Saturday, February 27, 2010

March is Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme is “Writing Women Back Into History.”

Perfect timing, as I just finished up my second historical novel about two little-known subjects. The first, Angels Sinners and Madmen, reveals the history of the wreckers in 1856 Key West, Florida, and follows the journey of Livvie Collins through her shipwreck and island experience. During a visit to Key West, I found the wreckers fascinating. I’d never heard of them before, and spent two days in the library researching them, visiting the few museums and gathering up as much information as I could. Freya’s Bower will release the novel this spring.

The second novel, Follow the Stars Home, focuses on the tragic history of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School from its founding year, 1879. Using news accounts and researching the Lakota people, I placed two fictional characters in actual events that occurred there. I submitted the manuscript this week to a publisher.

If you’d like to take up the challenge to write about a woman in history, begin by Googling Women’s History Month to find many fascinating links, such as the Guide to Worldwide Goddesses. Reading through these descriptions revs my imagination into high gear.

Likewise the list of inventions presented on the Female Ingenuity page. I’d never have guessed a woman invented a circular saw, or the programming language COBOL, or the elevated railway, or the rotary engine!

The National Women’s Hall of Fame is also a great place to find inspiring stories of incredible women, from actresses to athletes, inventors to judges. I found it hard to believe there are currently only 236 women on the list. But there’s a page to nominate more, so I may have to do that! I encourage you to do the same. And to take up the challenge to Write Women Back Into History too.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sometimes It's All in the Packaging

If you publish enough books you'll sooner or later have a cover designed for your book you detest. Perhaps it will not faithfully depict the characters or their world. It could even be something so simple as a color scheme you don't like. The font used for the title and your name might be of a style you fear won't call attention to the title. Perhaps the cover art appears too dark for a novel meant to be light-hearted or the other way around. My least favorite cover was for my third futuristic romance novel, A Ruthless Good. The hot, hot picture of an unclothed male could only lead possible readers to believe this was an erotic romance when it was not at all. It made it very difficult for me to market not matter how great the model's body was.

But then sometimes you get a cover so nearly perfect you want to paste to every email, snail mail and any spot some one might see it. A cover so fantastic you wish months of your life away so the book gets released right now instead of next year. I was very happy with the cover for my first book in The Futhark Chronicles, my epic fantasy series with Medallion Press. The Keepers of Sulbreth's cover won praise from many readers and I loved it. But a few days ago I received the cover art for the second book in the series, Beyond the Gate. This wonderful depiction of the fantasy world I've created and the sense of danger and tension in the scene selected sent me shouted around my office. Love isn't a strong enough word for this cover. I can't wait to see it on shelves next January.

Have you ever had a really perfect cover as an author or have you been stuck with a perfectly horrid one? As a reader is there a particular book you bought because of the cover art?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Celebrating Valentine's Day with a giveaway

by Cate Masters

Romance Junkies is throwing a mega Valentine's Day celebration! I'll be giving away a print copy of Picture This and the book thong shown in the photo below. Visit my contest page to learn how you can win!
The contest runs until March 31st.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't Want to Be Lonely Tomorrow

Saturday is a landmark day for my writing career. I'm having my first solo book signing at one of the 'big' chain stores. Barnes and Noble in Camp Hill, PA will host me for the signing of my first fantasy novel, The Keepers of Sulbreth. This epic tale of sword and sorcery is the first in The Futhark Chronicles. I'm hoping for a great turnout on Saturday so the store will ask me back for the next three books in the series and any following those.

I've supported fellow authors at signings in various venues but never one in this particular store. The store has been wonderful. They've had a poster near the front door for nearly three weeks and have the event on their website. I have my pens ready, my bottle of water and a pack of mints. I'm going to avoid the morning coffee so I don't have to run to the restroom and I doubt my nerves will let me eat.

I've spoken with enough authors to know book signings can range from beyond the dream to a complete bust. I'll be thrilled with something in between those two. If half the people show up who have promised to do so, I'll be a very happy writer on Saturday night.

If you're in the area, I'll be pacing around the signing table from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Saturday, February 13th. Follow the link for directions and more information.

Hope to see some of you tomorrow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welcome special guest author Toni V. Sweeney!

Cate: Please welcome Toni V. Sweeney to the Susquehanna Writers blog! Toni, will you please share a short bio with us?
Toni: Thanks, Cate. Let me say I’m glad to be with you today. Let’s see, what to say? I’m a Southerner, born in Georgia but I’ve lived in the South, the Midwest, and on the West Coast, so I’ve been in a variety of geographical locations as well as witnessed several of Nature’s most powerful forces—tornadoes, blizzards, forest fires, and earthquakes.

Cate: Tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Toni: My newest novel is Serpent’s Tooth, my own version of Faust. Technically, it’s a horror novel but I like to mix up the ol’ genres so it’s also a love story.

Cate: I love mashing genres! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Toni: The excerpt’s a bit long but it sets up the rest of the story nicely. Here’s the premise: Melissa Powers is on a Caribbean cruise when she notices another passenger is following her. Everywhere she goes, he’s nearby. That night, at dinner, they finally meet:
The waiter was bringing the dessert tray.
Melissa turned her attention to the desserts. Fresh raspberries with cream, cheesecake, strawberry tart. Which to choose? Which delectable confection to treat her sweet tooth?
“The Grand Marnier,” said a voice behind her.
She looked around.
There he was, not two feet away, drink and cigarette in hand, so close she could have reached out and touched the sleeve of the pearl-gray Western-cut dinner jacket, and she hadn‘t even heard his approach. Those cowboy boots could certainly move quietly!
“I beg your pardon?” It came out icy and aloof, totally insulted Southern womanhood, each word dripping with frost.
“The cheesecake,” he repeated, apparently not affected by her temperature-lowering manner. “It’s made with Grand Marnier. That‘s a cognac-based orange liqueur. It’s not as over-powering as the usual kind.”
“All right. I’ll take that.”
The waiter bowed and whisked the cart away.
Her stalker, however, was still standing there, and other than ignoring him completely--and Melissa was too well-mannered to do that--she was going to have to talk to him.
“Please, would you like to sit down?” She said it graciously, gesturing toward the other chair.
“As a matter of fact, I would.” He settled across from her, putting down his drink. His accent was definitely mid-Western. “By the way,” he held out his hand, “I’m Travis Brandt.”
“Melissa Powers.” She leaned forward and placed her own in it.
His hand was large but not awkward, fingers long and tanned. A working hand. She felt calluses on the palm. He pressed her fingers lightly, then released them.
Is he really a cowboy? Did that roughness come from holding reins, roping steers?
“This is going to sound silly, but-- Do I know you, Mr. Brandt? Have we met before?”
“Hey--that's supposed to be my line.” He shook his head in mock wonder. “My, how times have changed. No, Miss Powers, I don’t think we’ve ever met, until now. Although I wish we had.”
“You look very familiar,” she persisted.
“Oh, that—” He made a vague gesture with the hand holding the cigarette, then stubbed it out in the ashtray. “You’ve probably seen someone like me on TV. On some Late Night Movie. I‘m always being mistaken for one long-faded matinee idol or another.”
“Oh, sure!” She dismissed his statement with a humoring shake of her head, mentally admitting he certainly did have movie star looks, in a dark and mature way. “Next question, Mr. Brandt--why have you been following me?”
“I was pretty obvious, wasn’t I?” He ducked his head as if he were a little ashamed.
“I’m afraid you were.” She realized she was beginning to like him.
“Well, I was walking along the deck when I saw this pretty--no, this beautiful woman--and I decided I wanted to meet her, but I just couldn’t get up enough nerve to walk up to her and introduce myself.”
“You must not have wanted to meet me very badly. You didn’t stick around for the mixer.”
“I never was one for party games--or any other kind, for that matter.
Well, that's blunt enough!
“So you decided to follow me?” She couldn’t believe he was that shy. Of course, just because he was so good-looking didn’t mean he was a lady-killer.
“’Fraid so.”
The waiter brought her dessert, a beautiful wedge of cheesecake with three perfect sections of tangerine adorning the top, and Melissa began to eat, agreeing that his assessment had been correct. The cheesecake wasn’t as rich as she found most to be.
“It’s the Grand Marnier. Gives it a more mellow taste,” he explained, “but you have to watch it. It also has more calories.”
By now, he had lit another cigarette and raised it to his mouth, tilting his head back slightly. Melissa frowned. That gesture. It's so familiar.
He blew the smoke into the air.
As it swirled about his head, that disturbing sense of familiarity returned. I've seen him before. I'm certain. A younger face, hair much, much longer and less tamed. There was a memory of burning, haunted eyes, and fog whirling about him like white wings.
“Oh, my God!” She dropped her fork. It clattered against the dessert plate and bounced onto the tablecloth, the morsel of cheesecake dropping onto the floor. At a nearby table, a couple looked toward the sound. “You’re Hildebrand!”
The most famous actor of the 80’s, raising the horror movie to a fine art, before turning the most financially successful acting career in the history of Hollywood into an equally profitable one as a rock star, and then, in 1988... disappearing... Completely. Totally. Without a trace.
He looked uncomfortable. No, more than that-- My God, he‘s terrified!
It should have been ridiculous. She‘d never seen such an expression on a grown man‘s face before. His skin had lost its tan, becoming alarmingly pale.
“Yes.” His voice was low, as if he were admitting something shameful. “I was.”
For just a moment, his gaze shifted toward the floor.
She retrieved the fork, digging into the cheesecake again. Taking a bite, she chewed, swallowed, and forced herself to say carelessly, as if she met supposedly long-dead movie stars every day, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to scream and faint or anything.”
“Thank God for that, anyway.” He looked a little calmer, now. At least his color was back to normal.
“Although--” she went on, eating another piece of cake. “Since I was one of your biggest fans--if not the biggest--it‘s going to be difficult. My God, this is like running into Elvis in the supermarket or something!”
“Not so loud. Please.”
“But it is! I mean, Hildrebrand was declared dead in 1995 and now--“
“He is dead,” he interrupted. “He died on July 15, 1986.”
He said it with an odd determination, as if stating it so flatly would make it true and refute the fact that he was sitting across from her, very much alive.
What had happened on July 15, 1986? Melissa's memory supplied nothing.
“Unfortunately, it took him another two years and one month to accept the fact.”
“Well, I, for one, really missed him…you… I’ve seen every one of your movies.”
“All eight of them?” He sounded amused. “On television, you mean.”
“Of course not. Three of them have never been released to TV. I mean in person--at the theater, and I can name them all, and the year each was made.“
“Please don’t.” He’d never understood his fans, found their so-called adoration, idiotic and completely boring, and--paradoxically--a little frightening, and Melissa would have been dismayed if she could have heard Travis' thoughts. Please, God, don’t let Melissa be like that. Don’t let Hildebrand spoil her for me, too.

Cate: Intriguing! Love that cover too. What inspired you to write about the theme?
Toni: Surprisingly enough…a dream! I had a dream one night and remembered nothing about it except one name. Hildebrand. The next day, I was watching an old movie on TV and one of the characters was named Hildebrand. I have a rule that if some idea stays with me for three days, I’m supposed to write about it and with the coincidence of that name in two days, I decided that was some kind of sign that I was supposed to use that name in a story.

Cate: How do you develop your plots and characters?
Toni: Anything can trigger it. As I said, a name… or a place. A movie or a TV show whose ending I didn’t like. I might decide to write something similar with a different ending or take something a character suggested which wasn’t followed up in the story and expound on it. A quotation…lots of things. Once the story starts, the characters and plot just seem to develop from it. Sometimes they just grab the story and run away with it, dragging me along behind!

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Obviously, they haunt your dreams!
Toni: (laughs) I have quite a few characters whom I really like and I could take the novels already written about them and just keep adding to them. I have two characters I’ve watched travel from young adulthood to being grandparents and written 5 books about. I grew up with them and they and I matured together. If I wrote about them now, their characters would be different from what they were originally because they and I are now older. Needless to say, they are my two favorite characters.

Cate: What's next for you?
Toni: Well, I have two pseudonyms, so I doubt I’ll be idle whether it’s writing for myself or for them. Currently, I’m alternately writing novels for myself and Icy Snow Blackstone, who is my romantic author-alter-ego (try saying that fast!) Mine, of course, is a fantasy and Icy Snow’s is a futuristic novel (and also one I said I wouldn’t write), a sequel to Three Moon Station. So far, I have one-third of the books written, The plot came to me one night as I was trying to sleep and thinking, “What am I going to write about next?” And—BONG!!!—it hit me, Three Moon needs a sequel. A fan had already written and asked if there would be one and I had said “No.” Now, my brain was making me out to be a liar. I started on it the next morning. For myself, I just finished Blood Bay, which was a novel I started around 1993 and then lost after I had done one chapter. Recently, an acquaintance whom I hadn’t heard from since that same year, found it in his computer and sent it to me. I finished it, updating it from 17 years ago, and entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. It’s a departure from my usual writing in that it’s a suspense/romantic thriller set in the Golden Isles off Georgia’s coast.

Cate: Cool! Any other published works?
Author: How much time do we have? I’ve got published works and then some! (Laughs at her own wit.) Between Icy Snow, myself, and my other pseudonym, I have 17 books currently out there. My first efforts were in various genres until I “found my voice.” Now, I write sci-fi/fantasy adventures, Icy Snow writes romance of all types, and my other persona writes horror/vampire stories.

Cate: Seventeen - congrats! Describe your writing in three words.
Toni: You’re asking a writer to use just three words? Let’s see…intriguing…sexy…outside-the-box (Can that last one count as one word?)

Cate: Absolutely! What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Toni: Most challenging: getting the story told exactly the way I want it to be. Most rewarding: getting the story told exactly the way I want it to be.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Toni: A reviewer of my vampire novel Murder in Old Blood said it was the best of its type she had read since Interview with the Vampire. That really floored me because I didn’t expect such praise.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Toni: I like Nora Roberts, writing as JD Robb. I like the interaction she has between Eve Dallas and Eve’s Husband Rourke in the “in Death” series; Jim Butcher, his Harry Dresden is a character that grows through the stories, his life changing and not staying static from one story to the next; Bram Stoker, he did write novels other than Dracula; Tony Richards, whom I like to count as a friend. At the moment, I’m reading Christietown by Susan Kandel. She writes books about an author who write bios about mystery writers. This particular one centers around Agatha Christie, hence the name. The first book of hers that I read was I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Toni: My website is :
I’m also on Facebook and My Space and have trailers for most of my books on YouTube.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Toni: Yes—why aren’t you out there buying my books? Just kidding. If there are any questions your readers would like to ask, however, I’ll be glad to try to answer.

Cate: Thanks again for being our guest, Toni! Best of luck with Serpent's Tooth.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Smart People Read Romance

Hi Everyone: Romance writer and fellow Medallion author, TJ Bennett, has chosen Valentine's week to begin a series on Why Smart Men and Women Read Romance. Starting on February 7th and running for a week, different authors will discuss why they like to read romance. Yours Truly will be on the Blog on Friday, February 12th. It's an interesting series. Stop by and check it out at

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

K.M. Daughters on Capturing Karma

The Susquehanna Writers are pleased to welcome K.M. Daughters! K.M. Daughters is the writing team of sisters, Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare. Their penname is dedicated to their parents: Kay and Mickey Lynch. Pat is married to Nick Casiello and has three children, Jen, Emilie and Brian. Kathie is married to Tom Clare and has two sons, Tom and Michael. She has one granddaughter, Natalie, and a new grandbaby is expected in April. Visit K. M. Daughters at

Their latest release is Capturing Karma, available from The Wild Rose Press in paperback and ebook. Readers can also find Capturing Karma at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

KM Daughters will be giving away an autographed copy of Against Doctor's Orders, the first book in the award-winning Sullivan Boys Series to one randomly drawn commenter along their blog tour.

Here's the story blurb:
Veterinarian Matty Connors’ visions lead her to homicide detective Brian Sullivan once again despite her resolve to remain anonymous the past four years. Her official work with the police in California resulted in the brutal murder of her fiancĂ©, and since, a recurrent nightmare she barely survives. Brian, the reputed ladies man of the Sullivan family, has yet to give his heart to a woman until Matty lays claim to it. His black-and-white approach to solving crimes doesn’t jibe with Matty’s spooky pronouncements or her reputation for alleged infallibility. A wild goose chase searching for a murder weapon casts doubt on Matty’s “truths” and threatens their smoldering romance. Is Brian her nightmare slayer and ultimate truth? When the puzzle pieces fall in place for Brian, will it be too late to save Matty?

And here's an excerpt:
“Hi, Brian,” she responded, tamping down the temptation to hug him hello. “How’s the new baby doing?”
“Great, thanks. How’s that bump on your head?”
Matilda touched an edge of one of the butterfly strips over her eyebrow. “Turning every color of the rainbow, but it’s fine.”
He swiveled his head toward the throaty bark of the wolfhound in the corner of the room, then scanned the other occupants in the lounge: primate, feline, porcine, wolfish and human. “Steve told me you’re a great vet. Looks like you’re pretty swamped here.”
“Shamus and I split the patient load,” she said.
“And Shamus is?”
“My brother. He came for me at the hospital yesterday?”
Brian’s eyes bored into her, a sexy smile twitched the corner of his lips. “Good.”
“And ‘good’ means?”
“The big guy isn’t competition. That’s good.”
“Ah. So we’re clear. What competition would that be?”
The sexy smile twitched again. “For but a smile from sweet Matty,” he lilted in an Irish brogue.
Squelching an impulse to grin, she molded her face serious and parroted a brogue, “Ah but woe to the knave who plies smiles with an untrue heart.”
She grinned now. “What can I do for you, Brian? Did you get an estimate to repair your car?”
“It’s about that letter you brought me. It’s related to a case. We need your help.”
Of course. “I gave you the letter. You know as much as I do.” Her heart hammered, nothing to do with the pulse acceleration from earlier flirtation. I can’t go further with this case. No matter what, I have to stay anonymous.

Our First Reader
We anticipated the release of our first book in the summer of 2008. Imagine our excitement, joy, and yes, anxiety about the next step after publishing. Will we reach Readers? If they take a chance on unknown authors, will they enjoy our voice, be touched by our words and happily travel our story’s journey?
A few days after the magical release date, Pat’s husband, borrowed her car, license plate KM DAUTR, to drive to church services. After church a woman approached him and asked, “Are you K.M. Daughters?”
He explained that his wife and sister-in-law, Kathie, write under the penname. The lady further inquired how she might purchase our new book. Turns out, the lady, Rosemary Kaenel, is a fellow Wild Rose Press author (Last Rose of Summer, Rosette, “It’s Called Love”) and her interest struck us as heaven sent.
That book features Marian apparitions, and the rose is associated with visions of the mother of God, her favorite flower – a pivotal reason for our submission to The Wild ROSE Press after we completed the manuscript. A lady named “Rose” “Mary” wanted to buy this book? Pat couldn’t deliver it to her fast enough.
An instant connection occurred with Rosemary. She’s a lovely woman - interesting, interested, engaging, gracious and quietly, deeply religious. Pat produced the autographed book for her, our first sale, our first official Reader! When she had finished reading it she took the time to send an email to tell us stating that she loved the book, and why. Such a precious gift.
But, there’s more! A few months later, Pat received another email from Rosemary requesting Pat to call a local bookstore right away. Rosemary had just visited the store, and she influenced the owner to host a signing for K.M. Daughters! We made the arrangements and on a bitter cold January day (in Chicago environs, cold is bitter cold) we sold enough copies that the store invites us back with each new release!
Rosemary attended that first signing and gave us another gift: the chance to hug her for her lovely good deed. We found a Reader, or should we say, she found us - and we gained a dear friend.

Goddess Fish Promotions

Monday, February 1, 2010


Hi everyone: Just a short note to let you know that Thy Kingdom Come is featured on Vicki Hinzie's blog, Vicki is a well know thriller writer and a fellow Medallion author. She has a large following so take a look and maybe give it a shot.