Catherine Spangler

I have a confession to make. I’m not an organized, methodical writer. I’m also not very observant, except when I see emotional exchanges (emotions ring my chimes). I don’t ask myself (or my characters) deep probing questions, and my story ideas don’t generally come from thought-provoking articles or real-life situations. I tend to drift through life, responding more on an intuitive level rather than from a logical, mental perspective. Okay, so I’m a ditz. I admit it. I’m also a chocolate slut (saw that on a button today), an “Official Kilt Inspector” (thanks to Sandy Blair), and a coffee addict . . . See how much focus I have? I get off topic very easily *g*.

So I don’t consciously create my stories. They come to me in dreams, in thought snippets, in inspirational flashes. And they never fully form until I’m actually writing. I am an organic writer, a true “pantster”. But I know the stories come from my psyche, and they’re the product of everything I’ve ever read or seen (I believe this is true of most writers). I have an extremely active subconscious that is constantly processing information (again, we all do). But since I’m not a very externally focused person, my internal process drives my stories, which is why I can’t tell you exactly how those stories come to be.

One thing is certain about my current Sentinel series, books which are dark, edgy, and sexy paranormal romances that some people are calling “paranormal thrillers”—the underlying premise came from my life-long fascination with the psychic Edgar Cayce and with Atlantis and metaphysical subjects. In the usual, scatterbrained creative process that works for me, the idea just came to me (probably after my subconscious worked feverishly on it for a few years).

Enter the Sentinels, reincarnated Atlantians returning to Earth after thousands of years. Their sole purpose is to track down Belians—evil Atlantian entities who were responsible for the destruction of Atlantis. Reincarnating into the Earth in large numbers, Belians thrive on blood, death, terror and chaos. They have found violent venues as serial killers, drug lords, gang leaders, brutal dictators, any form of incarnate evil. The Sentinels are sworn to stop them. They have one edge—a small group of psychic humans known as conductors. These humans can link psychically with Sentinels and enhance the tracking of Belians. The linking process is called a conduction, and involves the rise of energy through the body’s spiritual chakras, creating a powerful sexual surge. Most conductions involve sex.

In TOUCHED BY FIRE, Marla Reynolds is a conductor, although she doesn’t know it. When she meets ultra-sexy Luke Paxton at a Houston bar, she’s upended by the powerful sexual attraction between them, not realizing it’s the pull of a matched Sentinel and conductor. Luke knows what it is, though, and realizes Marla might be the only person who can help him track a Belian serial bomber.

But Marla is resistant to Luke’s charms. She’s been emotionally frozen since a brutal attack on her sister eleven years ago, and knows Luke is way out of her league. She avoids him, which drives him to a desperate act to get her cooperation—kidnapping. Even then, Marla proves to be one of his biggest challenges and more than a match for him.

I can’t tell you exactly where Luke came from, except he was a minor secondary character in the first Sentinel book, Touched by Darkness, and I have a tendency to get very attached to secondary characters. And Marla . . . well, I have no idea, except I like heroines who aren’t quite perfect, maybe even a little ordinary like the rest of us. Real women who overcome real challenges, with that inner core of strength that women innately possess.

Ultimately, after the story has unfolded and I write “The End”, all I can do is thank my muse for coming through for me. And celebrate with chocolate and maybe a glass of wine . . . while new ideas drift to me.

Please visit me at http://www.catherinespangler.com to read excerpts, check out my contests, and vote for your favorite book video (there are four different ones), or at http://www.myspace.com/catherinespangler.

Happy reading!

~ Catherine

So step into the hidden world of the Sentinels, and surround yourself with the ancient magic of Atlantis, and the suspense of hunting ultimate evil—and of course, the empowerment of love.


Jane Beckenham

Sometimes as a writer I have this little bird on my shoulder, it’s scathing voice taunting me. “You’ll never find another story, you’ll never do it again.”
Do I listen? Sort of.

For me ideas for a story come in odd moments, mostly when I’m in that half wake/sleep stage. It might be a name, a title for a book, or at times it’s been a full bodied story, the names, situation, who the characters and what there journey will be. With one manuscript, I was virtually silent all weekend as the story unfolded, voices, whole dialogues coming at me 24/7. It was exciting, and scary at the same time. Would I remember it? My family thought I was nuts, and by the Sunday night I had begun to agree.

For my most recent release – He’s The One, the idea came as I saw a scene unfold in my head. A classic car, racing to the church – the old get me to the church on time - thing. There was a woman standing outside. A wedding planner.

I began to ask her questions. Who was she, her name, what she was doing.
And, yes, I will admit, she began to answer! She loved her life, her business, was successful. But there was a problem. Her brides asked her questions about sex.

A problem you ask. Sure is, if your wedding planner is a virgin and has ZIP experience with men. I mean how can she answer questions about multiple orgasms, when she’s never experienced one!

So there was the premise. Get rid of her virginity. Get her business back on track.

Easy as 1-2-3. Well it would be, but she had to find a man happy to do the deed, and walk away.

She needed a love ‘em and leave ‘em kinda guy.

Cade Harper is that man. He’s gorgeous, and in fact I have to admit when I recently did the edits, I absolutely fell in love with this guy all over again. Think bad boy Sawyer from the TV show Lost. Very yummy.

So from here my ideas escalated. So she has sex. So what?

Ah ha… there is the problem. She thought, and he thought once would be enough. Wham bam, thank you ma’am and it’s all over.

Oh, no siree. No way. Once for these two would never ever be enough.

For me ideas come with a word. The other night I had to brainstorm an idea for a competition. A reunion story. Couldn’t think of a thing, then it hit me…Christmas is coming, and hey presto I have my reunion. Santa and Mrs. Santa are going become reacquainted.

One of the best things for me is to allow myself to think of stories. If I feel all ‘blocked’ I will take myself off to bed and lie down and meditate for ½ an hour. Just blank it all out, not something I must admit to being very good at. Then hey presto, back at the computer and it comes along and I’m back writing.
So the morale of my story? Take just one word – one – and make it into a story. It can and does happen, believe me!

Happy writing and reading
Jane Beckenham


Carly Phillips

How do you judge book … by it’s title? By it’s cover? By it’s author? By it’s back cover copy? My books have run the gamut … fun covers (kisses like THE BACHELOR); cartoon covers (The HOT ZONE series); and now women on the cover of CROSS MY HEART and SEALED WITH A KISS. I admit when I saw my recent covers, I flipped. I love them. I think they’re gorgeous. Readers gave me the feeling they’d prefer men on the covers. This had me scratching my head because I remember the days when clinch covers made people cringe and hide books inside magazines. But it seems we’ve come full circle because covers seem to be returning to the hotter guys or couple covers. As a reader I am fine with this. As a writer I am too. I’m always curious how other people feel.

Back cover copy – I want the copy to tell me what’s in the book. I think the tone should reflect the tone of the book, so I know what I’m getting. As an author, I try to make sure to the extent that I can, that readers aren’t misled. So far, I think, so good.

Authors … There are certain authors I buy automatically. Others I’ll try based on word of mouth. I’m still trying to find ways of reaching new readers who haven’t heard of me yet. I’m always open to suggestions on how to do that. I was recently sent a photo of my cover on the Times Square JumboTron. So COOL! Makes me wonder if anyone saw it and said, “I have to go out and buy that book!”

Apparently enough people did buy because after I wrote this blog, I found out that SEALED WITH A KISS hit the New York Times Bestseller List for the week of October 14, 2007. Apparently people liked the women on the cover after all. So what do YOU think? What do YOU want to see on covers?


Jane Lockwood

I wrote my erotic historical FORBIDDEN SHORES after reading Adam Hochschild's wonderful book BURY THE CHAINS, the story of the English abolitionist movement. It confirmed my view of the Georgian era as a time of tumult and radicalism as well as elegance and wit and great clothes and all those other props of historicals.
Hochschild points out that it was possibly the first time that people cared passionately enough about a cause--something that would benefit strangers thousands of miles away who they would never meet--to make sacrifices themselves. Ropemakers in Bristol, one of the cities that thrived on the trade, petitioned to end the slave trade, knowing full well that their own livelihood would be threatened. It was also a movement that cut through divisions of class and gender; ordinary housewives boycotted sugar. The abolitionists introduced the tactics of the modern political campaign--investigative journalism, slogans, and powerful visuals. Wedgwood produced a plaque of a kneeling slave in chains, with the caption "Am I not a man and a brother" that was mass produced and appeared on many artifacts such as jewelry and china.
So I had a great cause, and naturally my characters would take different viewpoints. I also wanted to explore the dynamics of a relationship where three people become involved, and each of them is in love with the one who cannot love them back. My editor wanted me to set it in the Caribbean, which at first I resisted; what could be sexier than Quakers collecting petitions in the rain? But I think she was correct, in that it made the stakes greater for the characters even though it presented me with a problem: I had to write about slaves and slaveowners without glossing over the cruelty or idealizing those slaves who appear as secondary characters. One of my main characters (aka hero #2) March, is a sugar plantation owner. My heroine, Clarissa, an abolitionist so ardent she was seduced, ruined, and exiled from her family by a fellow-abolitionist is a survivor whose fervor for the cause has dimmed. And Allen (hero #1) is a lawyer who's a cynical rebel without a cause; a troublemaker and odd one out in his aristocratic family.
However, I was very happy to write a book that begins with a long voyage where the hero and the heroine find some very novel ways of entertaining themselves below decks! And see if you enjoy my favorite chapter, where Allen does his laundry (very uncharacteristic for a Georgian gentleman) and climbs the mast in a fit of phallic symbolism.You can read the beginning of the book on my website, http://www.janelockwood.com/, and also find out where I'm blogging this month.