Friday, November 20, 2009

Sins Of The Flesh--Writing the Take-Aways

I want to welcome back New York Bestselling Author, Caridad Piñeiro to Over Coffee. She writes paranormals, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. I’ve spent some lovely hours immersed in the worlds she creates.

Caridad has an intriguing new novel out called Sins Of The Flesh and I loved the premise when I saw it. I was fascinated by the idea of genetic engineering when Bionic Woman was popular, many years ago. As a kid, I remembered thinking, wow, wouldn’t that be cool if enhancements were possible?

Unlike poor Jamie Sommers, in Caridad’s books, her heroines get to have a happy-ever-after.

Thanks for having me at Over Coffee again! It’s always a pleasure dropping by to chat with you over my morning cup of java (I so need it to get going!).

I’ve been on a major blog tour and one of the things that I’ve been thinking about is “What do readers expect out of a book?” My editors would call it “the take-away” and when it comes to a romance, the “take-away” is usually the Happily-Ever-After.

Of course, being a paranormal suspense writer, that Happily-Ever-After can have lots of meanings, especially in a book like SINS OF THE FLESH.

SINS is about a woman, Caterina Shaw, who is genetically engineered against her will. When one of the scientists decides to blow the whistle on the illegal activities, he is savagely murdered. Caterina soon finds herself accused of the murder and on the run from both the police and the mercenary, Mick Carrera, who is sent to track her down.

For me there was a bunch of “take-aways” in this book. Caterina’s strength and optimism in the face of a grave illness, and a hard-assed mercenary for one. Mick’s underlying honor and incredible love of family for another. Vigorously mix those two take-aways and hopefully you found yourself rooting for these two to something overcome impossible odds to stay together. The Happily-Ever-After.

But there was another take-away that I was hoping would linger with readers, namely, the wonder of how much of the science part of the story was real and if it was, could it possibly already be happening? Well, there is a lot of reality behind the science, the most visible of which is Caterina’s glowing skin. Not fiction, but fact. You can actually buy fish engineered with these proteins online and in some stores. As for the camo skin and healing? Splicing together genes is happening all the time, creating foods that last longer or ripen faster. Even creating hybrids of different kinds of animals, so the possibilities are here and because of that, I’m going to leave you with a thought:

If you could mix up some genes to make the ultimate human/plant/animal, what would you mix-up and why?

Sins Of The Flesh Blurb:
  • Caterina Shaw’s days are numbered. Her only chance for survival is a highly experimental gene treatment – a risk she willingly takes. But now Caterina barely recognizes herself. She has new, terrifying powers, an exotic, arresting body — and she’s been accused of a savage murder, sending her on the run.
  • Mick Carrera is a mercenary and an expert at capturing elusive, clever prey. Yet the woman he’s hunting down is far from the vicious killer he’s been told to expect: Caterina is wounded, vulnerable, and a startling mystery of medical science. Even more, she’s a beautiful woman whose innocent sensuality tempts Mick to show her exactly how thrilling pleasure can be. The heat that builds between them is irresistible, but surrendering to it could kill them both . . . for a dangerous group is plotting its next move using Caterina as its deadly pawn.



Caridad was born in Havana, Cuba, and settled in the New York Metropolitan area. She attended Villanova University on a Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. Caridad earned her juris doctor from St. John’s University and became the first female partner of Abelman, Frayne & Schwab, an intellectual property firm in midtown Manhattan.

From the start, Caridad’s novels have received acclaim and have helped redefine the landscape of modern romance novels. In 1999, Caridad was published by Kensington as part of Encanto, the first line of bilingual Latino romance novels. In 2000, Caridad was one of the first Latino authors featured at the launch of BookExpo America’s Spanish Pavillion. In December 2006, Caridad helped Silhouette launch its successful Nocturne paranormal line with DEATH CALLS, one of the novels in the award-winning THE CALLING Vampire series. In addition, Caridad has appeared at BookExpo America on numerous occasions and has captained both the multicultural and vampire genre panels at the RT BookClub Conventions.
In 2009, Caridad will debut a new paranormal romantic suspense series with Grand Central Publishing. The first novel in the series,
SINS OF THE FLESH, will be released in November 2009.

When not writing, Caridad teaches workshops on various topics related to writing and heads a writing group. Caridad is also an attorney, wife and mother.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have You Suffered the End of Book Blues?

It’s my pleasure to welcome romantic suspense author, Christy Reece, to Over Coffee.

Christy says she grew up spending long summers reading and watching for the bookmobile—I can relate to that as we always lived in the rurals and the bookmobile was a big thing to a family of readers. Like Christy, my head was always filled with characters and story lines. I could daydream of my stories for hours in the summer and then tell stories to my siblings later that evening. My brothers did the same. I thought that was perfectly normal, growing up.

Christy’s topic is how you feel when you finish a book. As a reader, a good book has me longing to go back to the world created by the author. As a writer, typing the end, while satisfying does leave me at odds as to what to do with myself. I’ve spent so much time with this *world* and it's very real characters; I don’t want to really leave it. Christy calls it the end of the book blues. Very apt description, in my opinion.

Welcome to Over Coffee, Christy.

Hi Sia and everyone! I’m thrilled to be a guest at Over Coffee and look forward to visiting with my fellow writers and readers. Also, I have three books to give away!

Since I recently turned in the third book for my new trilogy, I thought I’d talk about a phenomenon that always happens to me once I hit that send key. I’ll stare mindlessly into space for a while, relieved that it’s finally done. Then reality slams into me and I find myself asking the question, “What now?”

Yes, I’ve got the end of book blues.

Writing is so often a solitary endeavor. Just you and your imagination sitting in front of a computer screen creating stories, characters, and worlds. You’re having conversations in your head with people who exist only to you and your job is to make them come alive to others. Some people might see this as odd behavior. For most writers, it’s just a normal workday. This profession is scary and exciting, intense and frustrating. So wonderfully kooky. But when it’s time to let those characters and their story go, I always get hit with some sort of sadness.

I was so excited to finish this book. After sleepless nights, tossing and turning with storylines and bits of conversation flowing through my head, consuming tons of chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol, I wanted nothing more than to finish this monster that I so loved. To get it over with and get on to something else.

Even though I adored the storyline, my characters still surprised and excited me and I can’t wait to get it in the hands of eager readers, I couldn’t wait to get it out the door. That’s the way of these things. A labor of love, but I wanted to get the labor over with as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I absolutely loved how my story came out. My characters had all the endearing quirks and strong traits that I wanted them to have. The story is emotional, thrilling and breathtaking in places. And as usual, there were points during the writing that I had no idea what my characters would do—one of my absolute favorite things when I’m writing.

But now it’s gone and I’m sad. As much as I wanted to finish it, a part of me didn’t want to let it go. Perhaps it’s the writer’s version of the empty nest syndrome.

It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do, believe me. Everything I put off while I was on deadline is still here, waiting on me. My house is full of spider webs. Delightfully convenient for Halloween—no decorating necessary! Now it’s back to looking like a dirty house. My fur-kids desperately need a bath and some extra TLC for being so patient with me. And my husband, bless him, would probably like to hear me say something other than the words, “Can’t. I’m on deadline.”

Well, now I can do all the things I put off, but I don’t want to.

The end of book blues is nothing new for me, but I still get caught completely by surprise each time. A rush to the finish line and then when I get there, it’s all so anti-climatic.

I could read…oh man, am I behind in my reading. My TBR stack could rival the Sears Tower in height. I could work on some new things for my website. I could start another book.

Yes, all of those things need to be done and quite honestly, I love doing them, but for some reason I don’t want to. Know what I really want to do? I want to go back to my story I just finished and play with it some more. Am I crazy? Don’t answer that!

It’s not like I won’t get several more opportunities to play with it. Revisions will come, along with copy edits and page proofs. But it’s just so pretty and shiny and I think I can make it shinier and I really really want to play with it.

Some of the anxiety comes from what my editor and agent will think of it. Will they love it as I do? It’s funny (not really) but I thought after I became published, submitting my manuscripts would be easier. The angst is still there; it’s just a different kind of angst.

Update: Both editor and agent read and loved the manuscript. Yay! One more hurdle out of the way. And I spoke with my editor regarding revisions and she just wants a couple of changes. Double yay!

But when those things are done and it’s out the door again, will I still want to play with it? I know by the time I go through copyedits and page proofs, I’ll be thrilled to be completely finished. But another book will come along, with another deadline and then another end of book blues.

Writers as a whole are a group of individuals with different beliefs, attitudes, strengths, weaknesses and goals. We’re a mass of human frailties and strengths, just like our characters. However, we also share specific characteristics and emotions within our group. One of the reasons I love being within a community of writers is that, as crazy and individualistic as I like to be, I love that we share some of the same experiences. In other words, I want my writer friends to say, “I know how you feel. That happened to me too. Here’s what I did.”

So have you experienced the end of book blues? When you finish a book, can you let it go and get back to a normal life or do you have trouble getting back into the swing of things? Do you have a plan of action when you finish a book? If you have suggestions, please feel free to share!


Growing up in a tiny community in Alabama boasting only one stop sign and a gas station gave Christy ample opportunity to create daring adventures in her head. When she wasn't thinking of her story characters, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys kept her entertained and out of trouble. Later came the chills of Stephen King and the thrills of John Grisham, but the romance genre always held a strong place in her heart.

After leaving her career with a major insurance company, the characters in her head came alive again and Christy decided to write her own stories. And now, she and her characters couldn't be happier.

A member of Romance Writers' of America, and International Thriller Writers, Christy lives in Alabama with her husband, two incredibly cute canines and one very shy turtle.

Christy’s first sale was a romantic suspense trilogy to Ballantine in 2007. The books, RESCUE ME, RETURN TO ME and RUN TO ME were back-to-back releases Spring 2009. Another back-to-back trilogy, NO CHANCE, SECOND CHANCE and LAST CHANCE will be released early spring 2010. The backdrop of both trilogies is an organization called Last Chance Rescue. An elite group of mercenaries who do whatever it takes, no matter the cost, to rescue the innocent.

For more information about Christy and her books, visit her website at
You can find excerpts of her books and and blurbs on the tough men and women she writes about. There is information, blurbs, and excerpts on her next trilogy due out this coming Spring.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Running With A Gang Of Rogues

My guest today is Pat Bertram, author of Daughter Am I.

What fascinated me from the beginning, about Daughter Am I, was Pat's use of retired gangsters, and the fact they still longed for adventure in the autumn of their lives. In their time, they were men to be reckoned with. Even now, being up in years, their spirit is willing, they have experience and they have taken Mary under their wing. Their sense of loyalty to Mary's Gramps, the need to protect her and help her in her quest.

It cracked me up that Pat had a characters who were in their 80's, failing in health but with such feisty attitudes. Like Happy, who shakes so bad he probably couldn't shoot the broadside of a barn. Not to mention, in their efforts to help, they give Mary a whole new education about life.

I talked to Pat a bit about her story:

Pat, you’ve published three books do you have a favorite?

All of my books have a place in my heart for different reasons.
I entered More Deaths Than One in a contest on, and because of it, I made many good friends, one of whom is Sia. A Spark of Heavenly Fire was the novel where I first realized I’d learned how to write. And Daughter Am I is the novel I had the most fun with.

What made Daughter Am I ‘the most fun’?

Oh, gangsters, a quest for the truth, buried treasure, romance -- all of that was great, but the most fun came from creating the characters. I knew from the start there would be seven rogues who accompanied Mary on her quest to discover the truth about her grandparents -- I wanted to play up the idea of Snow White and the seven old fogies.

I have to admit, the idea of Snow White and the seven fogies, cracked me up. I have a fondness for rogues, regardless of their ages. Tell me a little about your ‘old’ rogues.

In the beginning, like Mary, I only saw the characters’ decrepit bodies:

  • Gun-toting Happy whose hands shake so badly he can’t aim his weapon
  • Vain Lila Lorraine, who can no longer see well enough to apply her make-up properly
  • Clownish Spaghetti who lives to play the piano in a bar he once owned
  • Ex-wrestler Crunchy who is losing faith in his own ability
  • Self-educated con man Teach
  • Dying hit man Iron Sam who is on a quest of his own
  • Dapper Kid Rags, whose forgery business is being lost to computers

You said ‘in the beginning’ Mary only saw them as old geezers, if you will. When did that change?

As the story progressed, and the truth of the characters came out -- Happy as a wheelman for the mob, Lila Lorraine as a dance-hall girl, Spaghetti’s bar as a mob hangout, Crunchy as muscle for the mob -- I began to see all they lost, and so did Mary.

At one point she says:

  • “It’s odd—I never used to be aware of old people as real persons. I’m not stupid. I know they weren’t born old, but it didn’t occur to me that heroes and villains, killers and great lovers could be hidden in those feeble bodies.”
A wise observation and one most of us forget. On the outside, the bodies may be old, but in my experience, most older people have a story and rarely lose the that sense of adventure—it might be toned down by the limitations of their bodies, but it’s still there inside.

So what made them real to you?

It’s in the dichotomy of the gangsters’ feeble exteriors and their youthful, adventurous inner selves that the characters became real. At first I only had gimmicks. Happy’s morose pronouncements. Kid Rags bowler hat, bow tie, and hip flask. Lila Lorraine’s unconscious patting of her hair. But gradually the characters became more than their gimmicks, and that’s where the fun began.

So you have a group of aging former gangsters with the desire to relive their youth?

When you have a story of a young woman and a crew of feisty gangsters in their eighties, you can play on the age theme or you can play on the legal and moral issues. I chose to focus on the legal and moral issues because they seemed to have the most emotional impact.

Tell me about Mary. How does she grow and change in this tale?

Mary started out so innocent, wanting only to learn about the grandparents she never knew, but ended up aiding and abetting criminal behavior. What was she supposed to do, though? She couldn’t let Happy carry his revolver around. With his shaky hands, the gun could go off at any moment, so Mary confiscated the gun and concealed the illegal weapon in her handbag. When Lila Lorraine accidentally left her blood pressure medicine behind, Mary unsuccessfully tried to get the drugs by legal means. The elders, determined that their adventure would not be cut short, break into a pharmacy and steal the biggest bottle of the medicine they can find.

  • “We used a glass cutter,” Happy said, then added quickly, “but don’t worry -- we didn’t steal the cutter. We bought it at a discount store that’s open until midnight.”

Oh my word, lol! What a gang.

What can you do with such unrepentant rogues? Do what Mary and I did -- strap on your seatbelt and go for the ride of your life.

What a fun ride it is, though. Pat, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about creating your fun story. What an adventure you take Mary and your readers on.


  • When twenty-five-year-old Mary learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents--grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born--she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians--former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love with Tim Olson, whose grand-father shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim must stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret."

A delightful treasure-hunting tale of finding one's self in a most unlikely way." -- Publisher's Weekly

  • Writers: Do you tend to steer away from age in writing your rogues? At what point do your characters become real to you?
  • Readers: What makes a story fun for you to read?


Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book -- character and story driven novels that can't easily be slotted into a genre -- she decided to write her own.

Pat's books, More Deaths Than One, A Spark Of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I are available for order through the Second Wind Website ebook and paperback forms.

Paperbacks are also available from Amazon and in Kindle format as well.

You can visit Pat on her Website as well as read an excerpt of Daughter Am I.