Archive for May, 2011

Guest Blogger: Marcia Colette, Cover Art & Writing On The Dark Side

Friday, May 27th, 2011

A big welcome today to author Marcia Colette. Today she’ll give us her own special take on writing about the scary stuff and what she likes in cover art. Look at that cover above! Now I’m going to have to read that book. Looks like my type of read. Be sure to read her blog today for information on her contest today. Take it away Marcia!

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Cover Me Up

A HUGE thanks for having me, Denise!  I’m glad to be here.

One thing I’ve grown to hate in my self-publishing venture above all things is picking out cover art.  I suck at it.  At least, I think so.  With titles like Bittersweet, The Spider Inside Her, and Deadlier by the Dozen either under my belt or about to be, I can’t pick cover art that conveys the ideas behind my dark stories to save my life.  Oh, and it doesn’t help that I’m super picky out my art, too.

First, I prefer to have scenes on my books rather than faces.  There are a lot of books out there with faces on the cover, but they don’t give me and idea of what’s behind the story.  For urban fantasy, it’s the infamous butt shot or the heroine is holding a weapon.  Okay, so the heroine is a badass.  What else is new?  Give me more.  They say a picture tells a thousand words, so it would be nice if they used them all.  That’s why I prefer to see scenery on a cover rather than a face.  Of course, for The Spider Inside Her, I’m breaking my own rule…sort of.  Hopefully, it’s the “something more” that will tip the scale in my favor and make a reader say, “I have to see the demented story behind that picture.”  One more thing.  I’d *love* to see an urban fantasy heroine with a bloody face on the cover.  They always say their world is dark and treacherous, so prove it.

Second, some covers have too little.  Any cover with a symbol (especially the overly used pentagram) will turn me off.  Again, I need more.  I’ll take faces over this any day.  Oh, and before you say anything, I have nothing against pentagrams.  It’s a choice.  But put it on a medallion with some cryptic scenery or something.  Again, give me more.

 

Third, making sure the cover art fits the story.  I’ve seen cover art where the picture was chosen because it was either nice or easy to doctor, but had nothing to do with the story.  I’ve almost fallen into that trap myself.  I thought about using that green-eyed spider for my cover art because that hideous face scared the heck out of me.  Sure, The Spider Inside Her has a spider-ish character in the book, but that doesn’t mean I want to scare people away either.  If a face like that doesn’t say frightening, then I don’t know what does.  I don’t want to scare off readers either.

So while I’m not an expert when it comes to cover art, I know what works for me and will make me pick a book off the shelf.  If it’s a face shot, then it needs to be exceptional.  If it’s a lackluster cover with one tiny image on the front, then put some scenery or a story around it.  If it doesn’t fit the story, search harder for the stock art or hire a cover artist who can make it fit.

What elements of dark cover art work for you?  Oh, and I’ll be giving away a copy of BITTERSWEET to one lucky commenter.  Print for U.S. residents and ebook for everyone else

BIO

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance author Marcia Colette was born and raised in upstate New York. She graduated with a bachelors degree in biomedical engineering and a masters degree in information technology. After a couple of moves from north to south to north, she is now living in the south again in the lovely state of North Carolina with her mom and beautiful
daughter. She has been a lover of the paranormal since her first horror movie and has never looked back.

Marcia is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Paranormal Mystery Writers, and Romance Writers of America, Infinite Worlds of Fantasy authors.

 

Guest Blogger: Christine Cody

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

A big welcome to Christine Cody aka Chris Marie Green! She’s here today to tell us all about writing on the dark side. Sorry about the tiny cover. We had a technical problem. Be sure to stop by her website so you can see the full size cover. She’s also running a contest today. Take it away, Chris.

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We all have it in us to a certain extent—darkness.  And a lot of us have a healthy curiosity about it, too.

Nietzsche put it best when he wrote, “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

I think this is what writers and readers of dark fantasy love to do—flirt with what lies beneath us, peek into the shadows, test that line between humanity and monstrosity.  To explore it is to understand it just a little more and to prepare ourselves just in case we ever come face to face with it.

This is why I love to write about vampires and other assorted monsters that populate my Vampire Babylon series (written as Chris Marie Green) as well as my upcoming post-apocalyptic Western fantasy series, Bloodlands.  In both, the characters not only look into that abyss Nietzsche talked about—they occasionally dive right into it and have to deal with the consequences of coming back out.

For example, in the first book of the Bloodlands series (Bloodlands, 7/26/2011), one of the main characters is a cross between a gunslinging cowboy drifter and a creature of the night.  Gabriel is looking for his lover—a woman who mysteriously deserted him and ran off to the New Badlands, which is a desolate place where people have gone to hide from the terrible events of this new world.  He finds trouble out there, as well as a bunch of survivalist types who take him in when he’s wounded.  Like most western movie gunslingers, he has lost his soul—but this is literal for Gabriel because he’s a vampire.  When a monster hunter appears in the New Badlands, Gabriel and his protectors need to decide whether it’s worth “outing” him to save all of them, and Gabriel even wonders if giving himself up is his path to regaining what he remembers of his humanity.

In the following books (Blood Rules, 8/30, and In Blood We Trust, 9/27), Gabriel goes even deeper into the abyss, bringing those he loves with him.  Of course, we read these stories with the wish that the characters will somehow find their ways out of the darkness, just as we hoped would happen to Shane or Mad Max—both of whom were inspirations for Bloodlands.   How they manage to save themselves and their loved ones is what compels us to keep on reading, though, even as the shadows swallow them and threaten to devour them whole.

One reader who posts a comment will win a signed copy of NIGHT RISING, Vampire Babylon, Book 1.

Christine Cody is the author of the urban fantasy Vampire Babylon (w/a Chris Marie Green) and Bloodlands series from Ace Books.  Until about six years ago, she was an eighth-grade teacher, but she became a full-time author who has published over thirty-five books under this name as well as the pseudonym Crystal Green.

Check out the author’s website at www.bloodlands.net.  You can also follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/ChristineCody and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Marie-Green/1051327765

 

 

 

Guest Author: Leah Braemel

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Good morning everyone. Today my guest blogger is author Leah Braemel. She’ll be giving us the low down on why she likes to write on the dark side. Welcome Leah! Later tonight she’ll pick one winner to receive a copy of Personal Protection.

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When Denise first put out the call for authors who write “dark” I immediately shot my hand in the air because none of my books are light-hearted romps.. In Deliberate Deceptions, I tormented my characters with the aftermath of postpartum depression, doubt about decisions they’d made and how it had affected themselves, each other and others, especially after the death of their child. In Texas Tangle, one of my heroes, Brett, was still dealing with the lingering remnants of an abusive father. In Personal Protection, Sam’s former partner (both with the FBI and in the bedroom) had been killed by a serial killer which left him suffering from a severe case of guilt. Oh, sure, there is banter and light-hearted moments within each book, it’s not all angst, but the subject matter is definitely dark.

Why do I write so dark? Because that’s the type of story I like to read.

As a reader, I like to be able to lose myself in a book, to ignore the real-life problems assailing me from every angle. So while I love authors who can write with humor I can’t buy into a character who is a constant source of zany antics, rom-coms just don’t keep my interest. I find myself rolling my eyes and putting them down as totally unbelievable. Instead I’m drawn to books where the heroes and heroines are facing (and overcoming) not just life-and-death drama, but are engaged in constant struggles to do the right thing against all the odds.  Stories where the hero and heroine have to claw their way through the worst life can throw at them yet they prevail and emerge alive at the end. Battered and scarred perhaps, but triumphant. Those stories give me hope that I will get through whatever it is life is throwing me at the moment. Often times the put my own problems into perspective and make them less like a sheer-rock face that I’d have to climb hanging with only my fingernails into an anthill I can squash with my big toe.

I guess that’s why, as a writer, I find myself exploring the darker themes. In Deliberate Deceptions, the heroine Lauren finally confesses to her ex-husband about how she was terrified to go to sleep after their baby was born, about how she was petrified the baby would die if she fell asleep. I didn’t make that up–it was based on a real story a friend of mine went through after her daughter was born. As she was telling me her struggles with postpartum depression (she was considering having another child at the time), I found myself remembering another friend whose baby daughter had died of SIDS when she was just three months old. I found myself combining the two stories and wondering “what if she had gone to sleep and the baby had died? What would have happened?”

Yes, that question is maudlin and morbid, but any writer can tell you the “what if” game is natural to us, and it gave me a source of conflict for Lauren and Chad. And as any writer can tell you, conflict is absolutely vital to any story.

While I don’t want to become “the queen of angst” I don’t see myself writing romantic comedies any time in the near future. I’m too drawn to giving my heroes and heroines who have lots of baggage and watch them as they struggle to overcome all the odds, especially when they realize that by relying on each other their burden is lighter and easier to bear. It makes their happy-ever-after that much more satisfying. Because then you know that whatever life throws at them after this, they’ll always be able to rely on each other. To me, that’s a true happy-ever-after.

 

Contest: Left Behind Loot!

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Happy Rapture Day everyone. I for one I know I’ll be left behind. And for all the rest of us left behind, I think it’s time we get some loot! That’s right, I’m having a Left Behind Loot contest and so are fellow authors Anya Bast and Susan Helene Gottfried

What do you have to do? Stop by all three of our websites and say howdy. For my contest just let me know what you’re going to do tomorrow, and if you’re attending any left behind parties. 🙂 The contests run all this evening from 6pm EST today through Sunday, May 22. I think it’s gonna be fun. Depending on how many responses I get I may give away more than one copy of a back list book. This time I’m giving away ebooks, which I don’t do very often.

Be sure to stop by and say hello to Susan and Anya, too. Who knows how much loot you might win.



Guest Blogger: Eden Bradley

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Eden Bradley aka Eve Berlin-The Darker the Better!

I love writing dark. In fact, I’m not sure I can write any other way. I’m not sure what that says about me-lol! I’m sure Freud would have a field day analyzing what I write—dark, tortured characters with tragic pasts. Dark themes, like the BDSM books I write under my Eve Berlin persona, and the vampires I write for Samhain.

I was talking to a fellow author about this recently, and we both came to the conclusion pretty quickly that it’s about making a complex character. And the more complex a character is, the more interesting they are—to me, anyway. If I write about someone who has a lot to overcome, then that makes for a more complicated, meaningful experience as they meet someone new, have sex, fall in love, deal with all of the changes they have to go through in order to get what they want. And I like to go really deep into my character’s psyches, dig around, explore those deepest, darkest places. Because what fascinates me is the psychology—behind my characters and behind people in general.

The vampires in my Midnight Playground series are the perfect example of using psychology to build a dark character. When someone has lived a few hundred years, what must they have seen, experienced, lost, that makes them who they are? How would that color their views on people, the world, themselves? And what have they had to give up to be immortal? And for those humans who interact with them, who seek the gift of immortality, what must they have gone through in order to reach that point in their life, where they are willing to leave everything behind?

These are some of the ideas I explore in my latest release, THE TURNING KISS.

They have nothing to lose…except the one gift they never expected to find.

Midnight Playground, Book 3

Ilana escaped a life of sex slavery, using her extraordinary beauty to survive among the few remaining wealthy humans in London. But she has higher aspirations. For two years she has haunted the BDSM dungeons of the Midnight Playground, hungering for The Turning Kiss—that deep drink that will make her one of them. An immortal vampire.

Turned out onto the streets of Edinburgh as a child, Calam’s tortured path led him to a job at the club, where he also engages in exotic and dangerous sex play with its clientele. Craving, like Ilana, the eternal escape of the Turning Kiss.

Ilana is undeniably drawn to the beautiful Scotsman, but she has no time to waste; the club takes no one over thirty. When a sinfully compelling vampire pair brings them together for an unusual foursome, she and Calam are shocked to discover it isn’t the vampires they crave, it’s the tenderness and emotion they feel for each other.

After years of seeking to feel something, anything, other than the pain of the past, the ultimate gift is within Ilana’s reach. Yet the cost—leaving her heart behind with a mortal—could be more than she can bear.

The next book in the series, EVERSONG, will be out in the fall, and I’m also currently working on a short prequel piece, EVER: THE TURNING, that I’ll self-publish in the coming months. And books One and Two, THE SEEKING KISS and BLOODSONG are available now. You can find out more about my Midnight Playground series and all of my books on my websites: www.EdenBradley.com or www.EveBerlin.com , or you can drop by my group blog www.Smutketeers.com where I have way too much fun for someone who writes such dark stuff! I hope to see you there!

CONTEST! Today I’m giving away a copy of THE SEEKING KISS, Book One in my Midnight Playground series! All you have to do to enter is answer the following question: what are the names of any two vampires from my Midnight Playground books? You can find the answer by visiting my website. The winner will be announced here tonight!

BIO:

Award-winning and best-selling author Eden Bradley aka Eve Berlin has written a number of novels, novellas and short stories. She writes dark, edgy erotic fiction for Samhain Publishing, Harlequin Spice, Berkley Heat (as both Eden Bradley and Eve Berlin) Bantam/Delta and Phaze Publishing. She loves shoes, tattoos, art, her cats, younger men, reading and writing smutty books, and chocolate, not necessarily in that order.

Guest Blog: Allison Brennan & Villains

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Today I’m welcoming an author who has thrilled us and chilled us for years with her romantic suspense and thriller novels, and you all know her well.

Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of sixteen romantic thrillers and many short stories. RT Book Reviews calls Allison “A master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” Lee Child called her latest book “A world-class nail-biter,” and Lisa Gardner says, “Brennan knows how to deliver.” The third book in the Lucy Kincaid series, IF I SHOULD DIE, will be available on 11.22.11. Allison lives near Sacramento, California with her husband, five children, and assorted animals.

Today Allison is also running a contest, so be sure to read and comment!

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A Worthy Villain

The villain is the hero of his own journey.

–Christopher Vogler

 

At Thrillerfest in New York this summer I’ll be presenting at Craftfest a new workshop that I’m very excited about: Villains.

I’ve talked about villains a lot, I’ve blogged about them on occasion, but I’ve never had a class devoted solely to the antagonist.

A good villain needs to challenge the hero; a good villain must be as smart—or smarter—than the hero. The villain needs to be smart, capable, and cunning so that the hero is challenged. It’s the hero’s intelligence, perseverance, and humanity that brings the villain to justice—not merely following the breadcrumbs of a villain who would rank #11 in the Top Ten Stupidest Criminals.

In essence, not only does the villain need to be worthy of your hero, but your hero needs to be worthy of your villain. It’s the creation of this dynamic that gives the reader what she is looking for in crime thrillers.

Every book has a villain, but not all villains are cut from the same cloth. In non-thrillers, the villain is really the antagonist—someone who isn’t necessarily a bad person, but who prevents the hero from achieving his goals. For example, a mother who doesn’t like her daughter’s fiancé and tries to break them up; the colleague who sabotages her friend in order to get a promotion; the guy jealous of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

In romantic suspense and thrillers, the villain is a “bad guy.” There may be redeeming qualities to the villain, but he (or she!) is definitely someone who needs to be in prison … or dead.

When you think about the villain as the hero of his own journey, you realize that there are logical reasons for every action the villain takes. Logical for the villain. This is why authors (or actors) need to spend some time in their villain’s head. Think of the villain as you would the hero, ask the same questions.

What does the villain want? (Goal)

Why does he want it? (Motivation)

Why can’t he have it? (Conflict)

This is only the start. To me, these questions are simplistic, and a good villain is anything but simplistic.

Villains are not pure evil, though they can be. Most villains, however, have some humanity. Mariah Stewart, in DEAD WRONG, had a very compelling villain. He committed evil acts, but he loved dogs. Dogs reminded him of the one bright spot in his childhood. So while some writers will use the statistically accurate “serial killers kill animals in their youth,” others find a believable twist that shows the humanity within even the most horrific bad guys.

The villain makes—or breaks—your story.

I spend a lot of time developing my villains. I really don’t know my villain until I get into their head. Sometimes, that’s hard to do. Sometimes, it’s so easy it’s scary.

For example, in LOVE ME TO DEATH, which launched my Lucy Kincaid series in January, one of my villains is certainly not pure evil: he kills bad guys. He’s a vigilante. Exploring the fine line between vengeance and justice was thought-provoking, because many of the things my killer said I agree with. We know that pedophiles have the highest recidivism rate. We know that child predators molest dozens—if not hundreds—of kids before they’re caught. I could see myself in the vigilante’s shoes because there are some crimes so horrible that most of us want the predator to pay with his blood. But ultimately, where do we draw the line? Would rampant vigilantism bring about anarchy? If we can’t depend on the justice system, however flawed, can we depend on mavericks taking the law into their own hands? Exploring this gray area was fascinating, and I’m tackling other gray areas in future Lucy Kincaid books.

The other villain in LOVE ME TO DEATH was much harder to understand. He was a misogynist. I came up with him after someone in passing told me that her husband “wouldn’t let her” do something. It wasn’t in jest, either. I took that to the extreme—someone who had to have complete and total control over his wife, to the point that she couldn’t read a book without his approval. What would happen if she successfully left him? His hatred would fester and grow, and he’d do to other women what he couldn’t do to her: punish.

He was a more difficult villain to write, and I ended up using first person for his scenes. They were far more compelling—and scary—but I didn’t really have a choice. When I wrote him in third person, he was removed from the reader, and his motivation seemed stereotypical. When I literally got into his head so he was talking to the reader, he became far more complex—and frightening.

My supernatural thriller series, the Seven Deadly Sins, was another challenge in developing the villain. Fiona, my heroine’s mother, is just plain bad. She successfully released the Seven Deadly Sins from Hell as incarnate demons with an evil agenda: when they touch a human, they “infect” them, stripping the person of their conscious so that they act on their greatest weakness … to deadly results.

But a “just plain bad” villain is boring. A caricature, like Disney villains. But taking a page from Disney, I considered what made those villains so good … and realized that they, too, had motivation. Perhaps simplistic, but still a reason for their crimes. Snow White’s step-mother was vain and jealous to such a degree that she would kill to be the most beautiful in the land. Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty was not invited to the Christening of the Princess and, feeling like she was dissed, cursed the infant in what is essentially a revenge plot. Scar in The Lion King is jealous that his brother has the brains, the looks, the skills, the pretty wife—so he kills him and takes the throne. (Sounds a lot like Shakespeare and half the stories in Greek and Roman mythology!)

The key point is that they all have a reason for their crime. Something that comes from deep inside, that goes above and beyond simple greed or vanity, but is almost primal.

So when I was developing Fiona, I had to figure out why she wanted to release the Seven Deadly Sins from Hell. It couldn’t just be to watch chaos, though she might enjoy that. There had to be a more powerful reason. It came down to her fear of death. On the surface, it was her need to have eternal youth—she believed that when the Seven Deadly Sins were under her control that they would lead her to the Tree of Life, which would give her eternal life and youth. But it wasn’t that she was simply vain and wanted youthful beauty (though both were true), but that every day she hadn’t found the Tree was a day closer to her death.

One of my favorite authors is Dr. Keith Ablow, a forensic psychiatrist, whose hero, Dr. Frank Clevenger, is also a forensic psychiatrist. Ablow gives him an authenticity that is rare and deep. These aren’t books for the faint of heart, and Clevenger is not a heroic hero—he is a semi-recovering drug addict who has screwed up many times, and screws up in the course of the six-book series. But he is so compelling and at his core he is a hero. PSYCHOPATH is a game of cat and mouse.

Johan Wrens is the Highway Killer. He slits the throats of random people all over the country. His body count is in the dozens. Wrens is also a brilliant psychiatrist who helps disturbed children. He has relationships with women, is attractive and cultured. He’s a bit reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris’s “arch-villain”—but in many ways, far more layered. I could quote extensively from the book (it’s really that good—the writing itself is sharp, and the story dark and compelling) but I want to share a passage from the killer’s POV since we’re talking about villains:

Nearly two months had passed, but Jonah could still see Scott Carmady’s jaw drop open, utter disbelief filling his eyes. For how can a weary traveler, feeling lucky to get help with a broken-down Chevy at the side of a desolate stretch of Kentucky highway, believe the raw pain of his cut throat or the warm blood soaking his shirt? How can he make sense of the fact that his life, with all the momentum of a twenty-something’s hopes and dreams, is screeching to a halt? How can he fathom the fact that the well–dressed man who has mortally wounded him is the same man who has spent the time not only to jump-start his car battery, but to wait fifteen minutes with him to be certain it will not die again?

And what minutes! Carmady had revealed things he had spoken of to no one—the helplessness sparked in him by his sadistic boss, the rage he felt clinging to his cheating wife. Opening up made him feel better than he had in a long, long time. Unburdened.

Jonah remembered how a plea had taken the place of the disbelief he had seen in the dying man’s eyes. It was not a plea for the answer to some grand, existential why?. Not some cliché last scene from a movie. No. The plea was purely for help. So that when Carmady reached for Jonah it was neither to attack him, nor to defend himself, but simply to keep from collapsing.

Jonah had not stepped away from his victim, but closer. He embraced him. And as Carmady’s life drained out of him, Jonah felt the rage drain out of his own body, a magnificent calm taking its place, a feeling of oneness with himself and the universe. And he whispered his own plea in the man’s ear: “Please forgive me.”

Jonah’s eyes filled with tears. The road undulated before him. If only Carmady had been willing to reveal more, to peel back the last layers of his emotional defenses, to give Jonah the reasons why he could be victimized by his boss and his wife, what trauma had weakened him, then he might still be alive. But Carmady had refused to talk about his childhood, refused utterly, like a man keeping a locker full of meats all to himself—keeping them from Jonah, who was starving.

Starving, like now.

His strategy was backfiring. He had truly believed that summoning memories of his last kill would keep the monster inside him at bay, but the opposite was true. The monster had tricked him. The memory of the calm he had felt holding death in his arms and another man’s life story in his heart made him crave that calm with every cell of his white-hot brain.

He glimpsed a sign for a rest area, half a mile away. He straightened up, telling himself he could go there, swallow another milligram or two of Haldol, and put himself to sleep. Like a vampire, he almost always fed by night: first light was just three hours away. He veered off Route 90, into the rest area. One other car was parked there—an older-model, metallic blue Saab, with its interior light on. . . .

. . . Bolts of pain exploded into Jonah’s eyes. He looked away, staring at the highway for most of a minute. Hoping another car would slow to enter the rest area. None did.

Why did it always seem so easy? Almost prearranged. Even preordained. He never stalked his victims; he came upon them. Was the universe organizing to feed him the life force of others? Did the people who crossed his path come in search of him? Did they consciously need to die as much as he needed to kill? Did God want them in heaven? Was he some kind of angel? An angel of death? His saliva started to run thicker in his mouth. The throbbing in his head surged beyond anything like a headache, beyond any migraine. He felt as though a dozen drill bits inside his skull were powering their way out, through his forehead, his temples, his ears, down through the roof of his mouth, his lips. . . .

. . . Deep down Jonah wanted to live. He still believed he could make amends in this life. Beneath all his self-loathing, at the core of his being, he still loved himself in the unconditional way he prayed the Lord did.

Powerful, wouldn’t you agree? The reader knows exactly why Jonah needs to kill, what he gets from it, his conflict. The only thing we don’t know (and won’t until near the end of the book) is the impetus: what events in Jonah’s life led him down the path of murder and self-loathing and unconditional love?

Who are some of the most compelling villains you’ve read lately? Seen on television? In the movies? Share with us and one random commenter will win the first two books in my Lucy Kincaid series, and another random commenter will win the first two books in my Seven Deadly Sins supernatural thriller series.

Guest Blog: Leslie Dicken and Seducing the Dark Hero

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Hello everyone! Today I’d like to welcome author Leslie Dicken to blog about the dark side. That’s right. She’s here to talk about one thing I love…writing the dark stuff. Leslie is also giving away a copy of her novella Taboo later today.

Leslie Dicken currently has three novels, one novella, and one short story in publication. Another novel has sold and is awaiting a release date. Her first Harlequin Spice Brief will be available in April, 2012. Her stories have finalled in the Golden Heart, received four stars from RT Reviews and have won a Reviewer’s Choice Award. Her work ranges from aliens to gothic to steampunk to Victorian, but all are sexy and emotionally satisfying. Visit her at www.lesliedicken.com and follow her at Twitter.

Take it away Leslie!

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Seducing history one dark hero at a time….

That’s my tagline. I write dark heroes. I didn’t set out to do it. It wasn’t planned. I suppose it all started when I read Wuthering Heights in high school.  While most kids got the Cliff Notes or skimmed through the book, I was fascinated.  The bleak weather, isolated houses, and thwarted love all captured my soul. Heathcliff had my heart, despite his later evilness.

This website says how I feel best: (http://thefiendish.com/2009/04/gothic-hero-the-darker-reflection-of-self/)

“the Gothic Hero remained a hero, in spite of all the dark and sullen qualities he possessed. Animal sexuality, predatory instincts, seclusion, madness, tormented soul, burning id desires and the failure to comply with authority; these were the hallmarks of a Gothic Hero and the cause for his downfall.”

Thus, my love for the Gothic and dark heroes was born! I have since moved on to yearning for The Phantom in The Phantom of The Opera (I could do a whole post just on sexy Gerry Butler as The Phantom).

Each of my stories has a dark hero, a man with a tortured past.  Some of them try to forget it, some of them are unable to get past it.  Some think they aren’t worthy of a woman, some believe the right woman can set them free.

I wrote my darkest hero in my Gothic BEAUTY TEMPTS THE BEAST.  The hero lives with fragmented memories of a night long ago when his face was scarred. He believes he killed a woman. And so he keeps himself locked in his crumbling manor, lest that violence comes out again.

In, TABOO, my release today, the hero does not have such a dark past, but he is willing to break all rules to break free of society’s limits.  He’ll not comply with authority if it means suppressing his freedom.

I’m not a dark person in real life, I swear.  In fact, people often think I’m funny and are shocked that my books aren’t light and humorous. Nope, I want to write about the  man with the tormented soul, the animal sexuality, and the madness.  Then I want to write the woman who can save him.

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Authors Unplugged Back May 19

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Hey all. It’s been a long process, but after a few fumbles and bumbles Authors Unplugged will be back May 19 at BlogTalkRadio.com.  Selena Robins and I will be talking about the Judy Mays erotic romance controversy that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

We were going to work with ZTalkradio.com but have decided that wouldn’t work for us. Don’t get me wrong, they are great people over there. We just had too much technical stuff going on and sometimes when the universe is telling you not to go that direction you just don’t. Anyway, it’s all good. I’m still over there in the chat room at ZTalk many a Friday night listening to the great paranormal show Paradigm Shift.

Anyhoooo…in the coming months Selena and I will continue to be at Authors Unplugged at least once a month.

So stop by at 6pm EST (3pm Pacific) at BlogTalkRadio.com and look up Author’s Unplugged this Thursday. Hope you get a chance to listen in. If you don’t never fear. Our shows go up at iTunes not long after the show…I think in most cases it’s been a couple of days.

Three Commandments of Writing

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

I wrote this blog a long time ago but I’m just now posting. Hope it’s helpful to any writers out there who are stuck, having a block, or wondering why they’re writing at all.

Remember, these commandments are what I consider important. They aren’t the be all and the end all. Your mileage may vary.

1. Forget perfection.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do an excellent job on your book, short story, or poem. At some point your attention to perfection has to stop in order for you to create with any enjoyment, integrity and sincerity. Anxiety and worry cripple a writer’s ability to create. Dump worrying about “getting it right.” Just write. Finish your project. Then go back and revise. This isn’t only a pantser thing…it’s an “any writer who wants to finish the book thing.” Once you’ve revised you can send it to critique partners, and you can revise again. But remember, it is possible to revise too much and to listen to suggestions to the point that the story is no longer your story. The only way to fail is to never finish a story because you’re worried about perfection.

2. Make creating a priority.

It’s very easy to become caught up in the following beliefs:

Dishes must always be done before writing.

Housecleaning must be done before writing.

Watching television must be done before writing.

Answering the phone must be done before writing.

Answering texts must be done before writing.

Tweeting or Facebook posts, or both, are more important than writing.

Listening to anyone who calls us on the phone must be done before writing.

Emailing and answering emails is more important than writing.

Bollocks as a good friend of mine would say. Writing will never be accomplished if all of those things are more important to you than the writing itself.

And last but not least, the one I believe is the most important:

3. People opinions of your writing shouldn’t be more important than writing itself.

Contrary to almost every rulebook about writing and most workshops you will ever attend about writing…the writing is more important than the feedback you get about the writing. Why? If you write because it burns inside you and wants to get out, it is a part of your truth and your intrinsic self-worth to create. Money is great and you should get paid if you’re published. At the same time, if the money aspect of publication is causing you to compromise what pleases you the most, it’s time to take a step back and decide what you want. Look deep.

That’s right, what you want matters. For me writing what I want and when I want is the most important thing. That isn’t the way most people approach publication, but it’s the way I’ve discovered I must do things in order find happiness and fulfillment. Writing to trend, deciding to write something because the market might call for it (even if I have zero interest in writing that particular type of story), is not only a creativity killer to me, but it feels wrong. It’s a betrayal of who I am. And an unfulfilled Denise isn’t creative and doesn’t do her best work. Moral of the story…decide what you need to feel fulfillment and forget what everyone else tells you is right. Go with your gut.

These three commandments might not work for everyone. Bottom line: if you’re writing in any way to please someone else but you’re unhappy…well, maybe it’s time to assess why you’re doing this writing thing at all.

Guest Blog: Jinger Jackson

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Today I’m welcoming another guest blogger, Jinger Jackson. She’s been here with me before. Today she talks about the appeal of the dark side in writing. Take it away Jinger!

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Good morning everyone! Gee, it’s exciting to be here with Denise, I’m thrilled to the gills she invited me to come along, thanks so much Denise!

Hello, I’m Jinger Jackson (a.k.a. JJ) and I write erotica and erotic horror. I’m a HUGE fan of horror. When I was younger I devoured Stephen King novels and it was my dream to one day be the horror queen. Then, Ann Rice came along and she pretty much owns that title…but that didn’t stop me from dreaming.

Erotic horror is a niche that I totally LOVE filling! I have never been one of those lovey-dovey people. I want to be scared stiff. Horror flicks used to flip my switch but they also aggravated me—heroine’s who ran around half dressed? Please. The movies had so many TSTL characters that I would find myself dying to tell the killer just where to find the TSTLs. I decided that rather than gripe about it, I’d give it a shot myself. After all, anyone can criticize, but if you don’t have the talent or the drive to do it better, keep your mouth shut, am I right?

My horror is inspired by historical events. What this means that I take historical characters or events and I jazz them up. Like, I’ve always had this odd obsession with Vlad the Impaler. I took that obsession and turned it into an erotic horror romance, Beyond Death.

In the case of my most recent release, Morgan Creek (Carnal Passions May 2011) I was inspired by the insanity of a man named Ilya Ivanov. Mr. Ivanov lived in Russia during the early 1900s and died just after World War 2.

Mr., actually I should say Dr., Ivanov was the forefather of Artificial Insemination. He is the one who began the research and whose footsteps were followed during the early years of AI. He is also credited with created some amazing cross breeds—a zeedonk (zebra-donkey hybrid) as well as certain cattle and vermin cross breeds.

But, like so many scientists, Ivanov was an atheist which some led to believe he decided to try for an even more bizarre hybrid. A hybrid that some historians claim Stalin commissioned and support—an ape-human hybrid. According to some historians, Stalin wanted this hybrid to come about so that he would have an army of hearty, strong and fearless soldiers to help him dominate the world. Now, this is all conjecture. What IS known is that Ivanov WAS supported financially to head to New Guinea where he attempted to create a hybrid using first female monkeys and male sperm artificially implanted of course. Then he harvested male ape sperm and used aboriginal “volunteers”. Of course every attempt failed and Ivanov ended up dying in prison.

So what has that got to do with an erotic horror romance? Well EVERYTHING! In poor old Ivanov’s day there weren’t the technical advances that the scientists now have to play with! It made my brain spin with possibilities.

I was down in the country hiking in the woods enjoying the peace, and the solitude when suddenly there was this God-awful noise. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end, and chills worked their way up and down my spine.

Standing there alone, in the middle of nowhere, a place that I consider safer than my own bedroom, I was suddenly greatly unnerved. I felt eyes on me. The soothing forest sounds no longer sounded comforting but they were discordant and frightening.

Again the noise came—it was louder and closer.

My heart leapt into my throat, cold sweat broke out along my hair line. An acorn fell nearby. Suddenly all those stories I’d heard about Wildman of the Ozarks, Bigfoot, Boggy Creek Monster…they all filled my head.

Logically my brain deciphered the sound as I heard it a third time. Logically I knew that there was nothing out there that would harm me. Logically I identified the sounds as a rutting buck and a willing doe calling to each other. Logically I knew I was being foolish.

Logically…

But logic and fear do not always see eye to eye.

As I finally convinced myself to stop being ridiculous and get home, a story began to meld in my mind. What if a scientist a la Ivanov decided to try and play God? Let’s say this scientist, for his own mental instability, maniacal ego, or whatever reason, decided to revisit Ivanov’s experiments with the technological advances we have today. What if he tried and succeeded in creating the prototype of a super soldier made from the DNA of ape and human. Maybe tossing in a few other genetic traits from other donors to round out the concoction. And what if….By the time I made the 2.5 mile hike back to the house I had the idea firmly gelled and ready to unmold.

I spent the next several hours bent over the keyboard typing up the first draft of this manuscript. I’m tickled pink with the end result and I hope y’all enjoy it too!

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…

In peaceful Morgan Creek Arkansas four people have been brutally murdered and it’s up to Sheriff Alvarro Schmidt to find the killer that can’t possibly be real. Agent Sage Lee works for the DOSR, Department of Scientific Research and she’s been dispatched to recapture a secret weapon that isn’t supposed to exist. Sage and Al work against the clock to find this particular science experiment gone wrong before anyone else dies—but how do you track something that was created for its agility, stealth, intelligence and strength?

*Jinger Jackson can be found on the web at http://jingerjackson.wordpress.com http://twitter.com/JingerJackson https://www.facebook.com/jinger.jackson