Love is in the air!

Winter is a time of blustery winds, warm blankets, and book friends to fill your heart.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


In order to keep a plant growing and thriving you must deadhead the old blossoms and deadwood leaves. To keep your story healthy and thriving you must ruthlessly prune unnecessary words and pluck out those characters you don't really need.

My garden always has geraniums in it. I love the plant. The shape, the color, the scent. When I lop off the dead flowers I get to smell the earthy goodness that the plant has buried deep in its core.

When you get rid of the cast of thousands that are inhabiting your story, you will find the earthy goodness. The idea at the core that made you want to write it in the first place. It is no longer being pollinated by every Tom, Dick, and Louis that flew into the garden.

Oh! Wait! You want to give them their own stories. Fine, but they need their own root system. Not every character needs to be seeded in the same plot.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reality Bites

Liv Rancourt is visiting the Spell Room today to talk about Vampires and Reality.

Tagline for A Vampire's Deadly Delight:

An ordinary bookstore owner and a gorgeous instrument of vampire destruction share a secret that could kill them both. What will each of them give, and give up, to survive?

Reality Bites
Last weekend was terribly exciting because it marked the release of my first book, A Vampire’s Deadly Delight. I’m lucky to have kind and supportive friends like Liberty who are gracious enough to give me space on their blog to talk about my new book. Thanks, Liberty! You’ve been very patient with me and I appreciate it.
As you can tell from the title, there’s at least one vampire in my book. In fact, there are several, but before I wrote it I did surprisingly little research about vampires. I didn’t really need to. These days you’d have to be a doorknob not to know a little something about the undead. They’re all over the place, a crazy collage of soulless blood drinkers ready to entertain us.
It may sound like putting the caboose at the front of the train, but I did the research after the book came out, so that when I have the opportunity to write a blog post, I’d know what I was talking about. I’ve learned that there are some fascinating and informative websites out there in internet-land, covering every possible aspect of paranormal life. It’s really kind of awesome. And I learned that there are websites dedicated to “real” vampires.  There’s a whole subculture where, in one way or another, people identify themselves as vampires.
It’s enough to give a (living) body chills.
I’ve always been a fan of Lestat and Louise, of Don Ysidro, and of ol’ Count Dracula himself*. They’re some of my favorite characters. (*That’s Interview with a Vampire by Ann Rice, Those Who Hunt The Night by Barbara Hambly, and Dracula by Bram Stoker). More recently I’ve been a loyal reader of any number of vampire series, and I lived with vamps for quite some time while writing Deadly Delight, but never once, in all that time, did I think that I might actually BE a vampire. With all due respect, people, I think maybe you need to get out more. In the sunshine. In clothing that’s not black and cobwebby.
I thought about including some of these “real” vampire website addresses to support my claim, but I didn’t want to make anybody mad, so you’ll have to do your own research. I found a site that describes the genetic mutations that are required to create a vampire, and another that describes itself as a vampire support center. And nowhere did either of those sites indicate that they realized they were writing fiction.
In the end, I guess it’s a harmless enough pastime, no crazier than refighting Civil War battles or, say, deciding to write your first book at the age of 49 (ooh, guilty as charged!). As long as there’s no real exchange of bodily fluids and everyone goes home happy, it’s okay. I guess. I just prefer that my fictional characters stay on the page or on the screen, and not lurking in the darkened corners of my basement.

A little more about A Vampire's Deadly Delight

She’s a quiet, unassuming bookstore owner by day, but by night...

Kristen has a deadly secret—when she smells a vampire, she turns into Jai, a beauti-licious babe who makes vampspermanently dead. To a vamp, Jai is like ambrosia. They can’t resist her. She uses this attraction, plus her super strength and her trusty blade, Mr. Sticky, to end their undead lives. The thrill of wearing miniskirts without worrying about cellulite stifles any qualms Kristen might have about killing the undead. Being Jai is the most fun she has ever had—until they come up against the one vampire Jai can’t kill. If he and Jai have a history, as he claims, Jai can’t remember it...or him.

But when her work catches the attention of some old enemies—who won’t hesitate to destroy Kristen if it also means the end of Jai—this vampire may be their only hope. Can Kristen and Jai learn to tell the difference between good and evil in time to defeat Jai’s ancient nemesis? Or will being Jai’s hostess cost Kristen more than just her beauty sleep?

Liv Rancourt is a writer of speculative fiction and romance. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. Writing stories that have happy endings is a good way to balance her work in the neonatal intensive care unit, and she is thrilled to be publishing her first novella with Black Opal Books. Liv can be found on-line at her website (, her blog (, on Facebook (, or on Twitter ( 

Available at Barnes & Noble

Available at Amazon

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jan Daiker has a wonderful short story in Snowbound Hearts from Still Moments Publishing. She has graciously offered to send an ebook to the lucky person whose comment is chosen at random.
Here's Jen!!!
I love telling stories. When I was young I’d spend my days writing silly stories about cupcakes and Polly pockets (yes, I had a huge fascination with both). I’d play Barbie’s and they always had their lives figured out. I suppose I’d always wanted more for myself. I grew up in a small town and hated everyone knowing my business, knowing my dad, and always tell on me when I found myself in trouble. I promised myself when I had the chance to leave I’d take it. When I was 19 I had the opportunity. My (now husband) and I picked up and moved to the big city (Houston), for new life experiences.
This is a little of how Snowbanked, my first published short story, came about. It’s only when I moved away that I realized the small town life was peaceful and more me. I gave up the snow which broke my heart. Every year I try and make a trip home to enjoy the white fluff puffs that grace the lawns of decorated holiday homes. It’s the little piece of home that truly feels like the holidays.
Now my main character, Parker, left behind her boyfriend in spite of her love for him, for the opportunity to live a little. Taking a job in a big city hoping never to return home. Of course, family never leaves, and she’s forced to return home for a party. Love never really goes away and in this story I wanted to put all my loves in once place – snow, small town, and obviously a whole lot of love.
Here’s a little more info on Snowbanked!
Tag Line:
Returning home can hold the best surprises, especially when love’s involved.
What had I done last night? I held my forehead as I walked to the bathroom. A zombie version of my former self appeared in the mirror. The ball of fur on my head would have to be brushed out before I even attempted a shower. Mascara was smeared down my face, and my rosy cheeks were covered in soot. The ladies who promised me water-proof lashes would later be scolded for not divulging the truth. I splashed my face with water, hoping to relieve the headache destroying my thoughts.
            I walked to my suitcase and got sidetracked checking the clock on the swanky red side table. I had less than an hour to perfect my look and get to the venue for the big reveal. Just as I reached into the shower stall and twisted the hot water handle, a knock on the door startled me. I walked to the front door and looked through the peep hole and Grant stood on the other end. Why couldn’t he disappear? Didn’t he have someone else to torment? The surprises weren’t supposed to be mine. Didn’t he get the memo?
             “Parker!” he shouted.
            I unlocked the door. Each thud of his fist, mixed with his need to holler my name, sent shots of pain through my skull. “I’m here. Why are you yelling?”
The devilish grin on his face sent my heart racing. He didn’t look this good yesterday, did he? His jeans fit tight around his muscular legs and his brown sweater had me daydreaming about what was underneath. When our eyes met he dazzled me. He brushed his fingertips down my cheek and a cold shiver raced through my entire body.
Pick up a copy of Snowbanked and email me your thoughts! I love hearing from people. You can find me on twitter (jenunedited à!/jenunedited) and avidly over at my blog, Unedited ( ! Stop in for a chat!
Available now:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Girl Cave

Shannon O'Brien has graciously agreed to step out of her Girl Cave for a little visit in the Spell Room. 

Girl Cave 
by Shannon O’Brien 

I’ll read pretty much anything.  I love to be transported to strange new worlds (The Hobbit), enjoy bizarre British humor (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).  I love to be whisked away to foreign lands (Cutting for Stone) and getting creeped out (The Strain).  I love old whodunits (Murder on the Orient Express) and traveling back in time (The Other Boleyn Girl).  I love disturbing contemporary tales (Room), and sexy supernatural beings (Sookie Stackhouse Series).
And where do you think I go to experience all of these magical places?  My bedroom?  My recliner?  My formal library filled with plush wing-backed chairs and orderly rows of books snuggled into built-in mahogany shelves? 

Nope.  My bathroom.  That’s right, the tinkle closet.  I have a husband, two small boys, a boxer who thinks she’s a lapdog and a surly old cat.  I have to hide to read.  But they always find me.  Their voices haunt me from the other side of the locked door.  “Hon, does this shirt go with these pants?”  “Mommy, he’s not sharing!”  “What’s for dinner?” “Whattcha doin’ in there, Mommy?”  “Hon, you can’t hide in there forever!”  “Meow” and “Woof!”

Once in my Girl Cave I am transported into someone else’s life.  I get to crouch in the trees with Katniss Everdeen, soar over Hogwarts with Harry Potter, and kiss an ethereally handsome vampire with Bella Swan.  I get to be in the operating room, spaceship, swamps, and turn of the century London searching for Jack the Ripper.  You name it, I’ve done it.  Of course, only within the comfort of my little locked room.

I bet some of you hide to read too.  Would you like to know secret?  Short stories.  For example, my story, Winter Twilight, is a short contemporary romance which has just been released as part of an anthology, Snowbound Hearts by Still Moments Publishing.  In Winter Twilight, the young, recently divorced female protagonist, Teagan O’Leary, finds herself in a new city with a new life and falling for her coworker who is also a secret front-man for an up and coming Seattle rock band.  Wow!  So much to absorb yourself with, and it’s only twenty-six pages long!

You can purchase the anthology as a PDF document at, and read it on your computer, laptop or print out one story at a time.  Or you can download it to your E-Reader, I-Pad, I-Phone, etc. (coming soon to 

With crazy schedules and getting pulled in thousands of directions, make sure to find some time for yourself.  And with all the choices you have on how to read books now, you too can have a Girl Cave anywhere your little heart desires. 

Forgive me, but I have to go now.  I need to finish a book…I-I mean, use the restroom.

~Shannon O’Brien

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jillian Chantal is visiting us in the Spell Room today. Jillian's newest story "Sophie's Snow Day" is out in Still Moments Publishing's Snowbound Hearts. Say "Hi" to Jillian.

Thanks for having me here as a guest, Liberty. I can’t wait to meet some of your blog visitors. I love making new friends.

I’m Jillian and I have a story in the Snowbound Hearts anthology published by Still Moments Publishing. My story is called Sophie’s Snow Day and it’s a paranormal story. The tag line is “A snowstorm can be a life changing event. Just ask Sophie.” 
My inspiration for this story was my cat, Dixie. I call her the demon cat and mean it in only the most loving of ways. She’s unique and has so much personality, it’s sad that she’s merely a cat. I know she dreams of being so much more. Maybe a pirate or a race car driver or perhaps even a masseuse (and I say that because of the way she kneads my head when she wants me to get up and feed her).

Anyway, the demon cat is a demanding little eight pound critter and wants to be let in and out onto our screened porch all the time. She whacks herself up against the French doors to get our attention much like Tobias does in Sophie’s Snow Day to get the attention of the folks inside the house. So, that was the beginning of my story and it evolved from there. I wrote it on a trip to New York and was really rolling along when I had to stow my electronic device for landing. Don’t you hate that? It’s always right when you get to the good part.

I’m thrilled to be in the great company of the other writers in this anthology. I think all the stories will be wonderful. If you read Sophie’s Snow Day, I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thanks again for having me here, Liberty. I love to hear from readers. You can find me on the web at or Twitter at

Jillian Chantal lives in the Pensacola, Florida area where she practices law by day and practices writing fiction by night. She's a super Type-A personality and is never idle. She wishes she could be like a cat and relax. What an amazing life cats have- eat, groom, sleep and use the litter box; then do it all over again the next day. Jillian thinks she'd like that lifestyle but is quite sure she'd be bored in about two days. She loves to hear from readers and welcomes emails and comments on her stories.

Available at:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Guest Blogger: Mystery writer JM Griffin

I'd like to welcome JM Griffin to the Spell Room today. JM has a wonderful murder mystery set in balmy Florida. Thank you for joining us today.

It’s my pleasure to be here with Liberty today. Thanks for asking me to stop by.

Last year at this time, I was skeptical about my success as an author of mystery novels and non-fiction. When the New Year rounded the corner, I figured I had nothing to lose by throwing caution to the wind and asking the universe for a direction before I began zooming along that “mountain road of life”. Frankly, things have progressed better than I had anticipated. Book sales have been good in both fiction and non-fiction. Though the non-fiction has been greater, I’m holding my own in the fiction area.
If we worry too much about all that can go wrong, we become stuck in the quagmire of “self-doubt”. That is a scary thing! It takes us to down to depths we never imagined, like drowning in the ocean. It’s hard to be brave, daring, and confident, yet I can’t think of any other way to be where creating is concerned.
With Christmas in my face (and on my hips), I sat in my office chair and went crazy on the computer. Many of my friends call me the Ever-ready bunny, but I enjoy speeding along the mountain road of life, taking every opportunity to get closer and closer to the cliff edge without actually flying over it. Why? Life is too short to be too cautious. If I don’t gamble on my future, then who will?
While my nimble fingers flew over the keys and my energy level soared (I blamed the fudge for that), I uploaded my latest novel Murder on Spyglass Lane onto Smashwords, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Amazon Kindle. The Amazon thing hasn’t gone as smoothly as I liked, but I’m working on it.
I had procrastinated in uploading the ebook, aware that I was out of my comfort zone with those instructions. Never being one to be fearful for too long, I simply said “J.M., get hold of yourself and just get this done”. Yeah, like all authors, I do talk to myself. My family and friends are used to it. Strangers? Well…that’s a story for another day.
This new book takes place in Sarasota, Florida. A town loaded with creative people. It is a place I enjoy going to and have spent quite a lot of time there. When I drove through Bradenton, the next town over, I saw a street sign that said “Spy Glass Lane”. The story hit me instantly and I couldn’t shake it. The more I thought about it, the bigger the story grew until it finally came together. It took three years to get the book finished, lots of other things interfered, but my writing buddies kept asking when the book was going to be done. That alone was enough to prompt me to keep going. Here is an excerpt for you and you can download a brief read on Smashwords.

Eerie owl hoots echoed across the thirteenth green. A full harvest moon spilled its golden
glow across the golf course. I walked Sparky on our nightly stroll along the cart path. We were
near Spyglass Lane, the cul-de-sac, where I lived. My house loomed in the shadows a short
distance away.
I was new to the neighborhood, and my unsettled state of mind left me wondering if the
move was the right one.
Frequent stops were the order of the late evening as Sparky, my pudgy Bassett Hound,
investigated everything he came across. I glanced to the right when something caught my eye.
Sparky turned in the same direction and waited. I could have sworn a shadowy figure dodged
behind a cluster of trees. Was it my imagination or a trick of light and dark?
The eerie hooting continued and spooked me. With a light tug on the leash, Sparky turned
from the shadows and scooted across the crunchy Florida grass, pulling me off the cart path and
along the side of my house, to the front door. I was more than anxious to get inside. My heart
thudded against my ribcage.
Pale, creepy images crept into my mind, blurring my vision. Sensations spun in my head.
Not again. Knowing what was to come; I sagged against the wall of the portico and tried to brush
aside the unwelcome imagery. I angled further into the stucco entryway ‘til the front door was
before me. I unlocked it with moist, shaky hands, sensations niggling at me again.
I slumped to my knees, aware a car swept into the driveway across the street.
A car door slammed and distant footsteps pounded toward me. I made an effort to thrust the
feelings away. Sweat prickled my skin as ghostly forms swam before my eyes. I used the bottom
of my T-shirt to wipe my face until my vision cleared. I struggled to breathe normally.
A rich, masculine voice echoed through my consciousness. “Are you all right?”
Sucking in deep breaths, I pushed myself off the ground and stood on wobbly legs. Before
me was a man, who in any other circumstance, would have set my pulse racing. But since it was
already in race mode, I couldn‘t credit him with that. His dark gaze and lazy slouch reminded me
of a pirate holding his balance on the deck of a sloop. My mind wandered.
“Yes, I‘m fine... thanks. I-I stumbled, trying to get the dog unleashed. Good Lord, that’s
pretty lame. But I can’t tell him I have visions. Nobody else can know. Not ever.
Overhead lights illuminated the small portico. I watched his eyes narrow as he took in my
appearance from head to toe. True enough, I didn‘t look like I‘d just stepped from Elle
Magazine, but it was late. I was tired and, as an artist, I generally dress in whatever comes to
“If you‘re sure everything is—―”
“I‘m fine, really”
My heart thumped hard in my chest for fear he‘d see more than I wanted him to. I turned
toward the door and opened it for Sparky. With a glance over my shoulder, and a half smile, I
murmured goodnight to the handsome devil that didn‘t appear to believe me, and closed the
door, locking it behind me.
I knew that look so well.

Murder on Spyglass Lane may be purchased at: