A Week of Questions

On Monday night, I participated in a panel discussion at the Dayton Metro Library on romance novels and writing, along with Athena Grayson, Stacy McKitrick, Catherine Castle, and C.D. Hersh. There wasn’t a huge crowd, but the ones who did come asked some very good questions, and it was a lot of fun! Some examples of their questions, with my answers:

Q. Why and when did you start writing?

A. I’ve always loved to read, and decided to write when I read a really lousy romantic suspense, and figured I could do better. But I’ve always wanted to write. I used to tell myself stories to go to sleep at night (maybe that’s why I don’t sleep well to this day), and started actually writing in high school, and took a creative writing minor in college. It just never occurred to me to actually write for publication until I read that bad romantic suspense novel back almost 20 years ago.

Q. Where does “write what you know” come into fiction writing?

A. Most of it boils down to universal, human emotions and experiences, that don’t matter whether you’re in Dayton, Ohio today, or in the past somewhere else, or in a fantasy world, or in outer space. Some of it is “write what you want to know” and research it. But it’s not a matter of limiting oneself to writing about one’s own, actual experiences and knowledge, because for most of us, that would make for some pretty boring fiction! They also asked us to each read a passage from one of our books where we illustrate this, which was fun to hear and do.

Q. My daughter writes, and has written two complete novels, but struggles with revision because she hates it. Any advice?

A. (Athena and I answered this one in stereo, LOL) “Then don’t!” We directed her to Dean Wesley Smith’s website. Smith encourages writers to trust their own voice and only revise if required to by an editor, a la Heinlein’s Rules. Instead, just pass a work on to a trusted reader, and address any problems they find, then go to a copy editor and proofreader if one is self-publishing. This writer’s mom was really happy to hear that revision is not necessarily a must for all writers.

One more question: why does my dog always stuff her toys under the furniture (aka the ball graveyard)?

One more question: why does my dog always stuff her toys under the furniture (aka the ball graveyard)?

Of course, the panel was time to coincide with the week of Valentine’s Day, which brought up its own questions from my husband a couple days earlier:

DH: So, what do you want for Valentine’s Day?

Me: Uh… same thing you got me last year?

DH: Good, because that’s what I want too!

Then we both had a good laugh, because we don’t get each other anything!

Which was just as well, because I spent Valentine’s Day–at least a couple hours of it–with my writing friends. It was writers’ group day, and we had a “write-in.” Or more accurately, a couple hours of socializing alternating with some actual writing. Always great fun!

Ghostly LiaisonWhat I read this week: Ghostly Liaison, by Stacy McKitrick. This was a really fun and different contemporary romance/romantic suspense, featuring a matchmaking ghost. The ghost just wants the heroine’s help gaining justice for her own death so she can move on, but in doing, ends up helping the heroine do some moving on of her own. While it’s a light read, it still deals with some emotional issues such as moving on after personal loss and accepting love. While it does have a paranormal element, it’s not heavy-handed, and this book is something I think readers who don’t normally read paranormal would still enjoy. Highly recommended!

Huntress1I also mentioned last week that I designed a cover for another writing friend. Well, as it turns out, Huntress of the Star Empire Episode One, by Athena Grayson, will release this week! It’s a science fiction romance, about a female bounty hunter who’s after a psychic–which is illegal in their star system. Athena saw that this story lent itself well to the serial format, and has good break points throughout, so she is releasing this as a serial, with one episode coming out each week for the next twelve weeks. I’m about halfway through the first episode (I got a preview copy, :D), so will blog about it next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’m still making progress on my revision, though not as quickly as I’d like. I realized one reason this book has been challenging is because it takes place in two historical time periods, not contemporary and one historical time, as my other books have. So there’s more research. And I tend to leave blanks and leave these details to fill in at the revision stage. This helps me do only the research I need, but still takes time on the back end. So with the panel on Monday night, and a lot of paperwork to do on Tuesday, that cut my week short, and I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped. This week I need to collect all the tax info for our accountant, but I don’t have anything else going on (that I know of), so I’m going to shoot for getting two chapters revised.

What about you–do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do? If you’re a writer, what would your answers be to the questions our library guests asked? And whether or not you’re a writer, how are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Coming Soon: Another Way to Warm Up!

Love's a Beach coverThe weather here in Ohio has been crazy the past couple of weeks! Around zero a week ago, up in the fifties yesterday morning, and almost that today, only to drop back to a more typical twenty-something later this week. Luckily, the folks at Mythical Press have been busy getting something ready that should warm up even the coolest soul, if only figuratively: Love’s a Beach, an anthology of stories of summer love by members of the Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America.

Yes, the anthology is finally going to happen, and yes, there’s something in it for everyone who likes a little romance, including those who’ve been waiting for something new from the Saturn Society! This is the long-time-coming first installment of Time’s Tempest, my serialized novel that takes place in a parallel timeframe to my WIP Saturn Society Book Three.  In my story “The Storm,” a headstrong handyman on his first trip to the past winds up in the storm of the century, on the run from a madman from the future, with a woman he doesn’t remember meeting—or falling in love with.

I’m doing the formatting for Mythical Press on this one, and that means I’m getting a sneak preview of the other stories in the book, too. And wow! Are they fantastic! There are a couple of humor-laced romantic suspense tales, some sweet contemporary stories, office romances, and a historic story (which interestingly enough, takes place in the early twentieth century – the same time period as “Time’s Tempest: The Storm”). There are also a couple of lovely poems by Ann Gregory. The release is slated for the first of February, and I’m especially excited to see this anthology finally come out after seeing what else is in it! Here’s the official blurb:

Warm up your winter with this anthology of stories of springtime and summer love by members of the Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America. From heartwarming to mysterious, comical to suspenseful, these romantic tales show that there really is someone for everyone. Whether it happens today or a hundred years ago, from the Atlantic shore to the American West coast, there’s something magical about the finding love when the warm breezes blow.

More info on the publisher’s site.

ROW80Logo175Doing the work on that has kept me busy this week, but getting the formatting ready for Smashwords was one of my goals, and I met that. I also got my fitness in. I did not get as much new writing done as I’d hoped, adding only 1500 new words, rather than the 2,500 I wanted. So here’s the plan for this week:

  • Format anthology as ePub
  • 2500 words on TT or SS#3
  • Fitness 3-4x

What about you–what’s the weather like where you are, and have you had enough of it? What do you think of releasing a “beach reads” anthology in the winter? And whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, what have you been up to this week, and how did you do? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

WANA Wednesday: Romance is in the air! And so is ROW80

We have new releases this week, and romance is in the air! But first, a quick note of something fun for those in the Dayton area: I’m going to be appearing at the Wilmington-Stroop branch of the Dayton Metro Library this Saturday, Feb. 16th, at 10:00 AM to talk about writing romance with readers and fellow authors Macy Beckett/Melissa Landers, Lorie Langdon, Jess Granger/Kristin Bailey, and Stacy McKitrick. There will be coffee and chocolate! If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you there! Just call the library at 937-496-8966 to reserve your spot.

LibraryRomance


Perfect Girls

We also have some new releases to celebrate, starting with YA romance from Denise Gwen! Perfect Girls is the story of Mindy Chapman, who exchanges life as a Southern belle to one fraught life with terror and pain at Bloomington High School North. It’s a strange new world, filled with unflappably-chic girls.  How will she ever fit in?  When Keith Nelson falls in love with her, though, she trades one set of problems for another.

For Mona Bloodworth, it’s another year of torture as she alternately pines for Esau Stein and for Keith Nelson, two gorgeous boys who don’t appear to have ever noticed her.  And for Tiffany Delacourt, it’s a brave new world of fears and worries as she embarks upon her fledgling ballet career.  She wonders if she’s not made a terrible mistake, leaving her high-school life—and Keith Nelson—behind.

And for Gustave Moeller, good old, familiar, goofy geek Gustave, it’s yet another year of being picked on and laughed at by everyone in the school. Something’s got to change. More info and buy links at Sweet Cravings Publishing.


assassinPrudence MacLeod has a new release too, in her Novan Witch sci-fi series. In Assassin of Nova, the most deadly assassin in the galaxy has been enhanced with cybernetic implants; now he’s gone rogue. What could have set him off? Better yet, who will pay the price? What will happen when he encounters Nova Crew? Will he survive? Will they? This is Book Two of the series, one I already have on my TBR list! More info on book is on Prudence’s website; as well as more info on the overall series.


How I Met My HusbandAnd here’s a book that isn’t new, but is perfectly suited for the season. Denise is a contributor, and so am I! Edited by Michele Stegman, How I Met My Husband is a collection of 25 real-life stories of how romance authors met their one and only. Some were surprised, and some knew right away he was “the one.” Some are funny, others poignant, and some are just cute and sweet. In my story “Looking for Mr. Goodwrench,” a Pontiac Sunbird GT with an oil leak changed my life when I was a young graphic designer who didn’t have the money to take my car to a shop. Following each story is a brief excerpt of one of the author’s current releases. More info is on my books pageHow I Met My Husband is Free at Amazon | BarnesandNoble.com | Smashwords.com and other ebook retailers.


Hangar 18: LegacyI haven’t officially mentioned my own latest release, other than in a Sunday ROW80 update, so here it is! Hangar 18: Legacy is a science fiction romance about  U.S. Air Force research psychologist Adam Keller, who is an empath, accustomed to sensing the thoughts and emotions of others. Because of his gift, he keeps people at a distance. When a disembodied presence full of anger and fear invades his mind and demands rescue, dark thoughts of death threaten to overwhelm Adam. Then he meets a woman whose attraction to him quiets the voice. All he has to do to keep his sanity is risk his heart and experience the emotions he’s long denied himself.

Lisa Stark wants nothing more than to finish the subliminal messaging software she’s worked on for over a year. When someone wants it badly enough to kill for it, Adam senses Lisa’s in danger and comes to her rescue. Lisa fights her feelings for the sexy officer with an uncanny ability to guess what she’s thinking, but their attraction to each other grows, and not only because Lisa’s the only one who can warm Adam’s chilled body and soul. When he discovers the source of his mental invasion is an extraterrestrial thought dead for decades, Adam realizes that Lisa’s software is the key to releasing the being – if he can gain her trust and keep her alive long enough to finish it. Hangar 18: Legacy is currently available at Amazon in Kindle format and paperback. Review copies are available in other e-formats; contact me if you’d like one!


ROW80Logo175Quick ROW80 update: I have been reading Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy, on recommendation by Kristen Lamb. It’s full of ways to figure out what’s the best use of one’s time, and to spend the most time where it will have the biggest results in relation to our big goals.  I’m working on focusing on one task at a time, and so far, it’s helped: I’ve spend an hour brainstorming my next book, the lace for my daughter’s prom dress is dyed, and I’ve gotten two workouts in. So far, so good!


What about you – do you like to read romance? Even guys have enjoyed my book. 🙂 Are you doing anything special for Valentine’s Day tomorrow? I’d love to hear from you!

ROW80Logo175

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

The Booker Award!

A couple weeks ago, Jansen Schmidt tagged me in a fun and easy meme: the Booker Award.

Fun because it’s about books!

Easy because it’s about books… hmm, we have to pick favorites. And that’s not so easy.

But the “rules” are pretty simple: blog about your five favorite books, link back to the person who nominated you for the “award,” and choose three more people to blog about their favorite books, who will then link back to you.

I can’t pick five favorite books of all time. Jansen couldn’t either, so she blogged about five favorite authors instead. Even that’s hard for me, so I’m going to pick five favorite books I’ve read in the past year, not counting anyone I know. Another limit to make it easier to narrow down! So, in no particular order:

Save My Soul by Zoe Winters. This book showed me how much I love it when romance novels break the rules, and proves that any rule can be broken if it’s done well and for a purpose. One rule in romance is that the hero must never-never-never get busy with any female other than the heroine. Well, the guy in this book is an incubus, and if he doesn’t get it regularly, he’ll go crazy. And kill people, possibly the heroine. Which would break another romance rule – hero and heroine need to be together at the end of the book, which would be pretty tough if one of them’s dead. In Save My Soul, the heroine’s not ready to give it up to a demon, so she goes and finds him a bunch of hookers. Not only does it solve the immediate problem, it’s hilarious, and the prostitutes become endearing secondary characters who provide a good supply of comic relief throughout the book. Because romance is more about the emotions and relationship, Winters pulls this off fantastically. I have her next book and am looking so forward to reading it!

Kismet’s Kiss by Cate Rowan is another fantastic rule-breaking romance in that the hero is a sultan of an Arabian-nights-like kingdom in another world. As such, he already has six wives by the time the heroine comes along. This is another great example of rule-breaking done right, and Rowan pulls it off with aplomb, surprising me with how the heroine finally reconciled the sultan’s culture with her own, one-man-one-woman culture. The other thing that struck me about this book was the mix of fantasy and romance–the kind of book I was dying to read all through high school and college, but no one was publishing. I also loved Rowan’s second novel, The Source of Magic, and have her third on my to-be-read list.

Threshold by Sarah Douglass. This epic fantasy novel blew me away. It’s not marketed as a fantasy romance, but that’s exactly what it is. Except… for more of that rule-breaking stuff. First, the romance really doesn’t get started until halfway through the book (hmm, sound familiar, Time’s Enemy? :D) and before it does, the heroine’s had another boyfriend. But that isn’t the biggest rule broken. No, in this one, the hero is a noble, and the heroine a slave–common enough in some circles of romance, but in this case, he’s downright abusive, both magically and otherwise. Only later does the reader begin to understand why and how, and what drives him. This book has major, serious conflict, and it’s one where we wonder how the main characters will survive (due to external factors), and if they do, how in the world they’ll ever reconcile the tremendous differences between them. That alone made the book a major keeper for me.

Moving to a lighter side (because believe me, after Threshhold I needed it!) is Cattitude by Edie Ramer. This is one of the funniest books I’ve read in years! It’s about a cat who switches bodies with a woman–think Freaky Friday with claws. Seeing how Bella the cat deals with becoming human is a laugh a minute, especially when she starts feeling emotions brought on by her “inferior” human body. Beneath all the laughs is a really sweet subplot involving the lonely, psychic woman who’s now in a cat’s body–and how this gets her everything she wants in the end as well.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the book I waited years to read: Out of the Ashes by Lori Dillon, which I blogged about earlier this year.

Oh, and I’m supposed to “nominate” three people for the award. Jim Winter and Stacy McKitrick have both been blogging about various favorite things recently, but not favorite books. So bring ’em on, you two! And Michele Stegman has had some good bookish posts lately too, so consider yourself nominated as well! Of course, limit it however you like (or not), or if you don’t have the time/inclination to play, no worries!

How about you? What awesome books have you read lately? Have you read any of my recent favorites?

Guest Post: Michele Stegman on How Stories are like Gemstones

Michele Stegman

I love garnets, and I have several. Some are set in silver, but, to me, they look best in gold. Diamonds, on the other hand, look good in either white or yellow gold settings. Either way, the setting must be right to show the stone off to its best advantage.

It works the same way with the stories we write. Some stories are like diamonds and can be set just about any place or time because they are so universal. Other stories, like garnets, work best in a specific setting. Either way, the setting is going to affect the story and the characters.

Romeo and Juliet was originally set in “fair Verona,” but Bernstein made the same story work in 1950’s New York. He had drugs, gangs, and guns instead of feuding families and swords. The same story would probably work just as well in the American West with a family of cattle ranchers versus sheep ranchers. Then you would have horses and six-guns and lots of wide open spaces. But those different settings definitely affect the characters and the story.

Fortune's Foe by Michele StegmanOther stories need a very specific setting. The movie, Out of Africa, with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep would not work well in New Jersey. Not even if you change the title. Africa was too much a part of that movie and that story. Someone suggested Africa was the third character.

My story, Fortune’s Foe, had to be set in Spanish St. Augustine, Florida, in 1740. The setting, and the history, in that book are a very big part of the story. The fort, Castillo de San Marcos, Ft. Mose, the war between the English and the Spanish, the prisoners captured after James Oglethorpe’s failed siege, the runaway slaves who have found safe haven in the colony, are all part of the story. To take that setting away would collapse the story.

Mr. Right’s Baby is set in San Antonio, Texas. The hero is one quarter Comanche, works in the oil business, and lives on a ranch. I guess I could have let him live on a farm outside Cincinnati and work at P&G, but I don’t think the story would be nearly as effective–or as interesting. I think I found the perfect setting for that one.

I hope you find the perfect setting for all your stories. And when you read, pay attention to setting.

Tell me about your favorite book. How does setting affect the story and characters? Would the story work in any other setting?

Thank you, Jennette, for hosting me today.

Michele Stegman is the author of warm, sensual romances. You can find out more about her and her books at her website: www.michelestegman.com. You can find her books on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and in the iBook store.


Jennette says: Thanks for being here, Michele! I know that Time’s Enemy could not have been set anywhere besides Dayton.  Readers, what do you think? Michele and I would love to hear from you! And if you enjoy well-researched historical romance with engaging characters and chock-full of sexual tension, Fortune’s Foe is a don’t-miss! I’m going to be away from the computer for awhile, but please know that I appreciate every comment, retweet, and Facebook Share. I’ll be back to reply and visit your blog (if you have one) as soon as I can!

How to Load up at the Buffet without Gaining a Pound

Time's Enemy

On sale for $.99 through June 22, 2012

At the Booklovers’ Buffet, that’s how! (I didn’t say food, did I?) You can load up on books without taking a hit to the waistline–or your wallet. OK, maybe that’s cheating, but I’ve had a crazy-busy week what with two freelance web design jobs that both came in last week. Sometimes, there really isn’t enough time to get done what we’d like. Not to mention time to read! But I’ll be going on vacation soon, so you’d better believe I’ll be hitting the buffet. Because it’s over 150 books, each for only $.99! (Or priced based on current exchange rates, for those outside the U.S.)

Most of the books on the Buffet are full-length novels – one of which is my own Time’s Enemy. So if you’ve been thinking about grabbing a copy, now’s a great time, because I don’t foresee pricing it this low again.

The sale goes through the 22nd, and features fiction from a variety of genres, although most of the books feature at least some romance. Most of the books on the buffet are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, although a few are Amazon-only.

If you enjoy reading, do you take advantage of sales like this? Or is the plethora of free books enough for you? If you buy (or borrow) ebooks, where’s your favorite place to get them?

Gotta Read ‘Em: Historical Fiction and Science Fiction

I’ve read some excellent books lately, many that are worth sharing. Looking for something to read? Here are a couple of sure winners!

If you like historical fiction with a good bit of romance, then you should definitely check out The Governor’s Sons by Maria McKenzie.

The story starts in 1936 with Ash Kroth, a young law student in a nameless Southern state whose ultimate ambition is the governor’s mansion. He’s smart, white, comes from a well-connected and moneyed family, and is driven to succeed. The only thing he didn’t count on was falling in love with one of the family’s maids – who happened to be black. As the romance develops, so does Ash’s character, as he learns what’s really important, and what isn’t important at all. Then the story takes a somewhat unexpected turn… and picks up in 1964.

Ash is now a popular, segregationist governor with three teen children who all present their own challenges. His son Gavin is getting mixed up with the wrong people – racists willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends. To add to the volatile mix of human conflict, Harland Hall, a well-known, black civil rights leader, is coming to town. As this crucible heats up, we see the effects of lies past and present while the characters all try to cope with the fallout.

Although billed as historical romance on Amazon, I would consider this historical fiction or a coming of age story, because the romance is only the first half of the book. One thing I admired about the book was that the characters used historically-accurate dialogue, rather than terminology that would be politically correct today. Despite the offensiveness of these terms, this added realism to the book and enhanced the reader’s sense of being there. While gripping and emotional, the relationship doesn’t resolve in a way that romance readers typically expect. The book’s description is a clue to this, as the second half takes place almost 30 years after the first half. Thus, I wasn’t too surprised about the romance, and still found the story and its ending satisfying.

The Governor’s Sons is available as an ebook and in print from Amazon.

 


 

Moving in a completely different direction, “The First Key” by Prudence MacLeod is science fiction with a good dose of magic, in the tradition of Star Wars and that universe’s Jedi knights. It’s a short story of roughly 10,000 words, and includes a second, unrelated short as a bonus.

In “The First Key,” Branah is a young warrior mage apprentice who thinks he knows it all – until he’s sent off with a new master, the enigmatic Jen-jen. Recognized as one of his society’s most powerful mages with controversial methods and philosophies, Jen-jen disappeared many years before, and appeared at the former mage-leader’s death to whisk Branah away.

They wind up on a backward planet with a controlling, misogynistic culture, and when Jen-jen unwittingly breaks one of its highest laws, all hell breaks loose, and Branah must pick up the pieces while figuring out where he fits in as both a mage and a warrior.

Jen-jen and Branah are delightful characters, and even in a short story, it was fun to watch their master-pupil relationship develop as Branah discovers that not only doesn’t he know it all, he in fact knows very little. The world is a technologically-advanced one with space travel and also magic, much like the Jedi in Star Wars, and this story will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy that world. I’m glad to see this appears to be the first of a new series, because I’m looking forward to more!

“The First Key” is available on Amazon and Smashwords as an ebook.

Have you read any good books lately? Please share! I’m always up for a good read. 🙂

My Town Monday: Hangar 18, and Cover Sneak Peek

Before Area 51, there was Hangar 18.

Yes, there was a small airfield in the Groom Lake vicinity that was used during WWII as a test and training facility, but Area 51 as a super-secret research and development facility didn’t really exist until the 1950s.

The Roswell incident, in which according to legend, an alien spacecraft crashed, happened on July 8, 1947. (It was later pretty much accepted that what really crashed to earth was cold-war intel equipment or a weather balloon, but go with me here…) Also according to legend, U.S. military personnel recovered the wrecked spacecraft and several alien bodies from the site, which was closed to the public for a good while after the crash.

The National Museum of the USAF. Part of Area B is in the background.

The military shipped the bodies and wreckage were shipped to the then-Army Air Corps’ Foreign Technology Division, located at Wright Field, a few miles east of Dayton, Ohio, which would later become Area B of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Supposedly, the spacecraft was stored in Hangar 18. The bodies were placed into cryogenic storage, for later research.

Of course, few who work on base today admit to believing any of this. But it’s fun to think about, and a few years ago, The History Channel did a wonderful documentary on the legends and the conspiracy theories that abound. The show was pretty convincing, and the book they based much of their material on (Exempt from Disclosure by Robert M. Collins) was even more so.

Interestingly enough, (but not surprisingly) there is no Hangar 18 at WPAFB, nor has there ever been, at least that I could find. There is a Building 18 complex, which houses the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsions Directorate – folks who would be most interested in the alien spacecraft, had there been one.


I don’t really believe there were alien bodies and spacecraft bought to WPAFB, and chances are, what really crashed to earth near Roswell was indeed some kind of surveillance equipment – highly classified, so of course the military personnel would not have been able to confirm or deny its existence, or any details about it.

But the legends made me think: what if it was real? What if alien bodies were shipped back here? And what if they weren’t dead, but alive, in a suspended state? And what if one were to awaken, decades later? That’s the premise behind my upcoming science fiction romance, Hangar 18: Legacy. What’s even cooler is that, according to Exempt from Disclosure, the aliens  did indeed have significant psychic abilities, which was one of the key elements of my novel even before I’d researched it.

Want to know more? Check out Exempt from Disclosure, or watch this 20-minute video from the The Internet Archive. And for an entertaining take on the legends, give Hangar 18: Legacy a read when it comes out this summer. To be notified of its release, sign up for my newsletter, with the form on the right (visit www.jenpowell.com, if you’re reading this in a feed reader). Here’s the scoop:

U.S. Air Force research psychologist Adam Keller is an empath, accustomed to sensing the thoughts and emotions of others. Because of his gift, he keeps people at a distance. When a disembodied presence full of anger and fear invades his mind and demands rescue, dark thoughts of death threaten to overwhelm Adam. Then he meets a woman whose attraction to him quiets the voice. All he has to do to keep his sanity is risk his heart and experience the emotions he’s long denied himself.

Lisa Stark wants nothing more than to finish the subliminal messaging software she’s worked on for over a year. When someone wants it badly enough to kill for it, Adam senses Lisa’s in danger and comes to her rescue. Lisa fights her feelings for the sexy officer with an uncanny ability to guess what she’s thinking, but their attraction to each other grows, and not only because Lisa’s the only one who can warm Adam’s chilled body and soul. When he discovers the source of his mental invasion is an extraterrestrial thought dead for decades, Adam realizes that Lisa’s software is the key to releasing the being – if he can gain her trust and keep her alive long enough to finish it.


I’d love to hear from you! Do you think there might be some truth to the stories of alien beings and spacecraft recovered from Roswell? Do you think there might still be information that the U.S. government is hiding? Please comment, and let me know what you think!

The Book I Waited Years to Read

A couple weeks ago, a book was published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords that I’d waited for for years. No, not the latest installment in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. It wasn’t by a big name author – in fact, until a few months ago, I didn’t even know the author’s name!

Every winter, I judge in the Golden Heart®, the Romance Writers of America’s annual contest for unpublished romance. In this contest, the first three chapters and a synopsis are judged – up to 55 pages total. There’s no commenting – each entry gets a single, numeric score ranging from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest. Little direction is given beyond that we’re supposed to be choosing “the best in unpublished romance fiction,” and that each entry should be judged on its own merits, not against the others in our packet of 5 – 7 entries.

I’ve been a member of RWA since 2000, and probably have judged the Golden Heart for ten years. Based on the 1-9 scale, I’d consider a 5 to be “average” unpublished romance fiction, a 1 to be unreadable, and a 9 to be can’t-stop-thinking-about-it, want to read the rest NOW. The lowest score I’ve ever given was a 2.5. I’ve given several in the 8’s, but only one 9 in my ten years of judging. That entry was a paranormal romance called Ashes in the Wind.

The story was about a young noblewoman in the Roman empire who found herself inexplicably drawn to a gladiator slave and begged her father to spare the man’s life. For the next two chapters, she bargained her jewelry and other valuables for a few stolen moments with her gladiator here and there, unaware she and her love interest were under the care of a pair of guardian angels who’d been tasked with getting them together. But the bumbling angels didn’t count on one thing: Mount Vesuvius, and their charges die a horrible death in each other’s arms while trying to escape.

And that was where the entry ended. I was choked up (something that doesn’t happen to me easily!), and even though I had the synopsis and knew how the story ended, I thought about this book for days afterward. I judged it in 2005 or 2006, I think. I was astonished when it didn’t make the finals (what were the other judges thinking???). Some entrants put their names on their entries, but most don’t, and RWA doesn’t release names of judges or entrants, nor will they forward emails. I hoped this book would be published, and that I’d hear about it, because that was the only way I’d get to read the rest. Even years later, I remembered it, especially each year when I received my GH packet and wondered if I’d get anything that good.

After I decided to take the independent route with my books, I joined a Yahoo Group for indie romance authors. New people joined every day, and often answered the invitation to introduce themselves. A few months after I joined, an author named Lori Dillon joined and described her book, a reincarnation romance set in Pompeii. It was that book! I couldn’t believe it, and I emailed her. We have something else in common in that we’re both graphic artists-turned-web designers. She also read my book Time’s Enemy and gave it a wonderful review.

The book was released as Out of the Ashes earlier this month, and I bought it right away. It didn’t disappoint! You can read my review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. The book is also available on Smashwords. If you enjoy an emotionally-rich romance with a paranormal element that’s not the same-ol, same-ol, Out of the Ashes is a must-read!

Have you ever picked up a book that for whatever reason, you didn’t finish – only to find it again years later? Did it meet your expectations?

From Stagecoaches to Starships: Author Cynthia Woolf, with giveaway

Today I have a special treat on my blog! Cynthia Woolf writes western historical romance and science fiction romance – cool combo, huh? I recently read the first in her science fiction romance series, Centauri Dawn, and really enjoyed it! If you always wished there were more romance in Star Trek, then you really should check these books out. I know I’ll be reading the rest of the series, and I want to give her historicals a read too.

JMP: Cynthia, how long have you been writing? How many books did you write before publishing?

CW: I’ve been writing seriously to publish since 1990. I had finished 2 books when I decided to publish them on my own. The first one I published was actually the second one I finished.

JMP: Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.

CW: I published my books independently. I couldn’t find a traditional publisher who wanted my books, so indie publishing was the only way that my work would ever see the light of day. I’ve been very, very lucky in that my books are being well received. I’m always surprised that others like my work. 🙂

JMP: I know the feeling!  I love how indie publishing has opened up opportunities for sooo many wonderful books that didn’t fit the NY mold. Yet, some indie writers are still looking for that elusive contract. Now that you’ve tasted the control and flexibility that comes with indie publishing, are you still pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or perhaps an agent?

CW: I am not pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I’ve already made more than I would with an advance from a traditional publisher and my books will be out there forever, earning me money and making people happy.

JMP: That’s awesome! And inspiring for those of us still working to build readership. Especially the part about “earning money and making people happy.” I love it! Tell us about your current or upcoming release.

CW: My current release is TAME A WILD WIND. It is the second in my western romance series set in southwestern Colorado in the late 1800’s. It is the story of a widow with two children who meets a widower looking for resolution.

JMP: Sounds like a good read! Do you read or write series books? What do you love or not love about series?

CW: I do write my books in series and I like to read series. The reason for both is that I love to revisit old characters and see what they are doing now.

JMP: Me too. Tell us about a really fantastic novel you’ve read recently?

CW: I just finished While You Were Dead by CJ Snyder. Excellent romantic suspense novel. She keeps you on the edge during the whole book and I never saw the villain coming. Great book.

JMP: I downloaded that when it was free. I’m looking forward to reading it! Does your significant other read your books? What about your parents? Your kids?

CW: My husband does read my books but not until they are finished and he doesn’t want to know anything about them before hand. Not even the blurb. The first one he read, Centauri Dawn, he loved and he doesn’t read romance. It was very gratifying.

My extended family also reads my books, Some love them and some (the older relatives) think there is too much sex in them. LOL

JMP: LOL, I can relate to the latter! And now for the authors that are reading: what are some things you did to build your readership? What’s worked? What didn’t?

CW: I tweet like a mad woman, every 3 – 4 hours about my books. I’ll tweet about other things in between and I retweet for anyone who retweets me. I figure that’s the best thank you I can give someone is to tweet about their books. I also facebook. And I blog. I’ve found these to be the most effective for expanding my readership. The things that I’ve paid for tend to be the least effective. It may just be me, but so far I haven’t seen any increase in sales for the paid advertising that I’ve done.

JMP: That’s encouraging! Especially for us who are also working to build a blog readership as well. But most of all, I love reading about success! Thanks so much for being here, Cynthia!

You can find out more about Cynthia and her books at her website: www.cynthiawoolf.com.

Tame a Wild Wind is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance Ebooks.

So what about you? Do you like a little romance mixed in with your science fiction? Or a little science fiction mixed in with your romance? Or if you prefer something more real-world, do you like historical settings or contemporary?

Got a question for Cynthia? Anyone who comments will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of her latest release, Tame a Wild Wind. I’ll do the drawing between 6PM and midnight (EDT) on Friday using random.org, and either Cynthia or I will email the winner, so speak up to win!

 

UPDATE: The winner of Tame a Wild Wind is Coleen Patrick! Coleen, Cynthia will email you your prize! Thanks for all your comments, everyone!