Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ships that Pass in the Night

I'm a shipper, are you on, too? Shipping is loving/promoting/obsessing about one character's relationSHIP with another character on a television show or movie, or in a novel...what have you. A book example would be Edward/Bella shippers versus Jacob/Bella shippers.

Some of my ships....

I am a sucker for Destiel or Dean and Castiel on Supernatural. Dean is a sexy demon hunter and Castiel is a hot angel. It doesn't get better than that in my opinion. Castiel raised Dean from hell and left a hand print on his bicep, by the way...and its been off to the races since then. Castiel fell from Heaven for Dean. They went together to Purgatory. Basically, they sacrifice themselves for each other.

I'm such a Doctor Who fan it isn't funny. I started watching during the Matt Smith Era (11th Doctor) and while I loved him, he wasn't "my Doctor." Since the role has been played by different actors, people talk about "their" Doctor, well, I adore the 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. He's rude, against touching, adorably nerdy, and fascinating to watch. I ship him with Clara, the current companion. She is a control freak and sometimes the two bring out the worst in each other, which I find fascinating to watch. There is also a big age difference, which adds a little taboo into the mix. That, and I adore older men.

This is a historical ship of mine, but I loved Spike and Willow, from the moment he kidnapped her in Season 3. It always made more sense to me than Buffy/Spike...since they just hated each other. I never really bought them together as a couple. I think Spike and Willow had wonderful chemistry...as in the second time he kidnapped her/held her hostage and she hit him over the head with something. They had a comedic vibe. 

So who do you ship? Conversely, what ships drive you bonkers?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sexy Villains: Red Reddington

Okay, so time for a confession.

I have a thing for James Spader. There, I said it. I was a goner when I saw him in Pretty in Pink.  For the life of me, I couldn't understand why Molly Ringwald would settle for Andrew McCarthy when she could have Spader. I mean come on...but I digress.

I have a thing for arrogant but hot a$$holes. I write them, I watch them on TV and in movies. I even date them occasionally.  It's not healthy, but there it is. James Spader is the epitome of this type. Even when he takes the occasional nerdy role, like he did in Stargate...he still gives off an arrogant vibe. After all, he just figured out what the Stargate did and you didn't, right?

Now, that he's on The Blacklist, I get a weekly dose of him. And...I love it. He plays Red Reddington, who is a career criminal, a traitor, a womanizer, a murderer, a lover of the finer things -- wine, hotels, dining establishments. He is so damn hot. I can't stand it. I think it's pushing me to writer darker, more dangerous characters and that's never a bad thing. Check out Spader in The Blacklist here.

Plus, did I mention the voice? Oh God...the voice.  It's so good, he will be scaring audiences this summer as Ultron in the Age of Ultron, where he plays an arrogant robot. Check out the trailer for it. The voice is deep, growly, and it sounds like it should he's in bed with you, purring things in your ear. Maybe while you're entwined in silk sheets...back...to...the...topic.

Do you have any villains you love?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Scene from Devil May Care

Hey there everyone!  I've been writing away and I thought I'd share with you a scene from Devil May Care.  I have to warn you this is unedited.

Eddie stilled in the hallway as she heard a knock on the door.

 It was late for visitors, nearly ten o’ clock. Showing up on someone’s doorstep at this time of night could only mean trouble. The question was, which kind? If Ryker or Axel had come by, they would have just walked in. Or Shepherd, for that matter. As a kid, he’d spent about half his time under her roof. If it were one of the other brothers, they would have called her name by now.

She hit the light switch on the wall, illuminating the porch and peered through the peephole to find Byron Beauregard standing on her welcome rug.
Eddie reared back with an indrawn breath.

It was a bit like finding a rattlesnake curled up around your coffee pot. And, frankly, she’d rather deal with the snake. She had an inkling why he’d come to see her.  She’d been brewing moonshine the past few months and her business had steadily grown. She’d bet her buttons it started to cut into Beauregard profits. The family had been bootleggers since the prohibition days—among other criminal activities.


Eddie eased open the drawer on the decorative table nearest the front door and grasped her Colt 45. She had a gun stashed away in almost every room in the house for protection. The Horsemen had many enemies and most of them were spineless enough to come after an old lady, instead of one of the brothers.

Especially an old lady who lived alone.

With a sigh, she slid the lock out of place and opened the door. But she kept the gun at her side. While she doubted, he’d ring the doorbell to start some shit, it was better to be safe than dead.

Byron was a gorgeous, blond man in his early thirties, roughly the same age as her sons, with piercing blue eyes.  You might say heavenly blue eyes. So soft and light blue, they had a purity about them.

It was the only thing pure about Byron. His family had an unholy alliance with the Dixie Mafia.
  Inexplicably, he wore a tuxedo. Like Satan in a Sunday hat.  He offered her a cocky grin though the screen door and for a moment she was struck by his masculine beauty. So excruciatingly beautiful, it almost hurt to look at him. Moments like this reminded her that the devil had first been an angel. He had been God's favorite. Gorgeous. Perfect. But then he fell from grace. And woe betide the world.

 “Good evenin’, Ms. Rollins,” he drawled.

"You're a little overdressed."

He smiled. "I just came from a wedding.  I’m sorry to be callin’ so late.”

Eddie doubted that.

But good manners warred with her natural impatience. Southern hospitality dictated that she invite the gentlemen in and make some polite small talk. When she felt more like ordering him off her property at gunpoint. An intolerance for bullshit was a fatal flaw of hers. Her mouth had gotten her in trouble more times than she could count.

Southern hospitality won out. For now.

“It’s good to see you, Mr. Beauregard. Do, come in.”

 His smile was slow and sweet as molasses. “No need for formalities. Call me Byron.” He eyed the piece in her grip, but she didn’t see even a trace of fear in his expression. “Do you always answer the door with a weapon?”

Eddie flashed a toothy grin. “I surely do. Except on Halloween, it scares the kids. Do you always gallivant around town in a tux?”

He brushed an imaginary speck of dust from his lapel. “I just came for  Then, she forced herself to extend the courtesy of using her first name. “Please call me Eddie.”

He strolled into the room, glancing up at the ceiling with a low whistle. “Nice place you have here, Eddie.”

“Thank you,” she said politely. “May I get you somethin’ to drink?”

“Actually, I was about to offer you one,” he said, tapping a black bag suspended from one of his broad shoulders.

Eddie raised a brow. “By all means, let’s whet our whistle.”

He trailed her into the kitchen and in a few moments, they were both seated at her kitchen table. Byron withdrew two capped quarter-pint mason jars with a reddish liquid in them, as well as a larger quart sized mason jar full of clear liquid. The jar had a black label that read: 
Crossroads Moonshine. 

“I took the liberty of making us cocktails,” he said, as he added a shot of moonshine to each of the smaller jars, before pushing one of them her way. “It’s a bit of grenadine, some blackberries, a little lemon juice.” He winked at her. “I call it Devil’s Brew.”
 “What should we drink to?”

“To new beginnings,” he said with a smile, as he clinked his glass against hers.

She took a sip and placed it on the table. The ‘shine was good, clean tasting,  if a little weak.

“You know,” Byron said, leaning back in his seat. “My great granddaddy started making moonshine way back in the twenties. You know, it was rumored, that he went down to the crossroads in town, made himself a deal with the devil one night for the recipe.”

The crossroads in town were infamous and people came from miles around on spooky holidays like Halloween and Friday the 13th to work a little mojo.  Eddie considered it to be complete crap, but Voodoo put stock in it. In fact, on what he deemed to be more magical days, he wouldn’t go anywhere near the crossroads. He said they were magical spaces, where two directions converged. And bad “energy” was attracted there.

“You don’t say?”

Byron nodded. “That’s why he used to scratch a pentacle on every mason jar he sold. To give the devil his due.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Tell me, have you ever made a deal with the devil?”

She dragged her palms down her pant legs. “Can’t say that I have.”

He fixed his eyes on hers, unblinking and involuntarily a shiver ran down her spine. “You’re about to. I do believe you know why I’m here.”

“I have no earthly idea.  Enlighten me,” she said, lifting her chin.

Oh, she wanted to make him say it. Call it vanity, but she relished the idea that her little business had caused them some trouble. The Beauregards were practically royalty in these parts. All of the Beauregard boys had B first names: Branson, Birdie, Beryl, Bo, Braxton, and so on. And every single one of them a bastard.

Look at that, another B. 

Not in the literal sense of course. All of them were conceived in wedlock, but still…they had a dickish way about them.

“Why, I wanted to congratulate you on the success of your little moonshine enterprise. I’ve had the opportunity to taste your ‘shine and I must say it is a cut above.”

Her mouth fell open. “Congratulate me?” Frankly, she’d expected a threat from him. What the hell? “Who says I make moonshine?” she said coyly.

He winked at her. “Why, of course you do. Everyone knows that.”
“Do they?”

He ignored her, forging ahead. “In fact, I’m so pleased with your success that I’ve come here to make you an offer.”

She frowned as she thought about the circumstances of his visit. He’d come here late at night, dressed up.  What if this was some sort of come on? “What kind of offer?”

He tilted his head to the side and smiled, real slow and easy – just chockfull of sex. His gaze traveled over her body leisurely, letting her know that he found her attractive. “I’m open to just about anything.  Anything spring to mind, ma’am?”
She fixed him with a reproving look that would have made both of her sons sit up straight in their chairs, but it didn’t seem to faze him. “You’re very handsome, but a little wet behind the ears for my taste.”

He chuckled. “My loss, I’m sure. Let’s talk a little commerce. I think we could make some beautiful ‘shine together.”

“You make your own,” she said, glancing at the bottle. “Judging by the fancy pants label and the lowered alcohol level, you’ve gone corporate.”

“Guilty as charged. My father died a few months ago and now that I’m  at the helm of the family business, I’ve been evaluating our resources and restructuring, shall we say.”

“I heard about your daddy’s death. I’m sorry to hear that Buckley passed.” She really wasn’t, but it was the polite thing to say. He’d died in prison, after doing a long stretch for killing Byron’s mother, Linda, in a jealous rage.  According to town gossip, she’d been stepping out on him. There’d even been rumors that she was going to run off with another man.

His face sharpened, eyes cold. “No, you aren’t. No one really is. Not even me.”

 Okay, she’d just trundled into a boatload of daddy issues. “I see.”

Then, his polite veneer snapped back into place and he smiled at her, sweet as could be. 

“We’ll be breaking ground for a distillery at the end of the month. So, we’ll be strictly legit, no more bootlegging.”

Eddie had seen the big lot they’d purchased on Main St. A big sign on it had proclaimed a new Beauregard venture was in store. Whoopdedo.  But she didn’t buy that legit crap for a minute.  And here I was thinkin’ it was front. Be real easy to launder some of that dirty Dixie Mafia money through the distillery accounts.”

He licked his lips. “Isn’t that what you do with all your businesses? Clean up that filthy MC lucre?”

He had a point. They’d had to do some creative accounting from time to time.  Not that she would give him the satisfaction of admitting to it. “And what did you want to talk to me about?”

“I’ve come to offer you a deal.  You have quite a lucrative little side business, selling small batch ‘shine. I have to admit it’s clever marketing –the fruit infusions, the gingham fabric on the lids. But it’s illegal, and comes with a lot of risk.  I’m offering to make your ‘shine an artisanal line of Crossroads. I’ll pay you handsomely for your recipes, plus what? Maybe five percent of sales? And then you can cease and desist making your own.”

Over my dead body. Eddie scowled.  She’d been clearing a hell of a lot money and she didn’t intend to hand it over to the blood-sucking Beauregards. She intended to sock away a some cash over the next several years for her golden years. It wasn’t like the MC business came with a 401K. And I’d agree to that why?”

“As I said, it’s a risky venture. Making shine is dangerous itself.  If you don’t do it right, it becomes tainted with methanol, which causes blindness or even death. Plus, it’s easy to blow yourself up. Not to mention the legal risks. You’re looking at years in jail if the ATF finds your still.”

That last bit was a threat.

Eddie was well aware of the risks, that’s why she didn’t screw around when she made batches. “I see. And you’re doing this…why?  To help me out? Out of the goodness of your heart?”

Byron shrugged. “Well, it helps me out, too. I’m getting all the legal permits and paying some hefty taxes to the government. If you’re selling cheaper shine in town, my profits go down.”

“That can’t be the only reason,” Eddie said, studying him carefully. Something didn’t quite add up.

He tried to appear shamefaced, but it was a calculation. In fact, this whole thing was a con. “You caught me. Truth is, I’d like to have a closer association with the Horsemen.”

“It could hardly get any more distant. Besides, I thought you were all cozied up to the Raptors.”

“Yes, well, my business partners and I have become aware of some of their extracurricular activities. Leaving dead junkies around town is bad for business. They’ve attracted a lot of unwanted attention. It’s bad for business.” 

“Your concern for the girls is touching,” she said dryly.

He smirked. “Well, live by the needle, die by the needle. The point is, our association with them is over.  We want the Raptors gone, just as much as the Horsemen do. We could work together to make that happen. Minimize the damage to your club, the town.”

She’d suspected as much. He must have seen her business venture as a pressure point he could press, to coerce the club’s cooperation. “Sorry. We don’t work with criminals.”

He laughed then and it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I see and you don’t think you’re a criminal? I assure you the FBI doesn’t share your opinion.” He spread his hands on the table. “My partners are practical people. We want to make money and not make waves.” He held out his hand to her. “Let’s work together. We’ll starve the Raptors out, together.

“You’re so full of shit, your eyes should be brown.” She capped the moonshine cocktail and pushed it back across the table. “Thanks for dropping by, but I have no intention of stopping.”

“Damn. I was hoping you’d see reason and just agree to go along with the plan.”

Eddie grinned. “But then I wouldn’t be me.”

He stood up. “I can see we’re going to have to do this the hard way. I was prepared to make a handshake deal with you tonight.”

She made a little sound in the back of her throat.  “Honey, I don’t trust you as far as I could throw you. It’d take a lot more than a handshake.”

He winked. “What? You would prefer a kiss?”

She sensed the flirting was meant to throw her off guard and it worked. “Hell, no.”

Byron grinned. “I think you are protesting a bit too much.”

Eddie got up and stalked to the door, then held it open. “Yeah? And I think it’s time for you to go.” To hell with Southern hospitality.

Byron stood up but he slowly strolled to the door, letting her know with his body language he wasn’t intimidated. “The next time I make you this offer, the terms won’t be nearly as good,” he warned. “If I were you, I’d accept now, save yourself some trouble.”

“Yeah?” she said, as she watched him walk onto the porch. “Well, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.” While she put on a brave face, she was worried. If Beauregard and his associates came after them, they could be in seriously deep shit.

Eddie shut the door and switched off the porch lights, leaving him in the darkness.
She could hear his slow footfalls on the wood. As he walked, he whistled the Devil went down to Georgia.

 Eddie knew she’d have to be a damn good fiddler to get out of this fucking mess. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writerly Influences

I was born a writer. Or is that born to write? 

My mother told me that as early as age two, I would crawl into bed with them (my mom and dad) and tell them "movies" I saw in my head. As a young teen, I wrote a very terrible fanfictiony novel about New Kids on the Block.  I was a voracious reader growing up and I still am. But I always felt the urge to put pen to paper. I've written very bad poetry, short stories, novellas, novels...you name it.  Romance has always been my favorite genre. I'm a sucker for a good love story. 

Every writer has been influenced by other writers. That's how we learn our craft. I have spent hours devouring books, but I'm not only interested in the story. No, I pick it apart. I look at the subplots, the emotional journey the characters go through, how the relationship evolves, and other technical elements. I'm as fascinated by the process as by the content. 

I've wanted to be Kresley Cole, Laurell K. Hamilton (the early Anita books) and even Karen Marie Moning at different points during my writer's journey. However, you have to find your particular writer's voice. I eventually stopped writing like other writers and writing like myself. But that doesn't mean I still don't reference those other writers.

I'm not only interested in other romance writers. I am heavily influenced by screenwriters, particularly those who write for television, which is the closest thing to writing a novel. The characters change and evolve throughout the series, so we can see them grow, fall in love,  and get what they want out of life. I took Alexandra Sokoloff's workshop on screenwriting tricks for authors and it changed the way I write. I always found myself wandering in the metaphorical darkness in the middle of my stories, she helped me tighten everything up and pull my manuscripts together. It provided a structure for the creativity. 

Joss Whedon is probably the biggest influence. For those not in the know, he has penned Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, the Series, Dollhouse, Firefly, and now the Avengers movies. Fans call his body of work The Whedonverse. I genuflect to his amazing talent. He writes dramedy very well. What's that, you ask? A mixture of drama and comedy and I use it in the Four Horsemen series. I think it takes people on more of a ride.  You need a little comedy to balance the tragedy. 

 I'm such a fan/nerd, I've gotten the boxed sets of all his work and then watched/listened to his audio commentary on them, because he dissects how he puts a story together and that is just priceless.  Like going to film school!  He also writes incredibly powerful female characters and I really relate to that. Want to see how awesome he is? Watch his Equality Now speech. 

Another influence is Shonda Rhimes. Shonda has created Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Rhimes owns Thursday nights on ABC and she writes romance and drama incredibly well.  Her McDreamy/Meredith moments on Greys are incredible. As well as the love triangle between Jake, Olivia, and the President on Scandal...it is seriously twisted but highly watchable.  One thing I really love about her casts is the diversity. I'm interested in stories from different walks of life and I love to walk a proverbial mile in those characters' shoes. Here is an interview with her she is talking about writing.

But all of these influences are really about forming your own voice as a writer.  "Voice" is something that editors and agents say they are looking for but it is nearly indefinable. Some have described it as a worldview, an outlook on life that shows through the words.  Other descriptions focus on how a writer strings words together, or more of a style quality. While in high school, I worked on the school's newspaper and the literary journal. Not exactly a shocker, huh? My English/lit journal teacher, Mr. Vale, scribbled on one of my short stories "voice possibilities". Evidently, I was building my writing voice at the tender age of seventeen. 

 I finally found my own voice and it is something that you hone with every new project you tackle. It evolves with you. I have a feeling it will keep on changing and I find that comforting!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Oh, those bad boys...

Hello. My name is Cynthia and I love bad boys. Always have. On the big or little screen, I'm always into villains. Same with books. I've created a new one for my upcoming book, Devil May Care. He's not the hero. Nope, Booker Beauregard is a bad man, deeply involved in the Dixie Mafia.

For those not in the know, it is a criminal organization that runs primarily in the Southern states.
 They're involved in moonshining, bribery, murder...you name it. All around bad guys. And Booker is at the center of it.

I'm not sure, but Booker and his brothers might get their own series. I put him in a room with Eddie, the heroine of Devil May Care, and he just sort of took over and jumped off the page at me. Above is a picture of him, at least how I envision him.

Authors talk about characters "speaking" to them and it is happening to me with Booker. I'm thinking about the book, writing scenes in my head and this dialogue comes pouring out. It's sort of wonderful. But I just have to make sure it doesn't take the book over. :)  He's a villain here, not a hero.

But maybe I can reform him?

Hmm...don't we always think that about bad boys? We can change them...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Blahs

Remember that magical first snow fall in December, right around the holiday season? Where you snuggle up and have cocoa?

Yeah, I'm totally over that.

I have a good eighteen inches or so of snow on the ground at my house and it is starting to get to me. I don't know about all of you, but it has been a long, hard winter season in Northeastern Ohio. As I write this, it is 1 degree outside. Yes, 1 degree. That isn't a temperature as far as I'm concerned. Tonight it is going down to -3. Brrr. I'm really not a cold weather person.

I'm planning on doing a spa night this weekend. I have all of the ingredients for one. Maybe that will boost the mood?!  What do all of you do to stave off the winter blues? I'm willing to try anything at this point.

I'm not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel either. It has been known to snow in April in Northeastern Ohio. Yes. April! I'm ready for some sunshine and green things. Actually, it would just be nice to see the ground again. No green needed.

Okay, here endeth the rant. I'll pull myself together, stop whining, and pull on my big girl panties and deal with it...for now.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Excerpt: Devil May Care

Hello all! Damned was (finally!) released. And I have already started to work on Devil May Care, the next book in the series. Sara Rayne has already started on Hellbent, the very next book in the series.

I'm excited about Devil, mostly because I adore Eddie and writing her is a lot of fun, though in the scene below, she is sad. But, I promise the balance of the book will be a bit lighter than Damned.

Chapter One

“Happy birthday, baby.”

Eddie Rollins knelt beside her late husband’s grave. Jackson Cemetery was old, filled with crumbling tombstones from the Civil War, and surrounded by a rusty wrought iron fence, but it happened to be close to Hell. It was a cold October night and she zipped up her gray hoodie against the chill in the air. She knelt on the brown, scrubby grass and swiped at the stone with the back of her hand, clearing away the prairie dust, so she could read his name more clearly.

Robert Joker Rollins.

She believed in celebrating a person’s life, not fixating on their death. So, she never visited Joker’s grave on the anniversary of his murder. She’d rather remember his life, the happy times they had together. So, she came the cemetery on his birthday or their anniversary. Sometimes she dropped by on father’s day with her sons, Axel and Ryker.

But today, she’d come alone, with a bottle of Maker’s Mark, Joker’s favorite drink, a Kentucky bourbon whisky that packed a real punch. They’d gotten liquored up on the stuff on several occasions. The bottle was sealed with a thick layer of red candle wax and she used Joker’s pocketknife to slice it open. Eddie poured a bit of the amber liquid into the ground, a shot for a dead man, then took a swig herself.

“Hard to believe it’s been twenty years.”

At first his death had been a raw, gaping wound, a searing pain that woke her in the middle of the night. But it had faded over the years, moved to the margins of her life, a shadow that occasionally darkened happy times. She got a pang on Christmas, on their anniversary. Every now and then as she gazed at her sons, she would see Joker in their expressions, hear him in their voices. Sometimes an old memory would come to her at an odd moment, like a private joke. But the ache no longer hollowed her out, and doubled her over with pain. It gave her a twinge now and then, like an old war wound, a part of her now.