Friday, June 22, 2012


Coffee is fresh and hot! Grab a cup.
My guest today is award winning paranormal romance writer, Tamara Hogan. She found her path to writing genre fiction by way of being a "good little" English major in college and a case of knowing what she didn't want to write. And talks about how she found her way to writing paranormal romance served with a twist of sci-fi on the side. 

I'm one of those writers who came out of a university creative writing program feeling more beat up than energized. I knew, even way back then, that I wanted to write genre fiction instead of literary fiction.  But like a good little English major who wanted a good grade, I spent my university years writing poetry (which I loved, and was pretty good at), reading literature (which I loved as well), but writing the type of fiction that met professors’ and classmates’ expectations rather than had any sense of real passion or authenticity. When I graduated, I felt like a poser. My enthusiasm was dampened, my voice felt compromised, and I needed to take a serious break from writing.

I never dreamed that the break would be over twenty years long.

That's totally on me. Life got in the way, as it often does. I built a technology career, got married and divorced, got sick, fell in love again. Over the years, I took the occasional writing class to keep my hand in—finishing nothing, but rediscovering my love of genre writing. Taking workshops for pleasure rather than for a grade, and from working writers, was an utterly liberating experience for me. Over the years, I'd also gained enough confidence to simply not care what other people thought about what I liked to read or write.

One night, watching Motley Crue with a friend, inspiration hit. I was watching all of these middle-aged women lifting their shirts, flashing their middle-aged boobs at drummer Tommy Lee. I remember thinking to myself, "Why are these women behaving this way? Is he half incubus, or what?” (Incubi are mythological sex demons.)

What if he was?

That sole thought set my imagination on fire, and led to the creation of the world that I built for the Underbelly Chronicles series. Screw the rules, I wrote a book I wanted to read: a love story with mystery and science fiction elements, with naughty language and love scenes and a (gulp) rather sympathetic villain. I reveled in the writing, rediscovered my joy—especially when the manuscript was named a 2009 Golden Heart finalist and a Daphne du Maurier paranormal winner, and sold in a three-book deal to Sourcebooks.

I tell myself that things happen for a reason, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have regrets. I grieve for that young writer, for books not written, for the career that might have been. But what would that career have looked like had I embarked upon it right out of school? Would there have been any fire, any authenticity, in my work whatsoever? Any spark at all? And coincidentally, during those years I didn't write, when my energy was going toward other things, look what happened to the romance genre, particularly in the paranormal realm. I couldn't have written these books twenty five years ago, and there certainly wasn’t a market for them.

So…maybe I lost some time, but I'm trying like hell to make up for it now. Maybe things do happen for a reason. ;-)


(Amz | BN | Sourcebooks | Powell’s
BAM | Sony | Kobo)

Centuries ago, when their ship crashed to Earth, paranormals of all types settled secretly into our world, quietly going about their business with humans none the wiser. Self–ruling and careful to stay below the radar, all is threatened when Valkyrie archaeologist Lorin Schlessinger and her werewolf geologist partner Gabe Lupinsky inadvertently draw evil attention to Earth and its treasured natural resources.

As the threat intensifies, Lorin and Gabe struggle to contain the chaos they've unleashed, and to resist their explosive mutual attraction...Read an excerpt here.

“Hogan’s sharp, funny dialogue and strong but subtle character development elevate both the story and the fierce chemistry between insecure, bespectacled Gabe and lusty, aggressive Lorin. Paranormal fans will enjoy this fresh take on the genre.” — Publishers Weekly

Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats. When she's not telecommuting as a quality and process engineer for a global networking company, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A feral reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. Her debut, Taste Me, was a 2009 Daphne Paranormal Winner and 2009 Golden Heart Finalist.  For more information, please visit or follow her on Twitter, @TamaraHogan1.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My guest today is debut historical author, Jayne Fresina. Her topic is timely for writers. When you write for yourself it's different than the courage needed to share that writing with others. Jayne calls it girding her loins.  

An appropriate term, if an old fashioned one, because the loins are vulnerable to injury. Taking on a physical task or going to war, one girded, or wore a protective belt to protect the loin area and sword. Or in the case of the biblical use, meant tying (or belting) up your loose clothes for ease of movement and generally meant preparing to use all resources for a difficult task. I would say a writer preparing for having their work published would qualify.

I started writing stories in my head when I was a girl walking to school each day. I vividly remember foggy autumn mornings, dawdling along, crunching fallen berries under my shoes. Often I stopped to collect beautiful gold and burgundy leaves that would not look half so impressive by the end of the school day, crushed into my satchel with the balsa wood airplane I made in woodwork, or my sweaty socks from hockey.

Unlike the fallen berries and dry leaves, my stories lived on. Each day I wrote a new chapter.

In the beginning I kept those stories in my head, because I feared other people would laugh at me. Certainly, I never had thoughts of becoming a published writer or letting anyone else know about the stories I thought up. It wasn't until I became an adult, that I started writing them down—in a notebook at first and then on a computer. Even then, I wrote them for my own satisfaction, not planning to share them with anyone else. Ever.

But one day I got up the courage to show a friend. I had mentioned to her, quite by chance, that I'd been working on a book. Immediately she was curious —as in What on earth are you doing writing a book? It must have been a surprise to a lot of people, since I'd kept my passion secret all those years. For some weeks I put her off, changed the subject, politely evaded talking about the book I was writing. It became a bit of a joke to some people. Oh, Jayne's writing a book, poor thing.

Eventually it was done, I felt an immense sense of pride and achievement and suddenly I wanted to show someone. Suddenly I was unaccountably vain. I was so proud, so in love with my characters. I wanted other readers to enjoy them as much as I did. It takes a pretty swelled head to take a manuscript that's never been professionally edited and give it to a friend to read. How did I ever get to that point? I laugh about it now, the hours I sweated over my decision to show other people what I'd written. I was taking a huge chance. They might never stop laughing at me.

Well, I'd better pull up my big girl panties or - as my heroine Sophie Valentine would say, I'd better learn how to Gird my Loins.

Looking back, I suppose that was the point when writing changed from hobby to purpose. My friend showed the manuscript to her husband and then to other friends. Soon I was being persuaded to try publication. Before I really knew what had happened, writing became not just a pleasant past-time but a driving need. Every morning I got up a few hours early just to write before leaving for work. At night I sat up in bed reading books for research or making notes on the pages I'd printed out. At that point I knew I had to find a way to get published. Whatever it took, no matter how many rejections from agents and publishers—and there were hundreds of those!

Sometimes I stop and look back. I wonder what I would have done with all those hours if writing had not become such an all consuming passion. What would I have found to do? Occasionally, when I finish another book and I'm about to release it out into the world to be judged, I think back to that first time I ever showed another human being my work. And I wonder how I got so brave.

No, the fear never goes away, never fades.

I write stories that I would like to read. It's all I know how to do. It's all I want to do. That is, after all, why I started, as a schoolgirl, trampling berries and fallen leaves on her way to class. It still feels incredibly good to know there are folk out there who get as much pleasure from reading these stories as I get from writing them.

Frankly, it amazes me that the stories coming out of my head can entertain other people, because inside I'm still the same girl with scabby knees, a lot of geekiness, hair that will never lay flat and a very, very good imagination.

And a great deal of fear as I send my precious characters off into the world for the first time. 

Like Sophie Valentine I had to learn how to "gird my loins" and take a leap of faith.

  • What has had you girding your loins and taking a leap of faith?


"Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentleman without other attachments need not apply."

—Miss Sophie Valentine


Sophie Valentine knew placing an ad for a husband in the Farmers Gazette would bring her trouble-and she was right. When the darkly handsome, arrogantly charming Lazarus Kane shows up on her doorstep, the nosy residents of Sydney Dovedale are thrown into a gossiping tizzy. After all, it's common knowledge that Sophie is a young lady In Need of Firmer Direction. But even Sophie isn't so scandalous as to marry a complete stranger…is she?


Lazarus Kane has been searching for Sophie half of his life. She may not remember him, but he could never forget her. But the past is a dangerous thing, and it's best if his remains secret if he wants to tempt Sophie with...



Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls.  Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Visit for more information. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: The Art Of Relaxing

Coffee on the porch

It was a quiet day around the McKye homestead for Father’s day. Hubs had the early morning to do edits on his manuscript and I got to sleep in. Not that this was hard to do since I had stayed up late the night before doing my own writing and keeping an eye out on progress of the thunderstorm. Just in case.

A bit later we had a chance to sit around and drink some coffee outside and catch up on our week before it got too hot and muggy. Chatted about all sorts of things and, of course, the latest changes in stories and publishing. He deplores the need these days of stories having to be nonstop action from the get-go. God forbid that the reader might have to wade through any narrative before someone dies or is kidnapped or some danger rears its head. The need to grab your audience but still do a good set up of a suspense story is a fine balance, I agree. He does make a good point about Michael Crichton, Patterson, Dan Brown, and even Robert B Parker’s books. There is a lot of descriptive narrative, but the point I made was these authors were established long before this new style came into play. I bet if they were debut authors submitting, there would be chunks of that narrative cut. But because these authors are well-established moneymakers who’s going to tell them they can’t? They’re bestsellers. Their name alone sells books.
Hubs is an early bird. He should have a lifetime supply of worms by now. The day doesn’t matter because he’s usually up by four or four-thirty a.m. everyday. Sleeping in late for him is the very rare six. Of course the poor dear generally falls asleep in his chair before nine in the evenings. I finally had to order the HD recorder because he can’t seem to stay awake for his shows, which frustrated him to no end. So now he records them. I’m telling you, that recliner is like a lullaby for him.  

I’m not, by nature, a night owl, although I did go through my phase of it many years ago. But with my blog and getting that ready tends to keep me up a bit late—especially when the stoopid formatting issues start to rear it’s ugly head. I make sure I have a good nap to handle that and those are the days I sleep in until eight, otherwise I’m up by six-thirty because that’s prime writing time for me. It's quiet, I'm fresh, and there are no distractions (the internet is off).

I treated hubs to dinner Saturday night at his favorite steak house and plied him with his preferred top shelf margaritas on the rocks with salt. He enjoyed that. Son got his dad Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and I was able to get him some of his most wanted goodies from Cabellas. I even found the perfect card, featuring a recliner type chair on it and all the sweet mushy stuff. I saw it and laughed. It suits him so well. Then I left the room and shut my office door because he wanted to watch golf. I’m a player not a watcher and televised games tend to drive me bonkers. Tonight we had a nice dinner and watched the, oh so excellent, Game of Shadows.

It was a nice relaxing weekend for the both of us as we’ve been running way too much of late—Hubs with his job as a community Outreach Coordinator for the army, and me running around doctor's offices and getting things in order for Son and college. Some how I don’t remember preparation for college being quite so onerous and time consuming. Just a few more things and we’re done. Good thing. I’m about done in after all this. Last week was hard and I was run ragged by Friday and so practicing the art of relaxation was nice.

  • How did you spend Father’s day? Do anything special?