will soon be in print at

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I will come back and free you, Mom. I promise.

I will come back and free you, Mom. I promise

Two classic lines. A defining moment.

There are aspects of characterization that are often lost beneath the multitude of words, heart stopping crisises, deeply desperate black moments and dramatic flair of a story. These moments have a name. They are called Impact Moments. It is in a glimpse of a character's movement, a line of dialog or the flash of emotion across a character's face that they change forever. In a way, they are fulfilling the authors destiny they've designed for them. Impact Moments don't have to be subtle, but normally are.

The opening lines of this blog post, 'I will come back and free you, Mom. I promise.', comes from Star Wars, The Phantom Menace. The young Aniken has won his freedom in the pod races. It is a moment in which success and freedom war within his young soul as he leaves all he knows and the only person who has ever shown him kindness—his mother—behind.

This sets up Aniken's entire personae through the remainder of the prequels. Why he does what he does rotates around one pivotal moment—the Impact Moment.

The premise of the Impact Moment is based in psychology. We develop in our pre-adolescent years much of who we are when we mature. Things that make little difference to an adult, can drastically effect a child. A comment from a teacher, a joke from a parent, praise or bullying are translated in a child's mind differently. Children are far more literal than adults give them credit.

In Aniken's case, the line, and the emotions that followed, defined him. He'd do anything to save his mother when she was captured by the Sand People. He failed. Return to the original line of dialog. Aniken's failure is the cataclysmic turning point in his life, but it is directly related to his Impact Moment.

From that scene forward, Aniken begins his tunnel-visioned walk to the Dark Side. His love for Padme, the fear he'll lose her, are all integral rungs as he descends into evil. He won't leave his wife, and, he can't stand the thought of her leaving him. It all rotates around the Impact Moment.

This is the importance of the Impact Moment. All characters, like all people have at least one. These are also the moments of back story used in a story, whether short or long. They are the definers of a character. The glue that sticks them to the story.

Every author, no matter what they write, should be able to spit out the character's Impact Moment without thought. What makes your character who they are? What happened in their past to put them on this path?

When you find that answer—you'll have your Impact Moment.

Hope this helps. If you have another way of defining a character, I'd love to hear it.

Until next time – cheers and happy writing,


Monday, January 12, 2009

With love from Ms. Blush

Hello to you all wonderful, beautiful people!

You may be wondering who I am, and what I'm doing here. Let's put all your concerns to rest, shall we?

My name is Ms. Blush, and I'm the gal who rounds off each and every one of the Royal Blush Authors' posse. Every week, I'll bring you a little reminder of what we at Royal Blush have in store for you.

So, what can you expect from us? Certainly not the hum-drum pace of what you usually see out there.

We give you fresh. We give you news. We give you views. Every week, stick around and get to know us better as we open the doors of our world to you and share what's on our minds and what's on our writing plate.

Speaking of 'we', who are 'we'?

Well, behind this blog stands the posse and crew of the Royal Blush Authors. Some you'll see more often, some you'll see fleetingly, but we can all tell you we're here to stay. We want to get to know you, and we hope you do too.

Basically, what we have in store for you is something a little different. The authors of Royal Blush come with a full package of information, education, and entertainment. Separated into themed months, you'll all know what we're talking about at any given point in time.

Catch author T.J Killian every Tuesday for a little lesson on craft. Or else come find out what she has on her mind that day.

Every Thursday, the author behind the pen names of Aasiyah Qamar & Nolwynn Ardennes brings you her take on an aspect pertinent to the month's topic.

Every Wednesday, we bring you one of the Royal Blush Authors and she'll be sharing her take and view on the topic of the month. Sandra Marshall, Angela Guillaume, and Diana Castilleja will be your date on each of these days.

Friday is a special day here, because every other week, Prudence Tempest will make her appearance. You don't know who she is? Worry not, you'll find out soon enough as the fictional heroine will take you through an account of her topsy-turvy life at each fortnight.

We'll also have ongoing contests, promos and opportunities to meet our authors.

In case you're still wondering who the people at Royal Blush are, catch us this month as we take you on a wild ride that'll make you discover our personas.

This January, the Royal Blush Authors want to announce their presence in the blogosphere.
This January, they're taking you on a quest:

Searching for an identity...

Don't forget to catch T.J tomorrow, Sandra on Wednesday, and Aasiyah/Nolwynn on Thursday.
Our ongoing fictional story also begins on Friday, where you'll meet Preudence Tempest, striving author, striving young woman of today's world, striving singleton and basically, a striving everything kinda gal!

The best of us for the best of you, that's our promise as we deliver the full flush of romance.

From now till later, enjoy!

With love, from Ms. Blush