Cat O' Nine Tales

Cat O’ Nine Tales is eight short stories from Highland Press plus a new novella. In the soon to be released anthology, my stories include – Bad Cat; Getting It In The End; Double, Double Toil and Trouble; Chicken What Du Hell; Rider in the Storm; Devil in Spurs; All I Want For Christmas is a Hula-hoop...and a Mother; and Blue Christmas Cat. The Novella is The Cat Who Saw Faeries. Please don’t think these are kitty-cat tales. These are Romances―warm, wonderful, sexy tales of the perfect lass finding that perfect lad. It’s just these very oddball felines are there helping the romances along.

Why Cats and Romance? Cats are horribly bright animals and excellent judges of character. They tend to accept people as they are, but also in the same breath, if they do give their love it’s because the person is worthy. They often see the true inner soul in a character before the characters themselves do.

I used this “device” in my upcoming novel, The Invasion of Falgannon Isle (Dorchester Love Spell, 28th November 2006). It is the first book in a series about seven sisters who find love better the second time around. A cat―The Cat Dudley―is a strong secondary character. My hero is a bad boy bent on vengeance, but soon finds life does not always play according to his plans. Des Mershan comes to Falgannon Isle bent on claiming and then destroying the tiny isle in the Hebrides of Scotland. He doesn’t count on an age-old curse or sexy B.A. Montgomerie. B.A. is very resistant to this Alpha Male invading her world. However, the island mascot, The Cat Dudley, embraces him from the very start. While Des begins as a very tough male, determined on righting a wrong against his family, it is through the cat’s immediate acceptance and love the reader sees the first key that Des is worth more than even he knows.

My cats add humor. They give the heroes a tender side early in the stories, which permits me to demonstrate there’s more to them than the reader first sees and understands. Oddly, I really didn’t set out to include cats as main characters. They just wormed their way into the tales, and even odder, they have thus far not shown up in my Historical Romance novels, such as my July release for Kensington Zebra Debut, A Restless Knight. Not a moggie in sight! I am not sure why that is. The wee beasties just pop up where they belong. In Devil in Spurs you see the first cat showing up in one of my Historical short stories.

Mind, these are not your average adorable felines. They are huge kitties, overweight kitties, old kitties, one even has only one eye and wears an eye patch. Another is a thief. And yet another brings the heroine a dead snake for a gift! Yikes! Well, what else would a forty-pound kitty named Bubba do? I have Auggie, Cyril, Bubba, Jinx, Simon, The Cat Dudley (mind, that is his whole name), Jack―as in one-eyed―Basil and Sinn Jinn, all showing they know more about love and romance than their silly people do!

As for where do my ideas come from for these feline matchmakers―I generally draw on cats who have paraded through my life. I love a kitten. Who doesn’t see one and go…awwwwwwww? But cats are so interesting. Each has their fears, their joys and their quirkiness, which makes them as unique as human beings. No two cats are ever the same. Stuff, The Cat Dudley, The Cat Cyril, The Cat Basil, Pokie, Cloydd, Gydney, D.C., ODC (Out Door Cat, which was a misnomer since she never went outside!), Biff and Bigger have claimed a part of my heart through the years. That love sneaks out as they now live on in my Romance books.

Readers respond well to animals in Romances. Cats are very popular animals, and we owners know they love to run our lives. Why not our romances? Ah, Kitty knows best!!

Deborah MacGillivray

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Julie Anne Long

I have a confession to make: whenever I set out to write a novel, my primary objective isn’t necessarily to entertain readers. It’s to entertain myself. I mean, if I’m going to spend 100,000 words worth of time with a finite set of characters and places and circumstances, I’d better genuinely like all of them. Particularly the characters: I want to feel invested in their joys and triumphs and tragedies; I want to laugh with, be intrigued and moved by, and dare I say it, aroused by them (which means, my hero had better be hot). To write a book properly, I know I’ll need to live it for the duration; I know it’ll become a parallel world for me, of sorts. So I’m fussy about how I populate that world.

The thing is, though…it’s all of a piece. If I do my job right—that is, if I keep myself entertained—I think my pleasure becomes the reader’s pleasure.

Take Ways to be Wicked, which is the second book in my trilogy about the Holt sisters, three sisters separated when they were very young when their mother, the mistress of a famous politician, is framed for his murder and forced to flee, leaving them behind.. Tom Shaughnessy, the theater impresario hero of WTBW, popped up in Beauty and the Spy, the first book, and he almost walked off with the scene I was writing. In fact, when by the time he strolled offstage (so to speak) in that book, I wanted to follow him, because I was already a little in love with him. I knew him, in all his cheerfully shameless, wickedly gorgeous glory. I knew his ambitions and weaknesses and the content of his heart, too. He wanted his own book even then, and who was I to deny him one? He wanted his own heroine, too, and Sylvie Lamoureux, a fiery ballerina and one of the Holt sisters, was his match exactly. She was easy to write, a pleasure to write: because I knew Tom, I knew the kind of woman Tom would need. So they're the hero and heroine of Ways to be Wicked.

As I wrote, I tried to make sure Tom and Sylvie were a little complex, slightly unorthodox, proud, quick-witted, because it’s fun for me to write those kinds of characters. And then I populated Tom and Sylvie’s world, the world of White Lily Theater, with other characters I was certain would keep me entertained for the duration of a story: an autocratic dwarf choreographer, an aging diva, ambitious, jealous dancers, and a sweet older woman with a knack for writing filthy, innuendo-laden ditties, for example. I also get a little bored when a story is relentlessly light, the same way I’d get bored with a one-note song, so there’s genuine darkness and grit in the story, too; there’s a villain I ached just a little for while still despising him, because I can't abide characters who . I made sure everyone has a soul even while I’m laughing at them.

All in all, I had a pretty bloody good time writing WAYS TO BE WICKED.

So serendipitously, I think if I’ve had a wonderful time writing a story, my joy in the telling of it will show. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s my responsibility to my readers to keep myself entertained, because it may just keep them entertained. Talk about the best job in the world.


Shelley Munro

Dreams of the Oasis III: Summer Lovin’

Last year my husband organized a golf trip to the Gold Coast of Australia for members of the local New Zealand RSA (Returned Services’ Association). I’m not a golfer, but the lure of sunshine, half naked lifeguards on the surf beach, great shopping and the chance to relax and do a little writing was all the incentive I needed. I packed my bags, ready to tag along. My mission while I was in Australia was to write a story to submit for the 2006 Ellora’s Cavemen anthologies.

Most of the group was a lot older than us, although I hasten to add, very fit and lively and definitely switched on. Our group consisted of couples plus three elderly bachelors. We called them “the boys”.

On the first day we arrived late morning and checked into our holiday apartments. We lazed around, deciding to meet up in the bar later that evening before going out to dinner in a group. The three boys were in the bar when we arrived for drinks. We purchased beer and wine and sat down outside to enjoy them while waiting for everyone else. The boys had already been out exploring.

“We’re going to the Burleigh Bowls Club for dinner,” one of the boys said.

“Yes,” another agreed. “Cheap meals. The beer is a good price as well.”

We nodded.

“And,” said the third boy, “There’s a dance at the Bowls Club tonight.” He paused to waggle his eyebrows. “We’re gonna grab us a granny!”

We roared with laughter. Not terribly P.C., I know, but I still grin each time I think of the three elderly men going off to the dance.

The next day, while the others were out playing golf, I pulled out my laptop and started pondering about what to write for my Cavemen submission. The phrase
“grab a granny” popped into my head and refused to leave. I decided to blend fact with fiction and write about a woman on a golf trip meeting with a younger man. Of course, the phrase “grab a granny” was in the story, although it wasn’t in relation to my heroine. I called my story, Grab a Granny.

I was thrilled when my story was chosen to appear in the anthology, although I was asked to change my title since Grab a Granny wasn’t considered terribly romantic. My story became Summer Lovin’ and it’s due out on 22 September as part of the Ellora’s Cavemen: Dreams of the Oasis III anthology.

Here’s the blurb:

Sophie Walker is on holiday in Australia when a hot and handsome cutey kisses her right in the middle of the Burleigh Bowls Club. The man fires slumbering sensual fantasies and sends her hormones swooping. Sophie wants to take a bite before she realizes it’s Isaac Shepherd—one of her daughter’s ex-boyfriends. Chastened, Sophie tells herself to forget the younger man, but it seems the attraction is mutual.

Sunshine. A hot, young stud. Steamy sex. The perfect recipe for total relaxation until the end of the vacation looms and Sophie doesn’t want to let Isaac go.

Believe me, ideas are everywhere!


Adventure into Romance


P.C. Cast

INSPIRATION! Man-oh-man I lurve this subject! I never run out of inspiration – I constantly have more ideas swarming around inside my head than I can possibly write at one time. So this blog subject is, as a couple of my YA characters would say, easy-peasy!

Basically, I am inspired by life and by research. Okay, I’ll explain. We’ll start with research, because that’s where my career began. No. I don’t like “normal” research (as in plodding through info for papers or dissertations or other yawn-inducing stuff like that). I like research as a basis for fiction. Actually, how I came up with the idea for my first novel, GODDESS BY MISTAKE, which ended up being the basis for a (currently) 6-book series for LUNA, was through research. I knew I wanted to write a fantasy novel about a “normal” (a.k.a. – someone like me) modern woman who gets pulled into another world and acts like “we” (a.k.a. – someone like me) would. I planned to base my fantasy world on an ancient culture, or a mixture of several, so I started researching cultures I already knew a little about.

I was a Lit major in college, and I’m high school English teacher now, so I’m clued into the ancient Greeks and Romans – and I checked them out, refreshing my knowledge of their myths, focusing on the pre-Hellenistic, matriarchal versions, which I prefer. I’m of Welsh descent, so I also gravitated towards the Celts, too. And while I was researching I found this fantastic paragraph written by a priest about a ceremonial mating Celtic fertility ceremony he witnessed a thousand or so years ago which involved the ritualistic mating of a Clan Chieftain and a mare. He was appalled and totally freaked out. I was intrigued by it, as well as by the history of Celtic Pagans and Druids – so I ended up mixing all of that together, and sprinkling in some Greek and Roman mythos, and creating my own world called Partholon. It’s a world where centaurs are a noble race, and they co-exist with humans (sometimes not so peacefully), and they can even mate because of the Celtic Shamanistic belief in shapeshifters. Partholon’s main deity is Epona, horse goddess of the Celts, and it is a matriarchal society. Thus GODDESS BY MISTAKE, ELPHAME’S CHOICE, BRIGHID’S QUEST, DIVINE BY MISTAKE, DIVINE BY CHOICE, DIVINE BY BLOOD AND DIVINE BY DESTINY were born!

My Goddess Summoning Series for Berkley (the latest being GODDESS OF THE ROSE, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast) grew out of life inspiration. Several years ago the first 3 books in my Partholon series were tied up by the Draconian machinations of a horrid small press, so Berkley asked if I had anything else I was writing. I thought fast – used life and art and luck (and perhaps a hint of Goddess inspiration!). Several of my fabulous girlfriends and I have been known to get together the night of a full moon, partake of excellent food and too much wine, and then craziness might possibly ensue. There have been times when we’ve danced (to very loud Enya music) around a chimenea and burned prayer papers on which we’ve written our hearts’ desires. So…I brainstormed with my editor about a series based on women who somehow have their hearts’ desires heard by different goddesses, and then, after a romantic adventure, of course, those desires come true. My editor, Christine Zika, loved the concept and that’s how the Goddess Summoning Books were born. Some of them are retellings of old myths, i.e., GODDESS OF THE SEA is based on the Undine mermaid myth; GODDESS OF SPRING is a retelling of the Persephone/Hades myth; GODDESS OF THE ROSE is based on Beauty and the Beast. Some of them are my own creation: GODDESS OF LIGHT has Apollo and Artemis stranded in Vegas with no powers. GODDESS OF LOVE (coming June 07) is Venus coming to Tulsa and doing a make-over on a needy young woman, and in turn, the Goddess of Love finds out that her own life needs a different kind of a make-over. And I’m working on books 6 and 7 of that series!

Another example of life inspiration came from my amazing agent. She gave me three words: Vampire Finishing School. Out of that inspiration came the first 3 books of a YA paranormal series, THE HOUSE OF NIGHT, which I’m co-authoring with my 19 year old daughter. The first book, MARKED, will be available Spring 2007.

So…I think inspiration comes from research and life…and a little goddess-driven luck!

P.C. Cast


Candace Havens- Charmed & Ready

In “Charmed & Ready,” Bronwyn, a powerful witch, is talked into protecting one of the world’s most famous rock stars, Zane. He’s an associate of the Prime Minister and she soon discovers that someone working bad voodoo is after him.

I never can remember where the germ of an idea comes from for a book, but I do remember thinking I wanted Bron to visit her demon-slaying friend Simone for some quality girl-time. I actually sat down one day and wrote the prologue, which is the witch and Simone trapped in a dungeon snapping back and forth about Bron’s “vacation.” That set the tone for the whole

Zane was someone I had in my head after writing some feature stories about musicians. He is based on two very popular rock stars, but I’ll never say who they are. I knew I wanted him to be involved with Bron and Simone somehow, and that’s sort of how the main story line for the book came together.

Of course, Zane and Bron’s relationship creates trouble with the love of her life, Dr. Sam. And while I probably shouldn’t share this, that whole thing was based on a series of unfortunate events from my own life, though greatly exaggerated in the book. It was my way of saying never judge, because of circumstantial evidence.

Charmed & Dangerous
Charmed & Ready (Sept. 5, 2006)
Charmed & Deadly (June 5, 2007)


Slave to Sensation - Nalini Singh

I’ve always been fascinated by psychic powers. When I was thirteen, I even did my science fair project on the subject. Mostly this involved getting two sets of testing cards with symbols on them and a piece of cardboard that functioned as a wall. Then I cajoled, begged and blackmailed my friends into being guinea pigs. The experiment? I’d pick a card on one side of the cardboard wall and they’d choose the one they thought it was on the other side.

Inspired though it was, our project (I’d convinced a classmate to be my partner) didn’t achieve any kind of place in the science fair. However my fascination with psychic abilities didn’t go away despite the teachers’ distinct lack of enthusiasm. The interest was always there, simmering away at the back of my mind.

And then one day early in February of 2005, it was as if I’d spent enough time thinking it over. Or maybe it was something else that triggered things. All I know is that the idea that came to me was full-blown. And it was deceptively simple: What if the flip side of incredible psychic power was insanity of the worst kind, the kind that drove you to murder?

That nightmarish question was the beginning of Lucas and Sascha’s story, and it’s a question that continues to capture my imagination. Do you think you’d be willing to give up your emotions (as the Psy race does) in order to wield incredible mental powers? Is it a trade worth making?


Julie Leto - Dirty Little Lies

I've written quite a bit about how I got the idea for my Marisela Morales series for Pocket. In a nutshell, I had just read Alisa Valdes Rodriguez's DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB and was intrigued by her Latina characters. Since I'd never been very in tune with my Latina side (having grown up much more close to the Italian side of my family, but my paternal grandmother was Cuban-American), I found the whole idea of exploring that ethnic side of me intriguing. Also, I'd been itching to write a real kick-ass heroine. I loved the characters Eve Dallas and Anita Blake. Bombshell was just launching. I wanted to do something along those lines, but with my own gritty, super-sexy spin. Thus DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS was born.

The follow up book, DIRTY LITTLE LIES, was a little harder to wrap my mind around because it was important to me that Marisela experience a big dose of character growth in each book. In the first book, she is recruited to work for Titan International because she's lethal and because she speaks Spanish and can easily move into the Puerto Rican gun-running circles they need her to. In DIRTY LITTLE LIES, I wanted to go completely opposite. This time, I threw her into the upper-crust, elite Boston society. I hinted at that theme in the first book, but in the second, jumped in full force. Marisela is now a fish out of water, which totally ups the conflict. Also, she has quite a few prejudices against wealthy people and I wanted her to face those feelings head on.

Ethnicity and culture are important to the Dirty books. They give them a flavor that is unique from other romantic suspense novels. But you don't have to be Cuban-American or Latina or anything to enjoy the stories. Marisela's ethnicity is part of who she is, but it does not define her. She is defined entirely by her actions. She's a do-er. Even when she does the wrong thing.

The idea for the third Dirty book came from something a friend said to me at lunch. Hopefully, I'll be back some time to tell you more about it!

For more information about Marisela Morales and her "Dirty" series, go to http://www.readmarisela.com/. For more information about Julie and all her books, check out her main website, http://www.julieleto.com/.