Friday, August 30, 2013

Lessons in Beta Reading, Part I.

In the past 30 days I've read and critiqued 3 manuscripts. In return, my buddies have been working on mine as well. One thing I've learned from doing this is that it helps me to become a better writer. Many of the errors and mistakes I've found in my buddies' stories are often found in my own. Now when my buddies and I go through each other's work we go through it all the way, which means we point out spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues as well as add comments and feedback within the text. Over the course of my reading I've spotted enough patterns to merit two blog posts.

Part One: Common Errors in Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation.

1.) Its vs. It's. Its = belonging to it. It's = It is. Example: It's the biggest one I've ever seen! Its girth is terrifying! (Hey, I'm a romance author. Of course that's the first thing that came to mind.)

2.) Loose vs. Lose. Loose= opposite of tight. Lose = loss of something. Your corset is loose. Your girls may lose their support.

3.) Your vs. You're Your = belonging to you. You're = you are. Ex: Hey, hot guy, you lost your shirt. You're making my tummy flutter.

4.) Each other = 2 words. I had a nasty habit of making it one. Please say I'm not alone!

5.) Questions end with question marks! I blame JR Ward for this one. For some reason her characters turn their questions into demanding statements to emphasize how manly pissed off they are...or something. It worked for a bit but got old fast. "What are you doing." = wrong. "What are you doing?" = no headache.

6.) Plural nouns vs. Names anding with S. For some reason a lot of people want to treat a main character with a name ending with "S" as a plural noun, which is incorrect. Proper use: Silas's breath caught at the girls' incredible music. Wrong: Silas' breath caught...etc.

7.) Commas and the word "then." I don't know anyone, including myself that hasn't had an issue with this. There is no comma before then! Ex. She filled the pitcher then carried it to the table. NOT She filled the pitcher, then carried it to the table. Don't ask me why that's wrong, it just is. (HEY, DEAN, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, PLEASE TELL US WHY, OH FELLOW NERD PAL!)

8.) Proper punctuation with dialogue. This is was a disease I had until a wonderful beta cured me. Wrong: "Blah blah blah." He said. Right: "Blah blah blah," he said.

I know there's tons more, so please feel free to chime in! Next time I'll focus on structural issues.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Influence Of The Vampyre: Special Guest Post by Jolene Rosetta McDonald

This lovely lady gave me priceless help with researching John Polidori for my novel, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE. I invited her to come today to tell us about her unique expertise! 

In 2009 and 2010 I had articles published in three UK paranormal
magazines. They described my spiritual experiences with John Polidori
that started in 2006.

The following year I discovered he had written the first influential
vampire story in English and I was intrigued. How could this obscure
figure in history who I had never even heard of until then, be so

Some people (including myself at that time) believe Bram Stoker was
the first to "create" vampires, but his novel Dracula was published in
1897. John Polidori's The Vampyre was published in 1819. The young
Regency doctor was long dead when Dracula came onto the scene, but he
was much further ahead in the vampire stakes. (No pun intended).

It was Polidori who made vampires sexy, seductive and alluring as
opposed to the early depictions of them which were almost zombie-like.
He made the undead glamorous, just as we know them today.

As he is a big influence on my own stories and poetry, I was so happy
to meet Brooklyn Ann online in 2009. She was about to start writing
her debut novel which happened to revolve around vampires in the
Regency period and Dr Polidori would be a character. After making
contact with her, I was thrilled when she let me lend a hand with
research, facts and information about him for her story.

I was even more excited when she included me in her book. I inspired
the character Rosetta. I suggested the name as it is my middle name,
my mother's and was also my great grandma's so it is very personal for
it to be included in the story. It is also an Italian name, which
seems appropriate because Polidori was half-Italian. The character is
also close to him which is an important connection for me.

This may sound weird, but one of the first things I said when John
came into my life was, I would love to be immortalised in a book with
him somehow. I had no idea how that would happen though. It seemed a
crazy idea. I'm not a historical figure! It was just a thought I had
in mind. Then along came Brooklyn Ann and made it happen, without even
knowing what I had said previously. I am also grateful to be credited
on the acknowledgements page at the back of the book. I feel as if it
was no coincidence that I met Brooklyn out of the blue.

John Polidori has been given a bad portrayal over the years. There are
inaccurate film depictions, exaggerations and history books which
focus on the small negatives rather than the many positive aspects of
his life and work. Not everyone can say they achieved a doctorate at
just 19 years old.

I do my best to show the truth about him. He had so much to offer had
he not died so young. I respect and honour his real legacy in any way
I can and Brooklyn does an amazing job in her novel to do the same
thing. She combines fact with fiction perfectly and shows an accurate
view of him. Her depiction is more realistic than he is often
described in non-fiction books. She describes him as handsome,
intelligent, interesting, romantic and caring and that is just what he
was. It is a near as dammit look at him anyway and a great read as a
novel at the same time.

I visited his house twice in 2008. Sadly he has no grave, but he does
not need one to be remembered. He has achieved immortality, just like
his vampyre. His life may have been cut short in his 26th year, but he
will never die.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Getting to Know Your Characters" Guest Post by Jennifer Dahl

I’ve been a writer for a lot of years now; and I spent most of them alone with a yellow legal pad, a 19₵ medium-point, black ink BIC pen, and an unshakeable desire to introduce the characters in my head to the world at large. It wasn’t until, oh, 2004 or so that I stumbled upon a website called Absolute Write (, aka AW, and discovered I no longer had to be alone. There’s a whole galaxy full of people out there just like me, struggling to put words to paper – now mostly digitally – and when we’ve struggled alone as long as we dare, we can cry on one another’s shoulders and share the pain.

Since 2004, as both a member and a mod, I’ve read a lot of pleas for help on AW. Writers grappling with outlines, without outlines, plot bunnies, grammar, characters, spelling, doubt, fear, frustration, queries, agents, publishing (both self- and trade)… issues both concrete and ephemeral, but all of those issues had one thing in common: They kept writers from writing.

My biggest hang-up had always been plot and character development and after years of battle, the latter finally succumbed to a method that is as easy as you need and as intricate as you want to make it… and when I first put it together, I had one of those head-slapping epiphanies. I used it for the book I was working on and voila! Not only did I have a full-blown character, I had one with an attitude! I tucked my method away, kept it to myself, and never thought anyone else would be interested.

Fast forward to a few months ago… having hit a place in my current work-in-progress where both it and I needed a break, one from the other, I switched back to trying to help other writers. Within the space of one week, I found myself telling three separate people how I create characters… and the last one said, quite offhandedly, ‘You outta put that in a book!’

Well… uh… doh! So… I put together a booklet on my method and I published it through It’s not very thick; it’s not a hard read. It’s just one hundred questions you can sit down and ask the character you’re trying to create. The easy questions come first: Name, age, birthplace, heritage, vocation, hobbies, sex… then we get into the ones that require some thought on the part of the character.

Here… let me show you, using a few of the questions that – to me – yielded the most interesting results for my novel of witchcraft and betrayal in Tudor England, ‘Evil’s Own Trinity’. The character in the hot seat is Carolyn, and she’s the real witch responsible for Henry’s troubles.

Q: What do you want long-term?

You mean… why am I here this time? Why now? Because it is time for my master's will to be done. He wishes to show God his church isn't as immortal as he believes. I am here to effect its downfall.

Q: Why do you want it?

It will please my master. That will be good.

Q: What will happen if you don't succeed?

That will not please my master. This would be… bad.

Q: What makes you mad?

People thwarting me… they do not realize I will not be thwarted. They do not know how dangerous it is to get in my way.

Q: What makes you sad?

Remembering other times. Remembering… I do not remember much of other times.

Q: What makes you happy?

Accomplishing my tasks. There are many little things along the way that make me happy… putting my plan together, seeing it come to fruition… the first signs that show me I will be successful. A gift… a token of esteem… a kiss...

Q: What is your favorite food?

Food is food. I prefer quail… swan… lamb… but there have been times when any food at all was good. Better than starving to have anything on a plate.

Q: What is your favorite color?

Gold. Good, solid, spendable gold.

Q: Describe a 'perfect' day.

Plenty of food, plenty of wine, warm weather, and no one to please but myself. Alone.

Q: What do you fear? (It could be argued that the answer to this question is the most important, revealing of all.)

I do not believe I would enjoy being burned at the stake.

Those are just ten of the one-hundred questions in the booklet. Not all will fit your time period or your character, but you might be surprised. Once those characters ‘wake up’ and start talking, they’ll tell you all you need to know… and then you’re on your way together, no longer alone.

Thanks for inviting me to drop by and pontificate for a bit, Brooklyn! ‘Creating Characters: A Sure-Fire Method for Making Real People Out of Nothing at All’ is available in Kindle format for far less than a cup of fancy coffee, and in print as well, at Amazon… but I’d be happy to give a free e-book to one of your readers. Whoever leaves a comment below will get his/her name put in the proverbial hat and I’ll choose a winner at random.

Thanks again and good luck in your own endeavors!


Jennifer Dahl writes steamy historical fiction from her home in Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband, three cats, and Mindy, the Wonder Dog.

‘Before I Forget September’, a dark story of control from beyond the grave; ‘Evil’s Own Trinity’, a tale of witchcraft in Tudor England; and ‘This Lesser Earth’, her 1870s romance novel set in the heartland of America, are available in paperback and for the Kindle e-book reader at To watch the book trailers, visit YouTube.

In addition to ‘Creating Characters: A Sure-Fire Method for Making Real People Out of Nothing at All’ in the non-fiction section, she has also written a family memoir which includes a cookbook section filled with delicious recipes. It is available in paperback as well as Kindle (recipes only) from Look for ‘Best of Our Best – All American Recipes of an All American Family from All over the World’.

Visit her website,, for the latest news. She seldom Tweets, but can be followed @JenniferDahl_AW; and she can be friended on Facebook here.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jaguar Fever WINNER!!!

And the winner is.... Deb Stewart!!!

Email me your address and I'll pass it on to Terry!

Thanks so much for participating in the giveaway!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Researching the Big Cats (Guest post & Giveaway by Terry Spear)

Thanks so much to Brooklyn for having me here today to talk about those big cats, which includes jaguar shifters! Yum!

When I decided to add a new series that would be compatible with my wolf (canine) series, I thought why not felines? Big cats.

Four roaring cats exist in the Panthera genus—Tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard.

They are considered big cats, not in a biological classification way, but informally.

Other big cats would include: Cougar, cheetah, snow leopard and clouded leopard.

So why jaguar and not one of the other big cats?

They have lived in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. They're exotic. And they don't normally attack people. They're reclusive and a mystery. Natives revered them for their elusiveness and hunting ability. They were considered jaguar gods. Some reference to them shifting exists.

Their roar is not the same as a lion's or tiger's. It's more of a coughing/huffing sound. And unlike some big cats, they love the water. They can be found in trees also and can carry large prey into a tree to protect it from other predators on the forest floor. They are smaller than the tiger and lion, but they have the most powerful bite that can sink through a tortoise shell. They also have a stunning or fatal blow they can deliver with one swipe of the paw. They are a stalk and ambush predator rather than chase down their meals. And they are all carnivores.

The biggest problem with jaguars is that they don't maintain a family unit like wolves do. So that means their human shifter half has to make up for it. No being a stray cat looking for all kinds of different kitty cat loving. The females also have to protect their offspring from the males, even if he could be their daddy.
But no problem for a group of jaguar shifters that are hot, hot, hot, just like the steamy jungle they love to run through while on vacation. Oh, sure, they seem to always be running into trouble down there, but wow, can the nights…and days…heat up with other wondrous delights.

So here's a scene from Jaguar Fever I wanted to share with you to give you a little taste of the jungle…and the big cats visiting there!
            In the middle of the night, Wade reached the treetop cottages where Maya was staying. He and David hadn’t needed a GPS to locate them. In their jaguar forms, they’d followed Kat and Connor’s scents to the resort. Wade had smelled another jaguar in the area—a female, which didn’t bode well if Bettinger and Lion Mane got wind of her and led the smugglers this way. He wanted to warn Maya and the others that Bettinger and Lion Mane were in on the jaguar smuggling plans. As jaguar shifters, the men could scent another jaguar and tip off the smugglers who would take the big cat into custody.
While he suspected that Bettinger and Lion Mane wouldn’t lead the smugglers to a shifter, Wade didn’t like the fact that they could make a move on Maya, if they learned she was here.
David nudged him when the treetop cottages came into sight.
They appeared to be suspended in the trees, a walkway connecting each to the next. Wade and his brother roamed through the trees below the cottages, listening for sounds of people up and about. Everyone appeared to be sleeping. No talking or laughing, just silence from the human population.
The jungle noises still cloaked Wade as he searched for the cottage that could be Maya’s. He leaped into a tree next to a deck and smiled his jaguar smile as he smelled that Maya had been sitting in one of the rocking chairs a short while ago. There was no sign of Kat or Connor’s scent on the deck, so he assumed this cottage had to be Maya’s.
He glanced down at David, who motioned with his large spotted head in the direction he planned to go while Wade checked on Maya. David would leave him alone, but he knew his brother would stay close by until Wade left Maya. After that, they’d return together to search for the smugglers and their guides.
His paws muddy, Wade shifted, then turned on the shower on the deck. If she was asleep, she wouldn’t hear him. After he cleaned up, he planned to check on her and tell her about Bettinger and the other men. A bottle of eco-friendly soap was sitting on a table nearby, so he poured some out into his hands and then started to soap himself down, the citrus scent pleasantly natural and sweet. He hoped she wasn’t running through the jungle tonight, though he hadn’t smelled her scent down below. Probably too busy dealing with her brother and explaining why she smelled of four male cats.
As soon as he had rinsed off, he saw a wide-eyed Maya staring through the glass door of her cottage, taking in every inch of him. He couldn’t help his reaction.

Then, I had to cut off his reaction—you know, for G-rated-ness.
One lucky commenter has the chance to win a copy of Savage Hunger, US or Canada address only.
If you saw Wade Patterson soaping up in your outdoor jungle shower, what would you do?

Jaguar Fever(Book 2) Sourcebooks
August 7, 2013

She's being pursued by everyone, in more ways than one.
Even in an exotic world of humans, jaguars, and tantalizing creatures who shift between the two, Maya Anderson stands out from the crowd. Interest from human suitors is bad enough, but when male shifters give chase, the real trouble starts.

Who's the hunter and who's the prey?
Investigating the black marketing trade of exotic animals keeps Wade Patterson more than busy. When he and Maya both get entangled in a steamy jungle mission, it becomes impossible to tell who is being hunted or who the hunters are. Wade is desperate to survive this deadly game of cat and mouse. But it's Maya's piercing eyes that keep him awake at night.


Bestselling and award-winning author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and four medieval Highland historical romances. Her first werewolf romance, Heart of the Wolf, was named a 2008 Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, and her subsequent titles have garnered high praise and hit the USA Today bestseller list. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next werewolf romance and continuing her new series about shapeshifting jaguars. For more information, please visit, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook at .