Friday, February 27, 2015

Scene Spotlight for A Swan's Sweet Song by J. Arlene Culiner

I am thrilled to bring another Scene Spotlight to you, this time from J. Arlene Culiner, a Wild Rose Press author. She’s sharing insight into her book, A Swan’s Sweet Song, about a playwright and a country music star.

Title: A Swan’s Sweet Song
Author: J. Arlene Culiner
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release Date: January 23, 2015

BOOK LINKS:

SCENE:

            Without much enthusiasm, she sauntered in his direction and stopped in front of him. Boldly, she let her eyes slide up and down. Carston almost laughed. She was evaluating him, sizing him up like a chunk of roast beef or a steak, calculating how tender he might be. Well, he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had a trim body and easy grace. Women loved his gray eyes, his silvered mahogany hair, and weren’t physical attributes a more immediate magnet than intelligence? But this singer giving him the once-over didn’t look so pleased about the physique. Or his reputation. Who did she think she was?
            He met her eyes with an equal lack of warmth. Ms. Valentine would learn, very quickly, she was out of her depth when it came to him. But even as the thought crossed his mind, he felt his fatigue and pent-up hostility trickling away. To be replaced by interest. And something akin to desire. Desire? How could his body betray him in this way? He struggled to smother the reaction, nip it in its first, traitorous bud. This country singer was a charmer. She knew what effect she had on men.
            His mind raced, searched for meaningless conversation to smash the powerful silence, quash the sensations and, above all, to hide his reaction from her. He kept his tone cool.
            “Hard to understand why we’re being interviewed together.”
            “Just what I thought,” she answered, just as icily.
            Carston stared harder. Her voice had taken him by surprise: low, vibrant, it clashed with her flashy appearance. Now he really was intrigued. Very much so.
            “We are on opposite sides of the cultural world.” He noted how condescending he sounded. Did it matter? Well, in a way, it did. He had the vague suspicion that condescension  might not be the right tactic to take with Sherry Valentine.
            A sarcastic smile slid over her beautiful lips. “That’s why you were sneaking out the door?”
            Her words pulled him up short, shoved soft, sensual thoughts to the back of his mind. So she’d seen what he’d been up to? He felt himself squirm and sensed he had to justify himself for some crazy reason.
            He shook his head. “Fatigue. That’s why I wanted to get away. What I need right now is a nice big bed with crispy sheets, just like the one waiting in my hotel room. Believe me, I know how good those sheets will feel when they slide over my skin tonight.”
            He stopped, shocked by his own words. Was he crazy? Talking about a bed, sheets, skin? He’d intended to keep the conversation on neutral ground—then had dropped into the trap. Reacted the way all men would. Did Sherry Valentine now expect him to pull out the big guns? Invite her back to that bed of his for a torrid night?
            But she ignored the innuendo. Her lips crooked up into a smile of complicity.
            “A comfortable bed? Sounds heavenly. Just add a glass of wine and a good book to that picture.”


QUESTIONS:

1. Where does this scene take place?

The scene takes place in a local radio station in the rather uninspiring town of Midville. Carston and Sherry are both celebrities — he’s a well-known playwright and she’s a country music star — so they’ve drawn quite a crowd of onlookers. And, being in the limelight, attracting fans and paparazzi certainly complicates their budding romance.
 
2. What inspired this scene?

Years ago, I worked in a local (French) radio station and had a country music program (something quite unusual in France at the time.) My job wasn’t just to play music: I had to talk about the origins of country music, present different musicians and talk about their musical styles. I had to do considerable research, and all that information has stayed with me. I did sometimes think about using it in a story, but I wasn’t quite sure how.

Around a year and a half ago, I decided to write a romance with a hero and heroine who were complete opposites. For some reason, I remembered those long ago days at the radio station, and how exciting it was to see new people walk through the door every day — some were very charming. I was single at the time, and I wondered if, one day, I’d fall madly in love with one of them... And remembering that, gave me the beginning of my book, A Swan’s Sweet Song.

3. What do you love the most about this scene?

I think that when people fall in love, they do it at first sight. In most cases, they don’t know they’re falling in love — they don’t even know they’re attracted to the future lover. But there’s a subtle, quite unconscious game going on, a sort of testing, a sharpening of wits, even when the conversation is quite banal. And capturing that first magical moment when my heroine Sherry, meets my hero Carston, was a delight to write.

4. Was this scene difficult or easy to write?

For me, everything is difficult to write. This particular scene needed a delicate sort of tension, and I had to make sure to catch that. However, the very finest points come much later, when I rewrite. And I love nothing better than rewriting. I usually rewrite at least four times before I even start to be happy with a manuscript.

5. Can you tell us a secret about this scene?

I certainly can — but, then again, I don’t want to give too much away. As we all know, first impressions are so important, and we always put our best foot forward when meeting someone new. We project an image of ourselves, and hope the other will accept what we’ve presented. Sherry is a flashy-looking country movie star, a self-confident woman in her early fifties with a smart answer for every situation. Carston is an ivy-league playwright, a loner and very reserved.

But neither Sherry nor Carston are what they seem to be…


BLURB:

The air sizzles when a country music star and renowned playwright meet, but can opposites fall in love?

The instant Sherry Valentine and Carston Hewlett meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites.

Smart-talking Sherry fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, she’s ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers and paparazzi, and her spangled cowboy boots carry her all across the country, from one brightly lit stage to the next.

A renowned but reclusive playwright, Carston cherishes his freedom, the silence of his home in the woods and his solitary country walks.

Any long-term commitment is obviously out of the question: how about a quick and passionate fling?

But when their names are linked in the scandal press, Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed. And the budding relationship seems doomed.



BIO:

Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has lived in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn and café in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone’s dismay, she rescues and protects all living creatures—especially spiders, bats and snakes; her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.

AUTHOR LINKS:


Thank you for sharing this scene with us, J. Arlene. I really enjoyed it!

Please leave J. Arlene a comment! :)


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eggplant Recipes

If you like eggplant, you’re in luck! I’m going to share two of my favorite eggplant recipes plus one from my heroine, Dani Hart from 30 Seconds.

Image from Pixabay

Eggplant Sandwich

Need:
Eggplant, sliced
Onion, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Sub bun (Or whatever type of bun you prefer.)
Mayo
Mustard
Garlic powder
Dried basil
Olive Oil

Instructions:

1. Season both sides of the eggplant slices with garlic powder and dried basil. Set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan/skillet and brown the onions slices. Once the onions are tender, set them aside and add the eggplant.

NOTE: Eggplant soaks up oil, so you may have to add a little more oil while cooking it.

3. When the eggplant is tender, set it aside again and add the sliced tomato to the skilled. Briefly warm the tomatoes, but don’t leave it on the heat too long or they’ll get mushy.

4. While you toast the halved buns, warm up the onions and eggplants.

5. Mix a squirt of mustard in a tablespoon of mayo (to taste) and spread the mixture onto the toasted buns.

6. Stack the cooked vegetables onto the buns and ENJOY!

NOTE: You can add green pepper, zucchini, and whatever else you like. This sandwich is great with your choice of French fries or soup.

***************************************************************************************

Eggplant Pasta

Need:
Eggplant
Pasta
Cherry tomatoes
Olive Oil
Pasta Sauce (Your choice.)
Basil (Fresh is best for this.)

Instructions:

1. Fill a pot about half-way with water and set on the stove to boil. While you’re waiting, dice the eggplant into cubes. You can leave the skin if you want (I do). And halve the cherry tomatoes.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet (Make sure it doesn’t get too hot!) and add the diced eggplant. When the eggplant is soft, add the halved cherry tomatoes.

3. When the water boils, add the pasta. After the pasta is tender, drain it and return to the pot. Combine the vegetables and pasta sauce of choice to noodles. Tear up basil leaves and add to the pasta. Heat it thoroughly.

4. Spoon out portions onto a plate or into a bowl. Enjoy!

NOTE: This pasta is great with garlic bread.

***************************************************************************************

EXCERPT:

She sipped her coffee and examined Blake over the top of her mug. “I want to cook dinner for you tonight.” He looked at her, a forked sausage halfway to his mouth. Smiling to herself, she cut a triangle from her stack of pancakes.

 “Why?”

“You have to eat.” She snapped a crispy piece of bacon in half and took a bite.

“It’s against the rules.”

“Eating?” She raised a brow at him. “I’m not asking for a date, nor am I going to poison you. I make awesome eggplant parmesan.”

“I don’t have eggplant,” he said, shoveling a forkful of scrambled eggs into his mouth as if that would end all further discussion.

“We can pick one up.”

“Excuse me?” He looked at her. “You aren’t going anywhere. Not with Red and his men after you.”

Thanks to you, she thought.

“Correction. They’re after us. I highly doubt we’d see them while picking out eggplant, unless they get a craving for cucumbers.”


***************************************************************************************

Dani’s Eggplant Parmesan

Need:
Eggplant
Olive Oil
Basil (Fresh, none of that dried crap as Dani would say.)
Mozzarella Cheese
Tomatoes
Pasta Sauce

Instructions:

1. Slice eggplant and lightly brush both sides with olive oil, set in a warm skilled and cook each side for about three minutes until lightly golden. Set aside in a baking dish.

2. Place a few fresh basil leaves onto each slice of eggplant.

3. Slice the mozzarella (as thick as you want) and layer on top of the eggplant. Then slice the tomato and place on top of the mozzarella. Add another basil leaf on top of the tomatoes.

4. Sprinkle the whole dish with parmesan cheese and pour pasta sauce over the layers of eggplant, cheese, and tomato.

5. Bake this in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

6. Let cool and enjoy!

NOTE: Excellent with cheesy garlic bread.



QUESTIONS: Do you like eggplant? What’s your favorite eggplant recipe?


Monday, February 23, 2015

Writing About: Witches

I love witches in literature and real life, and I love creating witch characters.The witches I’ve known are the kindest, brightest people. The witches I’ve written about run the gambit of my imagination from the fanciful witches you’ll find in books/movies (including dark witches) to modern-day witches who worship nature, beauty, and life.

If you want to write a book about a witch character, you can use these tips:


Modern-Day Witch:

1.    Research

Witches are not evil people who worship the devil and are part of a cult. They are kind-spirited people who believe in a creed (known as the Wiccan Rede) that says, “An' ye harm non, do what ye will.” Witchcraft centers around expanding ones knowledge and understanding of nature (trees, animals, lunar phases, seasons, etc.). It never involves harmful spells or potions. The spells witches may cast are for healing, love, wisdom and creativity, and the “potions” they brew are tonics and other healing remedies. Witches believe in the Law of Three that states whatever you send out returns to you threefold, so they only do good things with their craft.

2.    Appearances

Witches don’t have a distinct look. You could pass a witch or two in the grocery store. But if you want to give your female character a look that could be for a witch, she can dress in long, flowing skirts and cotton sundresses, lace, and crocheted wraps.
Did you know? The Defense Department recognizes Wicca as an official religion and allows Wiccan soldiers to state their belief on their dog tags. As of 2006, an estimated 1,800 Wiccans served in the United States military. 
Image from Pixabay

3.    Know the 8 Sabbats

If you’re going to follow a witch character for any given period of time in your story, you should know what the eight Sabbats are because they are all significant, especially for magic.
· Yule, Winter Solstice- marks the longest night of the year and the start of the sun’s return. 
· Imbolc, Feast of the Candles- celebrates the beginning of spring and the sprouting of seeds. 
· Spring Equinox- when earth awakens. Wiccans color eggs and plant seeds. 
· Beltane, May Day (May1st)- a celebration of the fertility of spring. 
· Midsummer- the longest day of the year. 
· Lugnasadh (August 1st)- the first harvest. 
·  Autumn Equinox- earth prepares to die and Wiccans give thanks for the harvest they have received. 
·   Samhain, October 31st- the Wiccan New Year that honors rebirth.
4.    Ceremonies

Ceremonies are very important to witches. Each one is done for a specific reason. I’ll highlight two that have the most meaning to Wiccans and can be great additions to any story:
· Initiation: When a witch is welcomed into a coven or, more to the point, becomes a witch for the first time in their life. 
Read this article for more information on initiations into covens. 
Read this article for information on a solitary witches self dedication ritual. 
· Handfasting- This is a Wiccan marriage where the couple’s joined hands are bound with a rope they created from three strands that represent the bride, groom, and their relationship. As they braid these strands, they discuss their lives and futures together.
5.    Magick

Modern day witches cast spells with the energy of natural things and their deities. They use candles, oils, incense, and herbs as well as these tools:

·         Athame (double-edged knife)- directs power and energy out of the witches body and into the world.

·         Chalice (cup)- holds water or wine for ritual use.

·         Broom- used to cleanse the ritual space before and after magickal work.

·         Cauldron (pot)- can be filled with water, fire, flowers or other items at a ceremony.

Witches don’t wield power with their hands. They don’t vanquish demons like on Charmed (my all-time favorite show) with potions. But they do have a...

·         Book of Shadows- a witch’s personal journal where they document spells, rituals, and magickal lore.

·         Altar- a space (table or shelf) where spell and ritual tools can be kept.

·         Pentagram/Pentacle- an encircled five pointed star used as a symbol of the Wicca faith. Having your witch wear jewelry with a pentagram on it would be a nice touch.

Image from Pixabay

Again, do your research. I recommend reading “The Everything Wicca and Witchcraft Book” by Skye Alexander.

Supernatural Witch:

1.    Appearance

If you want to create a supernatural witch, you have the freedom to get creative with his/her appearance. In my short story, Witch of Death, my heroine, Liberty Sawyer, looks like your classic evil witch with jet-black hair, ice-blue eyes, and moon-white skin.

2.    Powers

A supernatural witch can have any power you can imagine. Piper on Charmed could blow things up with her hands. Your witch could also harness power in his/her hands.
Here is a list of Supernatural Powers and Abilities

3.    Name

A witch in a fantasy or paranormal story can have any name from Sabrina (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) to Bellatrix (Harry Potter). Whatever name speaks to you for your witch character should be the one you choose.


4.    Magick

When a supernatural witch does magick, anything can happen. Lightning can strike around him/her, the four elements (water, fire, earth and wind) can flow like streams
and spin around your witch, and flames can burst from the ground like geysers. In Witch of Death, my witches can form burning orbs of energy with their hands that they used as weapons against each other.

5.    Blend fantasy with real life.

You can have supernatural witches in your story, even evil witches who dabble in black magick, and still include some of the things I mentioned before in the modern-day witch category.



QUESTIONS: Do you like reading books with witches as the main characters? If so, do you have a favorite book?



AUTHOR NOTE: This is not a post for people to leave hateful comments about witches/Wicca. If you do, it will be deleted immediately and not responded to. Thanks!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Author Interview with Louise Lyndon + Giveaway


Help me welcome Louise Lyndon to Write with Fey. She’s telling us about her book, Of Love and Vengeance, and offering a free eBook copy. Check out the giveaway below!

Please tell us about your current release, Louise.

My newest release, Of Love and Vengeance, is about a few things really. Firstly, it’s about prejudices, mainly about how we can tar an entire group by either misconceptions or by the behavior of a few. Both the hero and heroine are guilty of doing this, so we get to see how they deal with this. It’s also about acceptance, not just of each other, but of yourself as well. Laila, the heroine has a birthmark that covers one side of her face, and she really struggles with loving herself because of it. So we also see how she learns to love herself.

BLURB:

Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her young nephews survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves.  But can Laila let Aymon die at the hands of the king once she learns the truth?

A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret?

Title: Of Love and Vengeance
Author: Louise Lyndon
Genre: Historical Romance (medieval)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release Date: 19 December 2014

BUY LINKS:


1. How did you pick the title for your book?

Actually, the book was originally titled, The Promise. My editor asked me to change it because there was already another book with that title. I’m hopeless at titles so I messed around a bit on one of those title generator sites. Some of the results were hilarious. Eventually, after combining a few title results I came up with, Of Love and Vengeance.

2. I think it's a great title! Why did you choose the setting for, Of Love and Vengeance?

I love medieval settings because I like being able to have sword fights in my stories! Also, as all stories need conflict, the medieval time period offers an endless supply of it, especially around the Norman invasion of England, which is when Of Love and Vengeance takes place.

3. I love medieval settings too! How did you come up with the names for your hero and heroine?

You know, this is going to sound completely weird, but the names more or less just ‘appear’ when I start writing the story. A scene will pop into my head, and the characters will already have their names. So, I just go with those names. I tried to change the names once but the characters were having none of that!

4. Which actors would play your hero and heroine in a movie?

Good question! I’m one of those writers who finds having an actual photo of the hero/heroine extremely helpful. For my hero, Aymon, he is based on Chris Hemsworth. I mean, what more is there to say about that guy? He’s handsome, has a brilliant build, and did I mention he’s handsome as well? So, for sure, CH would play Aymon.

For Laila, my heroine, I’ve based her on Kristen Stewart, to a certain extent. I always knew she’d have a birthmark down the side of one face, so it having a photo of KS near my laptop just helped me a little when I needed to describe physical features. So, KS would play Laila.

5. If you have a pen name, can you explain how you came up with it?

I do have a pen name. Louise is my middle name. Lyndon is my father’s first name. He died when I was four years old so I thought it would make a nice tribute to him.

6. Using your father's name for your pen name is special. How old were you when you read your first romance book? What was it?

I think it was a Mills & Boon book. I can’t remember the title, but I do remember going to Target and buying loads of titles.

7. Is there a teacher (or teachers) you would like to personally thank for his/her influence?

Mr Nilbet! From grade one to grade four I went to a school that had only fourteen students – in the entire school! We obviously only had one teacher to teach all the grades and Mr Nilbet was our teacher. He was brilliant. He would play with us kids at break times, during summer he’d have water fights with us – and on our birthday he would make us a cake! He was also very encouraging. He was just an all-round great teacher. To this day, and we’re talking about 30 something years later, he’s still in contact with his former students! I still call him Mr Nilbet!

8. What’s on your bucket list?

I have a few things on my bucket list. The main ones being;

1. To see the Aurora Borealis
2. Spend a night at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi
3. To eat my body weight in chocolate. But to be fair, that is probably more wishful thinking than an actual bucket list to do item.

9. That's a lot of chocolate! What lessons did you learn early on in your writing career?

I learned two very valuable lessons that I still, to this day, adhere to. Firstly, write the story of your heart. By that I mean, don’t try to second guess what readers may or may not want, or what may or may not be currently selling, because I think once you only start thinking about those things then it influences your writing – not necessarily in a positive way.

Secondly, treat your setting as you would a character. By this I mean, really know it and use it to set your scene. For example, a forest during the day is very different to a forest at night. Think about the differences and weave them into your story.

10. Do you listen to music while you write?

No. I’m one of these writers who finds music very distracting while I write. I tried listening to classical music once while I wrote and even that type of music distracted me. 


AUTHOR BIO:
Louise grew up in Australia before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia. In 2013 Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing Contest – Historical Romance Category –for her story, The Promise, which has since been retitled as, Of Love & Vengeance. When not writing, she can be found crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls!

AUTHOR LINKS:
Goodreads / Pinterest = llyndon3513

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for answering my questions, Louise, and for offering an eBook copy to my readers! :)


Please leave Louise a comment and enter the giveaway!


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