Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Writing Wednesday: Fate or Consequences?

Do you believe in Destiny?  The Plan the Universe has for you?

~ Or ~

Do you believe that the path of your life is directed by your actions? The sum total of your decisions, both good and bad, that lead you to where you are?

Yeah, these are questions best suited for deep discussions over coffee or wine between philosophy majors with endless hours to debate each side and every nuance of questions pondered since the Roman scholar Boethius first fixated on Fortune's Wheel in his work The Consolation of Philosophy....

....but these are also things novelists and playwrights think about when lying awake at three in the morning. Writers have been pondering these questions for centuries. Shakespeare himself once wrote "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." * If you think about it, fighting against fate was a running theme in so many of his works. And yet, if ever there was a writer to make Fate an actual character with power over others, it was Shakespeare.

I feel like it's more than the plotter/panster division of thought, because there are pantsers who go into their story knowing what the ending will be, just not how their characters will arrive at their ending.

Maybe the question of "destiny" is unfair in the context of writing novels. As authors, WE ARE the ultimate arbiters for the fate of our characters. We decide who lives, who dies and who gets the Happily Ever After in the end.

We are - or can be - the wielders of the deus ex machina, twisting the plot to reach the desired outcome... but books are more interesting to read when they make sense. When for every action there is a reaction - and a consequence. Plot twists that include Divine Intervention or Suddenly Revealed Superpowers... not nearly as interesting as a story that builds layer upon layer, brick by brick, to allow the characters to learn, to stumble, to grow... and to find their own destiny.

I keep coming back to the idea of consequences. I truly believe there should always be consequences and it bugs me when there aren't. In books and in life. Insta-love is too easy.

What do you think? Do you think about these things when you're twisting your characters and their emotions into pretzel-shaped knots on the page? Do you make them pay for transgressions? Learn from their mistakes? Earn their HEA?

Chime in and let us know what you think about the philosophical nonsense I'm ranting about today. C'mon, if Shakespeare could throw in his two cents on the topic (and more than once) so can you.

Which brings me to the asterisked quote above - I came across that particular Shakespeare quote on a magnet in a bookstore - but it didn't cite the play. Does anyone recognize it as a real quote, and from where? I've had it taped to my computer monitor for over a year now, and I'm starting to wonder if it's a bastardization of Cassius from Julius Caesar, where he's egging on Brutus, a quote made famous by John Green. Extra points if you can tell me the Green book I'm referencing.

Happy Writing to ALL!

Monday, September 24, 2018

#New Release from Abigail Owen! THE BOSS is available today!

I'm so excited to be part of Abigail Owen's release blitz today! Her latest book from Entangled Publishing sounds AWESOME, and even better - there's a free prequel available to download too! First things first, here's the blurb about THE BOSS:

Finn Conleth leads his team of enforcer dragon shifters with an iron fist and a cold heart. Every dragon seeks his destined mate, but the process to turn the woman he once thought was his killed her and devastated him. He will never risk his heart again. His team is his family now. When his body eventually gives out, he’ll leave, living his last days alone.
Delaney Hamilton moved across the country to escape the freak fires that plague her. But when another suspicious fire erupts and rapidly escalates around her, her hopes for a new life go up in smoke. She has no choice but to turn to the mysterious men who come to her aid.
Finn knows the fire is dragon-caused, which puts Delaney’s problems directly in his jurisdiction. No matter how her wounded grey eyes call to every part of him, he refuses to risk her life in the mating process.
Until another dragon threatens to claim Delaney for his own, and Finn has to sacrifice everything to keep her alive...

  Here's the info to grab the prequel for free:
Maddie Thompson’s life just fell down a rabbit hole. Finding out she's a dragon shifter was one thing—she never quite fit into the human world, and this new reality feels…strangely right. However, discovering the next step is to choose a mate, and if she chooses wrong she'll die, is the other side of crazy. Especially when she already left a piece of her heart with someone who didn't want it.
To say dragon enforcer Fallon Conleth was shocked when the Mating Council summoned him as a potential mate for a newly found dragon doesn’t quite cover it. A mate is rare and precious and many dragons never find theirs. Fallon isn’t sure he’s worthy of the honor, not when so many deserve it more. He’ll just go through the motions and return home alone…until he sees Maddie. The human woman he reluctantly let walk away.
Fallon already broke Maddie's heart once, but if he can't convince her that they're meant to be, she'll die... and he won't be far behind.

Not convinced yet? Here's a tantalizing excerpt from THE BOSS...

No way was she misinterpreting the need reflecting back at her.

Say it, she silently urged. Too proud to beg out loud. Do something.

“What do you want, Finn?” she repeated.


He tipped his head down, though his gaze remained on her, but the light in those blue depths shifted, turning from banked need, held ruthlessly in check, to a possessiveness that drew her body into aching awareness.

He pulled lightly on her wrist, drawing her across what had been an impassable chasm of space, until she was flush against his hard body. His other hand came under the fall of her hair to rest against her neck.

She didn’t look away, not even as he lowered his head, his movement agonizingly slow. His mouth only a whisper from hers, he stopped.

“You,” he said. “I want you.”

Finally. She had no idea if she closed the distanced between their lips or if he did. She only knew that she was getting exactly what she wanted.

Sensation forced her eyes closed as the heat of him seeped into her skin, her body flushing with it, swamping her senses. Their tongues tangled, his mouth hard and urgent against hers, like he couldn’t get enough, like he needed to possess her. The speed of her body’s reaction was so fast, so immediate, that she went dizzy with the need, like looking over the edge of a terrifying drop.

She was too out of her element, too out of control, but she didn’t want to stop. She wanted more.

He released her wrist, wrapping his arm around her waist, her softness yielding to his hard body as he held her closer. At the same time, he loosened his grip on her neck, brushing over the sensitive skin at her nape with his fingers.

Shards of electricity zapped from that simple touch directly to her core, which throbbed in response. At the same time, warmth from that touch spread through her on a wave of a feeling akin to total acceptance. Like this was where she was supposed to be. A low moan dragged from her mouth as he lifted her, just enough that it put him in complete control. He slipped a thigh between her legs, then pressed her down.

Holy hell.

Delaney leaned into him, her body softening into his, attuned to what his wicked hands and lips were doing to her even as her heart beat fast has hummingbird’s wings just to be in his arms. She arched into him, moving against him with a moan.

His hand slid under her shirt and he brushed against the sensitive flesh at her waist, his skin warm against hers. Which only made her want more skin.

With eager hands, she tugged at his black t-shirt, breaking their kisses only long enough to pull it over his head. Then she allowed her hands to roam, to feel the rigid strength in his body, loving the heat of him, the bourbon and Coke smell of him.

A shudder shook his body. “I want you.” He paused, then said something else under his breath. Something like, “More than I should let myself.” But then his lips were back on hers, addling her senses and taking over her mind.

A bellow rent the air and jerked Delaney out of the oblivion of pleasure where she floated. She snapped her head up, breaking the kiss to listen. Another sound that she could only classify as a roar broke the stillness.

“What was that?” she asked. Fear, rather than need, had her heart tripping over itself inside her chest. “It sounds like a…wounded animal.”

Finn gave a low rumble that sounded more like a warning growl than anything a human would make, and her heart slammed into high gear. Slowly, dread pulling at her, she turned her head to look directly at him.

To encounter eyes ablaze. Not figuratively. Literally ablaze. Blue flames consumed his irises.

What the hell? Panic spiked inside her, and her breath came out in short, sharp bursts, speeding up as she absorbed what she was seeing.

Adrenaline joined the fear and she shoved his chest. Hard.

She must’ve surprised him, because Finn released her, stumbling back a few paces. She managed to keep her feet under her, then scrambled back, trying not to trip over any rocks in her path.

He held up his hands. “Delaney, don’t—”

She did the only thing she could. She ran.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Writing Wednesday: Meet debut author Cyndie Zahner

About the Book:

She thought they were her siblings. By the time she realized they weren’t, one of them was dead.
Doctor Emma Kerr had no right counseling them. Adopted and her birth records lost, she believed she was born a McKinney. Her face, intelligence, and depression resembled theirs. For years people mistook her for their sister. So she devised a plan. What begins as a scheme to counsel the McKinney family and determine if they are blood relatives, quickly causes Emma to wonder if she had truly done the manipulating. Is someone following her?
Now Emma clamors to escape the McKinney world of domination and deception.
Is she Mathew McKinney’s sister? She can’t be. Is he in love with her? He can’t be. Then how do he and his sisters know more about her than she knows herself? This is a game to them. Is the game Suicide? Or Murder?
Meet Cyndie Zahner!

Hi Cyndie! Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

I am a hopeless word-lover and dreamer. Odd, miniscule, life happenings mesmerize me. My imagination will get tangle up in an incident and then run away with it. Nearly every story and character I create emerges from a true-life experience. But in the end, neither the tale nor the characters have the slightest resemblance to what inspired them (except Giff).

Reading a good thriller captivates me. Suspense-ridden books are my favorite, but I also read anything well written that isn’t too wordy. A good story or a lovable heroine can keep me turning pages long into the night. Add a paranormal twist, and I won’t sleep at all. 

I, myself, am learning to write thrillers and loving it. I say “learning” because I certainly haven’t mastered this art. Thrillers are calculated, precise, and contain lots of hidden clues. I’ve written two and am currently working on a third. I hope to become better with each new novel.
Finally, one of my four books is a historical romance that I wrote many years ago. I’m having fun revising this one, Within the Setting Sun. My ideas of love and romance have changed much over the past twenty years!

What's your favorite part of being an author?

Writing. Everything else that goes along with becoming a novelist—marketing, media relations, finances, file management, etc—is not nearly as much fun. But I cherish every moment that I am able to lose myself in my writing.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and tell myself it’s too early to get up and write. And other times, I simply can’t wait. I’ll get up a 3:30 or 4 a.m. to finish a chapter. Once I’m up and if responsibilities permit, I can spend twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours at my computer writing with nothing more than one break for an hour run, which always revives me.

What's your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

For my first two thrillers, I flew by the seat of my pants. I created my first chapters and ran with them. My plots weren’t written down. They were created during long runs at Presque Isle State Park or on sleepless nights when I drank too much coffee during the day. But not having direction makes lengthy revisions inevitable.

For my third thriller, I’m jotting down some notes in the hope I can shave off some revising time.

LOL, I hear you on that one! I'm usually a pantser too, but the few times I've plotted it out, the books fly by. Okay....If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

To fall asleep in a moment’s notice for five straight hours. Then wake refreshed and ready to write.

I've got the first part down - if only the second part was so easy!! Now, Tell us about your new release!

The Suicide Gene is an amalgamation of fiction and reality. There are impossible anomalies mentioned, yet the suicide factor is real and daunting and a great challenge in today’s society. 

I have wondered my entire life if there is a suicide gene. With this book, I wanted to create a story that both entertained readers but made them think, so I threaded real emotion into a fictitious story line.

When I began writing this book, suicide was not as common of an issue, but today the media seems enamored by it. Now, Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix and A Million Little Things on ABC both depict the heart-wrenching aftermath of suicide. My novel takes this hard topic one step further and asks: is this genetic?

Wow. An interesting concept. As the mom of two kids who have thought about suicide, it's a truly SCARY concept. But, moving on. You’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

Definitely Emma Stone as the lead character, Doctor Emma Kerr, and Emily Blunt as the bizarre twins, Mary and Minnie McKinny. These two women would be perfect. And although it is much too small of a part for her, Anna Kendrick is so like Ally that sometimes I call Ally Anna.

I’d choose one of the Hemsworth boys to play the cunning Mathew McKinney—probably Chris because, although Liam is my favorite, Chris’s slanted eyes give him an eerier edge.

As for my favorite character? Attorney Gifford John Johnson? None other than John Krasinski. Giff’s personality was patterned after my son, Zak, and everyone says Zak looks like Krasinski. What do you think?

Wonderful cast - I'd totally watch that as an HBO series (I'm assuming cable because, come on, youn can do so much more on cable, even than in theatres these days.) I love all your choices, and am totally hooked on Krasinski's latest JACK RYAN series - maybe you should contact Amazon Prime!

Thanks SO MUCH for being my guest today, Cyndie. I'm so excited for you and your new release!

About the Author:

Cyndie "CJ" Zahner is a digital-book hoarder, lover of can't-put-down books, runner, author, and Mensa wannabe. That last trait explains the inspiration for her first novel, The Suicide Gene. Her second book, Dream Wide Awake, was inspired during long runs on Presque Isle State Park in her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. She is a proud mother of three and an even prouder grandmother of one.

Before becoming a novelist, CJ worked as a grant and freelance writer. Her articles varied from business to women’s health to the paranormal. Her most popular articles can be found on her website at 

In 2015, she began looking at life differently when her brother and his wife were diagnosed with dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s. At that time, her husband pulled her aside and said, “Quit your job. You’re a writer.” After twenty years of service, CJ picked up her purse at work one day and quietly walked away.

Now, she rises before dawn, writes, runs, and smiles much. She completed The Suicide Gene and Dream Wide Awake, and is nearing completion of two other novels, Within the Setting Sun and The Dream Snatchers.

A hard worker and story lover, CJ Zahner is determined to read, write, and run happily ever after.


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