24 October 2013

Beware the Glitter of #NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is prepping to go. Are you signing on for the wild ride?

NaNoWriMo is the shortform for (Inter)National Novel Writing Month which takes place annually. The intention is, within the 30 days of November, to write 50,000 words making up a dirty draft of a novel. It is as much a test of planning skills and endurance as it is of literary endeavour, but there is a lot of help at hand on the NaNoWriMo website, and participants often make lasting writing-goal friendships on the forums. I doff my hat to every one.

The problems can arise in early December when participants get their breaths back and look at what they have. The dirty draft reads quite well in the circumstances. In fact, with a few tweaks and a bit of a polish…

And herein lies disaster.

In a previous life I critiqued fiction, and three NaNoWriMo scripts passed before my eyes. Each had shallow characters, major holes in the storyline, and read as if enhanced film scripts. Was I unlucky? I doubt it.

Each had been written as a dirty draft, except the writer could no longer see that because it was written; it was a whole; it was done. Seeing problems in your work takes insight that beginner novelists in particular lack through dearth of experience.

I know only one selling novelist who starts with a premise and then hits the dirty draft as fast a possible. Once written she identifies the main thread and its theme, the main and subsidiary characters, and excises all non-supporting tangents. Next she researches and plans in full the characters and settings, and only then, with the theme sitting front and central in her mind, does she rewrite the novel without sight of its original incarnation.

This is what dirty drafts are for, to see if the premise holds what is needed. It is not an end in itself but a step along the way.

This year the self-publishing company LuLu is teaming up with NaNoWriMo ‘to help more authors than ever before realize their vision’. Amazon KDP, Createspace, Kobo, Nook Press, Smashwords, iBookstore… all offer writers a way of bringing their work to the floodlit global stage as a digital download or a print-on-demand paperback.

Don’t rush to publish before Christmas. As a writer you owe it to yourself to not just do it, but to do it right.

18 October 2013

Author Spotlight - Felicity Heaton's Passionate Paranormals

Today I am welcoming prolific paranormal writer, Felicity Heaton, to give readers a taste of something different. Take it away, Felicity!

It’s wonderful to be here at Linda’s blog to talk about my new book, Her Wicked Angel, which is the sixth in my Her Angel romance series.

I’m going to be sharing an excerpt from the book with you today, but I also wanted to let you know that I’m celebrating the release by giving away the first book in the series, Her Dark Angel, for FREE at selected Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books and Apple iBookstore sites.

FREE EBOOK: You can find all the links for the Her Dark Angel free ebook offer (and two other free paranormal romance ebooks) at:

Here’s more about Her Wicked Angel, including an excerpt from this long angel romance novel.

Her Wicked Angel - Felicity Heaton
The King of Demons and the Devil’s right hand man, Asmodeus is a dark angel born of evil and created for destruction. When his master orders him to venture into the mortal world and retrieve a female for him, he seizes the chance to leave Hell for the first time, uncaring of what the Devil has planned for her… until he sets eyes on the most beautiful woman he has ever seen—a female who awakens new feelings within his black heart, unleashing passion so intense that it controls him and desire he cannot resist.

He will not let his wretched master have her. She will belong to him.

Liora is a witch with a bad reputation and an obsession with fighting demons. A mission gone wrong sees her sent to Paris to cool off, but when a dark and deadly warrior with a gaze of golden fire lands in her life, she ends up burning hotter than Hell for the wicked angel. Nothing will stand between her and the immense, forbidding male. Not her cousin. Not Asmodeus’s sworn enemy and twin, Apollyon. And certainly not the Devil.

Caught up in a tempest of danger and soul-searing passion, can they survive against the odds and seize their forever after?

Her Wicked Angel is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and many other retailers. Also available in paperback. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/ebooks.php?title=Her%20Wicked%20Angel

Her Wicked Angel – Excerpt

   “Why do you stare at me?” Asmodeus said and Liora tapped into her power, channelling it into him in the hope of discovering whether his awkwardness was real or an act.
   She could sense no falseness in him. Her staring genuinely confused him.
   “I’m trying to figure you out.” There was no point in hiding her intentions. The more honest she was with him, the more liable he was to be honest with her.
   “And?” A playful edge entered his eyes and she wasn’t surprised to find the corners of his lips curling into a wicked smile.
   "I’m getting nowhere.” She cocked her head to one side and narrowed her gaze on him. “Are you evil?”
   A very blunt and honest answer. “Evil because everyone expects you to be evil… or because you really are that way?”
   He frowned at her and then switched his focus back to the skies ahead of him. “I was born evil.”
   “I know the story,” she said and he flicked another glance at her, a touch of surprise in his eyes now. “You’re everything evil in Apollyon… blah, blah, blah… but I’m not convinced that you’re only evil.”
   His golden eyes darkened and crimson edged them. She was pushing his buttons again. He didn’t like her mentioning Apollyon or comparing them in any way. She could understand why. She hated it whenever her coven mentioned how she should strive to be more like Serenity—all good and graceful. Serenity had never lived through hell as she had. Serenity had no reason to have darkness and hatred inside her.
   Liora looked down as he glided around the top of the beautiful white domes of the church of Sacré-Coeur with her and then brought them down in the square below. She expected at least a bump as they landed, but it was smoother than any touch down she had ever experienced.
   He carried her to the iron fence edging the square and stared out over the city. Dusk turned the elegant stone buildings and the ribbon of the river pink and gold, making them more beautiful than ever.
   Asmodeus gently set her down.
   “You’ve really never left Hell?” she said while watching him absorb the view of the city with wide eyes.
   He looked like a man who had never witnessed such a view. She had asked Apollyon about Hell. His answer had been that it was black and grim, and that the only colours in the bleak landscape were the boiling rivers of lava.
   “Never.” Asmodeus narrowed his golden gaze and shifted it down to her. “Have you ever left the mortal realm?”
   She shook her head, the loose tangled waves of her chestnut hair brushing her shoulders. “Never… what’s it like where you live?”
   “I have a castle I built.”
   “A home.” She looked out over the city, enjoying the view even though she had come here often during the first two weeks into her stay with Serenity and Apollyon. It was nice to escape them sometimes, finding her own space so she could think and be herself.
   “I do not think of it as a home.”
   Liora frowned and looked across at him. He stood with his profile to her, his eyes drifting over the city, the sinking sun bringing out their colour but not warming them. They were cold and empty again. Where had his thoughts taken him?
   The more she looked at him and thought about what he had said, the more she felt he was lonely but didn’t realise it. He had never left Hell and he refused to view his castle as his home.
   Did he have no love and light in his life?
   “So what are your friends like? Are they all bad-ass demons or are you mates with the Devil?”
   Asmodeus’s gaze locked on a distant point and then flicked straight to her. “I have none.”
   He had no friends.
   He had no home.
   What sort of lonely life was he leading in Hell? She was beginning to wonder how there was even a sliver of good in him. He had no reason to feel that or any positive emotions at all.
   Liora placed her hand over his on the black metal railing and he looked down at them, his eyes slowly widening in that way that made her feel that there was something about Asmodeus that would surprise everyone who saw him if they knew about it.
   He had always been alone.
   No one had ever shown him compassion or care.
   No one had ever touched him like this, as a friend would, offering comfort and support.
   He was a clone of Apollyon, everything evil distilled into its purest and most vicious form, but he was a product of his environment too.
   He had been starved of good and driven to do bad. He had never been given a chance to be anything else. The Devil had moulded him into this man before her and for some reason she wanted to be the one to show the world that they were wrong about Asmodeus, and he could be something more than they believed him to be.
   “Do you have no companions at all?” She looked up into his eyes, her eyebrows furrowed and a tiny flicker of hope in her heart.
   He lifted his gaze to lock with hers and his thumb brushed hers, causing her heart to leap and race.
   He swallowed hard and hesitated, and she thought he wouldn’t answer as he averted his gaze, fixing it far below them at the base of the hill and the street there. His eyes tracked something, turning distant at the same time. She looked down and frowned when she saw an old woman walking two miniature poodles.
   “I have Romulus and Remus,” he said in a gruff voice and she raised her eyes back to his. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “They are not quite like those canines. Hellhounds are larger, and live far longer.”
   He had dogs. Companions. Hellhounds were an evil angel’s best friends.
   “What are they like?” She couldn’t picture hellhounds at all. Images of Cerberus, the three-headed hound sprang into her mind. “Do they only have one head?”
    He smiled and her heart lifted at the sight of it and the way the cold edge left his golden eyes. “Yes, they only have one head. They are black and very large, coming to stand with their shoulders around here.”
   He held his hand palm down just above his hip and Liora’s gaze disobeyed her direct command and drifted across to the taut ripped muscles of his stomach and the sexy dip of his navel, and the dusting of dark hair that led her eyes downwards. Her pulse picked up again and it took all of her will to drag her gaze back to his hand.
   It was trembling.
   Her eyes shot up to his and he looked away again, but she caught the flicker of desire that still darkened his gaze.
   “What do they look like? Are they hairy?” Curse her voice for shaking. She had been around men she felt attracted to before and had never reacted like this whenever they had flirted with her or shown their interest. She sidled closer to Asmodeus and butted her hand up against his to measure their height against her own body.
   According to his measurements, these hellhounds would reach shoulder height on her if she included a modest addition for their heads.
   “Hell is hot and rather filled with fire. Hair is not a good thing in that sort of environment. They are shorthaired and somewhat resemble a canine of this world… a Great Dane. Do you know of it?”
   “Scooby Doo? You have demonic Scooby Doos?”
   “Scooby Doo?” He frowned. “I am not familiar with this Scooby Doo.”
   “He’s a cartoon… like moving drawings with sound.” She wasn’t sure he knew what a cartoon was. She doubted you could pick up satellite or cable in Hell. “But he’s brown. The right breed though…”
   She measured Asmodeus’s guide height against her again.
   “I’m guessing yours are bigger than our version.” She waved her hand around the height she imagined them to be.
   “And broader… and they have red eyes.”
   “I could have guessed.” She really could have. It didn’t surprise her at all. Even Asmodeus had red eyes whenever he was losing his temper.
   When coupled with the way she could feel his power rising or ebbing with his emotions, she had a barometer for Asmodeus.
   At least she could tell when he was about to unleash Hell on the poor unsuspecting population of Paris. 
   “And I can talk to them.”
   That, she hadn’t guessed possible. “They talk?”
   Asmodeus casually shrugged, causing his black wings to shift against his bare back. “They communicate with each other in their own language using telepathy, but I do not have that ability so I have taught them to understand me and I can understand their responses. They are clever creatures and picked up an understanding of the demonic language quickly.”
   So he could communicate with his two hellhounds. Romulus and Remus. Who no doubt lived at the castle that wasn’t a home.
   Something came back to her, something she had heard Apollyon say to Serenity when she had been listening in on them and Serenity had asked why Asmodeus had given him information he could use against the Devil.
   Asmodeus was complicated.
   Liora stared at him.
   Complicated and gorgeous, and she wanted to unravel the mystery that he wore like a protective cloak.
   She wouldn’t stop until she knew the truth of Asmodeus.
   Until she knew the real him.
   The one he was fighting to hide from her.

Her Wicked Angel is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and many other retailers. Also available in paperback.

Find all the links, a fantastic 6 chapter downloadable sample of the book at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/ebooks.php?title=Her%20Wicked%20Angel
Books in the Her Angel romance series:

Find out more about the Her Angel series at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/series/54822-her-angel

About Felicity Heaton:
Felicity Heaton writes passionate paranormal romance books as Felicity Heaton and F E Heaton. In her books she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons!

If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, Felicity Heaton’s best selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series she writes as F E Heaton or any of her stand alone vampire romance books she writes as Felicity Heaton. Or if you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try Felicity Heaton’s new Vampire Erotic Theatre series.

In 2011, five of her six paranormal romance books received Top Pick awards from Night Owl Reviews, Forbidden Blood was nominated as Best PNR Vampire Romance 2011 at The Romance Reviews, and many of her releases received five star reviews from numerous websites.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

11 October 2013

North Street, York - Past, Present & Fictional

I’ve always loved maps, and the various Ordnance Survey maps of Britain have been a source of fantastic research detail for a lot of my fiction. I’m currently writing The Bull At The Gate, the second in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy, set in modern and Roman York, and managed to get my hands on a map which superimposes Roman finds on the street detail of modern York. Manna from heaven.

One particular road caught my eye – North Street – in what would have been the Roman town of Eboracum sitting opposite the fortress across the river. Why would a street that runs more or less east-west on the south side of a river be called North Street?

At its western end the road junctions with Tanner Lane – yes, there were Roman tanneries in the area – but this lane was once twice its width, being the main Roman road from the fortress, across its piered bridge, cutting through the colonia of Eboracum before striking south to Calcaria (Tadcaster).

The river was wider then and although modern North Street was lapped by water, the later site of All Saints’ Church was not. There doesn’t seem to be any records of a religious house prior to this Norman-built church, so it’s difficult to ascertain what is beneath its foundations.  As well as having spectacular stained glass windows detailing ‘The Pricke of Conscience’, it has two fragmented Roman columns helping to support a roof that was extended at the end of the 12th century. 

All Saints' Church, North Street, showing the different columns detail

Do I take from this that Roman masonry was still lying around to be recycled? The columns are only slim, nothing of the size of the column from the fortress found beneath York Minster and now re-sited outside its southern door, so they could have come from a small temple or a private dwelling.

For the novel I needed to site a fictionalised Temple of Luna close to the river. What better place? To find that the current All Saint’s Church has a shrine to St Mary and, before the Reformation tore it down, an anchorhold for a visionary anchoress who dispensed wisdom… what more could I ask for?

And who knows? There's an awful lot of 17-19th century York sitting on top of unexcavated Eboracum. A Temple of Luna may yet turn up. I wouldn't like to lay a bet against it.

Often the best place to start research for a novel is with a map.